Bunhill: Red alert as share bores go mobile

Click to follow
The Independent Online
SITTING on the InterCity from Birmingham to London last week, I was forced to listen as no fewer than three people used their mobile phones. While they were giving their orders (give people a hand-held and they seem to soar to new heights of self- importance) the lady opposite was sharing her taste in music with the rest of us, courtesy of her personal stereo.

Soon, God forbid, there will be another 'must have' for all these accessory-crazed types: a portable screen giving share information.

It has been a long time coming, of course. Seven years ago, it would have been a yuppie's dream, just right for the champagne bar, the test- match hospitality suite or at a traffic light.

But even so, Robert Schram has high hopes for his invention, which he has called Financial Alert. 'It brings the kind of information currently only available in stockbrokers' offices to the private investor,' he says.

The machine, which is about the size of a large pocket calculator, carries bid and offer prices for 1,000 UK and European stocks, as well as foreign exchange rates, futures and options prices from Liffe and financial news from Extel. It can be programmed to store the details of 32 investments, and bleep the owner when there is any relevant news or price change.

Financial Alert works like a pager, using the same frequencies as Aircall. Subscribers will be able to obtain the latest price and, using their ubiquitous mobile phone, call their broker and buy or sell. They will pay pounds 160 a month, compared with the current pounds 7,500 a year charged by the Stock Exchange for its Topic information system.

It is a good idea and could go a long way towards reshaping the ugly office architecture, complete with banks of screens, that has permeated the City these past few years. Whether those of us who don't trade in stocks and shares will take to it is a different matter. The only places where it can't be used are northern Scotland, west Wales and on the Tube. But not alas, on the railways.

(Photograph omitted)