10 free apps for novice investors
User-friendly investing apps allow anyone with wi-fi to start their investment journey from the familiar zone of their mobile phone or other device. These apps enable novice investors to trade on the stock market (both virtually and in reality); analyse stocks, indices and funds; find investment suggestions; and even build their own Wall Street empire.
Let’s take a closer look at 10 of the most innovative – all free to download.
Little Traders, launched in January, is an award-winning game that gives players an opportunity to learn how to invest using a virtual stock market environment.
The game’s setting is the 1920s stock market. The iOS game (available to iPhone and iPad users) involves opening your own small investment firm on the dirty basement floor of a New York high-rise.
You take on clients and buy and sell stocks, hoping to make a profit. With your earnings you can rent more floors, buy office furniture and hire employees, which allows you to attract more customers with larger sums to invest.
You can also complete investment missions to earn extra coins and unlock new features. These quests involve short investing lessons aimed at teaching even the most regular of Joes how the stock market works.
Best feature: Engaging, even addictive, particularly for anyone who enjoys simulation or empire-building games.
Moneywise score: 8/10
This real-time stock market game focuses on fun, but has a strong educational element.
It’s a good entry point into the fast-paced world of financial markets. You can trade more than 60,000 stocks. Prices update every minute.
Users can enhance their knowledge of the stock market or test new trading strategies without risking losing real money. Each player starts with 25,000 of virtual currency.
Watch your stocks, and access weekly, monthly and yearly charts as well as your order history. Tools such as order limits and stops make this as close to real trading as it gets.
There is a social element too: connect with other users to share and discuss capital markets and strategies.
“Good for beginner Wall Street tycoons,” says one review on the App Store.
Best feature: Learn about trading without gambling your own money.
Moneywise score: 8/10
Former fund manager Ben Stanway and Wowcher founder Charlie Mortimer established Moneybox to introduce younger generations to the concept of investing.
It allows users to round-up their everyday card transactions and deposit the difference in an Isa.
If you bought a coffee for £2.70, you could round this up to £3 and invest the difference. “Many investment platforms have a minimum starting limit of around £500 upwards,” says Mr Stanway. “People can start investing with Moneybox with as little as £1, meaning the service is accessible to everyone.”
Investment portfolios are provided by established firms, such as Vanguard, BlackRock and Henderson, and you can customise investment choices depending on your preferences and projected level of risk and return.
The app is targeting a summer release. If it is as successful as comparable US app Acorns, it should be a hit.
Best feature: Turns spare change from everyday purchases into a diversified portfolio.
Moneywise score: 9/10
Invstr, available on iOS and Android, gives novice traders a chance to compare their market predictions with those of other stock market players.
Former Deutsche Bank managing director Kerim Derhall established it to make financial markets more accessible to the general public. He believes people should make their own investment decisions and aims to deliver the information they need to do that.
The app provides a range of financial information, including news, market commentaries, research reports and real-time pricing, in one place. Follow market data to better understand trends and, through a series of games, make predictions and socially interact with the Invstr community.
Launched in December 2014, Invstr has just undergone a refresh into a simplified app aimed at millennials.
Best feature: A prediction game and social features in one place.
Moneywise score: 8/10
This is for investors who want access to global business and finance news, market data and portfolio tracking tools. The Bloomberg app features detailed stock and index diagrams. Users can receive news specific to the stocks they hold.
Ben Yearsley, investment director at Wealth Club, finds this app the most useful, and he uses it almost every day. “It’s a great app for keeping up with what’s happening in the financial world – to see what’s moving and why. And it’s all for free,” he says.
However, he concedes that it is not specifically tailored to beginners and urges investors, novice or veteran, to avoid the temptation of becoming too short term in their thinking: “Just because you have technology at your fingertips, it doesn’t mean you should be constantly watching your investments.”
Best feature: Regularly updated news broadcast that can be personalised to your needs.
Moneywise score: 7/10
While Mr Yearsley’s favoured app on his iPad is Bloomberg, he prefers MSN Money on his Windows phone for its ease of navigation.
The app aims to help investors stay on top of events with up-to-date financial news and data.
While other apps (such as Bloomberg) cover only stocks, MSN Money also covers investment funds such as tracker funds, actively managed funds and exchange- traded funds. These can be added to your personalised watchlist.
Other features include access to market headlines and business news as well as financial tools. The iPhone app has a wealth estimator and retirement planner, while the iPad version has a stock screener.
Best feature: Tracks investment funds through personalised watchlists.
Moneywise score: 9/10
Charles Stanley Direct has taken the leap to Apple’s most exciting device to date: the Apple watch.
Its app, specifically for the device, alerts users to the latest news and features published by the broker’s commentators, analysts, economists and researchers – on the move, direct to their wrists.
Lift your arm to see a short preview of the latest story before deciding whether to open it. If you see a headline that catches your eye, switch to your iPhone for full in-depth analysis at the touch of a button.
The app is available to clients and non-clients of the direct-to- consumer investment platform. It probably offers more information than a beginner needs.
Best feature: News on the move, direct to your wrist.
Moneywise score: 3/10
The most common use for investing apps, according to investment broker Hargreaves Lansdown, is checking the value of investments. Trading volumes have increased, but they are still small compared with online trades via a PC.
