Scout Finance is a new player that’s trying to level the playing field for the retail and the professional investor. A new entry into the market that launched in December 2015, Scout Finance provides a free downloadable app that puts access to the most important financial data and company fundamentals in the hands of anyone with an iOS mobile device.
Their user interface and its availability in the App Store allow users to monitor stock prices and access financial statements, company analytics, investor presentations, filings, earnings transcripts and more, no matter where they are.
Co-founder and CEO Vivek Nasta saw an opportunity — in mobile technology — to provide retail investors, money managers and financial professionals alike with 24/7 access to the most useful stock market data previously available only to users “tethered” to Bloomberg terminals.
Bloomberg, the longstanding industry tool for financial advisors and researchers, is cost-prohibitive for retail investors at $24,000 for an annual subscription and one access terminal. Free apps, like Google Finance, are criticized by users for inaccurate data, confusing interfaces, annoying ads and limited free features. Google charges a premium of $29.99 for all features and no ads, or $9.99 for no ads. Another alternative we’ve reviewed is YCharts which starts at $40 per month. Scout service is currently a free and ad-free experience, though I suspect they eventually will offer a premium service.
“We’re a group of ex-Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters guys who saw firsthand that data is currently presented to a customer in a very encyclopedic fashion,” Nasta explains.
“Scout Finance provides access to the industry’s lifeblood — the fundamental financial data that we all look at as investors. We’re about freeing investors from the desktop and the seven-screen footprint and saving them time, not impressing upon them every single piece of information that you can possibly imagine from the pricing of oil in Zimbabwe to the price of platinum in South Africa.”
Nasta has some strong opinions on Bloomberg’s supposed failings in the mobile market. He claims the relationship investment professionals have with Bloomberg oscillates between love and hate. Speaking more specifically on Bloomberg’s mobile offering, Nasta claims users are “tethered” to the terminals and the firm’s mobile offering does not replicate the desktop experience “in a live and friendly way.”
Nasta continues: “This is a company that in the ’70s and ’80s cut its teeth on providing you with the most information possible in one package. So the notion of them providing a quick way of getting that information outside of that package is a scary thing for them. It’s just not in their DNA.”
Scout’s app delivers immediate access to professional-grade financial information in a format that makes it extremely easy to navigate and quickly find exactly what information users are looking for. They’ve streamlined the complexity and removed the redundancy you find in other online apps.
How It Works
It’s very easy to get started with Scout.
- Download the app on your iPhone or iPad.
- Create your personal watch list to ensure your “Activity” feed has documents and other content for the companies you care most about. You can give your list a unique name and easily populate it with companies from the drop down menu.
- Access the financial data you want whenever and wherever you are.
- FREE mobile access to professional-grade financial data — Provides both individual investors and professionals with top-shelf financial data anywhere, anytime.
- Interface built for mobile access — Other financial data providers have taken their data and made it mobile, which creates a “clunky” experience for users. Scout developed and designed a mobile product that delivers a pleasant experience for mobile users.
- Historical financial data — Scout gives you access to a company’s income statement, balance sheet, cash flow and metrics for the past five years.
- Offline access — Auto caching of documents for offline reading when you don’t have wifi access.
- Store financial reports — You can direct financial reports to a Dropbox account.
- Customized watch lists — Create your personal watch list(s) and choose what data you want sent to you via email or notifications.
- Professional-grade data — Developed to be an all-in-one solution for Wall Street professionals, Scout provides expanded content, including access to documents like Investor Presentations, Earnings Call Transcripts, Filings, Earnings Releases, and Earnings Call Audio.
- Mobile-optimized stock charts — Scout’s charts are easy to view and manipulate on even the smallest mobile device.
- It’s free — The app is free, because, “We believe everyone should be able to easily access quality market data.” Data costs a lot, and to pay for those costs Scout will eventually offer a paid version of the app with certain features and premium content sets.
- Saves you research time — You don’t have to research the latest information about your stock holdings. Scout automatically sends you a digest of documents that were added for companies on your watch list(s). For example, you’ll get the company’s quarterly reports emailed to you.
- Detailed news-based reporting — If you base your investment decisions upon news items, research reports and investment conference calls, this app is made for you.
- Financial data on the go — Unlike a traditional research service, you get fast access to key documents, ratios, news and financial statements 24/7, no matter where you are.
- Created by investors for investors — Scout Finance was created by a team of investment professionals and experts in mobile technology who were frustrated by their inability to access financial information on the go. From both a finance and technology standpoint, the app delivers an excellent solution.
- Lacks filtering tools — While you can create watch lists, you cannot, for example, filter for stocks that are within a certain market cap or PE ratio.
- Graphing not customizable, and limited historical data — You cannot create graphs for specific timeframes, nor perform any technical analysis.
- Available only on iOS — Currently, Scout Finance is available only on iPhone and iPad devices. An Android app is not available at this time.
While Scout Finance appears to be a great entry into this marketplace, it still needs some improvements to be a serious contender compared to the other offerings — free or paid. Being mobile-only does make their service somewhat unique, and I believe this service has the potential for some greatness in future editions.