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I was thrilled to learn about the Webull investing app and its $0 commission trades, months before big players in the brokerage world joined the zero-commission team. Was this move a big deal? It was to me.
Others have tried to downplay this feat. A prominent investing expert (and one whom I admire) argues that the $4.95 or so charge of online brokers wasn't much anyway. But if you're accumulating stock of a favorite company by buying one to five shares per month, for example, those fees will wreck your returns.
Further, some consider the zero-commission announcement a non-event as upstarts have offered free trades for awhile. Actually, free has been around for decades through direct stock purchase programs (I started buying Duke Power, now Duke Energy, in such a program back in the 80s). What's better now: investors may lock in a specific price available during the day, rather than being subject to batch-processed prices. Brokers' batch processing isn't evil, especially for long-term investors, but it involves accumulating orders and executing them at a designated later time, possibly at a higher price than available through real-time trading.
The free commission trading offered by Webull are based on real time stock quotes (specifically NASDAQ Last Sale). Firms that formerly offered batch processing have tweaked their methods, possibly as a result of this competition.
To a certain extent, Webull doesn't stand out like it did just a few months ago though I'm grateful for its leadership. Still, the company and its stock trading app offer features that may benefit you as an investor, especially if you enjoy doing basic research and analysis on your phone.
App Features for Investors
The Webull investing app is designed to meet the desires of an active trader, which I'm not, rather than a long-term investor, which I am. But brokerage firm websites, financial news sites, finance apps, etc. tend to favor the trader anyway. Dashboards greet me with stats on market movers and technical data, not insights on business fundamentals.
Webull's mobile app in particular stands out in terms of the depth of information accessible, compared to apps I reviewed from E*Trade, Schwab, and TD Ameritrade. Plus, there are some nice features that are appropriate for investors. Here are some I find useful:
The watchlist is a standard feature in most apps.
But what's cool about watchlists in the Webull investing app is the ease in setting up multiple lists. Say you want to put together a watchlist for a conservative portfolio but also one for some riskier, growth companies and still another for sustainable energy. You can easily create three different watchlists. You can call one your steady stocks; another, long shots; and still another, climate change champions. When you check them, the names will remind you why you're considering them for your portfolio.
“Watchlists” is a prominent feature on the mobile app. It's located on the bottom left corner on the main screen.
Here you'll see an example of a main watchlist, which includes some of my picks as well as default ones that come installed on the app (like the Dow Jones index and GOOG).
Key Numbers about Individual Stocks
You can gather valuable information about individual stocks quickly using the app. Here are some of the things that interest me when I'm evaluating a stock for my portfolio:
This section covers dividends, company press releases, SEC filings (annual reports, quarterly reports, etc.), insider trading, and stock splits. The financial reports provide details on the company's performance while insider activity gives me a sense of what company executives believe about the stock's potential (based on their buying and selling activity).
Find all of these by clicking on the megaphone icon while researching an individual stock.
The app offers selected statistics (ROE-Return on Equity, ROA-Return on Assets, EPS-Earnings Per Share, Debt to Assets, etc.); earnings forecasts; summary numbers from the past five years' income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements; and peer comparisons. Find financial stats by clicking on the folder icon.
I'd love to see more detail from the financial statements in the app. Instead, I find high-level info only. However, there's enough data here to let me know whether I want to do more in-depth research.
Major Stock Owners
This section is divided into two parts: 1) institutional holdings and 2) inclusion and weightings in specific ETFs. Find this information by clicking on the pie icon.
I try not to concern myself with what other people think about a stock that appeals to me (and checks out financially), whether these others are friends or investing bigwigs such as institutional investors. But popularity influences pricing and volatility.
Stock ownership by institutions and inclusion in ETFs may indicate the popularity of certain stocks, which can be good until it's not. Share accumulation by large buyers can drive up the price as the stock grows in prominence. When institutions exit positions or shed themselves of the stock, the volume of sales can drive the price down, at least temporarily.
Prices are relevant to making buy or sell decisions, particularly if I've set a price at which I'd like to buy or sell a certain stock. The current selling price, the price range for the day, etc. can be found on the main page for each ticker symbol in the Webull investing app.
You can scroll down and swipe to see the Analyst Rating and the Analyst Price Target. While I typically ignore the buy-hold-sell ratings, I notice the price targets — and compare these to my own calculations using a stock valuation spreadsheet I've developed.
Webull's mobile app contains several interactive tools for investors. Most of these are discreetly located within the More section at the bottom right corner.
Alerts and Trades
The essential tools are alert settings and trade capabilities. Alerts come in various flavors; my favorites are the ones that alert me when the price of a stock I want to accumulate has gone below my target price (so I won't overpay for the stock).
The trade mechanism is featured in a prominent blue box at the bottom of each stock's page.
A really simple feature that I love about this app: the Note page.
Here is where you can record:
- what you love about the company and its stock, whether its potential positive impact on the world or beautiful financials
- your growth estimates for the company's free cash flow
- your predictions about the company's industry and its long-term prospects
- your concerns about the company and its future
- your goals for owning the stock and under what conditions you'll buy and sell (and at what price)
Using this information, you can review the accuracy of your predictions and possibly learn from investing mistakes and successes. It could also be helpful to review your notes during market downturns to determine whether your initial thoughts about the company still hold true.
Under Markets (which you can adjust to include foreign markets like China), you'll find stock screening capabilities via a drill-down icon. There are a few default screens but you can add your own. Like many stock screeners, the selections tend to allow you to choose stocks based on short-term attributes and market movement, rather than fundamentals.
However there are a few screens that I found useful. These include Financial Indicators, such as Return on Assets (ROA), Return on Equity (ROE), Net Margin, Dividends, and Debt to Asset. So, if you're hoping to uncover stock ideas with the Webull app, then you'll have the tools at your fingertips.
Distractions for Long-term Investors
Just as there are with other brokers' apps, the Webull app contains features that may be valuable or interesting to those who thrive on day trading but can be distracting to the long-term investor. These include:
- crowd-sourced price predictions and comments that you'll find through the talk-bubble icon
- trading data such as support and resistance charts, short interest, etc. which you'll enter via the box icon
There are likely long-term investors who are interested in knowing what other people think about a stock, not to sway them in their decisions but to understand the dynamics associated with price movements. The opinions of Webull community members and the selling short information could be useful to some investors. As for me, I find this talk and data unhelpful and confusing, adding to noise rather than clarity.
How to Get Started with the Webull Investing App
You can open an account with Webull by downloading its mobile app and completing an application. Regular brokerage accounts are available as well as traditional, Roth, and Rollover IRAs. There is no minimum to open an account and no commissions on trades for stocks and ETFs.
After you open an account, you can click on the Webull symbol to access your brokerage account or IRA. You can view positions, performance, and more. Plus, you can conduct brokerage business from the app, such as depositing funds into your account and initiating trades. Market, limit, stop, and stop-loss order types are available.
If you'd like a simple way to research stocks, keep up with watchlists, and initiate stock trades (as well as ETF trades), Webull offers an easy-to-use and useful investing app.
From 11/29/2019 00:00-12/31/2019 23:59 (EST), sign up through this exclusive link and finish your account opening process within 24 hours of starting, receive a free stock (valued $5 – $500). If your account opening takes longer than 24 hours, however, this offer is null. During this event duration, new brokerage account holders, who make an initial deposit of ANY amount will be able to claim another free stock (valued between $12-$1400). Free stocks can only be claimed when the deposited amount has been settled into the accounts. Please note, deposits may take up to 5 (five) business days to settle. For details, terms, and conditions, visit Webull.
How do you use Webull or other investing apps?