Technological evolution does not avoid investment tools, either. They improve continuously, new tools appear, old ones become more sophisticated and cheaper so it worths to have a look at new ones.
1. Charts & chart softwares
The largest evolution of investment tools can be observed in the area of chart softwares. The range of provided services became wider, and a lot of old services ara available for free today.
- Most financial sites provide a basic chart solution, like Yahoo! Finance where a simple technical analysis tool is also available. (Click “Basic Tech. analysis” on the left of a stock quote page.) I would not underestimate these since they are very easy to access.
- Many trading platforms have quite good integrated charting softwares like MetaTrader (mostly for forex trading) or Think or Swim (mostly for options trading).
- Technical analysis tools provide investors a lot more than charts today: backtesting, alerts, accessing multiple data sources, custom indicators or even trading robots can available. You can find a list and a comparison of technical analysis sofwares here, but the list is neither complete nor up to date. I also recommend this review of charting softwares for further reading.
- There are also alternative investment tools providing special charts.
It is also important to mention, that forex is a separate topic. You can read about the differences between technical and fundamental analysis of forex here.
2. New tools for news
News portals produce a huge load of news each day. Reading at least the headlines of all news would consume a lot of time so sorting them is essential!
Sorting news is not a rocket science since RSS feeds are invented.
Almost each news portal provides a lot of RSS feeds, just search for the RSS sign within the pages:
These feeds contain news for a specific topic. You can read RSS feeds by using a tool called RSS feed reader – the simplest solution is the online Google Reader.
A feed either
- represents all topics of your interest, or
- may also include unwanted news, or
- may just partially cover your interests.
Choosing the right feeds and mixing them together will result in a feed that contains only the news that are important for you ? saving you a lot of time! For example:
- On a Google Finance stock quote page you can find a feed of the given stock
- On a Yahoo! Finance stock quote page you can find a feed of the industry of the specific stock.
- Yahoo! Pipes is a tool that can mix feeds and remove unwanted news from a feed using keywords. Using Yahoo! Pipes will allow you to fully customize the feeds you are reading.
3. Message boards
Regardless of being a beginner or a pro, message boards are great tools to find informations about investments because you may see a lot of aspects that are different from official news. As a beginner you may get a lot of support from other message board members.
There is a lot of message boards because starting one is not a rocket science today. I think there is no ultimate message board where everybody find what they seek. Instead of giving a couple of links about my favourite ones I suggest using Google to search message boards per topic or this special message board searcher.
Smartphone is a tool that can make investing faster, more efficient and more comfortable.
- You can learn about news as fast as possible especially when using mobile RSS readers, like gReader for Android and Reeder for iPhone / iPad. (Both can synchronize with Google Reader. By the way managing RSS subscriptions is easier in Google Reader.)
- Many trading platforms (such as eSignal) have mobile trading interface. If you learn about some important news you can react to it faster using a mobile trading platform, even when you are on holiday.
- You can also view charts on the mobile version of portals like Yahoo! Finance or in a mobile chart software.
- You can take notes. It may sound banally but many of my investment ideas come when I have no paper nor a pen with me. A smartphone is a good tool for making notes in such cases.
5. Other investment tools
First of all you will probably use a spreadsheet application. Today there are alternatives other than MS Excel.
- LibreOffice Calc (formerly OpenOffice). It is a free software and its basic functions work similar to MS Excel, though you may find a lot of differences. (MS Office 2010 has a totally new look while LibreOffice Calc looks rather like an older MS Excel version. This may be confusing if you already got used to the new look of MS Office.)
- There are also cloud based spreadsheet solutions like Google’s MyDrive (formerly called Google Docs). Thanks to the cloud you can access your spreadsheets anywhere: at home, at work or even on your smartphone. The functionality is significantly reduced (compared to MS Excel or LibreOffice) and a lot of shortcuts is also not working.
I use both LibreOffice and Google’s MyDrive without much problem.
Secondly you may find a stock or fund screener very useful. These online parametric search tools can help you a lot to pick an investment that fits your criteria.
- Yahoo! Finance has both stock and fund screeners with some flaws. (Ie.: I did not find the category where Apple or Google stocks would belong.)
- Finviz.com’s screener is the most detailed stock searcher. It has a lot of technical (eg.: RSI in the oversold range) and fundamental analysis (eg.: P/E below 5) filter options.
- Wall Street Journal also has both stock and fund screeners. Fund screener includes eg.: search by expense ratio, which is a very important factor of choosing a mutal fund.
- Morning Star’s fund screener also includes expense ratio and minimum initial purchase amount.
There is a lot of other tools that may help when investing, like email / SMS alerts, my portfolio, eco calendars, newsletters etc. Using them wisely will allow you to make more money and you can save a lot of time, too!