I’m not particularly a fan of these Mainstream Media (MSM) overviews of Internet tools. I find, more often than not, that they’re typically short on analysis and don’t help investors really navigate what’s really out there, why these tools are important, and how investors are successfully using them.
This short video piece (2:45) ran late last week on the Wall Street Journal’s website (sorry, couldn’t get the video to embed for some reason). It’s a cursory overview of some sites focused on personal finance (Mint, Wesabe) with the perspective of more people wanting/needing to take control over their finances and investments in light of the recent financial tsunami. The interviewee is Shelly Banjo, Dow Jones Newswire’s reporter on wealth management.
A couple of sites are mentioned explicitly. Simplifi, a site that helps investors build their own financial plans, is mentioned as a good resource for do-it-yourself investors. Covestor, a tool that allows investors to see what others are actually doing with their investment money, is cited as an important site “so you don’t have to take advice from some financial advisor trying to sell you something”.
Frustrating to see MSM’s quick gloss-over of security and privacy issues. When asked about security with some of these sites, Banjo responds, “It’s OK. These sites have to be secure so people will use them. So, they’re OK.” In a way, she’s right. No one would use these systems if there was a likelihood that his entire financial history and net worth made its way online. Security is an important issue — I don’t think it’s enough to reason-away security issues. Be sure to check security/privacy policies of any site you may consider using for online investing/personal finance.
Anyway, also check out Banjo’s “The Best Online Tools for Personal Finance” that ran in today’s WSJ.