Your finances: Virtual investments
By Ron Tartar
A new age of computer-mediated communications has opened a virtual world in cyberspace to small investors. Thousands of sites with research information, direct trading, charts and graphs have appeared on the World Wide Web in the past two years.
Almost all financial sites offer free sources of quotes, charts, research, articles and links to other web pages. Weeding the poorly constructed sites out while looking for a fast, efficient source of information can be a chore in itself. Here are a few free websites to help get you on the right track.
A website called i|money, at www.imoney.com, is a useful Canadian-based site. This site offers comparative and objective information about Canadian and American publicly traded corporations. The i|money fund analyzer assists small investors in sifting through the 1,300 funds available in Canada to determine which ones are appropriate.
The most useful application in the i|money site is the portfolio analyzer. With no fee, a registered user can record the holdings in their portfolios on a secure web page. The portfolio will continually be updated as the markets change.
This feature is especially useful for people dealing with several financial institutions. Instead of piecing together snail-mail portfolio reviews, all assets are conveniently grouped together on one accessible, up-to-date review. It is also handy for the curious investor who wants to compile a mock portfolio and evaluate their investment-choosing skills without the risk of financial losses.
Silicon Investor, at www.techstocks.com, is a site run out of the heart of cutting edge technology Silicon Valley. The popular magazine Internet World rated Silicon Investor one of the top 10 financial sites on the World Wide Web. Silicon Investor only deals with technology sectors.
A unique feature of Silicon Investor is Stock Talk, a billboard type discussion thread. Registered users can join or create discussion threads about thousands of corporations. This feature makes the process of learning about the markets both interactive and satisfying. It also allows users to see many different perspectives on the same issue.
If you feel ready to make some daring trades, check out E*TRADE Canada, at www.canada.etrade.com. You will have access to North American equity and bond markets. Commission rates are competitive.
What gives E*TRADE the edge over other on-line traders is their policy on transaction orders. E*TRADE allows flexible order entry where small investors decide their bid and ask price, rather than restricting transactions to market prices.