Whether you are a beginner investor or a seasoned pro, staying on top of the mountains of investment information available online is a constant challenge. The sheer quantity of information often makes it difficult to find quality, reliable sources to turn to. With so many opinions to wade through investors have to constantly be cautious about where their information is coming from, and what the intent is of the person/organization providing it.
The issue of making quality investment information available to Canadian investors has not gone unnoticed by the regulatory agencies that oversee the Canadian securities markets. While collectively the different provincial securities regulators have embraced the cause of providing quality and timely educational materials and resources to investors, there are some who are more proactively trying to connect with investors than are others. As such, the reality of the Canadian investor is that what information you get and how you get it may be impacted by where you live.
Know the Rules of the Investing Road
Just as drivers on the road need to understand and follow the rules of the road, being a participant in the securities market (such as the stock market) comes with the responsibility of following the rules and regulations of the marketplace. Regardless of portfolio size, investors in the securities markets are all considered participants and are all bound to play by the same set of rules. As such, the resources and information provided by securities regulators are in-line with securities rules and regulations set forth within each agency’s region.
For retail investors, knowing the rules is beneficial not just to avoid overstepping the lines, but also to recognize when investment ‘opportunities’ and the people peddling them might be offside or unscrupulous. Canadian securities regulators constantly monitor the marketplace as a whole, including the conduct of the companies and people participating in it. If or when securities learn of suspicious or fraudulent activity, are able to investigate it and provide reliable news regarding the status of any investigations or disciplinary decisions. In other words, they are a valuable resource to learn and stay current on the rules of the securities marketplace as well as the possible types of fraudulent activities targeted towards investors.
As a launching point for self-directed investors or folks that are curious about investing, the FCAC is a great resource. It covers important definitions of terms that investors should familiarize themselves with as well as provide tips that also talk about tax considerations, something a lot of other stock market education sites don’t really cover.
Overall the modules are both interactive and informative. My biggest recommendation is to turn down the volume when going through the modules as there is a constant strange techno “music” playing in the background (and there is no way I found to turn it off). Also, the modules are flash based (mac users take note).
About the Daily Stumble This section provides links to interesting websites or resources that we uncover as we scour the internet and beyond for the best stock market education resources for investors.
Notes: Get Smarter About Money is a collection of really well-written and easy to understand resources on personal finance, including many sections and resources related to investing. Although this is not a tool for stock-specific research, it is a very handy website to consult, especially for beginner investors. There are a number of reasons why this is an important resource for Canadian retail investors to know about, however here are three that we think are most important.
First, this site is sponsored by the Ontario Securities Commission Investor Education Fund, a program developed to “unbiased, independent financial information, programs and tools to help consumers make better financial and investing decisions.” This certainly earns them a gold star in our books.
Second, they have great content around financial planning and literacy. Investing and trading are just two of the ways you can impact your financial bottom line. Knowing the landscape of your options, understanding product options or just having a basic grasp of budgeting and financial management – all of these contribute in different ways to making you a savvier investor and trader. Their sections on identifying investment fraud are also super important to take note of.
Third, you get to learn more about other investors and from other investors. As a self-directed investor or even as someone who wants to take better control of their investments, it can feel like a lonely road. The research, surveys, articles and stories shared by the different writers (known as the “Masters of Money”) are great to learn about the landscape of other Canadians who are trying to take control of their personal finances.
Overall, this is a great site to know about and to stay plugged in to get you on the right track to personal financial success or to help keep you there. With a wise looking owl for a mascot, it’s reassuring to know that this is a site that definitely gives a hoot!
Notes: The Options Industry Council has recently redesigned their website and has done an amazing job, providing excellent user experience and quality, reliable information. With tools and resources including an Options Calculator, Virtual Trading System and Position Simulator, you can test out trading strategies or evaluate options pricing very quickly. In addition, the site offers you the “option” to call or chat live with options education professionals about your options questions – all for free!
Whether you are a complete beginner and advanced option trader, the OIC’s educational resources, videos, articles, news and events listings will keep you fully informed about all things options related. Best of all, registering with OIC is free! Free quality education from the industry sources themselves? Now that sounds like a great trade to us!
Notes: Tradescores is a great market analysis and training tool for beginners and intermediate traders. One of the greatest features of this site is the trading simulation tool which allows you to practice what it would be like to execute trades with a “practice” account. Unlike many other great simulators out there, what really makes this one stand out and worth using is the focus on risk management. Most simulators unfortunately only provide you with your percentage gained or loss in dollar terms – a real weakness in my opinion, because controlling risk is crucial to success in the stock market. Tradescores, on the other hand, forces you to use risk management techniques every time you place an order. By tracking your trades and showing you how much risk you are taking, this tool really helps traders zero in on developing this critical skill. The charting and interface are also fairly user friendly and so it earns high marks for a great set of features and user-friendliness. As an added bonus, there’s a community challenge that you can participate in to show off your trading skills with!
Notes: A great site for technical analysis information, stockcharts.com has a comprehensive section called “ChartSchool” where you get as much technical info as you can handle. There are several great articles in this area that explain fundamental and technical analyses, as well as incredible sections on different chart types. The greatest feature about this site (and there are several) though has to be the extensive section on technical indicators and overlays. If you hear about different types of indicators like a MACD (moving average convergence divergence) or a moving average and you want to know what they mean, you’ll want to check out this section of their site.
Notes: This is by far one of the most versatile free resources available to individuals looking for market information. The biggest strengths of Freestockcharts.com are that it provides near real-time data (basically as trades are happening), it has an incredibly easy to use charting program, a comprehensive set of technical indicators and best of all, it’s FREE!! There are paid options to use added functionality however there is still quite a bit that you can access for free. If you are looking to get started anywhere on a charting platform or are looking for trading data without a large delay, this is one you should seriously consider.
Notes: This is a fantastic site that provides market information throughout the day as well as some incredibly powerful yet easy to use filters to scan through the US stock markets. It is far and away one of my most favourite tools to use and best of all, many of the features are free. One of the best (and it’s hard to choose just one) things about this site is the visual element to the tools they provide. For example they have a “heat map” that visually shows you how each of the stocks in a particular market is trading. As you can see below (a picture of the heat map of the S&P 500), the stocks that have done well for the day are in green and those that have lost money are red (wouldn’t it be great if everyday was this green!!!) and those that haven’t really done anything are in black.