Having made your decision to make your savings work harder and now having a desire to become a more effective investor and, after much careful thought, having decided on the type of investments you feel comfortable with and which matches your risk profile, you are ready to proceed. You are ready to start your research, but where do you start on that journey into selecting your investment, monitoring their progress and even conducting your trading activities.
The Internet has arrived as THE primary information source for the general public. In no area has there probably been greater provision of different information services than for investment. The World Wide Web is without doubt the major reason why you, the private investor, are getting close to, if not on, the same information and trading position as the professionals.
Sound too good to be true? Well in one sense it is. Such has been the growth in access to the Internet that you may get lost in the sheer volume of available information sites and not readily find the one that is right for your investment profile. Equally, such has been the growth, and such is the competitive position on the Internet, that today's great site maybe gone tomorrow.
Gone, either because it has been acquired by a new company recognising its strengths, or gone because it has folded because it has run out of the initial financing and is not able to raise more monies to keep going. In the former case, the Internet address will probably still contain links to take you to the new address. In the latter, it is a case of thanks for your help; sorry it did not work out for you, and goodbye!
Which sites should I use for my information?
Many of the Internet sites specialising on investment appear to provide a full range of different facilities so suit all types of investor and all types of investment management activity. However, take care. The “one-stop shop approach” whilst appearing attractive in providing a single “favourite” site to link to may not always provide the best answer for each aspect of your needs.
So faced with this apparent wealth of opportunities, where do you begin? First ask yourself what is it I really need most from my Internet services? Once you are clear on this you are in a much better position to then decide on where to go for the services you need.
Remember too that whilst much of the Internet access is still free, increasingly much can only be obtained after you register for the site. This may not be too much of a practical issue, but can leave you open to ‘spam', the flood of adverts you receive as pop-up's on the screen or as email messages. Increasingly, the more timely, and dare we say it, valuable information can only be obtained through premium sites following payment of a monthly or annual subscription. However, if the information is going to give you an advantage, then this may be a small price to pay for gaining that advantage.
The following table sets out many of the UK investor sites available. As have tried to indicate to you, this is a continually moving area. This list is not comprehensive and no doubt your researches of the web will reveal others that you find of value for your investment style and risk profile.
Share price information on most of the above sites will generally be delayed for at least 15 minutes before it is released for you to see. In a volatile market that can seem a long wait, but in the overall life of your investment it should not conflict with your reasons for making that investment decision. Generally, the delay is a commercial one. Online, immediate share prices cost a lot of money. After 15 minutes, the Stock Exchange, who supply the feeds to the information and media companies, do not require onward subscription fees from you, the end user of this data. You get this data effectively free of charge as compensation for the 15 minute delay. Surely not a bad deal for an investor, even if not as attractive for an active day trader.
Although the above web sites are primarily supplied and maintained by commercial organisations, remember if you have a specific company that you are interested in investing in, then most listed and AIM companies have their own company web sites. Many of these have sections specifically identified as shareholder relations areas, providing copies of news stories, Annual and Interim Reports and latest share price information. Even if you can not identify specific investor information, these sites are still worth a visit as a means of identifying what the company does and the markets it is trying to attract.