Today, we live in a hyper-connected world. Our lives – and money – are at our fingertips thanks to the smartphone. Little has escaped the connectivity of the web. Investment is no exception.
You can trade and invest on the fly on a global scale directly from a smartphone or laptop. This democratization of investment and trades thanks to the web is time-sensitive, though. You have to move and react fast. No one will wait for you to call up another human and place a buy or sell order. The markets move ultra-fast because of today’s superior communications. A ripple on one side of the globe is felt almost instantaneously on the opposite side, time zones-permitting.
Going hand in hand with this need for speed is information. There’s little point to trading at lightning speed unless you are similarly abreast of the news. So, where can you get the stock analysis you need to stay ahead of the curve?
Right here, with our in-depth stock analysis guide to the top 15 must have-apps for investors. We have identified 15 apps we think to offer the best guidance to cut through investment’s white noise. We look at each in turn and then weigh up the pros and cons.
Some of the apps are better suited to novice investors rather than more seasoned traders. An excellent general guide to stock analysis can be found here at Investopedia. It’s ideal if you need to build a solid foundation or feel a little refresher is required.
Geared primarily at new investors and students, Acorns is a great place to start your investment journey. Their link to your debit/credit cards let’s you invest by rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar. When your total hits $5, the money is automatically invested in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) of 7000 bonds and stocks. Has investing been any easier?
- Great for newbies making small investments
- Free to use for students
- Spare change tool to leverage purchases made at selected retailers
- The Acorn Later tool enables you to save for retirement
- Flat fees are relatively steep for small account balances
- Simplicity and lack of features will deter long-time investors
Another app for the beginner, but what distinguishes Stash, is their account options. For a flat-rate monthly fee of $3, long-term investors and savers can access brokers, banks, and separate accounts for retirement planning. There’s also a limited $1 per month option that offers first-time investors the basics to test the water.
- You can open an account with just $5
- Stash Coach at account set up determines your acceptable level of risk
- Link Stash to your bank account and invest in over 3,000 listings
- Automated accounts to invest set amounts weekly or monthly
- Custodial accounts for your kids under 18
- Limited stocks and ETF options
- Stash doesn’t directly manage their registered accounts
- Limited appeal for seasoned, knowledgeable investors who prefer to be hands-on
- Designed for long term investment rather than day trading
If you want a more hands-on approach and avoid fees as far as possible, Robinhood is recommended. With zero commissions and a zero account minimum, Robinhood shoots down the costs usually associated with investment apps. But all this largesse comes at a price. If you can live with the pared-down minimalism, Robinhood is worthy of consideration.
- No frills investment platform
- Cheap to use
- Great for active investors wishing control of their investments
- Investment in stock, options plus cryptocurrencies
- Friend referral scheme offering free stock
- Instant deposits
- No retirement accounts
- No managed portfolios
- Transactions made on Robinhood are taxable
- You need to upgrade to get improved features
It is squarely aimed at skilled traders who have substantial investments and profitability. It also features a suite of monitoring and analysis tools. This platform is not suitable for total beginners as it assumes a high level of knowledge and experience. It’s recommended you pay close attention to the fees involved in trading as they are steep.
- Ability to invest in stocks, options, futures, Forex, mutual funds, and bonds
- No need for a broker
- Powerful data analysis tools
- Will appeal to those who prefer DIY
- A vast array of educational resources and in-depth data
- Minimum investment of $500
- High fees compared to rivals
- Difficult to close out positions directly from the menu once orders have been executed
If you have kids or other young relatives you want to invest for, be sure to check out Stockpile. It was founded specifically to allow the CEO to give his nephews and nieces a more durable and longer-lasting gift than toys. You can invest in blue-chip stocks or ETFs by purchasing gift cards. Just keep a weather eye on the fee structure.
- Useful to introduce kids to investing
- You can invest in cryptocurrencies
- Custodial accounts
- Choose from over a thousand stocks, including S&P 500
- Standard trades cost $0.99
- Tailored to a particular market
- Unlikely to appeal to day-traders or experienced investors
- Gift cards start at $2.99 for the first stock, then $0.99 per stock after that
- If you buy a gift card with a credit or debit card, bank on paying an extra 3%
With a solid track record, Personal Capital has built up a reputation as one of Fin-tech’s leading lights since its formation in 2009. It’s now arguably the best robot investment platforms out there. One of its most significant incentives is the ability to pool all your investment information into one online destination.
- Dedicated financial advisor for accounts with at least $200,000
- Impressive range of investment tools
- Automatic rebalancing and tax loss harvesting
- A ‘savings’ account
- Help with retirement planning and 401(k)
- 24/7 customer support by email
- Simple to use
- Hefty $100,000 minimum investment
- High management fees
For socially-responsible investment (SRI), the number one port of call is Betterment. With ethical investment continuing to grow, this platform will appeal to those wishing to ensure their money does not cause unnecessary harm to the planet. To do this, Betterment offers a best-in-class portfolio of socially responsible investing opportunities. There’s also a good choice of service levels. The premium account offers unlimited phone calls to their certified financial planners.
