Resources for the do-it-yourselfer
Useful sites for funds, stocks, and online discussions
Do-it-yourself investors, or DIYs, are truly unique when viewed in the context of Canadian investors. Speaking from practical experience, most people seem to want some sort of advice on their investments. Others are in this large grey area, where they know there is much they need to learn about financial matters, but figure they can do a better job than the advisors with whom they've spoken. I call these folks forced DIYs because they'd prefer to be with an advisor, but can find one that's good enough - so they' re forced to go it alone.
True DIYs, however, love being in the driver's seat of their portfolios and have an insatiable hunger for information on investing and personal finance. As a result, DIYs can be more knowledgeable than many calling themselves advisors. For this Canadian minority, I'll suggest a few resources that will be of particular interest - assuming they don't already know about them.
Mutual fund sites
Before talking about the country's biggest fund sites, it's worthy to note that this site has good mutual fund snapshots (check out the drop down menu along the left side) and a weekly column that can be insightful at times. That said, there are a few other mutual fund sites that may be useful.
The Fund Library is Canada's original web site dedicated to mutual funds. Visitors will find lots of content contributed from a variety of experts, most of which work for firms sponsoring the site. Resident fund analyst, Steve Kangas, pens his weekly musings on the fund industry and other relevant investing issues in a section named "Investment Cafe".
Morningstar.ca is one of the more informative mutual fund sites in Canada. Getting the best of their free information requires a registration but it doesn't cost a thing. You'll get detailed information on most funds and analyst opinions on many. The most useful information on this site is something called Manager Monitor - profiles of mutual fund managers.
Globefund.com has much of the same fund-specific information found at the other sites listed. Its unique features include easy-to-use fund charting functions, a quick link to relevant Globe and Mail fund articles, and links to their monthly report on mutual fund funds.
Use the fund ratings from these last three sites with a grain of salt. As we saw in this August article, the popular fund ratings have no real success in predicting future winners and are unduly influenced by recent performance. Use them as a summary of past performance and to weed out the big losers amongst funds - but not to pick your winners.
Many popular sites have stock information, like MSN, and the last two mutual fund sites noted above. Those are well known, so my focus here will be to highlight a couple of valuable sites that aren't as mainstream.
StingyInvestor.com is the creation of Dr. Norman Rothery, a scientist and investing enthusiast. Rothery is a former colleague and current research partner. His stock analysis method embodies the principles of Benjamin Graham and David Dodd, the fathers of value investing. StingyInvestor.com offers handy stock screeners on North American stocks, in addition to insightful and detailed essays on stock picking and reprints of articles Rothery writes for Canadian MoneySaver magazine. Free e-mail newsletters are offered, but his Rothery Report, a paid-subscription newsletter, is a true bargain for any stingy investor.
Value Investigator is a web site set up by money manager Irwin Michael, of ABC Funds. The site was created in 1999 when his classic value style of picking stocks was shunned by the investing public and the media alike. He uses the site to more clearly explain how he picks stocks and the reasoning behind his buys, holds, and sells. Michael is arguably one of North America's most astute money managers, and offers a great deal of insight into his management style and the stocks he follows.
For those who don't know, indexing (or passive investing) is popular among DIYs. Indexing refers to simply gaining exposure to an entire stock index, like the S&P 500, rather than trying to find a manager who will beat the market by picking the best stocks. Call the latter active management. That said, here are a couple of sites you must bookmark.
IndexFunds.com is perhaps the best single site on indexing and index investments. Its full article archive features insights from bright analysts and managers such as William Bernstein, Gavin Quill, and Larry Swedroe. (Insight into the Canadian indexing market is provided by yours truly.) A lively discussion forum addresses everything from basic topics like figuring out an appropriate asset mix, to more complex discussions on investment theory. This site is gushing with information.
Bylo Selhi , pronounced "Buy-Low Sell-High", is the pseudonym of an indexing enthusiast who frequents investing discussion forums. His site is a compendium of investment information and articles, with a particular focus on indexing. Overall, very educational.
The Wealthy Boomer is a site run by National Post columnist Jonathan Chevreau. The best part of this web site is the vibrant and informative discussion forum, which is moderated by Chevreau. In fact, I participate in this forum and if you hang around long enough, you'll notice that many financial experts and other bright individuals are regulars. Most post under aliases, but some (like me) use their real names, or shortened versions thereof. Registration is free and required to join a discussion, but not if only reading discussion threads.
The Fund Library also has an active discussion forum but is hot and cold. At times, it's very active and interesting, while other times the site may look deserted. Few, if any participants use their real names and the discussion topics usually focus on mutual funds.
A caveat is always necessary with message boards and discussion forums. You never know who is behind the aliases. Hence, it's tough to assess participants' motivations. Also, many participants will, at times, register with multiple aliases, so be careful.
Rob Carrick, online investing expert and Globe and Mail columnist, recently published a book called The Online Investor's Companion: 50 Essential Financial Web Sites. The book offers a guide on effective online investing, then summarizes what Carrick thinks are the top 50 in a crowded field. His summaries are very useful, nicely pointing out each site's strengths and highlights. Since many of the best investing sites around are American, Carrick also rates each site for its amount and quality of Canadian content.
I can't guarantee that these sources of information will always be accurate, but my experience has been they are all good sources of information and will appeal to most DIYs, to some extent.
Dan Hallett, CFA, CFP is the President of Dan Hallett & Associates Inc. in Windsor Ontario. DH&A is registered as Investment Counsel in Ontario and provides independent investment research to financial advisors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Disclaimers: Consult with a qualified investment adviser before trading. Past performance is a poor indicator of future performance. The information on this site, and in its related newsletters, is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, financial advice or recommendations. The information on this site is in no way guaranteed for completeness, accuracy or in any other way. More...|