App Promises Institutional Data In The Palm Of Your Hand

Imagine institutional investment information that fits on a smartphone screen—there’s an app for that.

Scout Finance is an iPhone and iPad application that gives investors access to fundamental data on investments. It’s now available for download after a “soft launch” last year.

“It’s superfast, it has great data, and it gets investors focused on fundamentals up to speed on a mobile device,” says Vivek Nasta, the CEO and co-founder of New York-based Scout. “It’s useful to investment professionals and advisors because they spend so much time on the road or in meetings that it isn’t reasonable for them to seek the information on a desktop or a seven-screen Bloomberg Terminal.”

Nasta, the former global head of mobile at Thomson Reuters, left his position in 2012 to focus on the financial industry’s mobile problem: On-demand data is not readily accessible to investors, advisors and managers on the move.

Scout Finance’s solution is to allow investors to build a watch list of stocks, then access research, filings, operation data, reports and pricing on more than 6,000 equities through their iPhones using one-touch navigation.

Investors can use the technology to access presentations, earnings call transcripts and audio and other releases. The application can also deliver historical financial data covering the past five years of each company’s history.

“We’re on a mission to change how financial professionals trade and do their research,” Nasta says. “People really like being able to access documents or earnings calls with one click, and then being able to talk to a client about a company or to arrange a trade for themselves without having to be in the office.”

Though Scout Finance is not a trading application, Nasta says the ease of use can be a time-saver for institutional investors and hedge funds when compared with traditional products like a Bloomberg Terminal.

Scout also gives investors access to articles from a variety of news wires, publications and blogs, and push notifications can be set up to alert users when new information is made available. The application auto-caches documents so users can read offline when their wireless access is interrupted.

“Because of the watch list, it learns a user’s preferences and the stocks they typically look at,” Nasta says. “So if they’re in a situation where they’re without a connection, if they’re going through a tunnel and they’d otherwise be out of luck, they can still access the information.”

Previously, fundamental data was only available to mobile users if they signed up for the expensive desktop offerings from Bloomberg or Thomson Reuters, which retail for tens of thousands of dollars.

In the last two decades, low-cost online options like Google or Yahoo! Finance have delivered similar information, but are often criticized for inaccurate or outdated data, difficult navigation, advertisements and limited free features.

“The public sources don’t have a strong interest in aggregating this information in a way that’s focused for financial advisors or investors,” Nasta says. “Their thought is that you’re already on a web browser, so go look for your own information. Since the information is free, they’ve discounted the value in aggregating and presenting it, so we’re left paying for a big, expensive terminal, or trying to find what we need via these siloed sources of content.”

Scout Finance’s aim, then, is to not only free advisors and investors from their dependency on a handful of financial reporting firms, but also to uproot them from their desktop computers.

While Scout can’t distill all of the information from the multiple monitors on a trading desk’s Bloomberg Terminal to an iPhone screen, it does provide the most essential fundamental equity information.

“The terminals from Bloomberg and Thomson aren’t going anywhere; they’re always going to be important for big firms,” Nasta says. “We’re not trying to replace them. For family offices, wealth managers and equities-driven individual investors who might not have access to the big terminals, though, this hits the spot. Our core market is financial advisors, no question.”

Scout Finance’s research application joins other mobile offerings, like the commission-free trading app Robinhood and the Alphabet-backed securities messaging app Symphony, in attempting to liberate investors from desktop computers.

“The financial services is the one market in the world that has not been disrupted by mobile technology. If you look at any other professional vertical, you’ll see a credible mobile solution associated with it,” Nasta says. “For some reason, in finance, where data is the most critical and mobility is the key, we don’t have these sorts of tools. We think it’s about time. It’s going to happen, and you’re going to see more products like this.”

For a limited time, the application can be downloaded for free from the App Store. A premium option giving users access to unlimited company data is available on a one-month trial basis, and investors have the option of continuing their premium subscription for $9.99 per month.