Now that you can do everything from reading the morning paper to paying for your travel on your iPhone or iPad, you may also want to manage your investments on the go. Most major stockbrokers now have apps that let you trade or check your portfolio through your phone, although the quality of these varies. But there are also plenty of other tools that are well worth a look, especially if you need to keep track of multiple accounts. Here are a few that may be worth the struggle to remember your App Store or Google Play password to download.
When it comes to reliable, up-to-date information on global stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities and more, Bloomberg is the market leader, and its foray into the app market with Bloomberg Business is markedly better than that of competitors such as Yahoo Finance, Google Finance and MSN Money. The app doesn't cost anything to download, and is available on iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone (for the trendy investor, there's also an Apple Watch app available).
Features vary between platforms, but on the excellent iPad version you get a comprehensive range of the standard Bloomberg offerings: news, market data, a watchlist of particular securities you want to monitor, charting capabilities with historic share prices going back ten years, and more. The app has the classic Bloomberg look: a black background with share prices across the top and a news ticker along the bottom. Overall, it's smart and easy to use, and offers everything you need to stay informed on news and share-price movements, and even to do some basic research on possible investments.
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There are no shortage of currency converter apps available on all platforms, but iCurrency Pad (iPhone and iPad) stands out. This app allows you to convert more than 160 currencies from around the world, view historic exchange-rate charts (up to ten years) and set your favourite currencies for easy reference. The Exchange Rates Listing feature provides a base currency against which all other currencies are compared, with exchange rates updated at regular intervals, depending on the currency (ranging from every 15 seconds to once per day).You will need to be connected to the internet to get the most up-to-date rates, but you can still carry out conversions while offline. This app doesn't perform miracles, but what it does do, it does well and at 79p it's very reasonably priced.
For other platforms, XE Currency from forex site XE.com is a good alternative with similar functionality. There's a free advertising-supported version, while the Pro version with advertisements removed costs £1.49.
We're not sure that any app has yet cracked the problem of keeping track of your investments on a tablet or phone: even the best ones seem underpowered compared to full-featured portfolio software on a PC or Mac, or simply to what you can build with an Excel spreadsheet. In particular, many focus on watchlists rather than true portfolio tracking (meaning they merely monitor share-price performance and ignore costs, dividends, sales and cash holdings). And some promising apps are US-only with no tracking of UK shares.
StockWatch (iPhone and iPad only) from Toughturtle seems the pick of the bunch (be aware that there is more than one app with a similar name), with a decent list of features and the ability to sync your portfolio between devices using iCloud. The paid version costs £1.49 and you'll need to pay twice if you want it on both an iPad and an iPhone, as this is not a universal app. But there's a free demo version if you'd like to try out a few of the features.
Stocks Portfolio Manager by Innopage seems to be the most promising solution that's available on both iPhone/iPad and Android. The interface is attractive and the features are fairly comprehensive, but some require a monthly subscription; we'd prefer a one-off fee. But the basic app is again free if you want to give it a test-drive.
There are specialist calculator apps for the iPhone and iPad, but the most comprehensive we've found is the Wolfram Investment Calculator from Wolfram Research, developer of the Wolfram Alpha search engine. This app includes a wide range of tools, including those for retirement planning, bond valuation, options pricing and constructing hedges. The app requires an internet connection to work (since the calculations are done on Wolfram's servers) and is available for iPhone and iPad only, costing £1.49. Note that the same functions can be accessed through the Wolfram Alpha search engine, but the app offers a simpler interface.
Monitoring your finances
The big flaw in most apps intended to help keep track of your personal finances is that they focus heavily on bank accounts and credit cards and treat investments as an afterthought, or ignore them completely. Many of them are also effectively add-ons to desktop software and don't work in isolation. A further issue is that many personal finance packages are designed for the US market and handle international users poorly.
IGG Software's iBank iPad (£14.99) and iPhone (£7.99) only, Mac desktop version also available (£44.99) seems the most well-rounded standalone tablet app for those who care about investments.
The well reviewed MoneyWiz 2 iPhone/iPad (£3.99), Android (£3.99), Mac (£14.99), Windows version in development has investment tracking on its list of forthcoming features. If this finally appears it's been promised for some time there may finally be a good cross-platform choice.
Sarah is MoneyWeek's investment editor. She graduated from the University of Southampton with a BA in English and History, before going on to complete a graduate diploma in law at the College of Law in Guildford. She joined MoneyWeek in 2014 and writes on funds, personal finance, pensions and property.
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