By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER
Mint.com helps Web users who are willing to enter their bank and credit card account information track their spending and savings. Now another start-up called Wikinvest wants to do the same thing for investments.
Wikinvest, as we have written about, is a site with user-generated information about stocks — Wikipedia meets Yahoo Finance. On Wednesday, it will introduce a tool that imports information from a user’s brokerage and investment accounts and arranges it in a readable way.
“Today, lots of people are paying more attention to the markets, but there is no good way to do this,” said Michael Sha, a co-founder of Wikinvest.
Some people enter the data manually in spreadsheets. Others track their personal investments on sites like Yahoo Finance and Google Finance, but few do so, Mr. Sha said, because it requires entering each investment manually. Brokerage Web sites track investments, but many people have several accounts, and these sites rarely include information like news reports.
Wikinvest will sync with 25 brokerages, including Scottrade, Charles Schwab and Vanguard. Users enter their brokerage account log-ins on Wikinvest, and Wikinvest will import their investment information and present it in easy-to-read columns that show things like the 52-week price range for stocks and recent news headlines and Wikinvest articles that could affect investments.
Charts compile all a user’s investments, across brokerage accounts, taking into account information like deposits and withdrawals, dividends and fees, and compare performance to the rest of the market.
This could be useful for people managing their own money or for people who want to monitor what a financial planner is doing with their money, Mr. Sha said. Having the information compiled in one place could also be useful when tax season comes around — Wikinvest could automatically fill in Schedule D forms, he said.
The service is free, and eventually Wikinvest plans to make money off of it by running various types of ads. These could include suggesting an index fund similar to one that somebody owns but with a lower fee, or suggesting investments catered to someone’s risk level, asset level and interests. Wikinvest could also refer users to accountants, brokers or financial planners.
“The relevance of having your portfolio data with alerts is even more relevant when it comes to making decisions,” Mr. Sha said. “We can target better ads.”
This is also like Mint, which makes money by suggesting credit card or bank accounts with lower fees, for example, and then earning an affiliate fee when users sign up.
Many people might be hesitant about entering their brokerage log-ins and passwords on Wikinvest.
“Hopefully the value we can provide as a result is worthwhile,” Mr. Sha said, raising an issue that was also addressed in a recent Times article. “A lot of work was done by Mint to pave the way in getting people comfortable.”
The site has taken pains to secure its hardware and encrypt its Web site, said Mr. Sha, who previously worked on fraud prevention at Amazon.com. Even if an intruder broke into the Wikinvest site and could see a user’s balances, it is impossible to trade or access brokerage accounts from the site.