Information Sources

A few years ago, I wrote a blog about the importance of developing your range of knowledge. Since then, my consumption of news and social media content has shot through the roof. Anyone who knows me well will know that my appetite for new, high-quality information is vast. I can usually be found poring over books, news articles, blogs, vlogs and social media in every spare minute I have.

The risk with this is that you can end up with ‘information overload’ and unable to make a clear, well-informed decision due to the absolute tidal-wave of content that crashes over you every day. You can also end up as a passive consumer of information – if you spend all day reading other people’s thoughts and opinions, it becomes difficult to find time to form your own.

As such, I try to keep focused on the most salient, high-quality, and relevant information available to me. I follow a very select number of news sources and blogs, and try to keep my social media feeds (especially Twitter) trimmed to names that I both respect and trust. I’m extremely careful about the content I consume by asking myself;

  1. Does this author have a track record in this area or are they simply expressing an opinion?
  2. Does the information make sense in the context of what I know in the arena.
  3. Is this information valuable to my investing strategy or is it simply entertaining/easy to read?
  4. Who has paid for this information to be produced and why? I generally go by the rule of thumb that you get what you pay for – although there are many free blogs available that are both useful and high quality.

On a daily basis, I’ll use the following information sources (listed in no particular order).

  1. I use the paid research platform Stockopedia to monitor my listed investments. It’s a fantastic tool to review a range of financial information quickly and easily. I can quickly determine how my portfolio is performing and review news regarding my holdings in one easy screen.
  2. I also use Stockopedia to develop ‘screens’ that I use for identifying and comparing potential opportunities using a combination of techniques (but always concentrating on value and quality!). Stockopedia also employ a chap called Paul Scott who write a daily free ‘Small Cap’ report that’s well-written and a great source of ideas. You can find this here.
  3. I use Twitter on a daily basis but am very, very selective about who I follow and how I engage with them – there’s a fantastic community of investors here but also some very nasty, aggressive individuals so you’ll need to develop a thick skin at times and simply tune out the noise!
  4. I’m a selective reader of the BBC, Financial Times, Guardian Business Sector, Daily Telegraph Business Section. Be careful with these as they all have a bias and varying levels of quality between journalists. Never think that one will give you the whole picture – you’ll have to wade through a lot of opinion and waffle to get to the core of an issue with all of them.
  5. I adore the Investor’s Chronicle and always pick up a copy when I’m travelling. It’s an extremely thought-provoking and high-quality publication with lots of useful information and analysis on company results and some interesting tips. I particularly enjoy their Portfolio Review sections (being a bit of an investment geek, it’s fascinating to see how other people are investing!).
  6. I use the bulletin boards London South East and ADVFN as another source of information on companies. BE WARNED – these are often full of dross and spam and absolutely need to be taken with a huge dose of salt!

You’ll notice that I stress the need to be careful with many of these sources. Investing is not as easy as simply picking up a paper and following the ‘tips’ section. You need to develop an understanding of what you’re buying and why, how and when to buy and sell, and of course how to manage your portfolio in terms of diversification and risk. These sources give me a stream of ideas and thoughts; it’s then down to me to figure out if I agree with the information, want to act on it, and if so, what action I want to take.