The Pros and Cons of Online Investing Programs

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Although many investors will tell you they are self-taught, that isn’t always 100% true. A good majority of aspiring investors receive some sort investing education through live classes, seminars, online programs or mentors. For many novices, online learning programs are the most convenient option. However, they may not always the best option for some people. Online learning programs offer many benefits, but they have their drawbacks as well.

Time Management

As mentioned in the introduction, convenience is a major reason many people choose online investment training. Courses are often self-paced and students can learn from any location that they have Internet access at whatever times suit their schedules. The downside to this is that students need to have the self-discipline to not only make the time to learn the material, but put extra effort into absorbing it as well. Some people need deadlines to motivate them, while others do better on their own.

Quality of Education

There are a large number of online courses offered by well-respected organizations that offer learning materials that meet, or in some cases even exceed, what is available to investors in a traditional classroom setting or a condensed seminar. However, one big disadvantage is that students do not get any face-to-face interaction with a mentor, which makes finding answers to questions more time-consuming. Online courses can offer a wealth of information, but they often lack the personal insights of someone with a proven background in investing.

Value

For the money, online courses are the cheapest route. In fact, many large investment websites such as E*Trade and TD Ameritrade offer online education as part of their monthly fees. Some include simulation trading as well. These types of package deals offer learning and practice that is as close to real life trading as possible for a reasonable price. By comparison, in-person classes and seminars are usually far more expensive. When comparing the two, value is a relative term because some people learn better with personal interaction than they do from reading material.

Simulation Trading

Although simulation trading online is an invaluable part of learning the ins and outs of investing, it still isn’t quite the same as making live investments. For one thing, investors have less emotional attachment to what is going on because they don’t have anything of value at stake, which is a detriment because emotions inevitably affect investment decisions. Simulation trading is both a plus and a minus when it comes to online investment learning. It does help investors gain some experience, but it isn’t as powerful experience as real-life trading provides.

For many people online investment training may be their only feasible option. There’s nothing wrong with that. A good number of investors learn online, practice with simulation trading and later move on to make many profitable transactions. Just be aware that there are some limitations to how much a person can learn online and in order to get the most of out of your education, the impetus will be on you to take responsibility for learning.

About the Author: Timothy Welch used a combination of mentoring and an online course to learn about investing. He also watches bigger traders to see how they learned and grew. You can read more here, for example, about Tim Sykes and his history.