There are several types of investment software available to buy. Depending on who you are and the type of investments you wish to make, choose the software that offers the features you need. Financial software is a broad term that is given to a variety of types of software programs. Each type is a bit different and offers something unique. The manufacturers of this investment software are designing products that fit a variety of goals, too. For this reason, it is important to look closely at any type of individual software and consider the long term benefits it has to offer to you.
Here are a number of different investment software types on the market. Each type offers a variety of software products that fit under it.
Financial Planning Software: Managing your goals for your money, this type of software will help you to make wise financial decisions. It allows you to manage where your money is located, what is it earning for you and helps you to reduce any debt you have. Financial planning software is often used by some professionals as a way of helping people get their future financial plans on paper and get them moving in the right direction. It will help to show you what you have to do to obtain the goals you have for retirement, for savings, and for investments you wish to make.
Retirement Planning Software: The key question here is who much do you need to be able to retire? In order to answer that question, you need to be able to see what you have and what it will become for you in the coming years. This type of software does that by considering the various types of software you have an even helping you to make wise financial decisions for the money you have coming in. Retirement planning software can monitor the accounts you have, suggest other account options and helps you to choose retirement investments that will reach your goals.
Asset Allocation Software: This type of software is designed to help you know where to put your money. Where do you need to put your money to get the returns you are hoping for? Better yet, these software programs often offer historical information. This allows you to have a good idea where your money will be in the coming years based on historical data provided to you. Asset allocation software for personal use can be quite helpful in making financial investment decisions. Professional financial planners and investors use it regularly to estimate returns and to get a clear picture of profit ability.
Portfolio Management Software: Your portfolio is your financial life story and managing it can be difficult. This type of software will help you to make wise financial decisions based on what is in your portfolio. It will connect all of your investments into one easy to manage software tool. This allows you to see a snapshot of your money any time you would like to. Some more advanced software programs also provide you with the ability to make adjustments to those investments while others offer suggestions about changes you could make.
Investment Model Software: Both consumers and investors will benefit from using this type of investment software. Many financial advisors use this type of software to show you what your money could do if you choose one type of investment over the other. If you are losing money from your investment, this will help you to make the right decisions. Many of these software programs offer historical information over the long period such as fee-based models over nine years of returns and all no load mutual funds and all loan mutual fund models over the five year period.
There are a number of other investing software products available as well. You may want to consider bond calculators, which can provide you with a good idea on how bond values grow and how they can work in your investment portfolio. You may want to use a mutual fund picking software tool. This type of software will take in the information you provide to it and will recommend mutual funds you should chose from the 21 asset classes provided. This is a fantastic way to get information and to make adjustments to your financial future based on the information given to you from historical data or current market data.
When choosing any type of investment software, get a good idea of what the designers have put into it. For example, some software will include more recommendations than just management features. If this is the case, be sure you understand the type of advice it is giving you and determine if that advice matches the financial lifestyle you lead currently. Those who want to manage their investments on their own have no benefit in recommending software, but may want to buy something that’s more intense in keeping up with the latest stock quotes.
One of the best ways to choose investment software of any type is to invest in well-reviewed products. Software that others have used and approve of may be just what you need. When looking at reviews, consider how well those reviews answer your questions of how well it works. For many people, software like this is the ideal way to manage their financial success but only if the software will deliver the top results required.
Investment software for professionals is quite different from those programs designed for individuals. Yet, many individuals will benefit from using those tools themselves. Take the time to look into all of your options and determine which software meets your goals. Often times, investing in high priced software with extra features and details will not yield the same results for you as you believe and therefore may not be the best choice. After considering the features offered by the software, make your decision on which investment software to choose based on the reviews you’ve seen, your budget and the types of investments you wish to manage through the software.
Compare Investment Software Options
Everyone’s got an opinion; it’s why we have so many choices, in movies, in music, in food…in investment software. Just because I like it, doesn’t mean you will.
So while you are evaluating all the choices, make a checklist. Put the things on the checklist that you feel are important. And add a few of the things everyone seems to be worried about. Then Google investment software reviews and read what the reviewers say. Read the reviews, make notations about what works and what doesn’t. Then go to a different website and read their reviews. You don’t want to read the reviews written by someone who owns the software, so look around.
