Giving Mobile Investing a Local Touch

by on Jan 15, 2015

mobile_financeThe holidays were a quiet end to a busy year for mobile finance, but the first couple weeks of 2015 have already seen activity bounce back. One key trend – integrating built-in smartphone hardware into mobile finance apps – seems set to pick up where it left off.

The most recent example is Fidelity’s new Stocks Nearby tool, which uses an iPhone’s location services to identify the closest public company headquarters. When launched, a map shows the user’s current location and provides basic price and day change information for companies based in the vicinity.  Tapping one of the listed stocks opens the detailed quote for that security for further research.

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Enabling Smart Investment Decisions

Fidelity’s press release announcing Stocks Nearby cites the investment principle to “buy what you know.” In this case, that means local businesses that are potentially more relevant to investors’ lives. While the tool is limited in scope (for instance, not letting users search other locations), it’s nice to see some creativity in bringing smartphone capabilities (e.g., geolocation) into the research process.

Some reactions to the new tool have been skeptical, worrying that it encourages clients to buy stocks on a whim with insufficient knowledge of the company. However, the tool isn’t designed to bring clients immediately to the trading ticket. Instead, the full quote includes data, charts and research about the company, with links to add to a watchlist and set an alert in addition to trade. This positions Stocks Nearby as just the first step of the research process, treating it the same as any other source of an investment idea.

In the past, we’ve made similar points about tools like TD Ameritrade’s SnapStock, which scans bar codes and returns the name and symbol for the company that makes the product. It’s important that the firm send a strong message to clients that they should use all the tools at their disposal to best meet their long-term investment goals. Fidelity’s latest addition acknowledges one small way mobile technology is uniquely suited to a more engaging investment experience.