As part of the now generation of equity investors we’re faced with an incredible assortment of possibile companies in which to invest our hard-earned cash. On the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange alone there are more than 1,300 listed options. Round out another 1,000 odd plays on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and the numbers can start to make your head spin. And that’s limiting our outlook to just some of the the more mainstream investment possibilites. And that’s just in the UK.

But we’re no longer confined to trading in the shares of companies that trade on our own shores. Want a taste of a Japanese listed robotics firm? No problem, open an account with a broker with Tokyo Stock Exchange access and you can be up and trading before one of those humanoid buckets of circuits and bolts can make you a cup of tea.

There’s everything from software startups in Russia to junior mining explorers in Zambia, from UK umbrella companies to pharmaceutical research and development plays in China, real estate investment trusts to index trackers.

Our situation today is the complete opposite of that faced by the generations of investors that came before us. We don’t lack information – we certainly don’t need to wait for the afternoon rag to check our share prices – we’re neck deep in the stuff. But perhaps what we do lack is quality information filters.

Most investors tend to have a shortlist of shares on which they’ll attempt to acquire quality information from a variety of sources. They may refine those sources over time, adding to them occasionally but if they tend to get a little set in their ways. The same blogs, the same news sources, the same tip sheets.

Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing but surely if there’s some great source of information out there that investors are unaware of, they should want to know about it, right?

So when was the last time you went searching for new quality sources of online information? I must admit I don’t do it often myself now. I tend to let the information come to me.

Now for many of my more Internet savvy readers this little tip is going to be a case of, “wow, really Paul, you took seven paragraphs to introduce Google alerts”. Apologies to you guys and gals. Now go off and play with your new iPhone 5s.

But for those of you who are yet to set up first Google alert it can be the start of a whole new era of information collation. An adventure in time saving that could streamline your whole investment process. Okay, maybe I’m getting a little over-excited.

Now I’m not going to walk you through the setup process – if you can fill in a online form you can set up your first Google alert – but I will send you the link to go and explore the world of Google alerts all by yourself. Here it is. A single alert should take no more than 30 seconds to set up and that’s the hard work done.

So Google Alerts in a nutshell? Using one I prepared earlier for Berkeley Mineral Resources; over the past five days, Google has alerted me to the fact that 13 articles, posts and the like have appeared online at least mentioning Berkeley Mineral Resources. I flick through them and see what warrants further reading. Simple! Filtered news to my inbox.

Thanks again for dropping by.

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