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The Decline of Long-Term Investing

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Decline of Long-term Investing

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The Briefing

  • The average holding period of shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is now <1 year
  • Technological advancement is one of the biggest drivers of this change

The Decline of Long-Term Investing

“Our favorite holding period is forever.”

Those are words from famed investor Warren Buffett, an advocate of the buy and hold approach to investing. Buy and hold is a long-term strategy in which shares are gradually accumulated over time, regardless of short-term performance.

And while Buffett is undoubtedly a successful investor, data from the NYSE suggests that few are actually following his advice. As of June 2020, the average holding period of shares was just 5.5 months. That’s a massive decrease from the late 1950s peak of 8 years.

What’s Driving This Change?

The decline in holding periods appears to have been caused by a number of factors, with the most prominent one being technological advancement.

For example, in 1966, the NYSE switched to a fully automated trading system. This greatly increased the number of trades that could be processed each day and lowered the cost of transactions.

YearNYSE Average Daily Trading Volume* (number of shares)
18861M
1982100M
1987500M
20201,000M

*10 day moving average as of Dec. 15, 2020. Source: Nasdaq

Automated exchanges have led to the introduction of high-frequency trading (HFT), which uses computer algorithms to analyze markets and execute trades within seconds. HFT represents 50% of trading volume in U.S. equity markets, making it a significant contributor to the decline in holding periods.

Technology has enabled investors to become more active as well. Thanks to the internet and smartphones, new information is widely distributed and easy to access. With online trading platforms, investors also have the ability to act on this information immediately.

Social media is also playing a role. The recent r/wallstreetbets saga is an example of how the stock market can become sensational and fad-driven. After all, long-term investing has much less to offer in terms of excitement.

Corporate Longevity in Decline

Finally, companies themselves are also exhibiting shorter lifespans. This results in greater index turnover (companies being added or removed from stock indexes), and is likely a contributor to the decline in holding periods.

In 1970, companies that were included in the S&P 500 had an average tenure of 35 years. By 2018, average tenure was down to 20 years, and by 2030, it’s expected to fall below 15 years.

Altogether, these trends may be creating a greater incentive to pursue short-term results.

Where does this data come from?

Source: NYSE, Refinitiv (Accessed via Reuters)

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Ranked: The Top Online Music Services in the U.S. by Monthly Users

This graphic shows the percentage of Americans that are monthly music listeners for each service. Which online music service is most popular?

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Top Online Music Services in the U.S.

The Briefing

  • Two-thirds of music listeners in the U.S. used YouTube at least once per month
  • 64% of music listeners use multiple music services per month

The Top Online Music Services in the U.S.

The music streaming industry is characterized by fierce competition, with many companies vying for market share.

Companies are competing on multiple fronts, from price and features to advertising and exclusive content, making it a challenging market for companies to succeed in.

YouTube (the standard offering and YouTube Music) has the highest amount of users, attracting around two-thirds of music listeners in the U.S. during a given month. This is largely due to the YouTube’s massive reach and extensive catalog of music.

Here’s a full rundown of the top music streaming services in the U.S. by monthly listeners:

RankMusic Service% of U.S. Music Listeners Who Use Monthly
#1YouTube61%
#2TSpotify35%
#2TAmazon Music 35%
#4Pandora23%
#5SiriusXM21%
#6Apple Music19%
#7iHeartRadio15%
#8SoundCloud10%
#9Audacity6%
#10TTuneIn5%
#10TDeezer5%
#10TNapster5%
#10TTidal5%

Two companies are in the running for second place: Spotify and Amazon Music.

Spotify leads in one important metric: number of paid users. Meanwhile, Amazon Music has a large user base since the service is bundled into Prime—however, recent changes mean that without a premium subscription, shuffled playback is the primary option. Time will tell what impact those changes will have on the service’s market share.

Prices for premium music services are beginning to creep upward. Apple Music and Amazon Music raised their prices, and it’s rumored that Spotify will not be far behind. This move would be significant because, in the U.S., Spotify hasn’t raised its prices in over a decade.

Rising prices and more aggressive promotion of premium subscriptions could be a signal that music streaming services are transitioning from a focus on capturing market share to monetizing existing users.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Activate Technology and Media Outlook 2023 by Activate Consulting

Data note: “Music services” include free and paid services used for listening to music through any format excluding terrestrial radio. “Music listeners” are defined as adults aged 18+ who spend any time listening to music.

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