Once you’ve read the reviews and have a few good options, make a features checklist. What do you want to do? How do you want to do it? Make your lists and check off the items or make comments so you can create a picture of the perfect software for you. This way you make an informed choice.
I’ll give you a few items to get started.
Ease of use. This has to be number one on the checklist. If you can’t figure out how to use it, then it won’t do you any good, right? And everyone is different. If you are a relatively new investor and are only moderately computer literate, like me…your ease of use is going to be different than the computer geek with a robust portfolio.
Not just easy to use, but easy to install. If your computer skills are moderate, you want the reviews to mention how easy it is to install and set up.
Tutorials are informative. The reviewers need to say something about the learning process. How easy was it to learn not just the basics, but the more advanced features? Let’s use a different example – how many features does your phone have? And how many do you actually use? Investment software will need to be fully utilized in order for you to receive the best results. So make sure the checklist includes learning all the options and not just the bare minimum.
Obviously you need to check the price, and not just the initial price but any ongoing subscription price or per feature charge. Some software is free, like the software for online trading companies. But you have to deposit a minimum in an account to use for trades, and there is a charge each time you place a sell or buy order. This might be okay if you are planning to make online trades, just find out if you need to keep a minimum in the account, and what the fee schedule is.
Will the software work on your computer? Check the version, the file size and the requirements for each software program you’re interested in. If you have an older windows version, does this software only work on Vista or Windows 7? Do you have enough space on your computer to accept the file?
Is there technical support for the investment software? What if you have a problem installing or getting a feature to work? Can you call someone or utilize online help? Find out what the customer support options are and before you buy the software you should know if the support is free or if there is a charge to use it. Another question would be how long you have to use any support options. Most companies don’t give support on their products indefinitely. If a software company has installation support, it may only be available for thirty or sixty days after purchase. Not good if you buy the software but don’t plan to install it right away.
Make a features checklist. Not all programs are created equal and not all features will be important to you. Figure out what might be important to you, and create a list based on what you want to accomplish. A few things to look for might be the ability to:
- Organize investment data
- Follow expert investing strategies
- Follow and chart specific stocks before buying
- Customize strategies
- Get quotes
- Create charts
- Read news on the companies and investing strategies
- Make trades
Doing research on investment software is important, and having a review checklist beside you while you do that research can help you organize your research. If you fill out the checklist as you go, you’ll see places you’ve missed on a specific software program and can go back and find answers to those missing categories.
One last question to include on the checklist: Is there trial software? You might not want to do this with everyone, but after you’ve combed the reviews for comments and read up on the choices, do your top three picks have trial software? Many I reviewed had a 14 day or 30 day trial. This allows you to load the software, see how hard it is to set up and play with the options a little. You can better analyze what you like and don’t like. Just don’t forget to completely delete the ones you don’t want.
So Many Choices for Investment Software
Before you start looking for investment software, take a few minutes to write down what you want the software to do for you.
A little direction will help. There are so many investment software options out there that the selection process isn’t going to be easy. A simple internet search on the term “investment software” will result in an excessive list of selections, making it difficult to know where to start. A good place to begin is by determining exactly what you want to do with the software. What are your needs? The first question you need to answer is…are you looking for something to track current investments, help you make investment choices, or do you want to use the software to issue sell and buy orders?
If you write down a few things that you want the software to do, it will give you a place to start. Then as the features are listed and the options grow, you’ll remember why you started looking for software in the first place.
In general, investment software can be grouped into three overall categories. There is software available for tracking, trading, and for helping you screen investment choices. Then the field blends a bit and there are programs that allow you to do two of these, or the software will have features that draw from all three categories.
If all you want to do is monitor investments you already have, you are looking for tracking software. Options will vary, but usually tracking software will allow you to follow the progress of a stock or other investment over time. Chart trends, monitor ups and downs and dissect every blip and surge. This type of software is typically passive. You gather data and watch things happen. Some software programs allow you to set alert thresholds. Meaning an updated program will let you know you reached a specific goal. But you can’t use the software to make changes. Nor can you set guidelines for automatic action. If the software package is truly a tracking package and not a blend of elements, it can tell you to act, but you have to pick up the telephone, or send an email to your broker, or log into an account to make any changes.
