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Stock Investment Services – Testing All Canadian Services…

Don’t waste your money or time trying investment services! Let me do that for you.

Since 2009, after I fired my financial advisor and took control of my investment portfolio, I set out on a journey to educate myself about investing and find the best tools to make my investment decisions. With the goal of making my money work for me and building wealth, I set out on a journey.

I went from $45K to over $1M since 2009 with an annual rate of return above 12%.

Trust me, I have been there, in the same spot you are, and I have probably tried the investment service you are considering. If not, I am willing to have a look and add it to the list below.

Let me start by saying that you must connect with the approach of the investment service; if you don’t connect, it won’t work. If you have followed me for a while, you know my approach is building wealth through dividend growth investing and retiring from my portfolio’s dividend income. As such, the review of the investment services below is with an angle of using it for my investing strategy, but I’ll offer a hint of who it could be good for.

An important consideration is that DIY investing doesn’t mean doing it alone without any resources and without paying for any services. DIY investing means YOU ARE IN CHARGE, and you make all the decisions.

Here is the list of investment services in order of evaluation.

Dividend Snapshot

What It Is

It is a stock dividend growth and income stock screener for Canadian and US stocks. with 50+ data points to sort, filter and compare stocks with several ratings, including the proprietary opportunity score, chowder score, and tollbooth status, to name a few.

My Take

It’s perfect for me – obviously. I built the screeners to help me invest my next dollars.

I was looking for a way to decide which company to invest in and simplify all the data into simple metrics.

Who It’s For

It’s for investors who can do their own homework on the quality of the business and then let the numbers speak to the best opportunity.

It’s for investors who are dividend growth- or dividend-income-focused and want to compare various companies side by side.

Stock Rover

What It Is

Stock Rover is a powerful stock screening and research platform.

In addition to the ability to screen all the North American markets across hundreds of data points, you can chart many of the historical metrics over time. The Chowder Score, the Graham Number and many others are included.

Sometimes, a picture puts the data in a new light to convince you to act on a stock or avoid it.

It also helps you track your portfolio if you want to add it and gives you various views on your portfolio growth and performance. It doesn’t do the math on performance I like to have with contributions but you can see what you have and quickly see the ratings on your holdings.

My Take

Stock Rover is for you if you are really into data and want more than what the Dividend Snapshot screeners provide. For some people, it can be overwhelming, but the screeners can be set up to show you just what you want to see.

It has the best stock research I have seen on individual companies aggregating many data from various sources.

Who It’s For

If you want a second opinion, stock research is what you want.

If you want to do analysis and compare data, the screeners is what you want.

Dividend Stocks Rock

What it is

Dividend Stocks Rock (or DSR for short) is a service with various offering such as a newsletter, model portfolios, stock reviews and a portfolio review.

While there are model portfolios you can reference, Mike manages and shares his own portfolio using a fixed amount from a pension he received. He is transparent in what he holds, and his trades. It’s real money for him so it matters and it can create a discussion during his webinars.

The pro service provides a quarterly review of your portfolio as a subscriber with his ratings against each stock.

My Take

The pro-service portfolio review is unique and can really help investors who struggle to take action with their portfolio. Sometimes, when you have a holding that is down, the best course of action is to sell instead of hoping for a comeback, and the ratings provide an unbiased action.

It’s a good service for dividend growth investors who like a second opinion. Income investors can benefit from the portfolio review to avoid holding troubled stocks.

Who It’s For

Primarily for investors who want or need a second opinion with a buy, sell or hold. The portfolio review for pro subscribers is unique and many could benefit from it.

The Successful Investor

What it is

It’s a monthly newsletter with around 10 pages of content highlighting selected companies for that month with an update on the year’s aggressive pick.

The information clearly shows there is good research and provides clarity on the companies outlined but you are only exposed to the companies the editor decides to put in the month’s update.

My Take

When you first get going, the content is fresh and good. It usually covers a short list of holdings (mostly blue-chip stocks).

A Buy, Hold, Sell signal is usually highlighted but I have found over time that rarely there is a Sell signal even when the stock is struggling. As such, while the comments on the company are on point, the signals are simply buy or hold the Canadian blue-chip stocks mentioned.

Who It’s For

When you start, it can help you understand many Canadian businesses and how they operate. You get a second opinion on many of the Canadian blue-chip stocks and their potential risks.

