The proverbial stock market black eye of 2008-2009 exposed the "dirty secrets" that plague, and continue to plague, Wall Street. The fraud, greed and gambling associated with American's hard earned savings left almost everyone with some element of collateral damage.
As if that wasn't enough, Hollywood added insult to injury by releasing several big hits including; The Wolf of Wall Street, Too Big to Fail, Inside Job-Narrated by Matt Damon, Chasing Madoff and The Untouchables, just to name a few.
The digital and physical bookshelves also capitalized on the opportunity by releasing best sellers such as Pound Foolish by Helaine Olsen and Tony Robbins first book in over 10 years, Money - Master the Game. All of which shed light on the games that are played with the American publics life savings.
The human genius has come to the rescue and has practically put a nail in the coffin by creating technology that has Wall Street more frightened than ever.
Here are just four of the many brilliant technologies that are putting American's back in the drivers seat of building their wealth instead of relying on Wall Street.
1. FinTech (Financial Technology)
Two main contributors to lackluster wealth is the commitment to saving, as well as the high investment fees by brokerage houses. Internet and mobile apps for investing like acorns.com, solve these dominant problems by their easy to use system that syncs with your bank accounts and takes your spare change and invests it periodically in Low Cost index funds. It is a profound technological advance.
Mint.com is at the forefront of account aggregation and reporting, allowing the average family to be more financially responsible. All data is in real time, it's free and it syncs with most banks and financial institutions; it even tracks your credit score and gives tips on how to improve it. Mint.com, owned by Quicken, is the leader in bringing financial reporting and accounting to Main Street in the easiest way possible.
2. Crowd Funding
Part of President Obama's JOBS ACT of 2012 created an incredible opportunity for the average main street American. Since then, there are hundreds of companies who consider themselves crowd funders. Crowd Funding according to Wikepedia is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet. Companies such as Lending Club and Fundrise are leading the charge.
Lendingclub.com (NYSE: LC) is a platform for peer to peer lending who recently raised over $1 Billion by way of their IPO. Not only can individuals and even businesses seek credit for debt consolidation, college, a car, home improvement, etc., they can also be the lenders themselves and invest in these types of loans. Lending Club boasts a 99.9 percent success rate by spreading a person's investment across 100 notes, and the average return on all loan terms has been 14.09 percent (Lending Club Statistics).
Fundrise operates on a similar premise as Lending Club, allowing accredited investors competitive returns without sacrificing a high amount of capital, but also giving Commercial Real Estate Developers a simple way to access often difficult to acquire investment capital. Fundrise has funded commercial real estate projects from Seattle, to various parts of Texas and Washington DC.
Although crowd funding was only a $5 billion dollar market in 2013, it is estimated to be a multi-hundred billion dollar market by 2025 (Fortune.com).
3. The Educated Investor
Investors have more resources than ever to make better investment decisions, as opposed to the age old reliance on a stock broker or financial advisor.
The Khan Academy has led the field in providing video tutorial based education on most everything financial -- from interest and debt to complex options strategies, and everything in between. By spending just a few hours with founder, Solomon Khan, you will have a basic understanding of most every financial term and concept out there.
Though not new, The Investment Newsletter Industry has been around for decades (via snail mail), and is another way to become an educated investor. Now mostly in digital format, they have taken the world by storm, offering financial perspectives for a minimal and easy to cancel subscription fee. These newsletters speak liberally about financial matters and subsequently fly under the radar of financial regulators because they are considered "press."
Some of the earliest entrepreneurs in the financial industry are Mark Skousen and Richard Russell who now have amassed a world-wide digital presence and reputation in helping people understand the investment world. William Boner's Agora Financial network is another resource that has capitalized on the insatiable demand for independent financial advice that doesn't carry an ulterior motive -- as is the case with the financial firms on Wall Street.
4. A Sharing Society
Social Media has become the police department of society. The fancy car, office and pearly white smile is no longer the beacon of trust in financial services; it's now the number of likes, shares, online presence and honest content deliberation that dictate a person's authoritative influence. With social media being at the forefront of information and marketing, it can't help but influence the independent investors various decisions. When it comes to investing, research groups have discovered that one in four adults use social media to target financing and investing insights (Hewins Financial).
Wall Street is still a heavy hitter and has massive influence, but who knows how long their power will remain. With the rapid advancement of technology, Wall Street is starting to finally have someone to answer to -- the educated public.