Commission-Free Stock Trading and Impact on Individual Stock Market Participation (SMP)

Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Committee Chair

Beverly Smith

Committee Member

Tim Wiseman

Committee Member

Lewis Chongwony


This research explores the impact of zero-commission stock trading on individual stock market participation across a spectrum of demographic and socioeconomic factors. The advent of online platforms offering commission-free trades has potentially democratized stock market access, which this study investigates against the backdrop of traditionally low individual engagement in stock investments. The research was a quantitative cross-sectional survey, collecting data from a diverse American demographic. A significant 41% response rate was achieved, resulting in the completion of 495 questionnaires. The analysis reveals that income is the dominant factor influencing stock market involvement, accounting for 21% of the variance in participation rates; higher earners are more likely to invest. The allure of zero-commission trading stands out as a strong predictor of SMP accounting for 15% variance in participation while widespread adoption of smartphones and trading apps accounting for (4%). Financial knowledge and awareness was equally a significant predictor, contributing to 6% variation in SMP. Additionally, gender and age accounted for 3% and 4% variance respectively. The research underscores critical areas for policy and educational interventions, such as increasing financial literacy to bridge the gender gap and extending market access to lower-income groups. By shedding light on these factors, the study provides a comprehensive understanding of the recent shifts in stock market participation dynamics, highlighting the transformative potential of zero-commission trading in an increasingly digital financial landscape.