This article is designed to provide background information on top financial service providers, that inform and educate investors. These providers offer investors information on topics ranging from stock investing, to mutual fund investing, to bond investing and even tax management strategies. Investors need to be informed to make intelligent investment decisions, and these providers are great sources for investment and wealth management information.
Yahoo Finance is one of the best sources for financial information. It provides free up to the minute information on the stock markets, the bond markets and the commodities markets. The site offers a number of innovative links, and it even allows investors to set up a personal portfolio tracker. Yahoo Finance is on my internet favorites list because it is an accurate and easy way to monitor the stock market. The stock lookup puts summary information, key statistical information, profile information and more at your fingertips. Yahoo Finance has two features that I especially like. One is its interactive stock charts which allow users to compare the performance of numerous different stocks side by side. The second is the revolving stock ticker at the top of the dashboard, which gives instant real time quotes for the last ten stocks that you have inquired about.
Betterment.com describes itself as, “an online investment tool that rolls portfolio management, trading commissions, and rebalancing into one website. The main attraction of Betterment is simplicity. Betterment allows individuals to invest money into either stocks or treasury bonds through ETF’s that have been picked by Betterment.”
Here, is what the stock basket is made up of:
• 20% Vanguard Total Stock Market (VTI)
• 20% iShares S&P 500 Value Index (IVE)
• 20% iShares S&P 1000 Value Index (IWD)
• 15% iShares Russell 2000 Value Index (IWN)
• 15% iShares Russell Midcap Value Index (IWS)
• 10% DIAMONDS Trust Series 1 (DIA)
Here is the Treasury Bond basket:
• 50% iShares Barclays TIPS Bond Fund (TIP)
• 50% iShares Barclays 1-3 Year Treasury Bond Fund (SHY)
Betterment offers competitive low fees of 0.3% to 0.9%. Starting off at a low 0.9% fee for accounts with a $0-$25,000 balance, your fees range all the way down to 0.3% for accounts with a $500,000 balance or more. The fees are charged quarterly. Betterment gives investors a 30 day free trial period and does not set a minimum balance.
Betterment’s theme slogan is Sign Up, Allocate, Relax. Betterment is a simple and easy way to invest in stocks and bonds. Investors can sign up online in just minutes. After signing up the only decision that an investor will need to make, is how they want to allocate their contributions.
Morningstar.com is one of the most trusted financial service sites in the world. The site is built to help investor at any experience level make informed investment decisions. The site provides investors with up to the minute stock, bond and fund quotes. The site also gives investment news, analysis, and strategies. In addition the site offers investors dozens of investment tools, for stock investing Fund investing and bond investing. I like that the site is easy to read and understand. The Portfolio Manager offers you an easy-to-use interface to manage your investments. Our new import functionality streamlines the process and allows you immediate access to Morningstar’s independent analysis on your portfolio. Many investors that are new to the site will appreciate the fact that Morningstar offers a free membership with limited information access and a Premium Membership. Investors can sign up for a 14 day free trial period for the Premium Membership.
As of March 2012, Morningstar Premium cost is as follows:
• On a month-to-month basis, $21.95/monthor
• $189/ year or $15.75/month
• $319 for 2 years or $13.29/month
• $419 for 3 years or $11.64/month
Morningstar also offers new members additional perks such as 10 free issues of Investor’s Business Daily.
Investor’s Business Daily
I have subscribed to Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) for years. I think that my subscription has been worth every dollar that I have paid for it and more. This periodical was founded by William J. O’Neil. Mr. O’ Neil has strong theories about how to become a successful investor, and sends a copy of his book titled “How to Make Money in Stocks” to every new member. What distinguishes IBD from other financial periodicals is that it puts a focus on investor education. The daily newspaper also provides financial news and analysis. I like the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Exchange Research tables which rate every stock on the two exchanges. I also like the website which provides the same news as the paper along with timely quotes and research tools such as a portfolio tracker. While the paper covers bonds and Mutual funds it primarily focuses on stock investing. The subscription prices are as follows:
$329 for 52 weeksOnline
$259, over 50% off the print edition cover price, plus get 4 bonus weeks!
Investor’s Business Daily offers potential subscribers a 10 day free trial period.
ZACKS Investment Research
ZACKS is a stock research website that describes itself as “one of the most highly regarded firms in the investment industry. The guiding principle behind our work is that there must be a good reason for brokerage firms to spend billions of dollars a year on stock research. Obviously, these investment experts know something special that may be indicative of the future direction of stock prices. From day one, we were determined to unlock that secret knowledge and make it available to our clients to help them improve their investment results.” ZACKS provides real time stock and mutual fund quotes. It also provides investment news and stock market updates. The websites dashboard provides a variety of links that include a stock screener, a model portfolio link, an education link and a link which assist in financial planning. ZACKS offers a free membership with limited information access and a Premium Membership.
The Premium membership cost $24.95 per month or $199 for a full year.
Each of the providers listed above are excellent sources of investing information and assistance. I believe that each of these providers offers a unique service that can help to improve the performance of almost any investor.
We would welcome feedback from investors that would like to suggest other sources.
Darnell Brown is an accountant with over 20 years of auditing experience. He has worked in both the private sector and for the United States Government. He currently works as a freelance writer and has written numerous financial articles for the investmentunderground.com website.