A little disclaimer, I am no financial adviser, far from it, I only started buying stocks in the last few weeks. What I am ok at is predicting the current market, and this normally works well for me, please take what I say in the following post with a pinch of salt and do your own research. As a newcomer, I am hoping that this post will help you understand the world of buying stocks a bit more, none of that jargon of stockbrokers. Additionally, the obvious disclaimer applies, investing is a form of gambling and you might lose or gain more money, your capital is at risk and all that jazz. Additionally, additionally, this blog was written in March of 2020, if you are reading this in the future, the market might have moved on by now.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about investing in shares!
What is a Share?
A share, also known as a stock, is a tiny part of a company, if the company does well, the share is worth more, because the total value of the company will go up, and if the company does bad, it will go down and lose its value. You can buy and own 1 or more stocks of a company with real money, and at the time of you purchasing the stocks, you are hoping that the company will do well, so your part of that company will be worth more if you ever decide to sell it. A share can range from a few pence from a not very well-known company to thousands, a single Amazon share cost almost £2000 per share.
Why Should I Start Investing in Stocks Now?
You may have noticed, there is something called the Coronavirus floating around… and it is affecting a lot of businesses negatively, and yes, positively as well.
This means these businesses aren’t operating normally or in some extreme cases, are forced to closed; because of this, their value will be lowered, which also result in their shares being cheaper. Think restaurants, pubs, theme parks, if we are on lockdown, no one will be going to those places, and as of the 16th of March in the UK, they are not even allowed to remain open. Their sales will take a hit which means their stocks will drop.
‘Positively how on earth can this be positive for businesses?’ I hear you ask… Well, what are you all doing during this lockdown? Watching movies for entertainment, joining video calls with work colleagues and friends, right? Fun fact, Zoom the popular video conferencing app was only worth $70 per share in January, and now at the end of March a single stock costs $140. That means if you bought £500 worth of shares, you would have made £1000 within 2 months, not bad at all, but who could have predicted that? Well it’s all very well in hindsight, but remember China was in lockdown during that time, if only we had known! This is what I mean by predicting the market, and you need to do this to do well, I advise you to invest in companies you know about. As a tech-head, I show more interest in tech companies, as I know their products more. You might be more a fashion type, so you might be better at knowing how well a fashion brand is doing.
I personally think this is a capital opportunity to start investing, think about how cheap these stocks will be, and once this is all over, it will most likely to go up, as business resumes to normal.
How do I buy Shares?
You normally buy it through a broker, I am pretty sure you have heard of apps such as Trading 212 and Etoro; you give them money and you use that money to buy stocks on their platforms. These apps, however, isn’t very accessible to visually impaired investors, often featuring complex grafts and charts that a screen reader cannot comprehend.
Introducing Freetrade, an accessible investment app for blind users
I started using this app for a few months now, and I am quite impressed on the level of accessibility they put into the app. From topping up your account to purchasing stocks, and viewing your portfolio, you can do all of this without any sighted assistant. If you didn’t know, I use VoiceOver on iOS, I can’t say how the accessibility is like on Android with TalkBack, and those who has working vision on iOS, but with their night mode, visually I think it looks pretty accessible, so I wouldn’t think it will be an issue for those who uses Zoom or larger font; so this review will be from a totally blind user’s point of view using VoiceOver on an iPhone running the latest version of iOS13.
For a full overview, and demo, please listen to the following podcast I recorded, it shows you how to sign up, top up your account, buy stocks and more.
(insert podcast here once recorded)
This is what I love about Freetrade:
- Accessible app – this is the biggest factor, without it being accessible the other things on this list will be nullified, the app is not only accessible to blind users, but the interface is easy to understand, so it’s great for newbie investors too; and with their dark theme, I am able to view charts and see if the line on the chart is going up or down, so I can tell if a stock is rising or falling.
- Committed and friendly staff – representatives have always been extremely helpful in the in-app live chat, and on social media, although they cannot give financial advice, they are helpful when you have any questions or if you are stuck. They are committed because they reached out to me to ask for feedback on accessibility, showing that they care making their app available to more people.
- ApplePay top-up – you can top-up using ApplePay, so no need to enter your bank information, just add money by pressing the side button and using Face/Touch ID. There is a limit of £1000 in total, but great if you want to give it a try without committing.
- Good collection of stocks – if you are a seasoned investor this might not be the case, but for someone like me that is starting off, I find the 300 plus stocks on the app is more than enough to play with.
