Often times, one may want to do some research on a company when considering buying their stock. Traditionally, this service was provided by a stock broker, who would rely on their much greater familiarity and expertise over investors on stocks and the stock market and would provide this service to them.
Full service brokerages still exist, and people still do hire companies to manage their investments, but nowadays more and more people make their own investment decisions to some extent.
The number of self-directed investment accounts has really grown over the past few decades, and a lot of the reason behind this is that we have entered the information age, where the information on the desirability of a given stock or company is much more accessible.
This was once a feat that really could not be done very well by the average casual investor, but with the coming of the internet, this has placed a lot of the tools that once were only available to professionals into the hands of anyone.
The degree of involvement of individual investors is variable, one may do it all oneself, or one may rely on others to provide some of the services involved in the business of investing in the stock market.
For instance, one may give over one’s investments to a mutual fund, or an exchange traded fund, or ETF, and let the fund managers manage the allocation and conduct the day to day affairs of the fund. One still needs to do the work in selecting the particular fund or funds one invests in, and given the myriad of options, this is going to involve some real analysis and decision making on the part of the investor.
The Information Required Will Depend on the Objectives
The type and sources of information concerning buying and selling stocks or funds is going to depend on one’s time horizon. If one is investing longer term and therefore looking to invest for long term capital accumulation, long term income, or some combination of the two, then this is where we need to be looking at fundamentals in more depth, and will need to do more work or rely on sources where more work is put into this.
This is the case as well when selecting funds, as if one is planning on holding a fund for a long time, the quality of one’s selection will matter more than if one is just looking to trade an ETF and hold for a fairly short period of time.
If one is just looking to trade stocks on a short time horizon, they might not even care at all about the company, as they may just be trading the price movements, looking to identify patterns and predict where the stock may go short term successfully enough to win more than they lose on their trading.
Even if this is the case, and perhaps especially if it is, it is still important to have access to the right information, although here we’re talking about information that is pertinent to the objective of the trade.
It’s not always the case that investors match their information to their objectives, or even have a good enough idea of the quality and even type of information they require to make good decisions. Since one is deciding here, one’s results over time will depend upon having good information to act upon, in addition to interpreting it and acting upon it properly.
The Market for Stock Information is a Very Well Developed One
At one time, not even that long ago really, the only source of information that most people had on stocks was from the newspaper. Stock quotes would be provided, with symbols, and you had to know what the symbols meant to even know the company being referenced. There was no historical data, and at best all you had was an intraday quote, the open, high, low, and close.
It’s not that one couldn’t find more information, but it was very limited in nature compared to today. Perhaps you could go to the library and learn about how to invest in stocks, which was of course written from a historical perspective. One could also read some magazines, once again only providing a limited perspective on all of this.
Financial information on companies could be had, if one really wanted to do their homework, but few people did this and only the most serious of investors. There just wasn’t people making their own decisions for the most part though, and therefore the market for stock information was virtually non-existent back then.
Things have sure changed today though. Many investors contribute in the decision-making process now, and people now have a wealth of information at their disposal, which they can use not only in the stock selecting process but throughout the entire life of their trades.
Some information can be obtained for free, some for free on pages supported by advertising, in addition to a lot of paid services which can be had for anything from a small fee to a large one.
Rather than having to depend on the newspaper for day old stock quotes, one can get quotes on any stock, either with quotes that are delayed 15 minutes for free, or real-time quotes for a very small fee which are used in conjunction with a trading account.
Whatever you need, you can now get, and on the internet as well, delivered right to your computer.
Stock Information in the Information Age
Not all material is delivered over the internet, but nowadays, pretty much everything and anything can be accessed this way. Unless you research companies for a living, and may be required to look at reports that aren’t readily available, the internet provides such a comprehensive array of stock information that this will always be more than sufficient.
There are a number of sources and ways to access this information, and once again, this is going to depend on what you are seeking, and what you are willing to spend.
For the most part, individual investors rely on the analysis of professionals when it comes to deciding on the future prospects of a company, although some do go to the trouble of poring through a company’s financial statements and other sources of business information to make their own calls.
It does take more work as well as more skill to do your own fundamental research, so a big part of doing this successfully is to become properly educated on how to do this well. Otherwise, you’d be far better off just going with the opinions of those who are.
Since the stock market always deals with predicting the future, we can expect to often encounter some differences of opinion here among analysts, so even if we are relying on others, we’re still going to have to participate to some degree.
There are also a lot of services which provide opinions and analysis on stocks, as well as the stock market itself, either for free or for various subscription fees. There are also a number of courses and other sources of information provided for education purposes, and while a lot of this concerns technical trading, one can also enroll in courses teaching fundamental analysis as well.
There are also countless websites providing information on stocks and trading, of various qualities, which can be accessed online. Some will deal with stocks in a general sense, some may help you understand how this all works, and some may provide recommendations and analysis.
Many books have been written on investing, with a great deal of them now being available in download form, including lots of good ones. Like just about everything, the quality of them does vary, and it pays to be selective.
Information on Stock Trading
If you prefer more short-term investing, and especially if you are looking to use charting as a tool in selecting entry and exit points for stock trades, there is now a huge market for this, and a wealth of resources available.
In this case, what is to be gained here is not insight into the companies behind the stocks, but instead into how markets behave, and may be expected to behave in the future.
There is a lot to learn in order to become successful at this, and the great majority of new traders grossly underestimate how much. One can become a successful trader, but it takes some real skills, where both education and experience are required.
Brokers will often provide some of the basics, with both investing and trading, although the resources they provide are sparse, and one must go well beyond this if one plans on putting oneself in a good position to succeed.
In spite of the plethora of paid services out there on this, where one can even spend tens of thousands of dollars on a decent education, there’s a lot of good free resources out there as well. For instance, there’s a lot of youtube videos on trading, with many being produced by some very successful traders who share their insights in them.
As far as information on websites go, often times there are costs involved to access the information, but there’s still a good amount of resources out there that are provided for free, supported by ads. As with fundamental analysis, there’s a lot of books out there on trading, which may also be downloaded.
There is quite a bit to learn to trade or invest in stocks well, although the longer the time frame, the less you need to know, and the shorter the time frame, the more important good information becomes.
With the mountain of information out there though on any aspect of stock trading, this has really opened up opportunities to profit from the stock market, provided one has a strong enough desire as well as the appropriate financial resources to devote.