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New banking and investing apps help you manage your accounts on the go

by Jim Sloan

The number of investors managing their investments via mobile devices--such as smart phones and tablets--rose 125 percent in 2010 from the previous year.

Although the total percentage of stock trades conducted via mobile devices is still very small--about 4 percent, according to USA Today--the increasing popularity of the mobile approach has banks and brokerages rolling out new tools and apps that allow you to get stock quotes, monitor your checking account balances and place trades.

On the go money management

E-Trade, TD Ameritrade and Fidelity all have software that runs on Android operating systems, iPhones and iPads, and nearly all major banks and brokerages have a mobile version of their websites that work on these devices.

Although many consumers can manage their various accounts--their checking account, savings accounts and investment accounts--from one bank or brokerage site, others are using third-party sites that bring together different accounts that are in many different locations.

Some of the best third party apps for pulling together these diverse accounts are from Pageonce and Mint.com. Both free apps let you view savings accounts, your checking account and your brokerage account from one view. You can also check your money market account, and look for the best cd rates and savings account rates. They'll also tell you if you're meeting your monthly personal budget--key information if you're hoping to increase the amount your putting into you're savings accounts or money market account.

Pageonce also lets you track the other types of currency that are important in your life--frequent flier miles and cell phone usage.

Although mobile investments were expected to take off 10 years ago, the growing interest has the best banks and brokerages thinking this time around the trend will continue, USA Today said.

Where do I click?

Getting these new apps is a snap. If you want the Charles Schwab mobile site, for instance, you just go to their website and the mobile site will load automatically for you. Other banks and brokerages have unique addresses, including Wells Fargo and E-Trade. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, mobile sites give you're the freedom to do just about everything, from buying and selling stocks to transferring money from your savings accounts to your brokerage account.

Of course, you'll need a user name and password for many of these transactions, although many apps will allow you to check stock prices, money market rates and savings rates for free even if you don't have an account with that particular bank or brokerage.

Not all apps work on every device, but companies say this approach allows them to develop more high-power apps. For instance, TD Ameritrade's iPad app offers a seamless and simple approach to executing complex stock-option trades. But that app won't work with Windows Phone 7. Another example is the Schwab app, which won't work with BlackBerry.

Apps with investor appeal

Although many apps are designed for the average consumer, other apps will appeal to the hard-core investor. USA Today, for instance, provides apps that let you monitor stocks and investments that you're interested in, and Yahoo's MarketDash for iPad gives you stock tracking and stock charts.

The latest mobile investing app to hit the free market is InvestingAnswers, which is available for iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads and Android devices. According to the designers, Digital Kozak, this app explains complex investing topics in plain language. It comes with hundreds of articles, features and tutorials covering investments, trading, analysis and bonds. Its dictionary includes financial terms as well as explanations for common real estate and mortgage terms.

Merrill Lynch also launched a new iPad app this month that lets you move money between Merrill and Bank of America accounts while providing customized watch lists, alerts and the latest market news.

Disclaimer:This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

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