How to develop an investment mindset in employees

What do you think?

Please take a moment before you start reading, and consider the answer to this question: Which three emotions do you associate with the term ‘stock market investment’.

What do we mean by “Equity Culture”?

When we hear the term “culture”, you probably first think first of music, paintings, theater, art, or perhaps characteristics specific to a nationality or region. You may be confused by the connection to the word “equity” here, and what we mean by this. In this article, we are talking about “equity” in terms of the investment in the capital market, in stocks and shares. And what does culture have to do with this? We must go back to the original meaning of “culture”, from the Latin “to tend, to cultivate”. The term “Equity Culture”, therefore, refers to the engagement with stocks and shares, and is based on the reference to sowing, growing, and harvesting – which is quite appropriate!  

We also usually associate the world of culture with emotions such as enjoyment and enthusiasm, while stocks, shares, money, and investments are financial, rational topics that don’t involve our emotions in the same way. In this article, we ask whether that must always be the case, and if it is possible to get people excited about investing in shares. And for companies with an employee share ownership program – is it possible to help your employees develop a positive investment mindset? 


The word “culturecomes from the Latin “cultura”, which means “care, culture, an honoring”, from the Latin stem “colere”, meaning “to tend, guard, to till, cultivate”.

Tracking emotions – how people think about stocks and shares

When you ask people in Germany to name their feelings about shares, the most common responses include fear, uncertainty, and scepticism. During research conducted by the German Institute for Shares (Deutsches Aktieninstitut), 77% of respondents agreed with the statement “Investing in shares or equity funds is unsafe or risky” to some extent, to a large extent, or even completely. And only one-fifth of respondents felt that investing in shares or an equity fund was “easy”.  

This rather negative mindset is reflected in the stock market participation rates in Germany. In 2023, only 17.6% of Germans invested in shares, equity funds, or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). When researchers studying attitudes toward stock market trading in Germany, on behalf of Deutsche Börse AG, asked survey participants why they were not currently trading on the stock market, many responses were negative, such as risk, fear, lack of knowledge. Other responses included lack of money or interest

Statements by those who do not own shares 

67 % Fear losing a lot of money in the event of
economic crash

66 %
Assets are too low to invest in shares
65 %
Lack the required knowledge
57 %
Not interested in investing in the stock market
56 %
Fear of making the wrong choice
53 %
Fear regretting the investment in the event of a loss
42 % Concept of stock investment too abstract

Statements by those who do own shares 

61 % Owning shares makes them feel good
56 % Know other share owners
55 % Emotions are important due to previous experience
in investing

40 % Fear regretting not investing in the event of profit
34 % Important to have people around them who had
positive experiences

Take a break – and review what you wrote when you started reading. Which three emotions did you write down?

Almost all of these statements are driven by emotion, negative and positive. On one side are the various fears, which basically come down to not knowing enough about investing in shares, making the wrong decisions, regretting the decisions later, and losing money in general.

On the other side, however, people who already own shares report positive feelings about their investment. The surprising realization: Investing in shares is an emotional topic.

Negative feelings come from lack of knowledge

Additional statements by the survey participants point to the origin of these emotions. A significant obstacle to investing in shares is lack of knowledge. 65% of those who do not own shares are deterred from investing because they don’t know enough, and 42% find the topic too abstract, i.e., they have no connection to share ownership. Lack of knowledge can also be held responsible for those who are uninterested in owning shares, or who fear making the wrong decisions.  

Knowledge and emotions are closely linked. When people feel they are uninformed, they develop (irrational) fear and a negative mindset. Conversely, the majority of those surveyed who already own shares have been positively influenced by people they know who invest (and have probably learned from them).

How a good communication strategy can promote a positive investment mindset

This article began with the concept of culture, and the connected positive emotions such as enjoyment and enthusiasm. And the assumption that stock market investment is a rational topic, that people approach purely from a rational standpoint (with fun being less important). 

Do the study results contradict this? Yes. The survey results show that rationality and emotionality are inseperable partners when it comes to investing in the stock market. Well-informed people who have already invested in shares tend to view the topic favorably, while uninformed people, in the worst case, reject the idea of owing shares from the outset. 

Our solution for increasing knowledge: Address brain and heart – sense and sensibility

As communications experts, this brings us to the ways in which we can develop communication strategies and campaigns for employee financial education that: 

  1. Are emotionally engaging 
  2. Provide employees with the knowledge they need 
  3. Enables them to use their newly-founded knowledge to approach employee share programs with a positive mindset—at least, with curiosity, ideally with enthusiasm.

Our approach: Communication campaigns that appeal to the heart, and reassure the brain. How does this work? Let’s find out together.  

With our tried-and-tested Explore – Engage – Shine process, we develop convincing communication and implementation strategies, and a clear, simple, and effective communication concept. Find out about our successful customer projects on our project page. 

Find out more!

If you would like to learn more about this or any other project, please contact us.


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