The online brokerage industry is winning a lot of attention and goodwill by offering “practice accounts.” A practice account is supposed to be identical to a real account in all but one respect: you buy stocks online in them with imaginary or “play” money rather than the real thing.
The industry says a practice account gives would-be traders a free opportunity to learn how to trade online without risking any money. To us, this appears to be a misstatement—an example of the essence of marketing, which is to describe a feature in such a way that the prospect comes to see it as a benefit.
Practice-account users aren’t learning how to invest. They are just learning how to enter orders online. Using an online broker’s practice account, you can learn online trading essentials, such as how to enter an order to sell or buy stocks online; how to double-check your order before submitting it, so you avoid obvious but common mistakes, like buying 10,000 shares when you only meant to buy 1,000; and so on. In doing so, you can choose what stocks to buy, but the only feedback you’ll get on your choices is the price changes they go through after you buy.
A practice account that lets you buy stocks online without real money may seem to be a convenient way to learn investing. But the big risk with practice accounts is that you’ll try out a risky and ultimately unwinnable investment approach, like day trading or options trading, and hit a lucky streak. This could embolden you to put serious money at risk just when your results are about to regress to the mean and deliver losses instead of profits.
At TSI Network, we recommend using our three-part Successful Investor philosophy:
Invest mainly in well-established companies;
Spread your money out across most if not all of the five main economic sectors (Manufacturing & Industry; Resources & Commodities; the Consumer sector; Finance; Utilities);
Downplay or avoid stocks in the broker/media limelight.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced investor, these tips give you fundamentally sound advice on how to buy stocks online and show you how to put them to work in 2022–without any need for practice.
Tip: “Practice accounts that let you buy stocks online without… Read More
It doesn’t get as much play in the media as it did a decade ago, but even in the strong 2021 market, online trading carries hidden dangers that aren’t always evident at first.
The main risk comes from the fact that online trading may seem deceptively… Read More
Model portfolios and practice stock trading have a lot in common. They both serve to distract investors from long-term investing goals.
The online brokerage industry is winning a lot of attention and goodwill for itself by offering “practice accounts.” These accounts are supposed to be identical… Read More
Take the time to learn about stocks and trading and you’ll no longer look for “sure fire tricks” like market patterns that may or may not repeat themselves
If you are a new investor learning how to invest, our Successful Investor philosophy can give you above-average… Read More
To entice potential clients, some investment trading companies tout the results of their “model accounts.” This can lead some investors astray
To entice clients, some investment trading companies, or brokers, publish the results of what they refer to as “model accounts.” These hypothetical accounts supposedly measure… Read More
Here’s our three-part formula for how to invest in the stock market for above-average gains—and a bonus tip on how not to invest in the market
It pays to keep the mechanics of successful investing in mind when learning how to invest in the stock market.
Follow these 5 investment habits to maximize your portfolio gains
At first glance, some bad investment habits seem sensible, even conservative. One of the most common is to hold off on buying stocks “until things settle down.” The funny thing is that the urge to hold… Read More
A sound retirement planning guide must include realistic goals, and practical decisions
If you’re heading into retirement and are short of money, you should still aim for safer investments, rather than taking one last gamble.
But above all, we recommend that you base your investing for retirement… Read More
Pat McKeough recently replied to an Inner Circle member looking for an opinion on Northwest Healthcare Properties REIT. The operator of medical office buildings has spent about $350 million on recent acquisitions. But there may be a downside to that growth, says Pat.
Q: Pat: Can… Read More
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