It will not help you see if one option has a better upside over another. For example, both Fortis and Emera will be buy and the same for Royal Bank or TD Bank so you are on your own to pick the one you want to buy.

At some point, the newsletter will become redundant in value unless you really need a second opinion on your choices.

The Motley Fool Canada

What it is

Primarily a hyped stock picking service. I was in and out within a few days. You get in and to access more you need to spend more and more for the various ideas.

You have the option to purchase the Canadian or US version; each with their own various offerings.

My Take

As a dividend investor, it was not a good fit at all. Very little about dividend investing and very aggressive stocks being mentioned. The dividend investing option was added after I tried out the service.

The US version of Motley Fool is a little different and provides more coverage and insights.

Who It’s For

It’s not for those looking to build a portfolio, have some stability and get decent performance over time.

It’s for traders who actively manage their portfolio looking for a gem in rough – or ideas of gem in the rough. It can be worthwhile if one day you want to dedicate 5% or so to an aggressive pick – like a millionaire maker pick.

Simply Investing

What it is

This service is built on a specific value dividend investment strategy and presents investment opportunities with every monthly report.

The stock selection follows the 12 rules of Simply Investing against 240 stocks between the Canadian and US stock exchanges.

Kanwal uses the S&P500 as a benchmark, which I salute as being one of the best benchmarks to use for comparison. As I often say, if you can’t beat the S&P500, just buy the S&P500 index.

My Take

Kanwal offers a solid service for DIY investors needing some support. If you feel the price you pay and the valuation is critical to your portfolio strategy, this service can be for you.

However, I found it was not finding the dividend growth companies I was finding and looking for. The Simply Investing approach is value based and not as good for future dividend growth.

Who It’s For

You should know by now that I break down investing in 2 phases (accumulation and retirement) and I feel the service is more for someone in retirement. If you look at the holdings in the portfolio he shares, it’s really focused on big boring blue-chip stocks with steady business but little growth.

Stock Trades

What it is

While the service started as a weekly bull list for all Canadian stocks (small or big companies), it quickly evolved to include dividend stocks and upcoming Canadian IPOs.

It has a screener with limited data for comparisons with pre-calculated scores and a Q&A section along with several model portfolios. 

My Take

The biggest attraction of the service is the bull list to find a Canadian millionaire maker. I liked that about their approach and the details behind the picks.

However, it has evolved to try and do more with dividend stocks in a bull way and that’s not resonating at all with me as a dividend investor.

For example, is on the list to buy and from everything I know, it’s just an income dividend stock and not a dividend growth stock for accumulation, so is that a short-term recommendation? When do you sell? How long do you hold? What type of portfolio is it for? A retiree portfolio or a dividend growth portfolio?

When it came to the weekly picks, the goal was clear. The same applies to IPOs, but when it comes to dividend stocks, it’s just not clear.

I don’t believe in the model portfolios because I don’t believe the service owners use them for their own portfolios. It’s a gimmick to have features listed on the sales page to attract customers. I have never seen anyone following a model portfolio.

The Q&A is just filled with “What do you think of stock X?”, “Should I sell Y?”, and so on.

The website has turned into another clickbait site just like the Motley Fool, and the email list consists of a selling funnel with “early bird” discounts … only to have the discount last the first year (something you find only in the small prints). I find those discounts purely disingenuous and focused on personal profits rather than customer satisfaction.

Who It’s For

The strength is the bull list idea for Canadian millionaire-makers’ ideas. If you are looking for ideas like that, give it a go, but be aware you are paying $200+ for the ideas annually. 

5i Research

What It Is

The service is provided by veterans of the financial industry. It provides excellent research and analysis.

It focuses on quality over quantity and primarily focuses on Canadian stocks to build a portfolio. It considers all stocks from the Canadian market, be it small or large, and whether or not it pays a dividend.

My Take

It’s not useful to build a dividend growth portfolio. The consideration of dividends is mostly towards building a retirement portfolio. The income portfolio is really more for someone retired.

Remember, if you focus on income too early, you leave a lot of potential profit on the table. Just look at my portfolio to see that or are not making me any money today.

The growth stocks mentioned are non-dividend payers and might be better options for millionaire-maker stocks.

Who It’s For

I think it’s a second opinion service for building your portfolio.

If you need to have someone validating your choices, it’s a great option. The Q&A is full of questions seeking opinions.

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