It used to be difficult to be an individual investor, making one’s own decisions about trading on the stock market. The reason? The brokers and fund managers do this for a living, every day, and they just have always had more information and more research at their fingertips.
Technology has changed all of that. Now, the same information and research is available to the small individual investor, so that much better trading decisions can be made. Tools and apps now allow the little guy to conduct research, set up watches and alerts, do research, and become a savvier investor who can make trades with ease.
As an entrepreneur you are busy. You are probably using an app or two for your personal finance needs. And if you are investing, you may have turned that over to a brokerage house or big fund managers. You pay high fees and hope for the best. Now, however, you can skip all of that. Here are the 5 best apps right now for taking control of your own investments.
Bullsboard is a great all-around tool with features that many other apps don’t have:
Screening: with this feature, you can do your own research. You set up filters, and then the stocks start appearing with the details. With a swipe, you can add a stock to your watchlist or just skip it for now. You get a detailed history and current price. If you are a bit nervous about setting up your own filters, Bullboard has pre-designed ones which you can choose based upon your general parameters.
Sentiment: This tool provides solid training and allows you to plan as you look through your stock holdings. Ultimately, you choose to buy, sell, or hold. If you choose to buy or hold, you can setup alerts for price changes. Over time, you will see patterns emerge, and you can then evaluate whether those trends are profitable or not.
Portfolio, Watch Lists, Alerts: you can set up as many portfolios or watchlists as you want. And you can add unlimited alerts too. You’ll get your information in real time, so you can make decisions quickly.
The biggest draw for this app is that your trades are free. If you have enough money to buy one share, then you are eligible to use this app. You can also set up alerts for buying and selling, as your portfolio is held right in the app. You will get quotes in real time, and each stock will have a daily, monthly and past year chart for you to study. Right now Robinhood is open to American and Chinese investors, but there plans to expand.
If your time is really precious and limited, then this app may be for you. Once you complete the questionnaire, the tool will use some sophisticated programs and come up with a mix of funds based upon your parameters. It will manage your entire portfolio, and its charges range from 0.15% to 0.35%, based on the size of your portfolio. Traditional firms and brokers charge 1%+ per year.
The other great thing about Betterment is that you can call and talk to alive person is you want some advice or have questions.
You will need $500 and a desire to have your portfolio fully managed through this app. Just like with Betterment, you will have to complete a questionnaire. But, unlike Betterment, this app doesn’t make recommendations. You will automatically be enrolled in one of 20 funds based on your appetite for risk and your index preferences. Managing your investments is free up to $10,000 and there is a 0.25% fee per year after that. You will get performance information in real time, and can always change funds if you wish. Wealthfront now manages $3.5 billion of individual assets, so you are in a good company.
5. Baton Investing
Batoninvesting is a bit like Wealthfront but is has an embedded stock-picking system that was developed by a computer scientist, John Reese, at MIT. Based on your risk tolerance and other factors, this app will pick stocks for you. For a fee of $19/month, you will have real-time updates and notifications when prices change or hit a level at which you want to buy or sell. Reese claims that he has achieved a 485% return since 2003.
The traditional financial investment industry is being heavily disrupted by what it calls “robo-advisors,” the types of apps that are listed here. The days of the brokerage houses and financial advisors are probably numbered, as millennial entrepreneurs enter the world of investing, realizing that they have access to research, advice, and cheaper trading all on their own.