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The world of the financial markets is very a murky place. If you have no experience and no idea how they work then starting out can be a very daunting prospect indeed. Screens of figures, bulls and bears, market cap, RNS, EPS, PE ratio, what the hell is he talking about? Sites like ADVanced Financial Network (ADVFN) are a great window into what for the uninitiated is virtually a foreign language. It won't make you money per-se but it holds some fine tools to help you. There is so much information available on ADFVN that much research is going to be needed just to use the site. I will try to go through this review as simply as possible but the subject matter is so complicated and involved that I think this will be a mammoth task. Anyway here goes.
The site itself
ADVFN holds tools and research facilities to help investors make qualified decisions about a world of stocks and shares. Facts and figures abound and together with your own research, will enable you to hopefully make investment decisions that will make you money. There is so much to this site that I would be here all week going into detail about each and every section so I will try to give an overview of the main highlights of the site and then if you are interested you can explore the myriad of others at your leisure.
A word on investing
You can't invest as such on this site. For that you need to open a broker account with either one of the main banks or a specific brokerage house. Once you have an account with them you can then put money into that account and through the broker buy and sell shares on the financial market. What this site does is to provide you with the tools to decide which shares to invest in.
Confusion will reign for the first time visitor to the site as soon as the first page comes up. It is poorly designed in my opinion. If you are visiting as a complete novice to the financial world it doesn't make your introduction any easier. Mind you in its defence I think the whole site expects users to have at least a basic knowledge of how the financial world works. Look-wise the page is full of financial adverts with charts and lists mixed in giving the whole page a messy look that I think lets down the rest of what is an excellent site. This page gives you the chance to register for free (more on that later) There are also links to all the main pages of the site.
This is possibly the most useful page on the whole site and the one that most new visitors will have come to the site for. This is where you will find live prices of stocks on the markets. Trades and changes in share price are shown in real time. This is the place to keep an eye on how your investments are doing. Note This service is only available to free users for a few minutes a day. If you want unlimited access you will have to pay for it via one of their membership scales, (explained later)
The page itself is a large table of numbers in three colours.
Green - no change.
Red - the price has gone down.
Blue - the price has gone up.
The top section shows Indices such as the FTSE and the Dow Jones in the US Next down are the FX figures which deal with the currency market. The third section is the one investors are most interested in There are a set of well known shares set up in this section when you first visit but it is easy to delete these and put up the ones you either own or are interested in. The chart shows you any % change, price change, bid price (the price you would receive if you sold), offer price (the price you would expect to pay to buy) and daily high and low price together with the price they started the day at. There are also figures for the latest trades showing trade price, amount of shares and the time they were traded. It is quite exciting to see those little numbers go blue and if they go blue several times in succession it is a real buzz when you think how much you are making. One thing I have noticed is that sometimes buys are reported as sells and vice versa, maybe not the sites fault but just something to be aware of as it could change the balance of the trade volumes.
More charts than you could shake a stick at. You can find charts here for any listed company. There are charts from Intraday (one days trading) through to progress of the chosen company for any period up to five years. Very useful tools when you want to see how the company has been fairing over a period of times. There are interactive features to the charts as well. You can add a myriad of charting tools to help you understand what the share price has been doing or to annotate for further reference.
What it says. This is a list of the days trades for a particular company, of course you can choose which company you wish to examine. The list shows buys and sells and details of time and price as well as how many shares were traded. It also shows what kind of trade it is which can sometimes be helpful. Seeing the days trades like that is useful to see how sentiment in the company is fairing. This is helpful to determine sentiment towards the company. It also could help to make buying or selling decisions if there is a sudden mass of big sells or buys it could be a clue as to something about to happen with the company, news or results perhaps.
Here is the place to find financial news on the myriad of companies trading on the worlds markets. It is possible to select the company you are interested in and see news just for them. Always handy as prices move most when news comes out from companies.
