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As a recent college grad, I’ve never thought much about investing. Sure, I’ve seen some charts and tables, but I ignored hard data. After all, I majored in psychology; I want nothing to do with math.
But since I’ve been working at CentSai, I’ve come to realize how important basic math is as it relates to personal finance. I’ve also realized that most of the math involved in basic money management, I learned in the third grade. Now, I’m starting to learn the ins and outs of investing.
One way to do that is to check out stock screeners — tools that allow investors to quickly sort through investment opportunities based on distinct and filterable metrics — which turned my interest to FinViz.
FinViz is an online stock platform that offers a snapshot of the global markets and data visualization of individual charts, and it goes above and beyond: Intermediate or advanced investors, who remember the days of waiting for stock prices to appear the next day in the Wall Street Journal or the Herald Tribune, will appreciate what this behemoth of a financial information site has to offer.
FinViz also has a wide variety of other features — like grouped valuation, backtests, and an interactive map of worldwide markets — that make it accessible for both beginning and experienced investors, though only the latter will be able to take advantage of many of the tools the site offers.
You can even see top performing stocks and the names of individuals that have executed large insider-trading positions. For example, I learned that an individual who owned 10 percent of the shares of WillScot Mobile Mini Holdings Corp. was selling part of their holdings.
Here are some of the reasons that FinViz might be better suited for experienced investors, or enthusiastic newbies:
Ease of Use Score:2
If you’re new to investing, like I am, a stock screener can be chaotic. There are all sorts of numbers, tables, graphics, and unrecognizable terms and metrics.
Clicking through three sets of charts, a screener, a colorful map with strange symbols and numbers, and whatever backtests are supposed to be made me feel as though I was sitting in a calculus class for the first time. I hovered over some of the landing page fundamentals: What does P/B measure?
Before I was introduced to the world of financial literacy, I thought P/B was shorthand for peanut butter, when it actually refers to a ratio you can use to compare a stock’s market value and its book value (the net value of that firm’s assets).
Thankfully, FinViz provides a detailed list of all relevant financial terms that investors may not understand. A three-minute video covers the platform’s basic features.
The tour guides users through the data-filled home screen. Users can then jump to the screener section, where they can add filters to receive the most relevant data.
If you’re a novice, like I am, terms like float short may remind you of a small root beer and vanilla ice cream concoction. But, because float short also has a financial meaning (the number of shares borrowed with the intent of shorting a stock), a user has two choices: read the definitions and learn the inner workings of trading and valuation, or walk away overwhelmed.
FinViz also offers real-time maps for visually minded investors.
The maps themselves are fairly self-explanatory, easy to use, and provide access to the basic performance of different sectors and stocks on a single screen. With one look, users can get the feel for the overall daily market sentiment.
Users who want more detailed information can double-click on a particular stock to open another screen listing relevant news, current, and historical performance data for the asset.
Users can also set custom alerts to alert them whenever there are news, ratings, or insider activity updates. Bear in mind, though, you’ll be getting a ton of emails. I set up alerts for only one ticker, just to test the system, and I received 10 messages in the first day alone.
This could be overwhelming at times, and often felt like spam, but once I adjusted the settings and started receiving fewer — and more relevant — notifications, they started feeling much more useful to me as an investor.
Even without the video guide, FinViz was easy for me to navigate and manage, even as a first-time investor. Every datapoint is available within a click or two, and you don’t need to spend more than a few minutes on the site before you can find your way through with ease.
Bear in mind, though, that I’m a desktop user. If you prefer to use your phone to access stock screeners, it may be best to look somewhere else because there’s no FinViz app.
When you look at the site on your mobile device, the screen is cluttered, chaotic, and all of the text is so small, it’s practically unreadable. I wear glasses to help me see things up close, and even they weren’t enough to help me make sense of anything I was looking at.
Between the ads, the excess of data, and the tiny font, all I can say is to look for another service if you need to invest on the go.
Bang for Your Buck Score:3
There are three tiers for FinViz.
