There are countless examples of where tech connects us with the information we need, to take control of certain aspects of our lives. Before companies like Mint.com getting a handle on your finances was complicated. Before apps like Eat This, Not That it was virtually impossible to understand the caloric implications of what you've chosen from the fast food menu in real time. And before fashion startups like Shoptique it was difficult for small boutique stores to reach a wider audience online.
Travel, healthcare and personal finance... the list of affected industries is endless. The democratization of information that was once held in the hands of the "experts" is fundamentally changing our ability to make decisions for ourselves.
So, is it time now to democratize Wall Street? Perhaps.
If you're at all in touch with what's happening in the tech/startup scene, you know that fin-tech (financial tech) has been a hot space for a while, and not just in North America. One problem these young companies are tackling is the lack of relevant information, conversation and our capacity to make our own investment decisions. As a result, we're seeing a lot of innovation in this area -- companies creating easy to use web and mobile apps that give you the same powerful tools and analysis the boys and girls on Wall Street get... in just a few clicks.
According to Fahad Kamr CEO of Market IQ, a company that aims to "democratize finance" this type of full transparency into investment mechanics is a game changer.
"The one percent to two percent portfolio manager fee is unwarranted, especially when portfolio managers don't outperform the market consistently and don't provide smaller clients with the right amount of attention."
In contrast, companies like Market IQ provide tools that let you do the analysis yourself. In short; they do the financial modeling so you don't have to. In-depth portfolio analysis, company research, portfolio optimization; all of it done through a host of sophisticated algorithms, providing you with the information you need to make the best investment decisions in just a few seconds.
"That is very powerful when you compare the number of hours an investment analyst typically spends to extract the same level of insights on other investment platforms."
The technology isn't the only thing that's changing. It provides us with a channel to information we couldn't previously access, but where and how the information is collected and disseminated has also changed, which points to where much of the innovation happening.
Financial statements and company performance are only part of the equation. But other sources of information like online content, news and other media are almost impossible to sift through. And what about social media? What role can it play in providing early indicators that a company is a viable investment - or not?
That's another problem this new breed of fin-tech companies are aiming to solve - in addition to providing access to essential financial data, they're sorting through the barrage of social media noise for you. According to Kamr "Market IQ's separates (market) signals from social media noise, and overlays the resulting market sentiment onto a traditional fundamental and technical framework bringing current trends and future expectations to light."
So can Twitter help predict how well the market, or specific companies will perform? Arguably, it might be a better gauge than the average investment analyst who clocks in at a less than 50% accuracy rate.
Kamr continues to say "investing is all about having the right information at the right time. It's not gambling, it is investing in the right companies - ones with strong fundamentals and strong operations."
So if you had the right information at your fingertips, would you go head to head against the boys and girls at Wall Street?
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