Around the Industry: OpenFolio

Jackie Shroyer by on Feb 03, 2016

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OpenFolio was founded in 2013 to offer the benefits of a collaborative Wall Street trading floor to the online masses. The financial social network allows users to share investing ideas and insights freely by opening their portfolios to others in their network to benchmark their performance and learn from their successes and failures. Users can even view the holdings and activity of renowned investors like Warren Buffet and George Soros to try and learn from the best. Ultimately, founders Hart Lambur and Yinon Ravid, former Wall Street employees themselves, hope to create a collaborative digital environment to help users feel more confident in their investment decisions.

How it Works

Users can easily register for OpenFolio online or via the iPhone app, LinkedIn, Facebook or email to sync their existing online communities to the platform. Upon joining, Openfolio asks for basic personal information such as age, sex and industry, and participants have the option to link one or more investment brokerage accounts, where they can instantly follow their holdings within the site. Once logged in, participants’ portfolio performances are updated in real time as Openfolio benchmarks users’ performance against their network, markets, and groups of people based on age, gender, industry and more. Like other social networks, Openfolio grants users the option to make their profile private so only the people whom they approve will have access to it. Users can also opt out of sharing any personal information while retaining the ability to monitor the activity of others.  

Design

The OpenFolio website features the hallmark clean, interactive design replete with white space often seen among startups. The static website header contains a search field for users to look up people, investments, groups, topics, etc., and contains tabs to the site’s main areas (home, profile and notifications). The main navigation menu consists of just three tabs: Performance, Explore and Tune Up. The Performance sections serves as the site’s homepage and contains a large performance graph benchmarking users’ portfolios against general and specific pre-chosen indicators. A large table below the performance graph lists top gaining and losing securities and their basic information (price, percent change, percent of portfolio, beta and dividend yield). Security quote pages are atypical compared to those found on standard brokerage sites. Instead of the plethora of financial data provided by standard discount brokerages, these pages offer no more than bare-bone financial information and focus more on the security’s activity within the OpenFolio community. The price chart in the Highlights section allows users to view when others have purchased the security in the past year. These pages also display news and provide an option for users to add the security to their watch list. 

openfolio_homepage.pngOpenFolio Homepage (Truncated)

quote_page_openfolio.pngQuote Page (Truncated)

The Explore tab allows users to search for other investors to follow and lets them filter by individual or by group (demographics, industry and schools). Users can also research news and stocks others have purchased by industry or topic and review trending and most recently traded stocks. The Tune-Up tab contains an interactive graph that allows users to compare themselves to other demographic benchmarks, market indices or people. Here, they can set portfolio alerts and view different diagnostics on their portfolio compared to other benchmarks including beta, fees, diversification, number of trades, sharpe ratio and volatility.

explore_page_openfolio.pngExplore Page (Tuncated)

Concluding Thoughts

Overall, this free, quick and easy-to-use platform increases the transparency of personal investing and fosters a collaborative spirit among investors. Because the site exposes investors to the actual portfolio activity of others, it can also serve as a more reliable source of advice than unverified social media chatter. Although it appeals to millennials who are especially attuned to social media and other various information sharing platforms, it is difficult to imagine that older, more seasoned investors accustomed to seeking financial advice from traditional advisors and news sources would join this platform. Furthermore, despite the fact it allows investors to view each other’s portfolio activity, Openfolio’s platform does not let users trade, view dollar amounts or access adequate investment research and education resources, greatly limiting the network’s overall utility. If the firm wishes to position itself as a purely research platform, it should improve its educational and research offerings. It is not enough to be able to view the investment activity of people like Warren Buffet or even a financially savvy peer. In fact, it could actually lead to some precarious investing as participants may be in completely different financial positions and have vastly different goals.