Stock research tools
Research tools at brokerages come in many forms. Some of them involve explicit trading advice by in-house or third-party analysts; but here, we’ll focus on research tools that arm you with the information and knowledge you need to confidently make and execute your own investment decisions. There’s no exact definition of what a research tool is, as it may include everything from news to charts and screeners. So let’s go over these one by one.
News tools: Following the news is essential if you want to know what’s going on with the companies behind your stock investments and the industries they operate in. Many brokers offer news feeds of varying quality, but if you really want to dive in, it’s a good idea to check out some big providers such as Yahoo! Finance, Google Finance or Bloomberg. In addition to browsing news and checking stock prices, you can set alerts and filters, so you’ll get quick and easy access to the information that is relevant to your investment goals.
: Charts are essential for technical analysis - that is, the practice of using past stock price patterns to predict future price movements
. Most brokers have some charting functionality, but if you’re looking for something more sophisticated and/or user-friendly, there are many free or freemium tools out there. Some of the most established charting tools are part of market news sites (like CNN’s real-time stock charting tool). More recently, some standalone charting providers have also emerged. One of the best and most popular is TradingView
, which is often the main charting tool used in stock analysis videos you see on YouTube.
Portfolio tracking tools: These are online tools that allow you to keep a tab, real time, on the performance of your investments. They are especially useful if you hold accounts at multiple brokers. Some portfolio tracking tools require you to enter your investments manually, while others can be linked to your brokerage accounts.
Screeners: Screeners are like search bars on steroids - they allow you to find the right stocks or ETFs among the tens of thousands available out there, by narrowing your selection with the use of various filters. Criteria may include industry, company size, fund cost or share price level, but a growing number of brokers now also filter for ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria for ethically conscious investors. Many online brokers have fairly good screeners; if yours doesn’t, there are great tools on the web such as etf.com or justETF.
Demo trading account: Making an investment decision is one thing, but executing it is quite another. Demo accounts provided by online brokers are a great way to learn how the trading platform works and where certain functions are located; so you can react quickly (and not make any errors) when a good trading opportunity arises. Demo accounts can help you learn how various order types such as limit orders or stop-loss work; and you can also feel out your attitude to risk as your virtual funds grow (or evaporate).