Some of the features of tracking software include customizable options like creating a personal stock ticker. You can usually set the investment tracking software to Auto Update when you log into the internet, setting user-specified intervals. This means that your investments can be updated every minute, every day, or every week. You decide how often you want the information on your stocks and mutual funds. All reported data is computed based on your personal stock purchase price, dates and number of shares.
Something to consider with tracking only software – you may already have something on your computer that can be used for this. Quicken, Microsoft Money and other financial programs generally have at least a simple version of stock tracking software that will update stock prices and follow a stock or mutual funds progress. So check what your program can do before you shop for task-specific software.
Trading software for personal traders is often attached to online trading companies or your personnel broker. One downside to this type of software is that you have to purchase or sell stocks only through the company providing the software. But there are investment trading applications you purchase on your own that will allow you the freedom to trade with several different brokers. This way you utilize the same tools to analyze each investment, yet you aren’t confined to a specific brokerage house or seller.
The online trading software options are varied and some are more user friendly than others. There are often automated trading options. This means your sell or buy order will be sent to the company or broker automatically. No human intervention needed. You won’t have to be online or at your computer for your specific orders to be carried out, the order is sent based on target price points you put in place. For instance, if you want to sell a specific stock when it gets to a hundred dollars a share, the online program will issue the sell order as soon as the stock hits that price.
Online trading software generally is free if you open an online trading account with a minimum deposit. The minimum deposits vary by company and so does the price for each individual sell or buy order.
Screening or Selection Software
Selection software allows you to sort data based on abundant criterion. This type of software gives you options for your options, with the ability to dissect possible investments on several levels. This software can be bought, or if you want to play before you pay, some companies have trial offers. I also noticed a few freeware options available. Screening software is data intense. Most packages offer downloads to Excel or spreadsheet programs that allow you to fully analyze the data collected.
All investment software features vary, so do a little reading to determine if each package meets your needs. As you look over the options, don’t forget your original list of requirements. Make sure the investment software you choose meets those initial needs.
Investment Software – Online Investing Options
If you want to try your hand at online investing, make sure you explore all the options and consider the investment software programs that are part of the package.
Online brokers allow you to buy and sell stocks online. The online software that you get to utilize this service largely takes the place of a human broker. You use real money, except for some software that allows you to “test” your results. The investment software allows you to track, screen, and trade stocks, and then you request your trades online and get verification of the sell or buy order. Some online brokerages have the option where you can talk to live brokers and do broker-assisted trades as part of their service.
Online investing isn’t just for buying and selling stocks, although that seems to be the most popular online use for investing. Some investment firms allow their customers to purchase bonds, futures, mutual funds and options. These investing practices are considered to be more advanced forms making investments and should be approached with caution.
I’ve explored some of the options for investing online and here’s what I’ve found. They are listed in no particular order and without specific recommendation.
TD Ameritrade – This online brokerage firm has been providing services since 1975. The minimum to fund an account is $1000 for IRA’s and $2000 for non-IRA. There are sometimes promotional offers available. The cost to buy/sell stock is $9.95 per online trade. There is a fee schedule for other options that include getting a stock certificate, fees for subscriptions to some of the online tools, and more. TD Ameritrade offers online investment software tools. Some are provided at no fee and some have a subscription cost. These tools include Command Center 2.0, which allows you the ability to research stock and options trading. You can enter orders and view status. Other software tools offered include Pattern Matcher, QuoteScope, Options 360, StrategyDesk, and more.
Scotttrade/TD Ameritrade/ – This online brokerage firm has been in business for over 25 years. The minimum to fund an account is $500, or $2000 for option accounts. The fee for online stock trades is $7.00. The trading website offers research and intuitive tools at no charge. There is an advanced trading platform available for larger accounts, software that offers streaming quotes, and options software. There is also software that allows access from a mobile device.
E*Trade – Also in business for over 25 years, this company has a fund minimum of $1000. The fees for an online trade start at $12.99 per sell or buy order and decreases based on assets or volume of trades. The software available allows website trading, has screening options and also appears to have some educational options.