- Choice of accounts with or without minimum balances
- Performs well on its social responsibility index
- Non-large-cap holdings
- Offers broad market ETFs
- Limited appeal for some investors
There is a niche stock analysis app for everyone. And Trade Hero lets you get your eye in with investment without risking your shirt. Essentially, the platform provides demo accounts that give you $100,000 of fantasy money with which to play the markets. It mimics the financial markets in real-time and allows investment gamers to try their hand without fear of losing real hard cash. For further investment help, check out Nerdwallet.com.
- An excellent learning tool
- You can switch from demo mode to a live account
- It’s free
- A good starting place to figure out the markets and put your investment theories to the test
- More game than a full-blown trading platform
- Permits long-only investments
- In demo mode, you are charged per month to see others trade in real-time
The Toronto-Dominion Bank offering has broad appeal for both advanced traders and the novice, with cutdown features and investment training. There’s no minimum account balance, but trades are charged at $6.95 per transaction. For that money, you get access to 364 branches across the United States and first-class customer support 24/7. You will be hard-pressed to find better with the same service levels in terms of hassle-free investment and stock analysis.
- Backed by a highly reputable financial institution
- Class-setting customer service
- Trade stocks, bonds, futures, foreign currencies, and ADRs
- Zero commission ETFs
- No transaction fees on 4,000 Mutual Funds
- Pricey compared to other platforms
- There’s not much else to dislike
An excellent sit back and let it get on with its platform for the automated investment fan. Set up an account and let Wealthfront take the strain by investing in a range of passive portfolios. All you get charged is a management fee of 0.25%. Wealthfront was formed in 2011 and now controls assets of over $21 billion.
- Top in class for automated wealth management
- Choose your investment goal when setting up your account
- Free financial planning help
- Help with tax planning
- Supports tax-loss harvesting
- Extras like Wealthfront Risk Parity for larger balances
- Does not deal in fractional shares
- Unlikely to appeal to the serious investor
- Works best for those with higher risk thresholds
One of the oldest names in the business, Vanguard has a well-earned reputation for being a low-cost provider. While not the sexiest interface, the app is robust and has few rivals for investing in ETFs and mutual funds. Vanguard does not charge ETF fees or require a minimum initial investment. All in all, it’s probably one of the best ways to trade in ETFs and maximize returns. Plus, you get free research.
- No service fees if you access account documents digitally
- No fees for online transactions
- Almost 2,000 ETFs to select
- Over 3,000 commission-free mutual funds
- Regulatory restrictions make the platform unattractive for day traders
- ETF specialty will not appeal to all investors
If you are on the lookout for an investment and stock analysis platform that only trades ethically, then WealthSimple is probably for you. This automated investment provider will only deal with ETFs committed to low-carbon businesses, clean technology, environmentally-sound companies, and human rights observance. It’s a top investing tool that leverages your cash for maximum gains.
- Commission-free stock trading
- Refer-a-friend reward scheme
- Low management fee
- No minimum account balances
- Also offers Halal investments
- The business model means you could be missing out on lucrative opportunities
- Could come across as a bit too safe and ‘right on’ for some investors
The main reason that Ally Invest makes it onto our top 15 must-have apps is because of its offers and freebies. They continually run a series of tempting introductory offers that are not to be sniffed at. You should check them out for sure before taking the plunge elsewhere.
Ally Invest is excellent for both new and long-established investors. The fee structure is also pretty fair compared to others.
- No commission fees for US-listed ETFs and stocks if you opt for self-directed trading
- Good range of education materials
- You can trade stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, and Forex
- A clean interface that’s user-friendly and intuitive
- Confusing price structure
- Some fees are relatively high, but others are lower
This platform has invested heavily in marketing and promotion, explaining why app downloads now run into multiple millions. It also occupies pole position in the finance categories of both Google Play and the App Store. So what’s the big attraction? The chief appeal is that’s a great route into investment and stock analysis for the complete novice. And it also features some robust features that more experienced investors will love.
- Demo account with $100,00 of fantasy money to practice with first
- One-click trading
- Offline trading on selected orders
- Minimum initial balance of $200
- Innovative copy trader feature to track and follow the investments of specific traders
- Stop-loss feature to cut negative trading losses
- Withdrawal fee
- Inactivity fee
- Forex and equity trading are currently not available to US customers
- US customers are limited to cryptocurrency trades
You don’t get much more blue-chip than Charles Shwab. This American multinational investment firm’s app truly deserves its well-merited place on any top 15 must-have investment apps. Much thought has gone into this mobile app, as you would expect from a company of this stature. Broad appeal for both experienced and new investors.
- Investment and bill paying rolled into one
- No minimum balance required
- No flat fee commissions
- Free in-depth analysis and research
- 24×7 customer support
- There’s a hefty fee for funds not on Schwab’s transaction fee-free list
- Steep fees on mutual funds
- Promotions usually aimed at account holders with $100k or more
These are our top 15 picks. There’s a provider to suit almost everyone, their knowledge levels, and investment goals. These must-have apps all provide first-rate stock analysis to allow investors to make informed decisions and reach their investment goals. Another excellent source of money news is Motley Fool.