4 Free Tools in my Analyst Toolkit


If you have been to one of our events, you’ve probably heard me say something to the effect of, “there are three edges in investing”.

I truly believe that if we want to do better at investing we should be forever training ourselves to think better (an analytical edge), act better (the behavioural edge) and consume better information.

While I’ve also said investing seems to be a three-to-five-year apprenticeship, it takes some investors far longer than that to realise they need to consciously work on sharpening their analytical and behavioural edges.

That said, consuming higher-quality information is a far easier edge to sharpen. You can start today.

Knowing what to read, who to listen to and when, is something I can help you with right now. 

After years of researching companies, speaking with some of Australia’s top investing experts and applying the techniques myself, here are a few shortcuts to good informational resources.

Bonus points: most of them use a freemium model. Meaning, they provide a limited — but good — level of access to anyone at no charge (I’m far too tight to spend thousands of dollars in subscriptions).

Note: as always, I get nothing from mentioning these tools or services to you.

1. Stocklight App

Created by my friend Jason, the Stocklight app (see image) is free to download and use to build a model portfolio of ETFs and stocks.

I use the app to replicate my portfolio and the app reminds me when my companies report market-sensitive updates (e.g. trading updates, capital raisings, etc.). It also tells me if there is a news update or research article posted by third-party providers, such as The Motley Fool.

Click here now to learn more and download Stocklight.

2. Strawman.com & The Motley Fool

Both of these websites are close to my heart. I have worked for The Motley Fool, and my friend Andrew has worked tirelessly to create a fantastic peer-to-peer investor website. These sites both provide valuable information that investors can use for idea gen or during their research process. Let me take these one at a time…

Strawman.com is something I use for peer valuations and deep research, including hard-to-find scuttlebutts (i.e. information gathered on companies that few people can do) and forecasts, on Australian (ASX) companies. If I need to fill in a piece of crucial knowledge or understand a company’s product and addressable market opportunity, I’ll read the Strawman.com website first.

As my very own website, Rask Media, did for the past two years, The Motley Fool Australia provides free sharemarket news, reports and a highly-ranked podcast, hosted by Scott Phillips and Anirban Mahanti. For my US and international share holdings, the Fool USA website has many more podcasts, countless video interviews and updates, together with a thriving YouTube channel — for free.

3. Morningstar.com

Nowadays, it’s easy to get our hands on investing data for free. You pay for what you get.

For those unaware, some investment information providers can charge US$15,000 or more(!) per subscription for access to company financials. It’s a big business.

For a humble private investor like me, paying that much for something I can (and should) do myself is totally not worth it — especially since I don’t trust others to do my research and modelling for me.

Though Morningstar.com is the US version, a ‘premium’ subscription provides access to Australian investments (i.e. those on the ASX) and global companies. I use Morningstar to provide me with a ‘quick take’ on numbers, but I double-check all of the information in the source documents (e.g. annual reports).

4. Fund Manager Reports

If you, like me, often find yourself sitting in your home office, on the train or on the couch scouring for investment ideas, one of the easiest ways to do a shortcut on filtering is to read research from other investors who you respect.

For me, that includes reading monthly or quarterly reports from select fund managers. It’s free to follow along (at a distance) as investors like Matt Joass, Tony Hansen, Stephen Arnold and Joe Magyer produce commentaries.

Tools Do Not Equal Profit

I own a red hammer, a yellow tape measure and a few power drills. However, simply owning those tools does not mean I can build you a chair or table that’s safe to sit at. You can take my word for it!

While each of the tools I mentioned above are free and easy to use, don’t fool yourself into thinking they’ll make you a great investor. They won’t. That comes from your hard work, trial and error, patience and curiosity.

What’s more, as computers do more of the number-crunching in investment analysis, it’s tempting to think that having the latest tool or app will help you print money from your computer. It won’t.

First and foremost, you need to learn what you need to learn to understand what matters, why and what doesn’t work. You need to know the rules of the game before you can play it.

Meaning, there’s little point having bucket loads of good information if you don’t have the temperament and analytical to match.

If you want to know how to improve your analytical ability, psychology and investment process, you know where to go. My Value Investor Workshop includes everything I wish I knew about investing and finance in 10 hours of video, templates and tutorials.