Easy Ways to Start Investing Online in 2021

Easy Ways to Start Investing Online in 2021

R
by Richard Gall — 4 weeks ago in Finance 9 min. read
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In the first months of 2021, a new group of investors was discovered that they are interested in investing online by buying or selling stocks.

Although buying and selling stock may seem complex on the surface, it is not. Although media analysts and financial experts may mutter about technical jargon, it is easy to understand how stocks can be bought and then sold. A brief explanation of the markets will help you to understand online investing.

Here’s a list of all the necessary items to trade stocks online in 2021.

Basics of the U.S Stock Market

There has been a lot written about the financial system and in particular the stock market. This article will focus on the basics.


Those who aren’t familiar with the stock market can continue to learn as they invest or expand their knowledge. As a college student, I was able to learn about the stock market and gain the confidence to launch my transcription business many years later.

In Antwerp (Belgium), in 1531, the first stock exchange was established. Moneylenders and brokers traded debt certificates or bonds between individuals, government entities, and businesses.

Some of the first stock certificates were issued by shipping companies and owners of large ships to individuals to fund long-distance trades to Asia and new lands. Companies could spread the risk by selling stocks for one voyage. These same companies later issued stocks for multiple voyages and some even paid dividends.
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Modern stock markets

In 1773, London hosted the first stock exchange of the “modern era”. In Philadelphia, 1790 saw the birth of the first stock exchange in America.

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), was formed shortly after the signing of the Buttonwood Agreement by 24 men at 68 Wall Street. Five securities were traded, including three government bonds, and two stocks from two banks. The NYSE is today the most well-known stock exchange in the world, though many large countries also have stock exchanges.

The National Association of Securities Dealers created the Nasdaq Exchange in 1971 to allow investors to trade securities using a computerized system. It was the first electronic trading platform. It is still a model for modern-day trading exchanges.

The Nasdaq does not have a physical location like the NYSE. All trades are completed electronically. Stock exchanges don’t own stock. Stock exchanges connect buyers and sellers.

The main difference between the NYSE & Nasdaq is the way stocks are traded. Stocks traded on NYSE use an auction system. Each weekday, the NYSE opens at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The earliest order to buy or sell is at 6:30 a.m. and will be paired with either the highest bid price or the lowest asking price. Each weekday, the NYSE closes at 4:00 p.m.

The Nasdaq, on the other hand, is a dealer market. Participants do not buy and sell between each other. Transactions use a dealer instead. This is why the Nasdaq has been called a market maker.

Why Stock Exchanges Are Necessary?

Individual and institutional investors looking to invest in one or more companies can use stock exchanges to provide crucial services. Stock exchanges and the markets help individuals, companies, and governments.

Stock exchanges are vital because they enable companies to raise capital for expansion and growth. Companies would otherwise have to depend on bank loans.

Businesses that require additional operating capital may launch an Initial Public Offering (IPO), which allows them to sell shares to investors. The funds can be used by the company without incurring interest costs as traditional loans. To maintain or increase its share price, however, the company must show positive growth and profitability.

  • In short, stock exchanges help:
  • Companies can raise capital without paying interest
  • Contribute to personal wealth
  • Invest more in the economy
  • As a global economic indicator

What Is a Stock?

Stock is a certificate that demonstrates equity ownership in a company. You can purchase the stock of a company to get ownership. When a share is publicly offered, it is valued at a certain price. The price per share will increase if the company m

Keep in mind, however, that many factors can impact the share price of a company. Some factors are beyond the control of the company.

The number of shares allocated will determine the percentage of ownership. Stock can be purchased and owned by investors in both public and private companies. We’ll be focusing on publicly traded stocks for this article.

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The Difference Between Stocks (Equity), and Bonds (Debt).

This article is focused on buying stocks but it’s important to know the differences between bonds and stocks. Stocks (equity), give you partial ownership of a company. Bonds (or debt) are loans from an investor to a government or company in return for interest payments over the long term.

Let’s suppose you buy Twitter stock. Their price per share is $66.28 at midday on March 8. You can hold the shares for as long as you wish after you have purchased one or more shares.

Many trading platforms offer stock purchases at no cost. However, brokerage houses such as Merrill Lynch and UBS charge a commission. Executing a trade requires a commission.

