At Work

Your Investments Are Only as Good as Your Data

If you’re a savvy investor, you probably spend several hours a month poring over stocks and funds, analyzing the highs, lows, earnings, and trends. But even for the most analytic minds among us, the conclusions you draw are only as good as the parameters you can put in. If you’re a step behind the rest of the market (or, worse yet, totally off base) you’ll find yourself zigging when everyone else zags, and it’ll be you seeing red in your investment portfolio.

The investor who attempts to play the market while blindfolded is a guaranteed loser. Don’t be that type of investor.

The good news is that with the huge explosion the personal investing sector has seen in the past decade, more and more data becomes available all the time. That means you can shop around and find a company you trust to provide you up-to-date stock quotes and investing analysis that’ll steer you in the right direction no matter whether the market is bullish or bearish. With the right information at your fingertips, you can be a smarter investor and make moves that will benefit your bottom line.

These days every online stockbroker offers some level of data with their user accounts. Some brokerages, like CMC Markets, offer various tiers all the way from free, delayed data up to dynamic data for a nominal fee. With these types of options, you have the ability to scale up the level of intensity with which you want to investigate your next move. If you’re just going to stick to large, low-risk funds, it’s probably overkill, but if you’re looking to exceed average market returns, the extra bonus could yield a huge ROI.

Don’t forget that there’s more to investing than stocks and funds. A diverse portfolio should take advantage of options, bonds, real estate, commodities and much more. Again, data is your friend, and you should make the effort in advance to really scout out good value propositions before throwing your money into a sector you know little about. If you’re curious to dip your toe into an area, but don’t know much about it, you can always turn to your personal broker or financial advisor for initial advice, but there’s just no substitute for doing your own homework.

A Last Word of Advice

As much as we like to think that we’re smart people who can figure out the solution to any problem, the truth is that experts exist for a reason—they’ve committed themselves to studying the ins and out of a field, and (assuming they’re upholding their fiduciary duty) can guide you to the right investment decisions based on your income, age, aversion to risk, and tax situation. Don’t fall victim to the bravado of amateur investors who quickly get in over their heads and lack an appropriate exit strategy. Having the right data for the job is critical, but it’s equally important that you actually are able to exercise good judgement, too.