With the stock market continually reaching new highs, everyone is interested in investing. Because the entire world is on their smartphone half the time, the natural question is -Â what investing app should I use? I believe that’s the wrong question. A better question might be – what should I look for in an investing app?
The first thing everyone wants to know is – what’s my balance? The challenge with constantly checking your balance is that when it goes down, you’re more likely to worry. If it goes up a lot, you get euphoric. Whether you’re nervous or euphoric, I’d recommend checking it no more than once a week. Remember, investing is a long-term game, not a daily dink and dunk strategy. Panic is not an investment strategy. Neither is buying at the top. A good app will let you know your balance right upfront.
A good app will let you know where you are relative to the markets and your risk tolerance. If you’re risk-averse and hold a lot of bonds, you might need S&P 500 returns. You might be looking for half that. Likewise, if you’reÂ a long way out from retirement and have all equities, you might be looking to beat the S&P 500. Whether markets crash or soar, you want to know how you are doing relative to the markets.
If you have an investment plan, you should have a target percentage of stocks and bonds like 60% stock and 40% bonds. Depending on how diversified you are, you might also have large companies, mid-size companies, or small companies. You might also have international and emerging international. For bonds, you might have short term, intermediate-term, and long term. Of course, it’s important to know how much cash you have, especially if you’re retired and drawing an income. A good app would tell you your current allocation, particularly after a market run or corrections. This would tell you if you need to take action.
BONUS: Are My Goals Funded?
Similar to my performance, this question gets to the core of what your portfolio is supposed to do. An ideal app would give you a general idea of whether you are hitting your target returns. This in turn should let you know if your goals are funded. Of course, returns are not a straight line. You never get 6.5% each and every year. But a good app would tell you what your annual return is, and what your annualized return is over the years.
There are all kinds of investing apps out there. For me, the best investing apps would tell you a few things very quickly:
- what your balance is
- how you’re performing relative to the markets
- your allocation so you know if you need to rebalance.
These are the things that you should look for in an investing app.