Knowledge is power, as the famous saying goes, and few places is that more evident than in the world of investing. Since 1982, Bloomberg Terminal has been a beacon of light guiding investors by providing news, data, in-depth research, and a unique suite of trading tools to traders’ desktops.
Bloomberg Terminal remains relevant now, decades after its launch — but technology moves at the speed of business and there’s some ready, and often cheaper, competition.
The early 1980’s brought us many of the tools we use for investing. IBM launched the IBM PC. Apple released the first Mac. Bloomberg Terminal reached traders’ desktops during the same era, bringing an instant wealth of knowledge and financial data that would be impossible to assemble quickly with other tools of the time.
The Bloomberg Terminal, also called Bloomberg Professional Services, is a software system designed specifically for trading desks and financial markets. Users can place trades and monitor real-time financial market data.
The proprietary system also gives access to breaking news and provides messaging capability to keep the team in constant communication to strategize or to move quickly when data changes or news breaks. Knowledge may be power, but it isn’t free — or even cheap.
Bloomberg subscribers can pay $20,000 to $25,000 per seat per year for fast access to information and the tools available with the proprietary trading platform.
Bloomberg Terminal has had its competitors in past years, but by providing a unique value proposition has risen to become the gold standard for financial market news, data, and trading tools. The famous black-screen terminal has become nearly synonymous with Wall Street.
Simply staying with Bloomberg Terminal requires no retraining for trading firms and no downtime while computing systems are installed or traders and other financial market staff learn to navigate a new system. A large part of Bloomberg Terminal’s advantage for current users is that it’s already there — and it’s proven.
The price for Bloomberg Terminal’s worldwide data and powerful financial market tools, making the terminal a status symbol, is likely also its Achilles heel. At $20,000 per year or higher for each seat, outfitting a multi-user office can be a pricey proposition.
In the fast-paced world of financial markets, sharing often isn’t an option, and loses the benefit of messaging and viewing the same data in real time with another colleague or broker whether ten feet away or hundreds of miles away.
Critics have charged Bloomberg Terminal has been slow to react to market changes and the need for system upgrades to support newer hardware, such as the long wait for export compatibility with 64-bit systems.
If you gather a room full of traders and brokers and ask them each what their favorite feature is within Bloomberg Terminal, you’re likely to get more answers than you can process. Depending on your primary markets and how you use the data provided by Bloomberg Terminal, the software will have different advantages for each user.
Primary considerations for alternatives include:
Take a look below to see how Bloomberg Terminal’s alternatives measure up.
Koyfin is a free platform created by Wall Street analysts who were frustrated that Bloomberg was so expensive and out of reach for most investors. Their mission is to provide powerful analytics to research stocks and market trends which are accessible to all investors. Koyfin intends to always have a free offering but in the future they will have a paid tier with additional data and advanced features.
The best part of Koyfin is that it’s beautifully designed and easy to use. They have dashboard and charting tools covering equities, company financials, analyst estimates, valuation, ETFs, Mutual Funds, FX, bond yields, economic data and news/twitter.
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At $12,000 per year, FactSet provides an affordable alternative to Bloomberg Terminal and provides financial data across all sectors.
FactSet is well known for its powerful Excel plugin which enables custom Excel macros. FactSet now also provides “scrubbed data”, similar to its competitor Capital IQ, scouring data buried in footnotes and disclosures to provide normalized non-GAAP data.
Unlike some of its competitors, S&P Capital IQ is a web-based application, available from any computer, making it more convenient than dedicated terminals or software that can only be installed on a fixed number of machines, such as FactSet.
Similar to FactSet, Capital IQ also provides scrubbed data, a must-have for investment bankers and related firms. Capital IQ’s strengths are convenient access, scrubbed data — including links to sources, and lower cost. At $13,000 per year per seat, Capital IQ provides an attractive value proposition.
Yewno|Edge aggregates both fundamental and alternative data to give traders actionable insights at an attractive price point. Unlike Bloomberg, which will cost you thousands per year, Yewno|Edge is available for free during a 2-week trial period, then only costs $135 per month.
Yewno|Edge takes the real-time news of Bloomberg a step further by making the data work for you. The platform uses AI technology to calculate exposure to ill-defined market influencing concepts like “Trade War” and “Data Privacy,” so that you can assess risk through a new lens. The platform is made up of four features:
Rather than interpreting headlines yourself with Bloomberg, Yewno|Edge uses them to compute risk so you can make the best trades possible.
Launched initially as a messaging service to connect financial firms, Symphony is expanding its service through a partnership that will bring Thomson Reuters news, data, and analytics to the Symphony platform. The startup, launched in 2014, is led by Goldman Sachs and includes other powerhouse investors such as Blackrock, JP Morgan, Citi, and Morgan Stanley.
These are world class players with a vested interest in Symphony’s success. As brokerage and financial firms, they also have an acute understanding of what brokers and financial market experts need from the software as well as having an intimate knowledge of their competition, Bloomberg Terminal, having used it for years. Pricing for the service, although still less extensive than
Bloomberg’s offering, starts at $20 per license per month for small businesses, with customized pricing for enterprise clients.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention our own financial data solution, Benzinga Pro. Starting at $99 a month, Benzinga Pro offers a real-time newsfeed as headlines break on activist stakes, earnings releases, conference call key points, analyst ratings, rumors, the biggest movers, and many more actionable alerts.
From the ground up, Benzinga Pro was designed for average, everyday investors. From charting tools powered by tradingview.com, to an Excel compatible watch list, Benzinga Pro has all the tools day traders need. You can screen U.S stocks by market capitalization, price, and sector. The platform even gives allows you to view a breakdown of a stock’s peer group, financial statements, and view essential SEC filings.
Much like Bloomberg, Benzinga Pro is a direct feed of exclusive news bolstered by an aggregation of online news sources. Users even have the option to chat with Benzinga reporters to better understand what’s going on in the stock market.
Which financial data solution you choose isn’t always governed by cost alone. Some tools are better suited for certain tasks than others and there’s value in more comprehensive tools that offer more functionality.
However, if your foreseeable needs are specialized or narrow in scope a multi-tool solution might be overkill and also might not offer enough specialization for your financial market niche. At costs of up to $2,000 per seat per month, choosing a financial market data provider is a decision that merits in-depth research.
By choosing the right tool to help guide your decisions and provide market insight, the cost can become a secondary consideration, however, because the right tool or suite can help you make more informed decisions, connect you with the right players in your niche, and help you prevent costly trading mistakes.
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