If you’ve ever considered investing in the share-market, you’d be aware how complicated it can seem. How do I use all of the information available to analyse whether a stock will provide value to my portfolio? For a novice trader it can all seem quite bewildering. Especially if you’re not great with numbers, like me.
So when I came across this new, online stock assessment site simplywall.st (did you spot the clever URL there?) with its unique visualisation tool, the ‘snowflake’, I had to find out more. (Keep reading to find out how you could win a 12-month paid subscription from SWS)
Sydney-based Simply Wall St are not share-brokers and neither do they provide financial advice to investors. Their site delivers simply-to-understand information on practically all of the stocks available on the US, Canadian, UK, Australian, and now, New Zealand markets, with another 10 of the World’s biggest markets coming online soon.
One of Simply Wall St’s unique advantages over traditional analysis is that even the numerically challenged, such as myself, or the novice trader can see, graphically, how individual stocks are performing across a number of criteria without necessarily having to carry out in-depth, detailed research and analysis to make a decision. It’s a simple and painless process to set up a free trial account which you can do here.
But that’s not to say that Simply Wall St isn’t for experienced traders either. To find out more about how SWS can benefit both novice and experienced traders alike, I caught up with CEO, Al Bentley.
Hi Al, tell me, what makes Simply Wall St different from other online share-market stock information services?
We think that the retail investor is getting the short end of the stick, and all the big brokers and funds are the ones benefiting. So our motive has always been to replace human stockbrokers and give the power back to the investor. The institutional grade data that we access is not feasible for ordinary investors, so we allow them to have it for the tiniest fraction of cost, but presented in a way that is intuitive and easy to analyse. This combination of simplicity and complexity is a big differentiator for us – the interface and graphics are intuitive and easy to interpret, but the actual quality and quantity of data & analysis we do is complex and comprehensive. Additionally, our portfolio analysis has a lot of functionality that a lot of these brokerages don’t provide investors with, which makes it really powerful for investors to actively manage their portfolios and analyse their strengths and weaknesses. Lastly, the analysis model plays a key role. We simplify our analysis into 5 criteria, so investors can understand a company in a refined but holistic way.
Is SWS more suitable for beginner investors or those more experienced?
SWS is really friendly to both levels of investor. The visual nature of the product, as well as features like beginner mode make it ideal for novice investors to be able to conduct research and analysis based on a simple yet internationally recognised analysis model. Interestingly though, of our 70,000+ users, the majority are more experienced investors who actually have a portfolio and are regularly researching stocks. The data we provide them with is of the highest quality, and not readily accessible to retail investors, so the product is extremely valuable to them, giving them deeper insight into their portfolios and saving them a lot of research time for new stocks to add. Also, we think they’re a little tired of the lack of guidance and functionality of their brokers and existing tools, which plays a role in their adoption of the product.
Why do you feel that SWS’s visual representation of stock performance is better than traditional graphical and numeric reporting?
It’s just so much easier to process and explore. Humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, so stock analysis and portfolio management shouldn’t be any different. It’s really easy to get flustered when looking at spreadsheets and figures, and often hard to draw meaningful analysis from that data. Investing is a big deal for people’s long-term wealth, and we want to help investors make better and more informed decisions, which we believe the visual nature of the product does.
Tell us more about how the ‘snowflake’ works.
The snowflake gives a visually intuitive summary of a stock, based on our 5 assessment criteria – the value of a stock, its past performance, future performance, dividends/income and health. The snowflake looks at 6 checks for each of the five criteria and gives you an instant snapshot of a company to help you decide if it is worth researching further. The more checks it passes, the larger the surface area of the snowflake and the greener it becomes.
By looking at a snowflake of a stock, you can tell in a matter of seconds that it is, say, a high value dividend paying stock with strong past performance. This is pretty powerful because it allows you to research stocks based on your investment philosophies. You can check out the SWS Learning Centre for a more detailed explanation with visuals.
How accurate is the information given on each stock?
We source our data from S&P Capital IQ, one of the highest regarded financial data sources in the industry. We analyse over 17,000 stocks every 6 hours using our internationally recognised analysis model (which we open source to the public), so that our users can be confident in the analysis we are providing them with. We do not ever recommend stocks as a buy or sell, but rather provide factual information that investors can use to make better investment decisions regarding their existing portfolio and future stock purchases.
Can I track my existing portfolio on SWS?
You sure can. Our portfolio tool provides powerful insight into an investor’s portfolio, such as the value of the portfolio, future growth estimates, portfolio volatility, diversification across industries to name a few. We also allow you to import your portfolio from existing brokers such as Sharesight, which makes the process of creating a portfolio in SWS quick and easy.
A lot of readers and personal finance blog writers swear by ETFs* for a relatively safe, hassle-free share portfolio. Does Simply Wall St track ETF markets?
Currently, our analysis model does not tailor specifically to ETFs. In 2017, this is something we will be incorporating into our analysis model but for the time being, we recommend using them as part of a portfolio as opposed to relying on the infographic report for researching individual ETFs.
(* Exchange Traded Funds)
Do you have any tips for new investors when using SWS to research stocks?
Firstly, we have a beginner mode which is really valuable for new investors (you can switch to and from the beginner mode with a click of a button). It simplifies the infographics and explains our analysis model in a fun and engaging way, so people can actually learn the concepts while they are researching stocks, which quite frankly is the best mode of learning. I think it’s also really powerful for new investors to make use of the pre-existing grid views when researching stocks, as well as exploring the custom filter. Lastly, I’d say that if a new investor doesn’t already have a portfolio, create a watchlist portfolio on SWS containing the companies you’re interested in, but aren’t willing to invest in just yet, and track how they perform.
Tell us about the different plans that SWS provide.
We’re democratising access to high quality financial information, so we want any investor to be able to access Simply Wall St. For this reason, we have a free and paid plan. Our free plan allows you to view 10 company infographics a month, see the popular and trending grid views, and have 1 portfolio, while our Premium Investor plan gives users unlimited company reports and grid views and increased number of portfolios.
SWS have kindly provided a 12-month Premium Investor subscription to be won by a lucky reader. Just tell us, in the comments, why you would like to win this account and Al will select a winner from the entries (closes 23 December 2016)**
Remember, SWS covers the US, Canadian, UK, Australian, and New Zealand markets, with another 10 of the World’s biggest markets coming online soon, so if you live in one of these countries, SWS will prove a valuable resource for your share trading.
Also available is the mobile app, which is a free, simplified version of the Simply Wall St web platform. You can download it at:
Disclosure: Get FIRE’d asap has not received any payment or incentive for writing this article but it does contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and set-up an account with SWS, I may receive a small payment which helps keep this website alive and kicking.
* Overhead projector
** The draw closes on 23rd December 2016, and the winner will be contacted directly by Simply Wall St as well as announced on Get FIRE’d asap in the next post following the competition close.