Navigating the Financial Services Seas With Online Communities
Charles Schwab last boasted in having over 10,000 active traders in its community. The community is open to all Schwab active trader clients (defined as those who make at least 36 trades per year). Which also means that the knowledge here is contained behind a login. You’ll need to open an account or be an existing client to gain full access.
You may recognize Morningstar, the independent investment research firm, from their one (poorest) to five (best) star rating system on publicly traded mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETF)s. The rating system is designed to help investors quickly identify investments to consider as part of their portfolios.
To encourage healthy debate of what to buy or sell next, swap allocation strategies, and compare return and yield growth, enter Morningstar Discuss. What was once a destination booming with thought leadership pieces, the online community has since evolved into conversations around fund families, investment strategies, and stock trading.
One powerful feature of the Morningstar Discuss community is Portfolio Sharing. Whether you are seeking 401(k) guidance or want to compare investment philosophies with other community members, Morningstar’s Portfolio Sharing enables you to get feedback, ratings, and new perspectives on your holdings and to share portfolio management ideas with the Morningstar community of investors. Keep in mind, you’ll only see allocation and yield percentages and not other members’ investment amounts. This is for the obvious reason of privacy. But consider it a way to benchmark your portfolio against other like-minded investors and determine if you should consider being more aggressive or conservative.
To help people who work in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields, the go-to online community for retirement planning solutions is TIAA MyRetirement, specifically for those who are 5-10 years from retirement or currently retired.
The most active forum, My Money, focuses on important financial decisions to consider when planning for retirement. Members discuss topics such as contributing to their retirement accounts, determining how much money you will need in retirement, and deciding when to collect Social Security. TIAA-CREF also leverages the community as a channel to deliver their expert advice “Insight” articles that covers all relatable retirement categories.
When people think of investing, they typically picture Wall Street and traditional investment vehicle like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and employer-sponsored 401(k) plans. But starting your own or buying an existing business should also be on your list of investments options. And two financial service companies have your back; American Express’ OPEN Forum and Bank of America’s Small Business Online Community.
Covering a smattering of small business topics, and offering a multitude of resources to be successful, both communities will help put you on a path to securing a nice nest egg when it comes time to sell off the business. Or use the revenue from the business to buy traditional investments.
Either way, it’s a win-win.