Using online tools to build and manage an investment portfolio

Online tools can be a great help for those hoping to create and manage an investment portfolio.

Have you ever considered managing your investments online? These days, potential investors can action almost all their trading from the comfort of their own home via their laptop, including buying stocks online and efficiently managing portfolios. 

The risks – and perks – of ditching the middleman

Even online brokers, often referred to as ‘platforms’, charge for services; however, fees for both large and small investors vary immensely. Many of the most expensive platforms are almost impossible for novice investors to understand, as their websites are often overcrowded with information and hidden agendas.

That being the case, is it possible to build and manage your own investment portfolio without going through a broker? Well, going it alone may involve some investment risks as there is no professional input, but this is balanced by the lack of high fees. Besides, if large sums of money are not at stake using a broker is not really worthwhile. There are numerous online sources for up to date information on all forms of investing and there are also easy to use online tools available to help you.

The Internet provides a number of investment tracking tools that can do much of the work of an online brokerage firm without the additional cost. Some of these have exploited the latest industry innovations to offer a little more than the basic service of performance assessments and comparisons. Many of these services are free; of those that charge, most offer both a basic, free version and a fee-paid premium version. 

Investment graphs – what they mean 

Investors use graphs and stock charts to assess how well their stocks are doing, as well as other financial instruments, such as exchange traded funds (ETFs), so it is very important that any novice online investors learn how to read them. The most basic, the line chart, shows the stock’s periodic closing prices, helping the investor to identify its general price trend. Pie charts and bar charts and even ‘candlestick charts’ (a version of the line chart that is able to display more information) are also used.

Stock quotes and ‘ticker symbols’

Stock quotes, on the other hand, display the highest and lowest prices at which a stock has traded over the past year. They often use the ‘ticker symbol’ to identify the stock, so it’s important that you are familiar with the ticker symbol for the company you have invested in. This will appear as an arrangement of upper case letters; those listed and traded on the New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. exchanges have up to three letters, while stocks listed on NASDAQ have four letters in their ticker symbols. You can look up a company’s unique ticker symbol from most financial websites on the Internet. 

Google Finance

It seems that Google has a tool for almost every sector, and business investment is no exception. Google Finance has a free portfolio tracker that, while not as advanced as some of the other tools available, is very user-friendly. This easy to use service tracks both overall and daily performance of uploaded portfolios. It also offers a performance chart and current financial news on the companies being tracked in the portfolio via its integration with Google News. 

How to prepare yourself before you start trading

Before starting any online trading, users must ensure they are using a reputable site. The Internet is notorious for investment scams and bogus schemes, so always make sure that any claims about a product have been independently verified outside the company. Find out where the stock is traded, and be especially wary of stock not listed on any official stock market, such as NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Once you have established that a provider is trustworthy, you should also find out what fees will be payable for the service. Many online trading platforms or brokerage firms are not always clear about what they charge, and first-time investors should always be careful of ‘hidden’ fees. Shop around and always read the fine print before committing to anything. 

The Internet – a huge source of financial information

The Internet is a great source of investment information, and advice from experts on different investment sectors is mainly free. Watching the business news and staying fully informed is the best way to control your own portfolio so that you can make your own decisions – with a little help from the online experts. These days, almost half of financial advisers now tweet messages to their followers, so you may even find support in social media.

Always try to obtain independent and impartial financial advice. Be cautious of so-called financial experts with a stake in a particular company or business venture.

Most independent investment advisers offer their services to both individual and institutional investors. Fisher Investments, for example, are a privately owned and respected money management firm with offices all over the world. The firm’s expertise spans all sectors, from utilities and technology to emerging markets and the energy sector. You can check out Fisher Investments Authors on Goodreads for reading material if you are considering investing in specific sectors.

The growth of these online investment tools has made it far easier for people to invest. This has led to an increase in online brokerage services, ranging from the excellent to the somewhat shady. One of the safest ways to invest on the stock market is through your own bank. Many provide stock dealing services and the transaction charges are usually very reasonable.

Do your research and read up on what is out there before committing to a particular service. Thorough research is essential if you are to make your investment portfolio profitable.

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