Lured by advances in smartphone and tablet technology and skyrocketing adoption rates, financial institutions and financial software engineers are offering a rapidly growing number of mobile apps, both to retail investors and to Wall Street insiders. While Wall Street professionals tend to view apps as a convenience factor, rather than a game-changer, most use mobile apps on a regular basis, whether it's to glance at stock quotes, trade on the go, read research or check out what other traders in their social (media) circles are doing.
"I look at Bloomberg, the Financial Times, financial data that people publish," says Steve Rubinow, the former CIO at NYSE who now leads global technology operations at FXall, which was just acquired by Thomson Reuters. "I don't look at them religiously. But they're good if I want a sense of how stocks are going."
Noting that many stock quoting apps have a 20-minute lag time, Rubinow points out that mobile trading applications still aren't a big driver on Wall Street, primarily due to security and latency concerns. But for retail investors, or even traders who find themselves occasionally away from the desk, many apps offer value and convenience. "They're still too slow for professional traders. It's more of, 'Oh, I wonder what's going on?'" Rubinow relates. "But if you're a retail investor, you don't care about microseconds."
At the same time, a growing number of mobile apps are leveling the playing field for retail investors, who increasingly have the same information at their fingertips as Wall Street executives and institutional investors. Among these is Chaikin Power Tools, a stock market app developed by computer pioneer Marc Chaikin, who once built the first real-time analytics workstation for stock traders and portfolio managers. The app's "Power Gauge" leverages a quantitative analytics model to predict whether a stock will outperform or underperform the market in the next six months.
"I've built the same thing for professional investors for 20 years," Chaikin reports. "I tried to provide the same kind of institutional-quality investment decisions for retail investors."
As a result, tools such as Power Gauge that are geared for retail investors also are catching the professionals' attention. Here are 10 of the best Wall Street apps that you should be keeping an eye on, too.
Bloomberg and Bloomberg Radio+
Bloomberg's free app -- available for for the iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones, as well as Windows and Symbian mobile devices -- gives Wall Street execs and investors instant access to finance and business news, market data, and portfolio tracking, as well as charts and graphs that track business trends and the global markets. Users can access market data across equity indices, commodities, bonds, currencies and futures, and can personalize views of the news by industry, region or popularity. The Bloomberg Radio+ app also is popular on Wall Street. "When I'm traveling internationally, that becomes my source of information," says Vikas Shah, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities. "You can be sitting at an airport terminal in Beijing and listening to the radio."
Chaikin Power Tools
Developed by computer pioneer Marc Chaikin, the Chaikin Power Tools iPhone and Android app, from Chaikin Stock Research, offers Wall Street research and analysis to investors on the go. The app uses a proprietary, 20-factor model that analyzes complex data based on financial metrics, earnings performance, expert opinions and price/volume activity, and distills it into an intuitive "Power Gauge" rating -- green for bullish and red for bearish -- for 5,000 U.S stocks. Models are updated daily, and the tool is accompanied by real-time news sentiment analysis generated by proprietary linguistics parsing software. "If a company reports earnings today, that will be reflected tomorrow," says Chaikin.
E*Trade Mobile Pro
Online broker E*Trade's Mobile Pro app features voice recognition so you can simply speak to get stock quotes, options chains and company information, or to launch a stock order ticket. The app's tools include CNBC video on demand; a calculator enabling an investor to just enter the dollar amount he or she wants to invest while the order ticket calculates the total number of shares that can be purchased; and mobile check deposit, which enables customers to electronically deposit checks to their E*Trade accounts remotely using the smartphone's built-in camera.
[What's Hot In Wall Street Institutional Apps? ]
An extension of the website ETFdb, the ETF Database app, available for iOS and Android devices, provides information on more than 1,100 U.S.-listed exchange-traded products, enabling financialadvisers and individual investors to quickly identify funds that meet their investment objectives. The app includes six options for filtering ETFs, including by issuer, bond type, commodity type, sector and region. It also displays information for all ETFs that meet search criteria, including ticker, expense ratio and issuer, as well as a link to complete performance and holdings data.
The PortfolioLive app allows users to track their portfolios, research stocks, and actively manage and trade positions across an unlimited number of portfolios. The iPhone app (currently on sale for 99 cents in Apple's App Store) pulls in data from Yahoo Finance, CNBC and Google to provide real-time price, chart and news information for stocks on the NYSE, Nasdaq and AMEX exchanges, as well as for over-the-counter and pink sheet securities, and provides support for dozens of international exchanges. The app enables users to enter short sales, close out pre-existing positions and view their total net worth in any one currency. It also performs live calculations of value, day gain and total gain at the lot, position and portfolio levels. The developer, Turing Studios, also offers a charting app, ChartsLive, that features a built-in chart designer and support for 40+ indicators, overlays and moving options; and FutureLive, which allows investors to keep track of future contracts and commodities.
StockTouch, a 99-cent app for the iPhone and iPad created by Visible Market, uses data visualization technology to help investors make quick decisions about the stocks of 1,350 companies and glean at a glance how the stock market is doing over any period of time. The app enables users to zoom in to see specific industries or companies and offers an interactive, personalized heat map and visual watch list of favorite stocks and ETFs. It refreshes every 5 minutes throughout the trading day and sorts stocks by size, market capitalization, percentage gains, volume or alphabetically. Visible Market is now working on helping financial institutions find ways to present their own data in a manner similar to the StockTouch app.
A real-time, free social network for investors and traders, StockTwits enables users to organize streams of information around stocks and markets across the web and social media. The app, which runs on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, tracks trader and investor chatter and pulls those conversations to the surface. It also allows investors to follow official updates directly from companies in real time. According to the company, more than 150,000 investors, market professionals and public companies currently use the platform to share information and ideas about the market and individual stocks.
TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader
TD Ameritrade's Mobile Trader app lets investors buy and sell stocks directly from their iPhones, iPads and Android smartphones, while offering extensive watch-list options. The app allows users to trade exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, options, futures and forex. It also provides fake cash that investors can use to test their strategies before they put their own money on the line. And if you're at the mall or the supermarket, TD Ameritrade's "Snapstock" feature allows you to snap a picture of a product's barcode to look up the public company behind the label and instantly trade its stock.
TIAA-CREF's Retirement Projector
TIAA-CREF's Retirement Projector app, available free for the iPhone in the Apple App Store, allows retail investors to understand how their savings will affect their retirement. Users enter their age and income information, how much they've saved so far, and how much they save every month, and get a savings target tailored to their desired retirement lifestyle. The app also illustrates how adjustments can help users reach their goals.
Wikinvest Portfolio Manager
The Wikinvest Portfolio Manager free app for the iPhone tracks a retail investor's entire portfolio in one place. Via a secure connection, it automatically imports brokerage holdings into one view and updates nightly. Investors currently can import holdings from more than 60 brokers, including Charles Schwab, E*Trade, Fidelity, Franklin Templeton, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in April 2007, Melanie lived in Paris, where she worked for the International Herald ... View Full Bio