The growth of the Internet in the last twenty years has spurred the growth of on-line financial services as well. . These days online banking and e-commerce have become ubiquitous, as financial transactions are carried out at users’ convenient place and time. . An offshoot of this broader phenomenon is on-line investment services offered by various banks. . This means that the erstwhile specialized activity of stock-trading and stock-investing has now been made accessible to common people as well. . There are both advantages and disadvantages to using online investment services. Foremost of the advantages is the convenience and ease of use associated with investment websites. A number of research and analytic tools are offered to users to aid their decision-making process. Lay investors can also save up money on the brokerage charges, as on-line brokerages offer cheaper transaction prices when compared to human-agent brokerages. But the biggest threat to investments comes from systemic flaws of free-market capitalism itself. Over the course of the last century stock markets across the world have seen cycles of boom and bust. While things can look hunky-dory during the boom phase, the inevitable crash can wipe out the majority of investments. Beyond this major threat, there is the vulnerability associated with all electronic transactions carried out on the Internet, as fraudsters and hackers are constantly looking to breach security systems in place.
.This brought with it several advantages to investors, as they can now access valuable information and analytic tools at the click of a mouse button. For example, a plethora of websites that give specialized advice to retail investors has cropped up as well. These include Daily Stocks, The Financial Center (http://www.tfc.com), Fund Alarm (http://www.fundalarm.com), Ibbotson Associates (http://www.ibbotson.com/research/iafp96.htm), InfoBeat (http://www.infobeat.com), Researchmag.com, etc. Each of these websites offers tools and features for performing an in-depth analysis of various listed companies.