The year 2021 was a wake-up call for the financial and investment industry. It was a year when individual investors found ways to make their voices heard and uncovered levers to move markets. Millions of people adopted apps and tools to take greater control of their own financial destinies. And ideas that once seemed like financial science fiction moved into the mainstream.
These seismic shifts in the financial world presented challenges to the economic powers that be and marked 2021 as a pivotal year in the history of investment. Consider the following events.
- The mainstreaming of cryptocurrencies: Over the course of 2021, millions of people accepted that crypto deserved a place in their portfolios. At Apex Fintech Solutions, we enable crypto transactions for our clients, and we’ve seen their impact. Over the first nine months of 2021, customers bought and sold cryptocurrency with an absolute notional value of almost $4.5 billion through Apex Crypto. In the first nine months of 2020, that number was $768,565.
- The establishment of the fintech-powered investor: During the pandemic in 2020, many people opened accounts on retail trading apps and made stock trades of small dollar amounts that collectively added up to a significant volume. Many of these trades involved fractional shares, a good proxy for retail investing activity. In 2021, this activity increased significantly, which proved the move to trading on apps wasn’t just a COVID trend. In the first nine months of 2020, Apex Clearing processed almost 151 million trades that included a fractional share. In the same period in 2021, that number rose to more than 236 million trades.
- The rise of NFTs: Nonfungible tokens (NFTs), blockchain-validated digital assets that represent works of art, events, and physical objects are new digital assets gaining the attention of investors. An NFT for a piece of art sold for $69 million in March of 2021, grabbing headlines and sparking a surge in the overall NFT market
- A new regulatory environment: In the U.S., a new administration took the reins in January, just as all of these trends were landing. Throughout2021, we have been following ongoing negotiations and proposed bills that could change how investors see the stock market and cryptocurrencies.
- Innovation and investment in financial firms: Many financial service providers went public in 2021, which put their performances and services to the test of the market. Countless new companies were founded during the year, filling gaps and democratizing financial products and services that once were the domain of the wealthy. At Apex Fintech Solutions, where we provide the back-end infrastructure used by firms of all types and sizes, we have seen rapid growth in our client base. In 2020, Apex onboarded 33 new clients, which was a significant increase over the prior year. In just the first nine months of 2021, that number was 56.
A Year of Deals, Honors and Growth at Apex
These trends of 2021 are only a part of Apex’s story. We continue to innovate and expand our service offerings so that we can equip our clients to meet this moment. To make this happen, Apex made its own history in 2021.
- A year of partnerships: In 2021, Apex acquired Silver Management Group, which strengthened Apex in the realm of regulatory cost basis and tax reporting and also expanded our ability to deliver software as a service (SaaS). Apex also forged deals to offer improved real-time market data, expand trading overseas, and offer investing solutions through credit unions.
- A year of insights and innovation: Apex continued to evolve its own service offerings, including immediate cash access for U.S. equity sales and improvements in client service. We continued to mine our proprietary data to offer unique insights into the investing trends of Gen Z and millennial investors who are the future of the investment market.
- A year of honors: Our hard work has been reflected in the many honors and awards Apex earned this year, including recognition on Fast Company’s list of Most Innovative firms and awards from Finovate, Benzinga, and WealthManagement.com. In an honor I share with all of the Apex team members who made it possible, I received an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Southwest region.
In short, 2021 has been an amazing year for Apex Fintech Solutions and an exciting year for me personally. I see so much new potential in the events of the past year that I can’t wait to see what we achieve in 2022. I wish you all the best in the coming year and look forward to hearing of your successes in this new world!