Its app, HL Live, enables those not yet confident enough to make their first investment to invest virtually through watch lists and become accustomed to tracking investment performance prior to trading for real. These automatically sync between mobile and PC devices.
Investors can view information about a fund or share, and look at past performance using interactive charts and performance tables.
Market reviews, investment ideas, share tips and regular market reports help investors keep up to date.
Best feature: Enables newcomers to invest virtually and discover investment ideas.
Moneywise score: 6/10
Scutify describes itself as the most innovative social network for investors and traders; an online community that is “your place for the latest market scuttlebutt”.
Users can post questions or status updates called “scuttles” – longer market- and stock-related tweets – to get the conversation going.
It covers stocks, indices, forex, precious metals and commodities, and it highlights companies that are trending and what’s called Scutify sentiment: a general consensus on the bullish or bearishness of the community on a particular subject.
Being able to follow and interact with leading market “all stars” is a defining feature.
They can post premium scuttles, make sentiment calls to showcase their stock picking talent and build their profile.
Best feature: Follow investment all stars and interact with other investors through scuttles.
Moneywise score: 7/10
eToro claims to be the world’s largest social trading platform. It allows investors to trade stocks, indices, commodities, currencies, contracts for difference and exchange traded funds in a simple, cost-effective way. You can create a practice portfolio before taking the plunge.
It’s available on any device, and it allows you to follow and copy the trades of popular investors. Last year, 80% of 124 million copied trades on eToro closed in profit.
Launched in 2007, eToro has more than 4.5 million registered members from 140 countries. In the UK, it is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
The big drawback is that trading is in dollars. Investments and withdrawals auto-convert at
the standard exchange rate.
Best feature: Follow and copy the trades of investors with a proven track record.
Moneywise score: 5/10
The term is interchangeable with stock exchange, and is a market that deals in securities where market forces determine the price of securities traded. Stockmarket can refer to a specific exchange in a specific country (such as the London Stock Exchange) or the combined global stockmarkets as a single entity. The first stockmarket was established in Amsterdam in 1602 and the first British stock exchange was founded in 1698.
Also known as index funds, tracker funds replicate the performance of a stockmarket index (such as the FTSE All Share Index) so they go up when the index goes up and down when it goes down. They can never return more than the index they track, but nor will they lose more than the index. Also, with no fund manager or expansive research and analysis to pay, tracker funds benefit from having lower charges than actively managed funds, with no initial charge and an annual charge of 0.5%.
Invidivual Savings Accounts were introduced on 6 April 1999 to replace personal equity plans (PEPs) and tax-exempt special savings accounts (TESSAs) with one plan that covered both stockmarket and savings products, the returns from which are tax-exempt. The ISA is not in itself an investment product. Rather, it’s a tax-free “wrapper” in which you place investments and savings up to a specified annual allowance where the returns (capital growth, dividends, interest) are tax-exempt (you don’t have to declare ISAs and their contents on your tax return). However, any dividends are taxed within the investment, and that can’t be reclaimed.
A market-weighted index of the 100 biggest companies by market capitalisation listed on the London Stock Exchange. It is often referred to as “The Footsie”. The index began on 3 January 1984 with a base level of 1000; the highest value reached to date is 6950.6, on 30 December 1999. The index is “weighted” by how the movements of each of the 100 constituents affect the index, so larger companies make more of a difference to the index than smaller ones. To ensure it is a true and accurate representation of the most highly capitalised companies in the UK, just like football’s Premier League, every three months the FTSE 100 “relegates” the bottom three companies in the 100 whose market capitalisation has fallen and “promotes” to the index the three companies whose market capitalisation has grown sufficiently to warrant inclusion. Around 80% of the companies listed on the London Stock Exchange are included in the FTSE 100.
The difference between two currencies; specifically how much one currency is worth relative to each other. For example, if £1 is worth $1.50, converting sterling to US dollars, the exchange rate is 1.5. Converting dollars to sterling at those levels, the exchange rate is 0.66, so $1 is worth 66p. There are a wide variety of factors that influence the exchange rate, such as a country’s interest rates, inflation, and the state of politics and the economy in that country.
Posh-sounding word for the FOReign EXchange market – the global market for trading currencies. The primary purpose of Forex is to assist international trade and investment by allowing businesses to convert one currency to another. The Forex market is one of the biggest markets in the world, and includes banks, central banks, institutional investors, currency speculators, corporations, governments, other financial institutions, and retail investors.
A term applied to raw materials (gold, oil) and foodstuffs (wheat, pork bellies) traded on exchanges throughout the world. Since no one really wants to transport all those heavy materials, what is actually traded are commodities futures contracts or options. These are agreements to buy or sell at an agreed price on a specific date. Because commodity prices are volatile, investing in futures is certainly not for the casual investor.
An individual employed by an institution to manage an investment fund (unit trust, investment trust, pension fund or hedge fund) to meet pre-determined objectives (usually to generate capital growth or maximise income) in prescribed geographic areas or investment sectors (such as UK smaller companies, technology or commodities). The manager also carries the responsibility for general fund supervision, as well as monitoring the daily trading activity and also developing investment strategies to manage the risk profile of the fund.