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When they are pushed for an answer, it might surprise you to learn how people know things about areas they have never studied. As we now live in a super-connected information age, we are exposed to a media like never before. A teenager, who might never have picked up a newspaper in the past, may be exposed to hundreds of news stories on social media. Even if it is just a fleeting glance, we can pick up knowledge, perhaps without even knowing it has been logged.

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These nuggets of information can help us understand - to some extent - areas of expertise that we didn't think we knew anything about. Take, for example, financial markets. 99% of us don't know the first thing about investing, nor will the majority of us ever step foot on Wall Street. Yet, when pushed, we might be able to bring out some insightful knowledge. Consider how many of us know that the value of gold nearly always goes up in times of political turmoil. Or, how a weakening pound normally has a positive effect on the FTSE 100. These are financial truisms, but they have been brought to the forefront by major news stories, e.g. the 2008 Financial Crisis and Brexit.

Of course, these rudimentary pieces of knowledge are not enough to guarantee success in investing. Indeed, while a mantra like "gold is a safe haven for investors in times of global turmoil" might seem simple, there is a lot more to it than that. Gold doesn't always go up, of course, and there are other considerations, such as the question of how we actually measure global turmoil?

Social trading open to small investors

The point is that we are armed with information like never before. More importantly, we have access to that information whenever we need it. But is it enough to help the layman become a successful investor? Of course not. But it doesn't necessarily mean someone can't start trading successfully in financial markets. As with many modern solutions, it has to do with technology. Specifically, financial technology, or FinTech.

FinTech is the technology that aims to disrupt traditional financial trading and investment. Social trading sites like eToro and others offer platforms for those of us who would have never considered investing before. The key is not just providing the platform to trade stocks, assets, currencies, cryptocurrencies and so on, but by also bridging the information gap between and us and the financial experts.

FinTech combines access with knowledge sharing

As mentioned, the majority of us would flounder if we started investing with only rudimentary knowledge. Yet, FinTech companies provide a solution by allowing the novice investor to automatically copy trades from the experts. This interconnectivity and ease of use means the traditional role of a wealth manager is under siege. Why, for example, would someone pay a financial adviser on the high street, when they can simply copy expert trades online in a matter that is much more cost effective?

Like all emerging technologies, FinTech is still developing and it's not abundantly clear if it will be fundamentally different a decade from now. Moreover, there is no guarantee of success in your online trading. However, finance is widely seen as an industry ripe for digital disruption, with decades of cumbersome practices still in place in the industry. We have already seen the start of that disruption with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies, but FinTech is also at the forefront of it, opening financial markets and trading to everyone like never before. It might completely transform the industry and what it means to be an investor.