Contemplating some share trading now that the worst of the recession has apparently passed, at least as far as the stock market's concerned? Macquarie's Edge online trading platform has some neat Web 2.0 features that help it stand out from the pack.
Online trading isn't a new concept in the local market — indeed, share trading sites were one of the defining features of the dotcom boom. Perhaps reflecting that, many platforms still have a distinctly late 1990s feel about them, which feels odd in an era of Google, cloud computing and Web 2.0 interfaces. Compared to those options, Macquarie Edge feels much more up-to-date (and pledges official support for Firefox and Safari as well as IE, with Chrome also on the horizon). Here's five nifty features I like about the platform.
Plenty of non-member features
Most online financial management systems and share trading platforms require you to be fully signed up before you can access anything. Edge lets you play with lots of features—including company research and market graphing information—without even needing to sign in. If you join as a member, which still doesn't require an actual share trading account, you can also set up watch lists—handy for fantasy share trading—and configure email alerts.
Visual news search results
In a style somewhat reminiscent of Google's Wonder Wheel, when you perform company searches Edge shows you a visual representation of related companies topics in bubble chart form. The closer the bubbles are, the more relevant the topic; the larger they are, the more coverage is available. Hovering over a bubble lets you see and access a list of related news, market reports, video and other information (some of that information is restricted to trading members, but again much of it is freely available).
Highly interactive graphs
Graphs tracking performance over time are a common investment information tool, but drilling into them can be time consuming. The graphs on Edge for individual companies or market sectors are impressively interactive, letting you mouse over and see exact figures for a particular date.
Social networking features
Many people make investment decisions based on tips from friends, family and colleagues. Edge extends that metaphor by allowing you to connect to other investors you know using the platform, Facebook-style. You can view details of the portfolio of your trusted contacts if they agree (this is shown as a proportional representation, not a total value, to ensure privacy). You can also see the most viewed and most held stocks across the entire Edge community.
Live market information when you buy or sell
If you do decide to go ahead and buy or sell a particular stock, Edge provides a live market view even while you're going through the process. That's usefully reassuring if your decision is based on a particular market trend which reverses without warning.
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Disclosure: Macquarie Edge is a current sponsor on Lifehacker.