Every financial analyst needs access to market news and reliable data. In 2015, this was easier than ever thanks to a growing number of outstanding mobile finance apps, which provide business professionals with a wealth of virtual portfolios, calculators and real-time streaming information. Not every app is free, and most are available for both Android and Apple devices. Each app is designed to make an analyst's life easier and bring the Big Data movement to his fingertips. Financial markets are fueled by getting better information faster, and these apps are a major asset for those trying to stay on top.
Federal Reserve Economic Data App
FRED, or Federal Reserve Economic Data, is a must for any serious financial professional. It is difficult to describe the scope of FRED information, which includes nearly 41,000 different data series on international and domestic markets. With this free app, available on Android and Apple devices, a user can track broad macro and micro trends, review and download graphs and charts, and even create custom presentations on the fly.
The time-series information on the FRED app earns a recommendation on its own, but the best feature for financial analysts is probably the customizable charts. Analysts create a lot of reports and give plenty of presentations, and the FRED app is a useful ally for these routine tasks.
FRED is compiled from more than three dozen international sources and is housed on the St. Louis Fed's database. The information can be a little abstract or overwhelming at times, so it is recommended that a new user spend time getting used to the interface.
The Financial Exams Prep App
App provider EduPristine boasts several apps for aspiring financial professionals, including this free study master available on Android and Apple phones. The Financial Exams Prep App series offers a complete study guide for licensing exams and other credentials, including the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Financial Risk Management (FRM) tests.
The Financial Exams Prep App format is straightforward and easy to navigate. The CFA portion is broken down into separate books and section quizzes, including topics such as economics, alternative investments, ethics, and financial reporting/analysis. The FRM section focuses more heavily on different financial products, valuation and risk analysis. Though designed for early-career professionals who have yet to pass their exams, the material covered by the Financial Exams Prep App is still relevant for any analyst.
The uValue App is meant for financial analysts or investors who spend time performing corporate valuations. It is the brainchild of NYU Stern's Aswath Damodaran, who is widely considered a top mind in valuation methods in the United States. uValue has six standard formulas, including the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) and dividend growth model (DGM), as well as other crucial metrics such as levered/unlevered beta and exchange-rate forecasts.
Novice analysts may struggle with uValue at first; the app assumes a strong familiarity with valuation practices and financial statements. There is not a data resource on board, so the app best functions as a fundamental plug-and-go calculator. However, as any financial analyst can tell you, it never hurts to be able to quickly throw a valuation together on the fly. The app is free and highly educational in its design, but there is a fairly serious drawback for some users: uValue is only available on iPhone and iPad.
Accenture Digital Applications Platform
In May 2015, Global IT provider Accenture launched a bevy of new apps under its Accenture Digital division. The launch was part of the company's renewed focus on analytics services, which specifically target decision-makers in the banking and insurance industries.
There are several different applications in the Accenture Digital release, each of which could be worthwhile for the right analyst. Of particular note are the Wealth Advisory Toolkit and Next Best options. Accenture points out its new apps should "increase efficiencies and lower costs by automating and streamlining routine functions." There is nothing revolutionary about the Accenture platform, but it is very convenient to have multiple tools from one source.
One feature immediately stands out about the Market Scan App: its price tag. With a standard download cost of $39.99 as of September 2015, MarketScan is an expensive alternative to better-known apps such as Stock Guru or Stock TickerPicker.
While MarketScan is probably not the most efficient app for technical traders, financial analysts can get a lot out of the app's featured combo-analysis tools. There are thousands of possible combinations for movement in U.S.-based exchanges. Most analysts do not need to know the movements of individual stocks, but there is enough information on commodities, indexes and futures prices to make up for it. Much like the FRED app, MarketScan is great for creating graphs and charts to place in reports and presentations. There is not an Android version yet.
Thomson Reuters Eikon App
This is a fantastic app for anyone with an iPhone, iPad, Android device or Surface tablet. Users receive the latest information on market data, including live profit and loss metrics, and portfolio tracking is simple and easy.
Analysts can utilize this app's customization and personalization. Google Chrome users can even combine their Web surfing with the Thomson Reuters Eikon app via the Google Chrome SmartMenu, which makes it possible to scan through a page and directly extract data into the app.
Thomson Reuters Eikon includes an underrated offline mode, which is handy for analysts who get stuck without a great connection. News and research can be saved for later, and are instantly updated online once connectivity is available.
One complaint from users is the app's omnipresence; it is very difficult to get the app to stop eating up processing power when not in use. Older smartphones may struggle to keep up with the constant updating and news alerts.
CNBC Business News and Finance App
There are plenty of business news apps, but the CNBC version is consistently among the most used and most highly rated. It is available on basically every device and covers virtually every topic. It is an excellent resource for finance novices or high-level analysts.
This app does not necessarily make an analyst's job any easier, but it offers a great way to stay on top of the news cycle. Users can stream video, research data and create interactive charts. It is also one of the first apps to create a new format for smartwatch users, and an interface redesign in version 4.1.2 fixed some of the navigation problems. The only downside is the operating software requirement; iOS 8.0 or later is necessary.