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What do you know about using software to help with investment decisions?

Thursday 24th January 2002

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Q: I have been looking at investment software, both over the internet as well as talking to people. In particular there are two packages I am considering - one is Stock FX sold by Connaught Ltd and the other is ProTrader. Both seem to be Australian products. Have you heard anything about them or investment software in general? The prices seem to vary considerably.

A: I believe you are talking about programmes that 'help' you decide what to buy and when? If so, then in my opinion you are better off using the money to buy shares. I have seen packages sold for $7,500 + GST upwards and in very few cases did see people make any money, let alone enough to replace their original outlay.

There are also ongoing charges for the data the programme needs to spit out your daily list of what to buy and sell and these ongoing charges can also add up to quite a considerable sum year after year.

In my opinion charting software is expensive and involves a lot of time and ongoing funds which could be better spent elsewhere. If these packages really could do what they claim, why would anyone want to sell it? Most come with money back guarantees to lull the potential buyer into a false sense of security such as "You can spend $5,000 on this trading package but if you lose $12,000 trading in your first year we will give you your money back". Small comfort - and when read very carefully the chances of anyone getting their money back are really pretty small.

The best investment software I have seen for keeping track of what you have purchased etc is usually attached to a broker's website. You can usually set up your own portfolio and watch it without having to spend a cent and every day all the prices will be updated for you. All you have to do is visit the site and enter an account number and password.

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