A look inside Robinhood's new web platform and some thoughts on its usefulness.
Summary: The first iteration of Robinhood web is as we would expect, simplistic, but includes some neat features not present in the mobile client. Overall: B
Today is a long-awaited day for many investors: the release of Robinhood's web platform. Since Robinhood founding in 2013, the company has sought to liberalize access to financial markets and make a traditionally complex topic easier to grasp. Just as I believe, the founders of Robinhood believe the world would be a much better place with everyone invested not just the wealthiest of us. Hince the name Robinhood-- the bandit who stole from the rich to give to the poor.
When I first came across Robinhood, I could not believe a platform that charged no fees for trading could be viable. I was wrong. Despite being a mobile-only platform, Robinhood quickly became the quickest growing stock brokerage of all time and now has over 3million users and is valued at over a billion dollars.
I have been incredibility impressed with Robinhood. They continue to innovate and have since launched. Margin trading (offering borrowed money to invest), options trading (only available to some currently), and cryptocurrency trading. When Robinhood announced that they would be releasing a web platform in early 2018, I started preparing to transfer my TD Ameritrade account to Robinhood, and they even paid the fees.
While it is true that Robinhood web does not provide all the bells and whistles of a traditional broker, the beauty of Robinhood lies in its simplicity. Contrary to what many beginner investors may think... simplicity tends to win in in markets, especially paired with low (or no) fees. Robinhood checks both those boxes.
Let's take a look at some of the features.
(granted I am showing some personal information including dollar amounts, but I am all about disclosure and am not at the point in life where my finances are super confidential.)
The homepage is relatively unexciting. I was disappointed to find the same chart as found on mobile with the same limited features. The homepage highlights some stocks that may be of interest to you. I found this to be a distraction as their algorithm didn't make much sense to me. For example, I was recommended Ford based on the fact I own a completely un-related biotech company. It seems to favor stocks that are "popular."
The homepage also highlights the top movers of the day, which I think is dangerous to display, as some investors may look to that page to chase unrealizable gains.
And then you get stock news from Yahoo Finance, Seeking Alpha, The Motley Fool, and Market Watch. While those sites can provide nice free stock advise, there is often a plurality of opinions and sensational language that may mislead investors.
But it does get better from here.
Individual stock pages show more information than what you would find in the app.
This screen may look familiar, but you do get what percent of analysts give Shopify a buy rating. These 'sell-side" analysts are not always right and tend to favor lower volatility safer investments. Usually, only the larger stocks have many analysts contributing to these ratings, so this is not a perfect metric BUT should help keep investors grounded. You also see how many people on Robinhood are holding the stock, which is interesting if nothing else.
But here is where the true beauty lies.
You may notice some the "Tags" icons at the top. Robinhood is looking to curate stocks based on themes like "mobile devices" or "credit cards," similar to what you may find on StockTwits.com
This idea has enormous potential to help investors organize and discover new stocks, but is still in its early stage of development.
The "Price Paid" chart is something I have never seen before. A lot of this information tends to fall into the "collaborative stock trading trend" where investors are sharing information the benefit of everyone. Seeing the average cost being paid by fellow investors isn't super material but may keep your expectations grounded.
I am a huge fan of this the Analysts rating section, particularly because you get a short bull and bear summary provided my Morningstar. This is wonderful, balanced, and trustworthy information that every investor should read to understand the risks/rewards of stocks they are interested in.
And finally, you get the same earning chart you find on the mobile site. Although stock movements seem to be less and less correlated to earnings beats or misses, this is a great summary. It is almost the expectation for stocks to considerable beat expectations recently.
I was worried that this was the extent of the platform but if you look under "Account," it takes you to this screen:
I was hoping Robinhood would include a pie-chart of your portfolio and they do. This is a great way to visualize your allocations, something I was previously tracking and had to update in Excel.
Overall Robinhood Web is a nice platfrom. It does have limited stock research features but in my opinion, the more complexity you add, the more difficult it is for investors to make informed financial decisions. The site does not blow me away but adding a web platform adds significant validity to their company as many investors --including myself-- were skeptical of the idea of only trading from a mobile device.
Given Robinhoods recent track record of adding features, I can only expect the company to continue to refine this product. After all, Cryptoassets and Options are currently supported by Robinhood but are not present on the web platform, so we should expect upgrades shortly.
The site gets a solid B rating from me.
But my faith in Robinhood as a service is a strong A
*only some users have access to the web client currently but you can learn more at robinhood.com