10 best websites to help you become a better investor
Tap into the wealth of valuable research - much of it free - to improve your investing skills
Self-directed investors who want to improve their knowledge and skills have many good sources of information to draw on, much of it free. But be aware that these won't give you all the answers; you'll still have to make your own decisions.
If you're a share investor, a good place to start is your broker's site. Most of these have a wealth of information, research and tips.
Here are 10 other places where you can go for help. Some are share specific, some just for property or fixed income, and others offer general investing guidance. Some are free, some offer a limited amount of free advice with the option of upgrading and others charge a fee.
Also look at your local community; you may find there is an organisation, such as University of the Third Age (U3A), which offers an investor forum or discussion group that you can join.
1. ASIC's Moneysmart website
The moneysmart.gov.au website has a comprehensive section for investors. It aims to guide you through the basic principles of investing to grow your money and keep it safe. It also equips you to find a good financial adviser and recognise investing danger signs.
The ASX website, asx.com.au, is a smorgasbord for share investors. Its comprehensive education centre caters to both those new to stock investing and to experienced investors who want to constantly update their skills.
You can subscribe to a regular newsletter, watch investment videos, attend free online courses on many subjects and attend live seminars, including the regular Investor Day series, either at a venue or via a webinar.
cuffelinks.com.au is a free website started by investment guru and philanthropist Chris Cuffe, who famously scored a $32 million golden handshake when he quit as CEO of Colonial First State in 2003.
Financial market professionals with experience in wealth management, superannuation, banking, academia and financial advice write the articles. The site's aim is to create a community of investors, discussing ideas from an informed and impartial point of view, without pushing products or promoting services.
It provides strategies and guidance rather than trying to time the market, picking stocks or selecting next year's star fund manager.
It aims to inform investors about markets, regulations, structures and useful ideas. The target audience is "engaged investors", particularly those who manage their own money, and financial market professionals.
Although it has long-term sponsors, Cuffelinks doesn't accept one-off advertising or paid promotions and is independent of any institution. Sign up to receive regular newsletters containing some great articles.
livewiremarkets.com is a free social media platform for investors and market professionals, founded by finance market professionals James Marlay and Tom McKay in 2013.
It brings together leading financial companies and commentators on a single platform to share insights and discuss what's happening in the markets. It aims to give self-directed investors access to the stock ideas, research and investment strategies from some of our best fund managers, stockbrokers and independent research providers.
You have to join to access Livewire content, which includes a morning Trending on Livewire newsletter and its regular buy, hold, sell video.
5. The Wire
The Wire website, thewire.fiig.com.au, is a free weekly newsletter from fixed income specialist FIIG Securities.
Bond market specialist Elizabeth Moran, a director of education and fixed income at FIIG, is the editor. For investors who want to diversify into corporate bonds it is a comprehensive offering, with research, education, commentary and market data including new issues.
Pay for extras
corelogic.com.au is the largest provider of property information in Australia. For property investors it disseminates invaluable research on the latest median prices, rental returns and trends. Sign up for the weekly Property Pulse newsletter to access some free information.
You can also buy individual quarterly reports, such as the Top Rental Performing Report for $25, Regional Market Update for $95 and Top Performing Suburbs for $250.
CoreLogic's residex site (residex.com.au) gives you access to two free suburb reports each month; extras cost $30 each.
Serious investors can sign up for MarketFacts Investor Premium, which provides all the tools you need to start researching your next investment property, for $125 a month, based on three-month access to a single state. Tim Lawless, one of Australia's leading commentators on real estate markets and demographic trends, is research director for Asia Pacific.
7. Core Property Research
coreprop.com.au only started in July 2017 but its team - headed by managing director Dinesh Pillutla - has over 50 years' experience in property, financial services and investment markets.
If you want to invest in the property funds sector, this site is for you. Its aim is to provide market-leading and insightful research on the property funds sector, including sector level research, ratings and recommendations on listed and unlisted funds.
Its weekly newsletter, with news and up-to-date data, is free for those who register.
It's starting a paid subscription service to give investors access to the entire website for $300 (plus GST) a year. One of the features of this will be research on small and midcap A-REITs, which are not covered well elsewhere.
The InvestSmart website, investsmart.com.au, describes itself as "a one-stop shop" for all Australians looking to reach their financial goals, while recognising that not everyone is alike.
It was founded in 1999 by managing director Ron Hodge; Money's Paul Clitheroe is chairman and James Carlisle is head of research.
It aims to make investing simple, enabling you to choose the content, tools and services you want to reach your objectives. Its free service includes a simple portfolio manager to track all your financial assets, a portfolio health check plus access to news and research.
Paying customers - InvestSmart Plus costs $77 a month or $770 a year and you can get a free 15-day trial - get access to ASX stock recommendations from Intelligent Investor, articles from the Eureka Report (both part of the InvestSmart group), access to model portfolios and a self-managed super fund hub, among other things. You can replicate the portfolios yourself, or you can invest through InvestSmart for an additional cost.
morningstar.com.au is a great resource for investors. It bills itself as Australia's leading source of news, research and video content on investing, as well as intuitive, easy-to-use screening and portfolio management tools. You can access some information for free, including the fund screener tool - which enables you to search for funds that suit your criteria - and its comprehensive learn-to-invest module.
Premium membership provides access to all of Morningstar's research on Australian stocks, managed funds, superannuation funds, credit securities, exchange traded funds and listed investment companies. You can start with a four-week trial and then the introductory price is $399 a year ($33.25 a month), annual renewal $649 ($54.09) and two-year renewal $1168 ($48.67).
It recently launched Morningstar Next, offering three ready-made investment portfolios. For more details see the website.
10. The Australian Investors Association
(investors.asn.au) motto is "investors helping investors". It's a non-profit organisation assisting its members to make better investment decisions. It provides a smorgasbord of ideas, education and strategies to consider as you make financial decisions to suit your own goals, skills, resources and risk profile. It also provides opportunities to network with other members, many with considerable experience and success in investing. Membership is $115 for one year or $195 for two years, plus a one-off $20 joining fee.
Forum for good ideas
Investor forums, such as the one I conduct for my local Armidale University of the Third Age, can also be useful as they bring investors together to discuss everything from specific shares to relatively new types of investments, including cryptocurrencies and peer-to-peer lending.
Investing for income has been one of the recurring themes of the Armidale forums, which meets fortnightly, as most of us are self-funded retirees. Another hot topic has been how to get reliable information and advice without paying huge fees.
For those who don't have access to face-to-face investor forums there are online versions, including investchat.com.au, propertychat.com.au and aussiestockforums.com.