It was 1998, I had $500, and I was obsessed with the stock market. Each day I’d rush home to sit in front of the computer and watch my portfolio until the closing bell. As a fourth-grade kid, I didn’t quite grasp general market dynamics. I understood basic value and how share price was influenced by people’s perception of whether that price was a good or bad value.
Maybe that was enough because after two years my investment had grown to $2,000. It was an exciting hobby, but after the dot-com bubble burst I lost interest and didn’t get back into investing until I was working on my undergraduate in economics. The problem was that as a student and later as a young professional on a tight budget, I couldn’t afford the $500 minimum account balance, nor could I justify $10 commission fees when buying a few shares at a time. I just looked on helplessly as stocks I wanted to purchase rose higher and higher.
Enter Robinhood App.
When I heard about Robinhood, a service that lets you trade stock for free, I had to check it out. After spending a few weeks beta testing Robinhood App, I’m confident it will be a key force in disrupting the investment services industry.
Robinhood makes it possible to invest in low-volume, low-cost stocks without worrying about a commission eating into your profit margins. In addition to commission free trading, the service makes trading and portfolio management a seamless, intuitive experience.
I waited a long time to become a beta tester. When Robinhood started sending out beta invites last April, I was 70th in line. Three months later, I was 2nd in line and waited another two weeks before getting the beta invite. With such a long delay in bringing on new beta testers, I wondered if the first beta version had software bugs that were slowing things down. Now that I’ve spent a few weeks with the app, I can say that Robinhood App has exceeded my expectations by far. Aside from a minor syncing issue, the beta version has been surprisingly bug-free.
Trades execute with lightening-fast precision, and the user interface is both beautiful and intuitive. If you place an after hours buy or sell order, it is swiftly executed once markets open. I was delighted to discover that the beta version includes the ability to place limit orders. Any limit orders not filled are automatically canceled at the end of the day’s trading. Account and portfolio management settings are optimized to create a seamless user experience. All order history, regulatory documents, banking information, and pending transactions are easily accessible from the main menu.
Robinhood will be a huge disruptor in the space. I suspect services like eTrade, TD Ameritrade, and Scottrade (each charge a commission and require minimum opening account balance) will be forced to re-examine their business model as Robinhood App moves towards the final production version and gains traction. In just three weeks, I’ve executed 33 transactions and my portfolio is up nearly 10%. Needless to say, I am thrilled to be investing again. Last week’s commission free winning picks: INVN, AMBA, & GTAT.