I’ve previously looked at what other sites like the big portals and popular news outlets have to offer investors who want to track their portfolios. But there’s two other important players: the financial services web sites who are typically at the root of the financial data, and the brokerages where we hold our portfolios. In this part I’ll see what they have to offer.
These are companies that are actually in the money business, they provide a portfolio manager as a courtesy or add-on to their primary business.
Like the name implies this company specializes in charting the underlying financial information; and there’s a lot of impressive stuff you can do with their charts! And there’s even more technical information for those who invest by the numbers. There’s not much fundamental information though, like dividends and yields are missing. The site also has a very 1990’s feel to it – except for the charts, although beautiful they don’t quite fit into the surrounding site.
This is another name everyone who’s ever looked for the slightest financial information has run across, they are everywhere. And they’ve very generously made a lot of their information available on their web site with very nice quotes, charts, and other detailed financial and historical information. For the amateur the amount of information can be overwhelming, but you get a sense of what the professionals deal with.
And since Morningstar makes their money selling subscriptions to the pros the advertising on the site is minimal and most of the space is given to data and charts.
Let me get this off my chest: Why does the Toronto Stock Exchange – the primary source – ship us off to another company when we want to lookup TSE stock quotes?! Admittedly they’ve outsourced to Quotemedia, who turn numbers in works of art, but it still bothers me. The actual functionality is basic but the data is all there, amidst a fair bit of advertising though.
This is where the transactions really happen, so they’re listed here as a point of comparison since we’ve already established that you wouldn’t leave your banking homepage open on your computer all day long. A big difference with these portfolios is that you’re a paying customer, so there’s no advertising (apart from the occasional self-promotion) and you often get some premium features you’d have to pay for elsewhere.
Bank of Montreal Investorline
The BMO Investorline site provides clear but basic asset tracking information and has recently added some nice graphing features to track trends and mark dividend payments. The site is easy to use and the recent GUI upgrades provide a brighter look and feel . That said, some of the tabs still have almost a beta look to them and one can only hope they are not quite finished with their current overhaul.
In the gallery, if you look closely at the chart screen shots of BMO Investorline and the Financial Times we can see the look almost identical, so either they’re using the same provider or same underlying tools to generate the charts. Either way, Investorline has not make their portfolios as nice as the Financial Times has.
They’ve received numerous, well-deserved, accolades for customer service and innovation. The web site works very well and the portfolio has a comprehensive set of views. The quotes and charts are standard fare but since you’re a paying customer you do get more information than aforementioned free portfolios.
RBC Royal Bank Direct Investing
RBC’s on-line portfolio is probably one of the oldest in existence – or at least it feels that way. The on-line banking web site is making great strides towards the 21st century but the brokerage still seems stuck in the 90’s. Once you’re there though, and you’ve forgiven them for not looking like an Apple or Google web site, you’ll find plenty of information from Thomson Reuters that is well laid-out and accessible.
So what we’ve seen here is the portfolio managers from the brokers and from the companies supplying the financial data are not much better (or worse for that matter) than any one else’s. There’s no real advantage to using your broker’s portfolio and there’s the big disadvantage of leaving the site open and exposed for an extended period of time.
In the final installment I’ll summarize all my reviews in a categorized table and leave you with my final conclusions.
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Calculating Returns and The Portals
Part 3 – News Outlets
Part 4 – Financial Services and Brokerages
Part 5 – Comparison Table and Conclusion
Cross-posted on 2FatDads
Disclaimer The material in this article does not constitute advice and you should not rely on any material in this article to make any decision or take any action.