Wall Street Survivor – And if you aren’t ready to deposit money. Try the “game.” This free online game will teach you how to use the software, how to read the stock prices and help you learn the lingo. Since 1990, the company that made this game has provided the top Business Schools in the United States with Stock Market simulations. These simulators have been used to teach business students the fundamentals of trading stocks, bonds, mutual funds, futures, currencies and options. Now you can try. Utilize this free download to learn how to make stock trades. This game is the closest thing to a real brokerage account, without taking the risk of losing money before you know what you are doing. Learn while you are interacting. The game offers a “virtual” money account so you can track how you’ve done. You execute fantasy trades in real time, with real information. The financial data feed is the same one used by brokers world-wide. The games Research Center includes programs that allow you to personalize data and charts on the stock market. It also comes with a calendar to track your earnings and a stock screener. There are additional tools that can help you expand your stock trading knowledge and learn to make informed decisions.
Investment Software – Know the Terminology
To make an educated decision on the best investment software program to use you have to know the terminology and understand the language for both the investment environment and the software niche.
This is a new world for me. As I’m reading up on the options for investment software I feel my eyes cross and my brow furrow. It’s a foreign language and I need a tutorial just on what seems to be the basic lingo. You need to understand not only the software terms like autocomplete, but also the investment language that is full of acronyms, like Forex.
If you don’t have a solid grasp of the language you are more likely to make mistakes. And this is one place where mistakes can be costly. My suggestion is to keep a little notebook that you can fill with terms and definitions. Mark a letter of the alphabet at the top every few pages and keep this beside you as you are working on your investments. When you come across a word or acronym you don’t know, write it in the book, Google the definition and write a version that you’ll remember in your notebook.
This is just the beginning. As you progress there are actually dictionaries you can download with stock market and accounting terminology. These dictionaries cover an extensive vocabulary of a wide range of investment topics and some come with translation abilities in English, German, French, Italian, Russian, and Spanish.
But to start, looking up the word you don’t know, writing it down and referring to it once and awhile are all teaching tools that will help you remember this new language. This is your vocabulary sheet to the investment world. I’ve got a few options to get you started. In no particular order:
Acronym – An acronym is a word made out of initials or parts of several words. For instance FOREX, or Forex, is Foreign Exchange.
NASDAQ – The NASDAQ Stock Market or just, NASDAQ, is an American stock exchange. This acronym originally stood for National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations. Today this “word” is used to describe the ticker symbol of stocks that are listed on this particular exchange. For instance, NASDAQ:COKE means that COKE is what you will use to look up the price per share for Coca cola stock on the NASDAQ market.
OTC – Is an acronym for Over The Counter. Traditionally this term was used to describe securities transactions that are made via telephone and computer rather than on the floor of an exchange. With investment software and online trading, OTC is a specific designation that is usually handled differently from NASDAQ stocks. You may or may not be able to follow and track OTC traded securities. If this is important to you, verify what you can do. If this is online trading software, you may or may not be able to buy or sell OTC securities, so again, verify the options.
Penny Stocks – Penny Stocks in the US are commons stocks that trade from a penny a share up to five dollars a share. These stocks are traded over the counter (OTC) through quotation services and may or may not be available to track, trade, or screen via investment software. Check specific software options to make sure.
Forex or Foreign Exchange – Forex or foreign exchange market is a worldwide currency market. This market is used to trade currencies.
Bull vs Bear Market – A simplistic explanation of these financial terms is that a bull market and bear market are used to describe up and down stock market trends. A bull market is going up and is thought to signify that investors are confident; a bear market is going down and signifies caution or worry.
Stock Prices – This is the price set per share of stock. In order for a stock to be listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange, the stock needs to be valued at $1 or up for each share. If the stock is valued at less than a dollar, it is listed as an OTC or over the counter stock.
Autocomplete – Autocomplete as a term used by investment software, refers to completing sell or buy orders without human intervention. In other words, you set the software to sell a specific stock when it reaches the price of $100. Once the stock reaches that point, the software program issues the sell order without asking for your approval.
Price to earnings ratio or P/E – Price to earnings ratio allows you measure the amount you paid for one share of stock with the annual net income or profit earned by the company per one share. This measurement is used to evaluate how a stock is doing. A stock with a higher P/E number means the stock is more expensive compared to one with a lower P/E ratio. A P/E ratio is figured like this: if a stock is priced at $24 per share, and the earnings per share for the most recent year is $3, then the stock has a P/E ratio of 24/3 or 8. The company made $8 of profit for every share out there.
Well, this is a start. There are so many terms to learn and commit to memory. Let this small vocabulary sheet get you started in the world of investment software and investments.