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The internet – an investor’s dream come true?April 17, 2016 Technology
The Internet can be an investor’s dream come true with access to seemingly unlimited stock market news and research. But an Internet search can get quickly out of hand with too much information pouring onto the computer screen. Investors need to develop their Internet research skills and learn to manage their on-line searches efficiently and effectively so the volume of information that comes up on their computer screen or mobile device is what they want and need to make good investment decisions.
The secret to good research results is taking control of the information instead of letting the information take control of you. Remember that much of the investment information on the Net often has no editorial control or supervision. So be careful out there. Other research rules to abide by are:
Know where you’re going and remember where you’ve been
Before you go on-line know exactly what you’re looking for. This will give you the key words for your initial search query and will help increase the likelihood of getting the exact information you want. The links that come up on the screen are all ranked according to how well they match the search query. Your browser will keep track of your history and any links you follow, but remember to bookmark favourite or frequently visited sites for quick and easy access in the future.
Start with sources you trust
All major financial newspapers, magazines and news organizations have interactive web sites designed for investors. They are usually free to browse and offer site visitors extensive investment research capabilities. In addition, corporate websites and those of financial institutions and regulatory agencies can be trusted sources of investment information. Look for familiar organization names in the search listing and follow those links first. Their value is credibility with editorial disclosure policies that give investors assurance that the information from that website will be useful and accurate.
Look for tools you can use
Look for the sites that have tools or services you can use. Some bank and financial sites have on-line calculators to let investors do the math on their mortgages and retirement saving plans.
Many financial newspapers and financial institutions allow investors to create stock lists to follow specific securities or create a whole portfolio that can be tracked daily on their site. Look for a site’s ability to generate charts and graphs and provide historic trading information or up-to-date corporate news and opinion of value to investors.
Sifting fact from fiction
Once you leave established media and corporate and institutional websites you’re into a grey realm of independent investment advice and opinion found on personal websites, blogs, social media sites and in chat rooms. Caution is required. Remember, anyone can set up a website or write a blog and pretend to be an expert. Look at the design of the site. Is it cleanly designed and easy to read? Are you able to comment on the content and are other investors’ comments readable and intelligent? The author’s professional or biographical information helps to establish the credibility and relevance of the information. And don’t forget to check the country of origin and the date when the material was first published. Make sure it is timely information and relevant to a Canadian investor. Finally, be on guard for sources of advice who may have a vested interest, such as a promoter looking to cause a run up or a run down in a stock price.
Be word wary and data diligent
Be wary of dazzling data that comes at you without a source of origin or attribution and statement of “facts” that are unsubstantiated. Words and phrases such as “guaranteed” or “opportunity of a lifetime” are obvious promotional giveaways. Watch for visual copy clues – too many CAPITALIZED WORDS or exclamation points are signs of weak and biased writing. Be sceptical. Remember, all reputable investment information comes with disclaimers and disclosures at the end that indicate the information is qualified as “forward looking” and subject to change. Look for that qualifying statement as a clue to the trustworthiness of the site’s content.