The financials page offers a vast array of financial information about the company you are interested in. To mention just a few of the facts available on this page, you can find what dividends the company has paid out over the last few years. There are also figures and charts that show the financial state of the company and fundamentals like their most recent balance sheet, profit and loss account and cash flow statement.
This page is a page of links to many pages that show a large range of lists for example top movers or highest volume to name but a couple from many choices. It is always handy to know what shares have a large interest shown in them as something might be happening or about to happen that could affect the share price.
The alerts allow you to set up many e mail alerts for a wide range of happenings. For example, if the price of a share has gone up or down by a chosen percentage or if there is a news item released, they are just an example of the many choices.
After the monitor, this is perhaps the page I use most. The portfolio enables you to keep a record of your investments. Once you have bought shares in a range of companies you can list them in your portfolio, putting in information like how many you bought and at what price per share. Add in the charges you paid and it will calculate the purchase price. Once that is listed it then shows you what they are worth at the current price and the amount you have made or lost in the current days trading. It shows you the prices on a bid basis so you know exactly what you would make should you choose to sell Also useful is the average price. This is the price at which you break even. This is very useful to see, if you have bought shares in a certain stock on separate occasions at different prices the average is very important to know and having on the screen worked out for you is a lot easier than trying to do it yourself. There are totals shown so you can see at a glance how your portfolio is performing. All the above information is laid out in an easy to understand table and is only a part of the portfolio. There are tabs that show you a list of your transactions complete with dates and full details. There is also a profit and loss account sheet which shows you haw much profit or loss you have made on your total dealings and individual transactions. A feature of this portfolio that is available to paying users is the streaming of prices so you have a "live" worth of your holdings. This is very valuable if you are day trading or are looking to sell at a certain price as you will know immediately when your price is met.
Free bulletin board
This is as it says a free board so anyone can post. Names are shown in two colours, blue for paying posters and black for those who are free members. In reality I have found that the colour doesn't make all that much difference to the quality of the posts. There are thousands of threads, mostly for individual companies. They hold charts and company information in the headers and then the posts below. The board is very well used and a wealth of information can be obtained but please read the warning below.
Premium bulletin board
This board is for paying members only and can't be seen by public members. The threads are moderated more than the free ones. The posts on the free board can be seen on the threads in the premium section. I must admit that I was slightly disappointed by the number of posts and threads in this section when compared to the free boards and find that although I do check the premium ones, I tend to read the free ones more often. Again the warning applies to the board as well.
Whilst there is very good information to be found on these and any financial bulletin boards for that matter, you should not rely on those opinions as financial advice. A lot of posters put up very good info and do so in good faith but a minority don't. They post lies and half truths that could sway you to either buy or sell when this is the wrong thing to do. So please, by all means take note of info posted on the boards but do your own research to find the validity of the advice before buying or selling.
Paid for Options
For the free option you get use of the live monitor for a few minutes a day. All other prices are delayed by fifteen minutes. You can build your portfolio and have access to much of the financial information and the free bulletin board. There are ten differing paid for options ranging form UK silver (cost £11.95 pcm) which gives you unlimited monitor time for the London market, live streaming for your portfolio as well as more in depth financial information and access to the premium bulletin board. More options such as access to level two trading and live streaming for world markets is available as you go up through the options. Prices range from £11.95pcm up to £129.99 for the top level. I have found that the first level gives me most of what I require at this stage of my investing and as I am not dealing in large quantities can't really justify nor need the higher options. They are really for people who do it professionally.
My View and any other business
I have tried to keep this as simple as I can but the financial world is very complicated and so of course this site looks mind bogglingly confusing at first sight. There is so much information available that I have only scratched the surface here. I have found the site to be an invaluable source of information as well as a great way to keep track of my investments. Once you get the hang of what is where it becomes a lot clearer and is very easy to use. It does take a little while to find your way around though so be prepared to spend a little time exploring. Throughout the site are shortcuts from one section to another that are very useful to get information quickly and easily. So that's it, I rate this site highly for the wealth of information and eventual ease of use.
And remember; ALWAYS do your own research before making an investment decision.