As the Internet continues to evolve, so does our annual Best of the Net Guide. The 14th edition highlights many of the websites that have won our praise for many years, as well as several newcomers. In addition, we’re paying more attention to whether a site provides videos, a medium that is almost ubiquitous.
We also continue to adapt to the growing popularity of social networking. While we once again discuss previous favorites, we have added a brand new section about Twitter as well.
Perhaps the most important Internet innovation for investors is increased emphasis on usability. Many websites have either been updated or redesigned to make it easier for visitors to locate and use tools and information.
Even AAII.com has been completely redesigned. Among the features on our new site are improved navigation and easier-to-read type. To help you more fully interact with AAII.com, this year’s guide includes information on the AAII.com features that we personally like.
You will also see scattered across this year’s guide a list of the Internet resources that the AAII staff personally uses. These lists not only include websites, but also specific features such as blogs.
In making these changes, we never lost sight of the primary purpose of our Best of the Net guide—to provide you with a list of the most useful investment-related websites and tools. As such, we put the biggest effort into compiling a list of best online resources for investment research, portfolio management and financial information.
The first section of the guide presents a categorical listing of our picks for Best of the Net. The second section provides an alphabetical listing of individual websites, with information about the features we find particularly useful and how to find the content and tools within each site. The online version of this guide includes hyperlinks to all of the top sites.
The Best of the Net Ratings
AAII awards a Best of the Net rating to sites that provide investment information or service that, in our view, is both useful and substantial to individual investors and available either for free or for a reasonable price.
Most sites listed here provide the information or service that we are reviewing free of charge. Some offer basic information for free and charge various rates for more in-depth data or expanded services. In the alphabetical listings, we show the lowest and highest rates to give you a general idea of the range; visit the sites for complete details on pricing.
Some types of sites not included here are covered in other AAII venues: broker sites are investigated annually in Computerized Investing, mutual fund family sites are listed in AAII’s Guide to the Top Mutual Funds, and exchange-traded fund (ETF) sponsor sites appear in the Guide to Exchange-Traded Funds. You can access these special articles year-round in the Investor Guides area of AAII.com.
Keep in mind that the Web is constantly evolving. Sites can change drastically in a short period of time. Be sure to verify the source of information or provider of a service. And read the fine print on pricing before agreeing to pay for any data or investment service.
Charles’ Favorite Web Resources
Wall Street Breakfast on Seeking Alpha
Typically posted by 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time, this column provides a great synopsis of news that could impact market direction.
MarketBeat on WSJ.com
Updated throughout the day, this Wall Street Journal blog provides analysis on financial news, often with a good sense of humor.
FT Alphaville on FT.com
Also updated throughout the day, this Financial Times blog provides analysis on the global financial markets, with a touch of personality.
A free site that offers easy creation of full-featured charts.
The timeliness of news and data is great, plus there are links to interesting articles I might have otherwise overlooked.
—Charles Rotblut, CFA, vice president at AAII and editor of the AAII Journal
John’s Favorite Web Resources
The Internet offers so many great investment resources that my favorites focus on the tools that I use to control the flow of information.
Most investment sites offer an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed that alerts readers when they have updated or published information on their site. By subscribing to an RSS feed, I am able to centrally follow new headlines and stories from a wide range of sites in an organized fashion. I like to use Google Reader to manage my RSS feeds. I can read the feeds on Google or use software on my PC or smart phone to read my headlines, go to the full story, mark a story to read later or even e-mail a story to a friend. I am currently following the feeds of AAII.com, BusinessWeek.com, CNN.com, MarketWatch.com, Morningstar.com and WSJ.com through Google Reader.
I am always coming across interesting articles on the Web that I want to read later or save for reference. Instapaper has a service that allows you to mark pages to read later in a centralized location. Beyond reading online, you can download and print your saved articles as well as format them for reading on your Kindle or other e-book reader. Smart phone apps are also available to gain access to mobile optimized versions of your saved Web pages.
Many websites also offer helpful e-mails that push information to my inbox. For example, I get a daily e-mail from Morningstar that lists the daily price action and news headlines of each of my holdings.
