Investment Services with Mobile Apps
In today’s uncertain economy, more and more people are looking for ways to expand their income; investing is certainly a way to expand said income. Investing wisely is a challenge, and choosing an investment platform that allows you to keep track of your investments provides an additional challenge. Here we’ll look at some investment services that provide mobile apps so can help you keep track of your investments.
Betterment is an online investing tool that automatically invests your money into stocks and bonds at a certain level of risk.
With Betterment, you don’t have to be an expert to invest because they do everything for you. Just set it and forget it--choose your allocation method and a team of experts takes care of the rest. You can literally forget about managing your portfolio because the actual work will be taken care of by Betterment. Set up a deposit and choose your allocation between stocks and bonds. You don’t have to hire an investment advisor because a team of experts will hand-select stock and bond peaks.
Betterment gives advice in terms of asset allocation (to help you reach goals), one time deposits, or monthly contributions. It spells out how much you’ve contributed and earned, and whether or not you’re on track to reach your financial goals. The fees are very low, even for a typical brokerage firm.
So what’s not so great about betterment? Well, the investment options are limited and don’t include individual stocks or mutual funds. Betterment portfolios are made up of ETFs (Exchange-traded funds) to achieve diversification; to understand the difficulties of this, you’d need an understanding of ETFs.
You know what they say, “higher risk equals higher reward.” Betterment has limited options. There aren’t any high risk options so you likely will not get the growth that you could from more aggressive investments. You can get started for only $100.
Betterment offers an iOS/WatchOS app. It’s rated 4 stars in the app store.
Now let’s take a look at Personal Capital. Personal Capital offers human interaction for any customer service needs. The platform encompasses all of your finances into one central location, including retirement accounts and taxable investments. The user interface navigation and reporting are well laid out, and the app features are similar to the desktop version.
The platform offers predetermined asset allocation models; for those who may want to venture outside of the recommended allocations, this may not be ideal. You can now track your spending and set spending targets. Unfortunately, you’re also unable to create custom categories. They don’t manage 401ks or 529 plans. Advisory fees are high compared to other robo-advisors although significantly lower than management fees charged by financial advisors, and the account minimum is very high for the robo-advisory space; you’ll need about $25,000 to get started.
On the plus side, the platform manages individual and joint non-retirement accounts and trusts, as well as Roth, traditional, SEP, and rollover IRAs, individual securities, and ETFs. Financial tools are free, although the advisory service does have fees. There’s also a $25,000 minimum for advisory services. Their mobile iOS/WatchOS app has an app store rating of 3 ½ stars.
With Motif Investing, you get direct ownership of up to 30 stocks reflecting 1 idea, a fully customizable investment, and diversification across multiple securities. Motif offers a “basket based investment solution,” where you choose from a basket of stocks based on a theme (like healthcare, travel, etc.) instead of choosing individually. They charge a total commission of $9.95 for the purchase of up to 30 stocks; there are no management fees, and you have greater control over capital gains. The fees are incredibly competitive, and you do have the option to buy/sell individual stocks within your motif with a fee of $4.95/trade. You’re able to start an account with an initial investment of $250. It should also be noted that Motif Investing will give you up to $150 when you start trading. These are the areas in which they differ from Betterment. While ETFs are not customizable beyond the fund's stated prospectus, Motifs are fully personalized and can even be built from scratch – all for one low commission. Both Betterment and Motif offer a basket based theme, but Motif has varied motifs that you can choose from with themes that vary greatly. Your motifs are highly customizable, something that Betterment simply doesn’t provide. This is extremely important because you may not be comfortable with the risks that come with taking and keeping 30 different stocks intact. Allocation is one of the biggest aspects of investing; if you can’t control the allocation of your funds, you may lose in the long run. In this platform, you can completely remove a stock from a motif, and also customize the allocation of funds that a motif receives. If you’re picky about your stocks and want to pick them individually based on different themes, this wouldn’t be the platform for you.
Motif Investment’s app store is rated 4 ½ stars.
Now let’s talk about Charles Schwab. Arguably one of the most iconic brands, Charles Schwab is a full service brokerage firm offering services from stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, annuities, and options trading. Schwab’s trading platform comes with a number of helpful tools and calculators to assist in your trading decisions. When you transfer actual money from bank to brokerage, it takes a few days for the cash to become available. Uninvested cash in your account will earn interest in accordance with the Schwab One interest feature. Charles Schwab offers a selection of investing products including over 14,500 mutual funds and 198 commission free ETFs. There are no account maintenance or inactivity fees or surcharges for large orders, penny stocks, or after-hour trading. Schwab’s pricing used to be a competitive advantage, but $8.95/ stock or ETF is high for 2015. There’s a $76 fee to buy mutual funds; this is one of the most expensive for discount firms. There are 3,500 no-load mutual funds available at Schwab’s mutual fund one source service commission free. You get free stock reports from S&P 500, Capital IQ, Thomas Reuters, Credit Suisse, and others.
Charles Schwab has an App Store rating of 2 1/2 stars.
Telezio LLC is a company I came across through their app called EyeOnMyStocks. EyeOnMyStocks sends stock market updates and notifications customized to your portfolio. It differs from the aforementioned platforms on the grounds that the goal is to manage the portfolio that you already have, rather than to build one. You get updates when the stock price of a particular stock that you’re monitoring goes above or below a set threshold and also when market analysts upgrade or downgrade your stock.
The app also reminds you of upcoming earnings reports, you get price updates at customized times that YOU set, and you’ll get high value news that directly affects your portfolio. It also updates you with news alerts on your stocks when there may be high value information that an investor might be interested in.
One of the features that makes EyeOnMyStocks even more useful is the fact that it works really well with the Apple Watch. It sends notifications directly to your watch when you’re not looking at your phone. It stays out of your way until thresholds are met, or until an event of high importance occurs, and is a pretty unobtrusive way to keep track of your stocks.
Telezio’s EyeOnMyStocks has an app store rating of 4 ½ stars, and offers an iOS/WatchOS app.