The first, which is the free and unregistered version, offers users delayed quotes, charts, screening services, and three years of financial statements. If this doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s because it isn’t. In order to access most of the features on the site, users are required to register and/or pay for a subscription.
The second tier is also free but it’s for registered users, who just need to sign up by creating a username and a password. Once registered, users will have access to more features, such as portfolio management.
Registered users have the ability to create 50 portfolios, each with 50 slots for tickers with options that you can adjust and preset. For a novice investor like me, who isn’t interested in tracking more than 50 stocks (or even anywhere close to that number!), these limitations were absolutely not a problem.
The paid tier, FinViz Elite (which costs $39.50 per month, or $299.50 per year) provides an additional 50 portfolios with 100 tickers and 100 screener presets. This is great for experienced investors, or even for intermediate investors who might want a little more flexibility than the registered version of FinViz provides.
But even, for beginners like me, FinViz Elite does have some helpful tools. In addition to all of the features of the unpaid tiers, Elite users can access stock quotes in real time; in the unpaid versions, stock quotes are delayed by 15 to 20 minutes and futures data by 20 minutes.
However, it is important to note that futures data will continue to be delayed by 20 minutes even for FinViz Elite subscribers. After contacting FinViz to ask why this data is delayed, FinViz informed CentSai that “real-time futures incur high exchange fees (especially for pro users).”
FinViz Elite also provides access to advanced charts and studies showcasing current and historical stock performance. The site will alert users whenever a preset stock price is triggered, which is helpful for day-traders. If you’re a “buy and hold” investor, like myself, it may not be as useful.
Still, it does keep you generally aware of how your investments are doing — if you’re not the type of investor who checks their portfolio religiously.
Another interesting feature that comes with the Elite subscription is the backtest, an analysis of your current investing strategies, which uses historical data to determine how investments would have grown through today, had they been made at some point in the past.
For example, you would be able to see how much money you would have earned today had you invested in Apple in 2005.
No doubt Finviz is a robust tool for engaged investors. As a recent college grad who is not data-driven, I am too early in my investing journey to glean what investors can gain from these particular insights.
So, though the price is worth it for long-term or enthusiastic investors, it may not be worth it for beginning investors, who don’t necessarily need complicated tools at high costs.
Customer Service Score:2
In order to contact FinViz about any questions or concerns, the site first directs you to a Frequently Asked Questions page. If you’re not able to find your question listed there, you’re encouraged to send a query through the Contact Form. The response time is the same for FinViz Elite subscribers as it is for those using the free service.
In my case, I received a response through this form 24 hours after sending my initial query, which is not ideal if you have a burning money question. If there was genuinely an issue with the service, I would want a response within the hour at least — especially for a site that prides itself on its capacity to provide up-to-the-minute insights on stock movements.
If you want to seek out FinViz through chat or by phone, you’re going to be disappointed. This means responses may not come as quickly as you’d like.
FinViz has not been rated by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and the screener does not have any user reviews on the site.
Upon contacting FinViz to ask why it is not BBB reviewed or accredited, the service claimed that it has “not been aware of the Better Business Bureau accreditation or any related services” but plans to consider contacting them in the future.
FinViz also has not released a mobile app on the App Store or Google Play. Since it does not have an app, it’s difficult to assess the quality of other users’ experiences, despite the fact that the site has drawn a total of 45 million users and has the 16th most traffic of any financial website, according to data from Similar Web.
The Bottom Line
If you’re a first-time investor, I can’t recommend paying for the Elite version of FinViz. Given the tools that you’ll need as a novice, I personally couldn’t justify spending almost $300 per year. That said, the free version is full of quality data, and you can learn at your own pace, as long as you use only the desktop version of the site.
But, once you have some experience under your belt, FinViz could be a good investment. The email alerts and real-time updates make it a great choice for day-traders and other investors.
Between the charts, maps, datasets that focus on both foreign and domestic stocks, entirely customizable portfolio tools, and eight years of financial statements, FinViz Elite may be expensive, but it is certainly a valuable tool for long-term investing success.