—John Bajkowski, AAII’s president
Using Twitter for Investing News and Ideas
Twitter has evolved into a useful resource for investors, despite its origins as a social networking service. It provides news in real time and many posts contain links to full-length articles. The 140-character limit of a single post, called a “tweet,” forces writers to be pithy, which not only makes the posts interesting to read, but also easy to scan. Most importantly, since Twitter connects so many people, we are often alerted to insightful commentary that we would have otherwise missed.
Twitter is very simple to use. You also do not have to write a single tweet—a written statement that is posted to twitter—if you don’t want to. In fact, you can read all of a person’s or company’s tweets by simply going directly to their twitter page. For example, www.twitter.com/BloombergNow displays all of the headlines posted by Bloomberg News.
However, there are advantages to signing up for your own Twitter account. The biggest one is that you can create a list of the people and companies that you want to follow. This turns your Twitter page into your own personal news feed, which is simpler than visiting multiple Web pages to get the same information. You can also post questions and interact with other Twitter users. Finally, if you are so inclined, you can write your own tweets. Twitter is completely free.
In terms of investing, whom you should follow depends on your interests. Investment-related tweets cover everything from a broad view of the market and the economy to specific information about a person’s trades. To help you get started, here are some of the favorite twitter feeds among AAII staff.
Financial News/Market Commentary
Financial Times Alphaville
New York Times DealBook
Reuters Top News
Wall Street Journal
Felix Salmon (Reuters)
Daniel Gross (Yahoo!)
David Wessell (Wall Street Journal)
WSJ Real Time Economics
On the AAII staff, Wayne and Charles maintain Twitter pages. You can see a complete list of who they follow by going to their personal twitter pages and clicking on the “following” link on the right-hand side of their pages.
Wayne A. Thorp
AAII’s senior financial analyst and editor of Computerized Investing
Vice president at AAII and editor of the AAII Journal
Joe’s Favorite Web Resources
I check this site throughout the day for the latest news and videos. I also like the fact that the last five quotes I have searched for are listed on the right.
I read this site for the top financial news stories, plus market movers and investor sentiment.
This site is a daily read of mine because of the international news it presents.
This site provides more international content, especially European. It’s a change from sites with U.S.-dominated headlines.
This is my favorite personal financial management website because it’s extremely easy to use. It allows me to quickly access all my accounts and credit cards in one place. Also, I can enter assets and liabilities and the website automatically updates all the balances. I also use it to create budgets.
—Z. Joe Lan, AAII’s assistant financial analyst
Wayne’s Favorite Web Resources
Arguably the best charting website available and an excellent resource for free point & figure charts; it’s my favorite chart analysis tool.
By following a variety of investment professionals and hobbyists, I am exposed to numerous investment articles that I otherwise would not find on my own.
Wall Street Breakfast on Seeking Alpha
My first stop on the Web each morning to see what has happened on international markets overnight and what will be driving the market for the trading day ahead.
Market Currents on Seeking Alpha
Updated throughout the day, this newswire keeps me informed of major developments throughout the trading day.
The Premium subscription gives me top-notch portfolio tracking, stock and mutual fund screening tools, and excellent investment insights and analyst reports.
—Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, AAII senior financial analyst and editor of Computerized Investing
Staff Picks: Favorite Areas of AAII.com
AAII Investor Classroom
This is a great “how-to” resource to which I constantly refer members. The various lessons cover everything from managing risk and return expectations to evaluating dividend stocks. Best of all, it is very easy to find guidance on a specific investing topic.
Stock Investor Pro Wiki
Stock Investor Pro can be daunting without proper guidance, and this wiki is a great resource. Specifically written to help users familiarize themselves with the program, it covers all the main sections of SI Pro and highlights their key functions and capabilities. Best of all, the wiki is collaborative: Users can submit their own input and suggestions.
AAII Discussion Boards
This is an excellent way for AAII members to interact with one another without having to leave their homes! Pose questions to other members on a variety of topics or offer your insights on member questions or comments.
—Wayne A. Thorp, CFA
AAII Asset Allocation Models
Because the asset allocation of your portfolio has the greatest impact, over the long term, on reaching your financial goals, it is important examine all of your assets regularly and make sure that your asset mix is correct for your stage in life and tolerance for risk. The Asset Allocation Models segment within the Financial Planning area offers aggressive, moderate, and conservative allocation suggestions and links to related articles.