Investors with one or two stocks or mutual funds can get by with monthly or quarterly checkups on their investments’ performance. But investors who have a diversified investment portfolio consisting of several different investments need a way to keep track of their transactions and investment performance in real time. Computer-based stock portfolio management tools are available for purchase or for free from brokers and financial publishers.
Types of Programs
Portfolio management software are the most sophisticated management tools for investors who pursue complex investment strategies involving many different types of investments. This includes stocks, precious metals and other commodities, bonds and other investment-grade debt, and derivatives, such as options and futures. Online portfolio management tools run entirely in your browser and are suitable for tracking stocks and mutual funds. They are free and widely available on the Internet. Applet-based programs install a small program called an applet on your computer to perform record-keeping, analysis and reporting functions The applets link to the Internet for market data feeds and news feeds.
What They Do
Portfolio management tools track the market prices of stocks you own or want to watch, with updates roughly every 20 minutes. The prices available through Internet links typically run 15 to 20 minutes behind the market. The tools allow you to link directly to brokerages to place orders, and keep a record of your transactions. They also provide links to public and subscription-based financial newswire services. The news feeds can be programmed to display news related to your stocks as well as business news in general.
Some portfolio management tools offer automatic instant e-mail alerts to inform you of events affecting the investments you own or are watching. You can customize the e-mail alert function as to what you want alerts about, and whether you want alerts on specific events. This includes a price drop below a target floor, or more general events involving your selected stocks.
Portfolio management programs offer several analysis tools for technical analysis of short-term and long-term price movements. They also offer fundamental analysis of earnings, corporate reports, trading trends and other basic data about your stocks. The products differ by the number of stocks they can analyze and the number of data fields they can use for analysis. These products also differ in how much you can customize the analysis tools. Some programs include accounting modules that keep track of your profits and your tax liabilities as you buy and sell your investments.
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