Technology has had amazing impacts on the human race. From fun to life-saving, the internet, smartphones, and all sorts of connected devices have changed our lives in ways that could not have been imagined a mere twenty years ago.
Personal finance is no exception to this reality. Digital technology has changed the financial world in countless ways. By reducing the barriers to entry into the world of investing, new technologies have torn down the walls surrounding the world of trading stocks.
These days anyone with access to an internet connection or smart phone can buy and sell shares in moments. Here are just a few ways this new technology has disrupted the old order of things.
Online Trading Platforms
Many could not imagine a stock market existing without computers. “How would anyone place orders” they might ask. In fact, stock markets have been a fixture of the financial community the eighteenth century. In the old days investors needed a relationship with a brokerage house to trade. They would physically visit their broker to request trades, which were submitted by telegraph, and later by phone. Now, trading is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse. National banks and online trading platforms offer discount brokers that allow users to access an account, buy, and sell all from the comfort of their own homes.
Comprehensive Online Resources
The internet is all about information. The average person has never had so many resources available twenty four seven as they do now. In the past you had just a few options if you wanted to learn about a company you planned to invest in. You could go to your local library and sift through dusty stacks of books to get the financials published by companies, or you could rely on a broker you paid to advise you. Now, every imaginable piece of information made public by companies and up to the minute news updates can be found for free online.
Eliminating the Middleman
It all comes down to this. Before technological advances made so much information available, and allowed investors to make their own trades, brokers ruled the investing world. An investor couldn’t get a single trade done unless he had a relationship (meaning gave a percentage to) a broker. While online trading platforms still charge for trades, the price is a fraction of what a broker would charge. Today, there is no gatekeeper to the world of investing. Anyone with access to a computer and the desire to study and learn can put their money to work.