Here is a checklist – check them all off before you make your first buying decision.
Broker – You must have one, whether it be a person or a platform. Depending on your circumstances you might want to deal with a ‘full-service broker’ who will likely also provide research and recommendations, or you might choose to utilize a ‘discount broker’, i.e. online and often attached to a bank. You lose the personal touch and advice but gain transaction speed and the benefit of lower commissions.
Trading Platform – Software used to buy, sell and manage stock holdings. Think ‘Commsec’ and ‘nabtrade’. Platforms vary from very basic order screens right up to layouts with real-time quotes, charting tools, news feeds and research.
Charting Package – If you only want charts then most of the trading platforms will provide them. If you want to get serious, you’re going to need to fork out some cash and get something with a bit of juice that will cover all your technical analysis needs. Bullcharts, Metastock, OmniTrader and Protrader are some of the market leaders.
Newsfeed – Share prices move when the pool of information about the company changes. In order to not get left behind on the latest news and updates you’re going to need to get yourself a newsfeed. An easy way to cover the ground quickly is through subscriptions to publications such as AFR or a financial news network. Online brokers will also tend to have reasonable news and announcement coverage. And of course, the Marcus Today Newsletter covers all the important stories, news and company updates (as well as market research, analysis and ideas) in one convenient place.
Computer – All these programs and software take a little bit of processing power to run, so the 8-year-old acer laptop that’s lying under the bed probably won’t cut the mustard. A relatively modern desktop with up to date processing systems and software should do the trick.
Below is one particular MT analysts desk. You might not need quite as many screens…
Guidance – “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room”. Corny quote but the message holds true. There’s always someone smarter, someone more experienced or specialised. If you can access them you would be remiss to not tap into their knowledge. Professional research will provide insights that you simply cannot gain as an individual retail investor. Not to toot our own horn, but we have 100+ years of combined experience in the Marcus Today team and it is our job to share that experience, knowledge and insight with you. We take a conservative approach, preserving capital and looking for opportunities where the reward outweighs the risk to help make you a better investor.
Quiet Time – Warren Buffett didn’t make his billions investing while surrounded by screaming kids and barking dogs. You’re going to need a space that you can go and put all your attention to the task at hand.
A Network (of people) – When you come up with an idea on your own, it’s the best idea ever. Say it out loud and run it past a few people, who come at it from a different angle, and suddenly the cracks begin to appear. Talking through strategies and ideas with investment minded friends and family will tend to lead you to developing a more robust approach (and occasionally get you unwanted feedback from your dopey uncle). Another great way to cross-check your ideas is to surround yourself with other investors at conferences like the AIA or online on forums such as the Marcus Today Stock Discussion Group.