What is the deal with bonds?

Conservative investors love bonds because they pay regular interest for a set period. Treasury (government) notes and bonds pay interest every six months until maturity. Corporate bonds usually pay interest on a semiannual, quarterly, or monthly basis up to maturity.

Because they are often backed by taxes or revenue from utilities, government bonds are very popular. Let’s suppose you buy a 10-year bond worth $2,500 and earn 2 percent interest. You will receive $500 in interest if you keep the bond until maturity.

This is usually distributed in equal monthly payments. Your initial $2,500 will be returned. It’s also why bonds are known as “fixed-income investments”. Investors can also purchase bonds with maturities ranging from a few weeks to 30 years.

To offset aggressive equity investments, investors often include bonds in their portfolios. Investors who are more conservative with their portfolios will be more inclined to invest in bonds and keep more cash.

The Federal Reserve has kept interest rates historically low, which means that most bonds have seen a decrease in interest payments.

The U.S. government issues investment-grade bonds, such as the ones described above. They are usually low to moderately risky and range from AAA to BBB ratings.

Junk bonds are corporate bonds that have a credit rating of BB or lower by Standard & Poor or Ba by Moody’s. The higher the rating, the greater the interest payment and the higher risk. The primary buyers for junk bonds are institutional investors.
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Understanding Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds

Both mutual funds, as well as exchange-traded funds, use to combine several stocks to achieve a common goal. While mutual funds were introduced in the 1920s, exchange-traded funds first appeared in 1993.

Mutual funds, as the name suggests, are when stocks are pooled together and managed by professionals. Mutual funds are attractive to average investors because they allow them to invest in multiple stocks.

Mutual funds, like stocks, offer many investing options. High-risk funds can produce greater returns but also have large losses. Others funds are intended to generate income, growth, income, or growth. International, tech, oil, and gas funds are just a few examples of other types of funds.

If you buy 10 shares of a company at $10 per share, then you have invested $100. You would own a percentage of each share if you invested $100 in mutual funds.

The net asset value (NAV) of a mutual fund is what determines its value. It is calculated at the close of each trading day.

Janus is an investment firm that manages mutual funds. They charge operating expenses and fees. These fees can be either front-end or back-end loaded. Before investing, make sure to understand the fee structure of any fund.
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ETFs

ETFs that track major market indexes are exchange-traded. ETFs are individual stocks that make up an index. They can be managed passively, as opposed to mutual funds.

ETFs provide investors with a way to diversify stocks and increase their exposure to specific markets. ETFs are usually free of any front-end or back-end fees but may charge commission fees. Many platforms do not charge commissions for stocks, mutual funds, or ETFs.

Taxes: Short-term versus long-term capital gains

There are many differences in the tax treatment of mutual funds and ETFs. Capital distributions made by mutual funds are the most important difference. ETFs do not pay capital distributions so they can sometimes be tax-friendly over mutual funds. Before investing, consult a tax professional.

Taxes are applied to almost everything in life. Your investment portfolio is no exception. It is easy to get confused by the U.S. tax code. It is best to consult your tax professional before making any investment decisions. In this discussion, we’ll keep it simple.

Investors want to make profits. How much you pay in taxes will depend on when and how big your profit is. Let’s suppose you buy General Electric at $10 per share and then sell it at $20 per share.

Stocks held for less than 12 months are considered a short-term profit and are subject to ordinary income tax. Your tax bracket will determine the exact amount.

Any profit earned from a stock held for more than one year is considered a long-term gain. It is subject to tax at zero percent, 15% percent, or 20% depending on your tax bracket.

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The tax rate for long-term gain is in 2020

  • If your adjusted income is between $0 and $40,000, 0%
  • 15% of your adjusted annual income is between $40,001 and $441,450
  • 20% of your adjusted gross income is more than $441,451

Capital gains can only be recognized if you sell all or a portion of your investments. There is no tax if you have any security.

You can also use the proceeds of a security sale to offset your income if it is a loss. Tax professionals can provide advice and guidance on realized gains and losses.

How do I purchase my first stock, mutual fund, or ETF?

It’s easier than ever to invest in the stock market. You need a brokerage account to buy or sell registered securities. Most likely, your grandparents or parents bought securities from a stockbroker who worked at a bank or large Wall Street brokerage. Many first-time investors can open an account online with a registered brokerage company today.

