Want to know the next big tech investment? Ask your children!

I wouldn’t usually describe data analysis as fascinating, but that’s exactly how I felt listening to BBC Radio 2 this morning. Vineeta Gupta, head of children’s dictionaries at Oxford University Press (OUP), was discussing the trends behind language used by British children in the 500 words competition.

Following OUP’s analysis of more than 131,000 entries this year, Vineeta revealed that politics, elections, Donald Trump and Pokemon Go are some the subjects that are influencing children’s creativity currently. New words and phrases in this year’s stories included Brexit, Article 50 and fake news.

Another trend I found interesting was that the word ‘phone’ was used in stories more than twice as much as ‘TV’, highlighting just how much of our and children’s lives involves mobile devices these days. Having caught up with Jeremy Gleeson, manager of AXA Framlington Global Technology fund earlier this week, it made me think about how technology can change so much from generation to generation.

Back in 2000, the top five tech stocks were Microsoft, Lucent, Cisco, Oracle and Intel. Today they are Apple, Alphabet (Google’s owner), Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. So while Microsoft has survived and adapted, the ‘face’ of technology has changed significantly.

And the opportunities today involve technologies we wouldn’t have even dreamt about a few years ago. Cloud computing, which simply didn’t exist 10 years ago, is one of the themes in Jeremy’s fund. As broadband speeds have improved and the costs reduced, IT systems no longer need to reside in a company’s building. Instead, businesses can buy the capacity they actually need like a utility.


Cyber security is also a very modern concern. It is estimated there are 80-90 million cyber security events each year and that cyber crime costs the global economy around $400-575 billion annually, so the benefits of offering products and services to protect against such events is a real opportunity for tech companies.

The adaptation of existing technology is also growing apace. For example, the next generation of smart phones will be able to detect what is in front of their screen. Gaming is an obvious way to use this technology, but also biometric recognition. We could well be making financial transactions simply by looking into our phones in the near future. The great thing about this type of functionality is that once it is placed in a phone, the applications can grow around it.

The other thing about technology is that as it permeates our lives in so many respects, it’s a great way of engaging children with investing. My colleague, Juliet, invests in Jeremy’s fund for her teenage stepsons’ Junior ISAs. She’s found they are more willing to hold a conversation with her about making money from computer games and social media than they are about discussing the pros and cons of house builders. It’s not a bad strategy and one I may try myself!

p.s writing exactly 500 words is harder than it looks!

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