Google Finance justled for pole position in the portfolio tracking space for many years. It handled lists of stocks, transaction information, instant snapshots, and a cash balance so an actual portfolio could be shown. Its users were loyal and vocal about it.
In 2017 the engineering and strategy team implemented a rebuild – and in the process, took away parts of the foundation of the service offering. Things started to get shaky, and the loyalty support started to crumble.
The rebuild had made the platform simpler, which usually bodes well for UX ratings (user experience – your interaction with a brand/service), but inexplicably core, integral reporting was removed. With the wheels of this finance vehicle removed, the loyal users were forced to go ‘shopping’ for an alternative, and the pole position slipped away quickly.
The status of Google Finance
In 2020, a concerted effort to scratch back market share was attempted in a relaunch of the tool. Google Finance’s aim was always to be the finance news hub, with trading support features, for informal players in the share market. The relaunch attempt was to plug the holes in the service offering.
Fresh design and curated watchlists
The mobile and desktop web versions received a fresh new visual design, and service redesign brought new features like stock cards, and sort lists were made customisable so users can create personally curated watchlists. Your watchlist is located under “your stocks” and gives quick access to information on different companies or funds. The pre-existing standard lists remain, such as active movers, big gainers, and big losers.
The curated watchlists could possibly be the forerunner of the vital return of the massively popular portfolio tracking feature that was slashed in 2017. The tracking feature will display individual stock price changes and related, AI curated news articles for stocks of interest. Rumblings around this started in 2020 but, as Google Finance seems to make critically important announcements via soft drops on their Support Forum, it will be the users that tell us on the day of its arrival.
Historical pricing viewing options are 1 day, 5 days, 1 month, 6 months, year to date, 1 year, 5 years, and max. The previous day’s close and today’s open prices are viewable with the high/low per day and a 52-week high/low dividend yields as well as the market cap and an easy glance at P/E ratios.
Addition of events and helpful finance definitions
An interface with Google Calendar will facilitate the addition of events to a user’s calendar, such as an earnings call or product launch event. Helpful scroll-over definitions of related finance terms were added, which is very useful for a first-time investor.
More of an information hub than an investment tool
Google Finance, today, is probably best suited to ad hoc investors and new investors. Google is superior in its ability to pull in current news from the web on companies and industries but is weak on strategic investment information – there is zero analysis or screening. This makes it more of a trading stock information hub rather than an investment tool. Here are some alternatives for you to consider.
Morningstar Portfolio Manager
Morningstar is an esteemed brand in the investment industry and a go-to information source used by other investment service companies. It is renowned for its investment focussed research and investment management services. Morningstar manages over $220 billion in assets.
Its online platform has an appealing simple format, with straightforward navigation, that belies the complexity of services offered. The main page starts with general market information at the top with a brief commentary. You drill down into details on your targeted investments.
Some investments are highly concentrated with extensive data, which is far superior to competing sites. The real information ‘gold’ and valuable tools are only available to paid members, which means there are limited Ads on the site but also limited free use.
It is definitely a platform for the serious investor type.
Personal Capital has a brilliant marketing department which has helped drive it into possibly being the most used personal finance platform. It can be considered a niche solution compared to its competitors.
It offers a Free Tools version and a Wealth Management version. You can use Free Tools to collate all your personal financial information on its platform. It facilitates limited budgeting capabilities but substantial investment tools (Free Analyzer), which help reveal hidden fees in funds. Its nifty Retirement Planner is beneficial, as is its portfolio analysis ability.
Your financial accounts, such as bank accounts, loans, and, of course, investments can be synced on the Free Tool dashboard, and you will receive portfolio allocation recommendations – but you must manage them.
If you don’t want to do the management, you can opt for the Wealth Management service. Companies can use this service for recommendations for their employer-sponsored retirement plans.
The platform is light on adverts which is always preferred.
The platform avoids the flurry of information that its competitors carry, i.e. news and investment commentary. You will need another platform for that.
Yahoo! Finance has been designed for mobile devices, tablets, and desktops. It has a brilliant homepage with major market indices displayed along the upper region of the page, and news headlines are listed below. A neat column presents all other relevant information for scrolling through.
The right-hand column neatly contains all the investment information, with the most active and top performers stocks. It also includes information on mutual funds, commodities, options, ETFs, and all currencies. It supplies vast personal investment tools and finance news. The news, however, contains so many sponsored posts it can be tough to filter legitimate content from ad posts that have a definite “clickbait” feel.
Your investments are neatly listed under ‘My Portfolio’, and you can use the screening tools for checking out stocks, funds, indexes, futures, and ETFs while drilling down on interesting industry sectors.
The site is simple, with great UX, and is suitable for those just dipping their toes into the investment ocean or serious investors. Simple, informative, effective and helpful. This biggest detractor is that the site is loaded with Ads, including pop-ups, which can become tiresome.
Google Finance outperforms Yahoo! Finance with its slightly better capabilities in stock charting capabilities.
Finding a good fit for your needs
Other investment platforms you could investigate are SigFig if you are an investment addict, MSN Money for an impressive free service that is low on Ads, and Finviz if you are a finance propeller head.
Google Finance has definitely shot itself in the foot and has been muscled out by its competitors. There are different options for different investors, so you are sure to find a good fit for your needs from what is available in the market.