10 must-have apps for traders

With more than 500,000 apps available in the Apple App Store and more than 450,000 available in the Google Play Store as of March 2012, finding the one app to do just what you need can be quite the challenge. Making things even worse is the sheer number of Angry Birds clones you have to wade through just to find anything business related. 

But, the good news is that whether you are looking for a way to keep track of your portfolio or just need a definition for “contango,” there’s a good chance there’s an app for that. As we discussed in “Cutting the cord: Mobile trading 101” (October 2011), the most important thing is to be able to do anything you could do at your desktop. “For most people, mobile trading is supplementary; they are using it when they are on the go,” says Paige Miller, director of customer relations at PFGBest.

While we think these are some of the most useful apps for traders, that doesn’t mean it is exhaustive, especially with new apps coming on the market every day. Here, in no particular order, are 10 apps every trader at least should check out.

Dolphin Browser HD
Platform:
Android and iOS
Cost: Free

Nearly every new mobile device comes with its own web-browser, but none are as user-friendly and intuitive as the Dolphin Browser HD. It may not be as fast as your stock browser, but the number and quality of added features more than makes up for it. Just like some third-party browsers for your desktop, you can add features to it to fit your specific needs. A few of the possibilities include automatically filling in passwords on websites, blocking ads, full-screen web browsing and voice searches.

One of the nicest features is the built-in navigation features, which let you perform a number of different actions with just a swipe or two of your finger. Your bookmarked webpages are just a swipe away, and navigating the web is easy with the gestures once you learn them. Plus, futuresmag.com looks amazing on this browser.

 

Investopedia
Platform:
Android and iOS
Cost: $18.99

The financial industry has a language all its own, and things only get more complicated as you delve into each of the sectors. For someone just getting started, it can be downright intimidating, and even seasoned traders sometimes can use a refresher.

The Investopedia app puts the website’s most-searched terms always within arm’s reach and covers everything from basic terms, such as “margin,” “commodity” and “broker,” to more specialized and complicated terms, such as “tranche,” “debenture” and “Value-at-Risk.”

“Even as someone who’s been in the business for a while, I’ll occasionally run across a term that I’m not familiar with and [Investopedia] usually is the first place I’ll go to brief myself,” Miller says.

The app does have a cost associated with it and basically is a go-anywhere version of the website, so some people may not see the value. But if you have spotty data coverage or just don’t want the hassle of going to the website on your mobile device, then it is worth checking out.

Keeper
Platform:
Android and iOS
Cost: Free

Security always has been a concern online, and that is doubly the case for anything related to your financials. Almost everything you do online requires a password, and we always have been told we need different secure passwords for everything. The problem, of course, is knowing what a secure password is to begin with and then keeping track of the various passwords for all the different logins.

Keeper has two functions. First, it stores all your passwords in a single location and asks you for a pin code every time it recognizes you need a password and then fills in the necessary information. Second, it will generate random secure passwords for you. It uses a 128-bit military encryption program to keep everything secure.

Evernote
Platform:
Android and iOS
Cost: Free version available or $5/month for premium

Gone are the days of having only a single computer that stores all of your information. Now, most of us use multiple devices throughout the day, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones. That means we’re able to stay connected and up-to-date throughout the day, but it also means it can be difficult to keep track of what notes are on which machine. 

Evernote helps keep you organized. It is designed to let you take notes on any device and be able to retrieve them from any other device. This free app synchronizes notes of all kinds, such as text notes, audio recorded notes or voice memos, and pictures, and then makes them all highly searchable. While it may not sound glamorous, it is very customizable and once you find a way to use it, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.

Dropbox
Platform:
Android and iOS
Cost: Free for up to 2 GB, costs vary beyond

Dropbox is similar to Evernote in that it helps keep you organized, but it differs in that you can store anything in your Dropbox folder, not just notes. At its core, Dropbox is a cloud-based storage system, meaning you can place files from any Internet-connected device in it and then access those files from any other Internet-connected device. This allows you to back up your files in a secure location and keep everything organized.

Because it is meant to work as a back-up, Dropbox gives you a fair amount of storage for free at 2 GB. If you need more than that, you can purchase it on a monthly or yearly plan. 

Yahoo! Finance
Platform:
Android and iOS
Cost: Free

Yahoo! Finance is like the Swiss Army Knife of financial apps. Although it may not do any one thing better than everyone else, it does a lot of things at an adequate enough level to make it useful to almost anyone. Some of the things it can do include looking up stock quotes, getting some market analysis, providing some charting capability and giving access to some news.

Although you’re not going to be placing trades or doing serious analysis from it, Yahoo! Finance shines in its ability to give you just a quick glance when you need to find something in a hurry.

QuoTrek 
Platform: Android and iOS
Cost: Free, but requires subscription service.

Data is the lifeblood for most traders, particularly technical traders. Although other apps may give access to basic data and charting functions, serious traders likely will need something more. 

QuoTrek is eSignal’s mobile app and gives traders access to many of the same features as their desktop eSignal subscription. Traders are able to see quotes and historical data on stocks, commodities and forex, and apply some technical analysis to the data.

Some traders may complain that this mobile app does not do everything their desktop application does. But, if you use it as a supplement for when you are on the go, rather than a replacement, it likely will do everything you need it to.

 

Broker apps
Platform:
Android and iOS
Cost: Mostly free

Almost every broker has its own app now. This is where you probably would make any trades while on the go and likely will have the most up-to-the-minute information available. 

Every broker is going to have a little different app with varying capabilities. While you probably shouldn’t pick your broker based on its app, you do want to make sure you’ll be able to do what you need to while on the go. 

One last suggestion — if you have a back-up broker, make sure you have its app as well. There’s no point in having the back-up broker if you can’t access it.

Bank apps
Platform:
Android and iOS
Cost: Free

Just like every broker has its own app, nearly every bank has one as well. While you would assume bank apps would be confined to mostly checking your balance or transferring funds between accounts, some are becoming even more useful with the ability to deposit checks simply by taking a picture of the check with your device’s camera.

The biggest benefit is the ability to access your funds and the peace of mind from being able to check it at any time.

News apps
Platform:
Android and iOS
Cost: Free, but may require subscription

Staying current with world events can be the difference between booking a profit and realizing a loss. With so many options available, it really is a matter of preference and whether you are willing to pay for the subscription. 

New apps are coming on the market every day; these are just a few that we’ve found to be the most productive for traders. If you have other apps you find useful, come online and tell us about them. 

About the Author

Michael McFarlin joined Futures in 2010 after graduating summa cum laude from Trinity International University, where he majored in English/Communication.