You will need to fill out the information required and fund your account, regardless of whether you open it in person or online. We mentioned earlier that some brokerage firms charge commissions for every trade. Others don’t. Before you execute a trade, make sure to understand all associated fees.

Research Process

Next, research any investments or stocks. You can start by looking up financial publications online and in print. Perhaps you can recall your grandparents or parents reading The Wall Street Journal.

This magazine has been a reliable source of business news for decades. With video stories and podcast excerpts, the online edition of the journal is more complete than its printed edition.

There is always plenty of data, so don’t get lost in the details you don’t know.

Warren Buffett is undoubtedly one of the most successful and famous U.S. investors. He avoided investing in companies or industries that he didn’t understand. Buffett also said some notable things, including “Buy into a business because you want it to be yours, not because the stock will go up.”

Traditional Brokerage Firms

In the early to mid-1980s, traditional brokerage firms like Merrill Lynch, UBS, and Goldman Sachs rose to prominence. The perfect example of how hungry and young “stockbrokers” spent hours pitching individual stocks to investors is in Wall Street (1987), starring Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas.

You can watch the movie online or find an old VHS copy in your attic. Notice all the wired headsets and large monitors that brokers used in open-area “bullpens”. This is where low-level brokers attempted to make enough money to own their office. Stockbrokers were paid per transaction and received the straight commission.

This was the time technology started to revolutionize the brokerage industry. There are still a few national brokerage houses, but many regional companies.

The most significant change was made in 1975 by Congress when the stock brokerage industry was deregulated. The NYSE had previously set the commission rates. Charles Schwab, a discount broker, offered lower commissions but did not offer advice or research services. They took orders.
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Full-Service Brokerages

Many investors still have accounts with full-service brokerage firms. Stockbrokers today are known as “financial advisers” and they promote financial services over individual securities.

Individual investors and financial advisors have a hard time researching and buying individual stocks. Advisors are now able to pitch managed accounts that include mutual funds, ETFs, and individual stocks. All of this is overseen by professional money managers from their firms or large mutual funds such as Janus and Vanguard.

Financial advisors are still paid for their “assets under management” and commissions on individual transactions. One might argue that these payment structures favor the advisory rather than the investor. Some firms are “registered investments advisors”, which means that their fees structure is based on the client’s transactions and gains.

Online Brokerage Services Take Over

Charles Schwab and other discount brokerages offered commission discounts up to 70% compared to traditional brokerage houses. Investors also had the option to place orders 24 hours per day.

Many small investors were disappointed when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.6% on a Monday in 1987. In the 1990s, there was a rise in brokerage technology and advances in cell phones and computers. The SEC approved electronic trading systems in 1998, opening the door to newer technologies.
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These days

Today, online brokerage firms like Robinhood and E*Trade virtually control the market. Younger investors are interested in buying and selling stocks once again. Many online trading platforms offer trading without commissions, even those that are more established.

Robinhood does not charge upfront commissions. Their income comes from the sale of their trades to other market makers, and the generating fees for their premium service.

Robinhood was hit hard by online trading in early 2021. Reddit chat rooms created a stock market frenzy that sent shorted stocks like GameStop or AMC theaters skyrocketing. Robinhood’s systems collapsed due to the demand for these stocks and other stocks.

Remember that brokerage firms have deposit requirements, just like banks. They must have sufficient cash to meet the investor’s requirements. This is known as net capital obligations. Robinhood stopped trading some stocks due to high trading volumes. Robinhood was hit hard by investor lawsuits.

Placing Your Order

If you’re happy with the current share price, you can decide how many shares you wish to buy in a company.


Remember that there must be a seller for every buyer. Market orders are when you offer to purchase stock at the lowest price. The share price can be $10 at the time you place the order. However, the execution could result in a slightly higher price.

Limit orders give the investor more control over the price at which the stock is sold. You can tell your broker to buy the stock at $9 if you feel that $10 per share is better than $9. Limit orders can be designated as “all or none”, “good for the day,” or “good until canceled”.
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Conclusion

As your portfolio and investment interests grow, there’s plenty of great information you can find. Do your research and be responsible when investing.

 

Richard Gall

Richard is senior editor of The Next Tech. He studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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