- Great referral program – when you refer someone to Freetrade, you and the person will get a random stock up to £200, Haven’t got an Apple stock yet, the highest was for a company for £25. On the subject of referrals, please read until the end to get your free share 😉
Which Company should I buy stocks in?
With the disclaimer resigning in your head… I personally think the following companies’ shares will do well after Covid-19
- Disney – I’m sure you know Disney very well, operating in Parks and Resorts, movies, and their latest streaming service, Disney Plus. They took quite a hit due to the closure of its theme parks. However, once those parks are back open, and with the new backing of Disney Plus, I think it will do very well. I personally bought 5 Disney shares for about $88, a few days before the launch of Disney Plus in the UK, since then it has gone up for a bit, but it’s still rather low. If it drops down below $90 I might consider getting more.
- Whitbread – you might not know the name Whitbread, but you might know some of their businesses, names such as Premier Inn and Beefeater, Costa Coffee as well at one point before they sold it to The Coca-Cola Company for just under £4 billion, serious money. Not doing so well as most of their operations will have to close now due to Covid-19. I purchased 10 stocks for £21 each, in 20th March, and now they are closer to the £30 mark, it might go down again, but it will shoot back up once this is over.
- JD Wetherspoon – if you’re a Brit you will know a Wetherspoon, a favorite for cheap food and alcohol. As a pub however, it faces similar issues of closure as the previous companies. Stocks has fell almost 50% since the closure. I purchased 20 shares as they were only £6 each at one point, now they are hovering near the £9 mark, but they have been high as £16 before. Another thing to note this might take a bit longer to recover, as there was some controversy with the owner of Wetherspoon’s at the start of Covid-19 resulting many customers saying that they will boycott the pub once it reopen. I don’t see this being a huge issue however, where else would they find cheap food and drinks?
- Starbucks – the coffee giant has shops worldwide, you cannot walk around central London for more than 5 minutes without seeing one. All those cafes will also be closed during this time. I only got 2 shares in Starbucks, at $60 each, and since then they haven’t really gone up much, we will have to see once they reopen.
- Saga – Ok, I left the best to last. This was a company I personally thought would do well, the previous 4 is quite common knowledge. Saga is a company that deals with the over 50s, selling them package holidays and insurance, due to the pandemic holidays are grounded to a halt, and especially for those who are over 50, they are more vulnerable so less likely to even leave the house let alone go on holiday. This resulted in a massive drop to the company’s business, as of Friday March 27th 2020 a single Saga share cost 18p, yes 18 pence for one single stock. Verses 2 months ago, where it was close to 50p, over half; and verse a year ago, March 2019 £1.11 for a share. This is very promising. I went ahead and purchased £500 of Saga shares, that is 2777 shares: if say once Covid-19 is over, and it ever recovers to £1.11 per share, it means I would own £XXX take £500 off of that, a £2000 profit. Even if it didn’t go as high as £1.11 and staid around the 50p mark, that would still be double, an extra £500 would also be nice. I could be terribly wrong and Saga might decide to close its doors tomorrow, then I would have lost £500 which is a huge shame. This is the risks you take in investing. I personally think this won’t happen though, yes elderly people will be the group most affected by Covid-19 and there is an unfortunate chance a few of them won’t even make it out alive; however, once this is over, life expectancy has always been rising , due to medical advances and better living conditions. This means companies like Saga has more customers to boost the value of their company and shares.
I really hope this article was useful to you and hope you will join me to play around with investing. If you do, please consider using Freetrade, an accessible solution for blind and low vision investors. Make sure you use my referral as we both get a mystery share in a random company, such as Apple!
Update as of March 2021
Ok it’s been a year, and most of my predictions has been relatively true, I am a little more happier, but I did not make this update to flex, I just wanted to let everyone know I moved from Freetrade to Trading212 as of October 2020. The main reason was the limited stocks on Freetrade, there is their Plus option, but it means paying £9.99 per month, stocks that were available to T121. Additionally, I opened an ISA savings trading account on Freetrade which cost me £3 a month, what this does is allowed me to put in up-to £20000 per financial year, and anything made, will not be taxed. Trading212 had the same thing which was free, so despite the lack of accessibility I switched. Yes, it is sad, that someone like me who pushes so hard for accessibility picking a lesser accessible option, but sometimes we are forced to choose using our wallets. I will not be writing another post on Trading212, unless there are significant accessibility updates to the app. Will be dropping a referral here if you want to have a little play around with Trading212, free random share up to only £100. GL! 🍀