The Net connection helps soothe investors' pain

Private punters can access vital information such as brokers' notes and important share details by keying into research services on the internet

Shell-shocked shareholders need all the help they can get at the moment. With markets plunging around the world and leading economies balancing on a knife-edge shareholders could be forgiven for turning their backs on stocks altogether.

Shell-shocked shareholders need all the help they can get at the moment. With markets plunging around the world and leading economies balancing on a knife-edge shareholders could be forgiven for turning their backs on stocks altogether.

Investors' nerves may be shot to pieces, but so far they have not panicked, and we have not had the crashes of previous slumps. In many ways today's investors are better equipped to cope with such crises - thanks largely to the internet.

Until recently, private investors have been left mainly in the dark. While City wheeler-dealers had instant access to state-of-the-art news and share information, the punter had to rely on stale tips from a local stockbroker or wait for the annual report to drop through their letter-box.

The internet is now broadening the punter's scope. Share prices, news and detailed financials such as brokers' forecasts are more widely available than before. However, much more must be done to level the playing-field with City institutions. Several services have started to address this problem.

One obvious way of keeping up with the brokers is to try to get hold of the research City traders base their decisions on. Brokers' research notes give a breakdown and analysis of a company's current state, and vitally, the analyst's assessment of whether the shares are a buy, sell or hold.

Until now, brokers' notes have been hard to find. At best, investors would receive out-of-date research with little relevance in rapidly changing markets. But now brokers' research is becoming a key part of a private investors' armoury.

Digital Look (http://www.DigitalLook.com), the finance and news alert service, has launched a research service providing reports from some of the UK's leading brokers, the aim being to add new brokers to create a comprehensive UK and global service.

Multex, a US pioneer in this field, has enjoyed rapid growth and created a European operation in conjunction with Reuters. Some of the largest brokers are even doing it for themselves. Merrill Lynch and HSBC have teamed up to provide research to investors as they aim to create a global investment and banking service. And sites like Money Guru (http://www.moneyguru.co.uk) have used their own analysts to produce professional research. Other services such as Equity Investigator are trying to infiltrate company presentations to analysts, so that investors do not miss out on potential golden nuggets of information.

But the circumstances are not perfect. Brokers' research notes from the big investment banks still have a nasty habit of winging their way to favoured clients - before private investors get a look in. That said, fresh online research from experts can provide key pointers to the latest outlook for companies and stock market sectors. While these research services have not completely opened the opportunities for private investors, they do allow them to at least play on the same pitch as the City big boys.

Another area where the internet can help investors help themselves is finding out more about share perks.

Until recently, investors had little direct access to this information. Now Hargreaves Lansdown has teamed up with Digital Look to launch an online service that alerts shareholders to the potential benefits on offer when they invest in the stock market. For prospective shareholders there are plenty of perks - from discounts on Harry Potter books to cheap holidays, hotel rooms and bargain clothes.

In terms of easily accessible information investors have never had it so good. Though being well-informed is not going to guarantee good returns in the current temperamental markets, investing successfully in the stock market has always been a relatively long-term game and the internet can help soothe the short-term pain.

Andy Yates is director of operations at finance and news alerts website DigitalLook.com

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Travel
travel
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

    £20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

    Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

    Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

    Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

    Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

    £600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In my grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel