Before Apple launched the App Store in 2008, investing via smartphone pretty much meant calling your broker. Mobile banking, before the era of apps allowed for at best the sending and receiving of cash via SMS.
Fast forward to today and all it takes is a tap or two to locate valuable investment information, see your current account balances and budget or move your money from one asset to another. What’s more, you can do it in seconds, without anyone’s help and often without fees or other associated costs.
Observing, managing and reviewing investments is as easy as opening an app. Of course, with such easy access comes responsibility. Some apps almost make it too easy to trade on impulse, not a great thing when many investors need less portfolio turnover, not more. But apps have their advantages, including lower fees and the capacity to keep investors constantly informed.
Investment and Saving Apps
Mint: The one that really kicked off the web-based/app-based money manager. Mint helps you spend smarter and save more. Easily pull all your accounts, cards and investments into one place so you can track your spending, create a budget, receive bill reminders, and get customized tips for reducing fees and saving money. Mint will also check your credit score for free.
Personal Capital: Simalar to Mint in that is tracks and analyzes your investment, bank, and credit card accounts. The app also allows you to make payments and transfers.
Personal Capital also offers fee-based financial advice if you’re so inclined, but you don’t need to buy in to use its website and mobile app.
Level: Level is a lot like Mint.
But instead of breaking down your budget and spending habits into a million micro-categories, like entertainment and food, Level takes your banking and credit card info, analyzes it, and establishes three simple budgets for the current day, week, and month with a design that’s easy to digest.
You can monitor transactions, create a plan to save money, and tweak the budget that Level put together for you.
Simple: With bank customers growing tired of rising fees and complicated fine print, Josh Reich decided to simplify things.
He launched an alternative to mainstream banking that is mobile and online-only — with no branches or branded ATMs. That keeps costs low, allowing Simple to charge zero monthly fees and provide a network of 55,000 free ATMs to its customers.
Along with basic banking features, Simple offers budgeting tools that rival those of Mint.
iBillionaire: This one-of-a-kind app breaks down and analyzes the investment data of leading billionaires, including Warren Buffett, George Soros and Carl Icahn. You can see snapshots of what billionaires buy, sell and hold each quarter and get alerts when billionaire’s make big buys and sells.
Riskalyze: The market’s ups and downs can be nauseating, spurring some investors to make irrational decisions. Riskalyze attempts to keep you grounded by helping you determine the volatility you’re willing to take.
The service prompts investors to say how much they are willing to invest in stocks and what type of losses might prompt them to sell. Based on those numbers, Riskalyze asks up to a dozen questions to quantify exactly how much risk you’re willing to take. From there you’re assigned a risk fingerprint — or exactly how much you’re willing to lose in a six-month period if you have the chance of gaining a certain amount so you can figure out what asset allocation strategy best matches your needs.
SigFig: Puts your investment data on a single dashboard and recommends ways to optimize your portfolio. This site-and-app combo syncs with more than 90 brokerages to track your 401(k), IRA, and stock market investments.
Wealthfront: Based in Palo Alto, California, Wealthfront has earned top scores for transparency from Jack Waymire, founder of Paladin Registry, an education website for investors. The app works as an extension of Wealthfront’s robo-advisor website, which manages more than $1.5 billion in assets. It provides up-to-the-minute information that tracks account performance, rebalancing and diversification.
If you’ve got a stash of cash, but no idea what to do with it, Wealthfront thinks it can help. The site is the fastest-growing online financial advisor, with assets ballooning from less than $100 million at the start of 2013 to more than $400 million currently.
Motif Investing: Motif lets you invest in a very narrow sector — for example clean tech or companies tied to the housing rebound — using one of 90 themed portfolios. The site requires a $250 minimum and charges a commission of $9.95 per portfolio.
Earmark: Want to travel to Europe next year? With Earmark, every time you forgo buying a latte, taking a taxi or going out to dinner, you can place the money you would have spent on those splurges into an account earmarked for that vacation.
While some Earmark users actually transfer the money they would have spent on that taxi into their vacation savings account, most use it as a motivational tool. Users can earmark up to five goals at a time, and you’re alerted when you’ve set aside enough money for each.
Baton Investing: Like Wealthfront, this app is an extension of a financial website, but with a twist, Baton utilizes a stock-picking system developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist John Reese that claims a 485 percent return since 2003. Baton subscribers pay $19 a month receive portfolio updates as notifications. They can also track daily returns while keeping tabs on news stories surrounding their investments.
Openfolio: Released in October, Openfolio is the first app to leverage the logic of social networks, though it isn’t a social media site. It creates a space where you observe the investment strategies of people you know and trust, while sharing your own. Portfolios are shared in terms of percentage allocations, not dollar amounts. An Android version is in the works.
Robinhood: Robinhood has over half a million users currently and another 200,000 on a waiting list. The app enables users to buy and sell stock with no fees. Robinhood’s founders claim that they’re trying to “democratize access to the markets,” making it quite possibly my favorite app on the list.
Acorns: Acorns is an app designed to make investors out of even the most financially illiterate. Every purchase you make throughout the day is tracked, and if you opt-in, Acorns rounds up all of those purchases and places the difference into a variety of investments.