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27 Nov | The Evolution of Share Trading

I’m amazed at just how far share trading as in industry has come in the past couple of decades. I would find it hard to name a pre-existing industry that has benefitted so directly from the internet age.

Twenty years ago – spurred on by the luxury lifestyle an intimate knowledge of share trading afforded the likes of Gordon Gecko in Wall Street – I recall having a vague interest in shares and trading; with vague being the operative word.

I mean, back then – pre-internet – unless you had a parent who was a stock-broker, how did you even get a start in trading shares? I guess word of mouth share tips still did the rounds like they do today, but where did you take your research from that initial tip? A call to the company in question to ask for a copy of their latest annual report to be sent out by mail.

You could scour stock tables on the business pages of the local daily with their microscopic print and intimidating jargon to glean a little more current data. But by the time you’d located that info, the markets were up and running again and your stock-table data was literally, yesterday’s news. And don’t even get me started on having to find a phone to call a broker who may or may not be there to take your call and place your trade.

No, the stock trader of the nineties was definitely a different beast from his or her modern day equivalent.

The depth of investment information available to today’s trader is undeniable and there’s no shortage of quality out there too if you’re willing to do your homework.

In the time it takes me to fire up my espresso machine in the morning, I can have the lowdown on what’s been happening overnight in markets from Sydney to Shanghai from any one of a hundred reputable online news sources.

Using Twitter lists I’ve set up, I can quickly gauge the daily market sentiment from many of those whose investment views I respect. Following share forums and bulletin boards I can quickly gain the opinion of many in the market whose investment views I respect a little less.

I read a range of investment blogs and belong to online investing communities that further add to the bulk of investment information I take in on a weekly basis.

Never has there been so much free investment information available to so many. And unlike back in the nineties, never has it been easier for the beginner investor to try their hand.

Free online trading tutorials allow those new to the science of investment to build a bank of trading skills from scratch. Whilst investment portals provide a place to practice the investment art before putting your hard-earned on the line.

Opening an online share trading account is a walk in the park – it’s free, and the better brokers will often provide beginners with guides on how to buy shares using their platform.

Sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, online stock screening software allows fledgling traders to plug in a range of important investment criteria before providing them with a selection of tradable companies that represent their newly-formed trading philosophy.

It’s a fact that the act of trading has never been as simple as it is today. Unfortunately the art of successful trading remains as elusive as it ever was.