How To Build An Investment Portfolio App
Activities like stock trading and managing ones’ investment portfolio aren’t exactly simple! Even experienced people need tools and guidance, therefore, newbies need even more help.
Earlier, investors needed help from professionals with deep expertise in the world of investment portfolio management, however, that costs money. As I explained in our guide “How to build a stock trading app”, the advent of cloud, mobile, and analytics have empowered people to manage their trading activities.
It’s the same with investment portfolio management, where helpful apps now assist both experienced and new investors. There’s a lucrative market for such apps, therefore, many entrepreneurs are rushing to tap into this market.
Are you planning to enter the market for these apps? If you are, then you ought to read this guide on how to build an investment portfolio app.
How popular are investment portfolio apps?
Investment portfolio apps belong to the category of finance apps. This category of apps is growing in popularity, as you can see from the following:
- A November 2019 report states that in key markets, this category of apps saw the greatest increase in reach. The reach of this category increased by 27.8%, as you can read in “App download and usage statistics (2019)”.
- A February 2018 report noted that nearly two in every three American smartphone users use at least one finance app. Read more about this finding in “Financial apps gaining popularity”.
An example of an investment portfolio app
Let’s review an example of a popular investment portfolio app. Personal Capital is a highly popular app in this category, and it’s available on the web, Android, and iOS. This app offers the following features:
- It has a high-yield account called “Personal Capital Cash”, which helps users earn more on their spare cash.
- The app allows its users to manage all their accounts in one place.
- You can get a host of free tools as part of this app to track your investments.
- Users can create a budget and track their spending against it.
- The app allows users to track their income, expenses, and transactions by categories.
- Personal Capital offers a “Retirement Planner” feature that helps users to plan and track their retirement-related savings.
- You can get personalized investment advice.
- The app works with wearable devices that are compatible with Android phones and iPhones.
- Personal Capital has robust security features, and the app has a strong compliance posture concerning privacy regulations.
You can also find other examples of investment portfolio apps in “The 5 best investment tracking apps”.
Building an investment portfolio app
How do you build an investment portfolio app? I explain the steps, which are as follows:
1. Decide on the features to offer
Onboard an experienced project manager (PM), a competent IT architect, and a team of business analysts (BAs) with experience of working in the financial services industry. You need to define the project scope.
I recommend the following:
- Offer features like that of “Personal Capital”.
- Build a web, an Android, and an iOS app.
- Support English-speaking users.
You need to determine which features you will offer in your “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP), subsequently, you can enhance the app based on market feedback. The Agile methodology works best for such iterative development, as I had explained in “Waterfall vs Agile: Which methodology is right for your project”.
2. Plan your MVP
Meticulously plan your MVP so that you can adequately test the market with a functional app and validate your assumptions. You need to do the following:
- Develop an in-depth understanding of your customers and what constitutes “value” for them.
- Determine which features have the highest positive impact for your customers using tools like “Pain and gain map”.
- Prioritize features for your MVP with tools like “Prioritization matrix”.
Our guide “5 tips to create a sleek MVP” can help you with this.
3. Define the development approach
Formulate an effective development approach for the MVP and the overall app, and consider the following:
- Design and develop your apps keeping in mind that you might support more languages in the future. Follow “app internationalization” best practices like keeping the content separate from the code, as explained in “The ultimate guide to mobile app internationalization”.
- Create native Android and iOS apps since they offer the best user experience and performance.
- Use Node.js for developing the web app, which helps with scalability and performance.
- Focus on design and development instead of IT infrastructure management, and use managed cloud services like “Platform-as-a-Service” (PaaS) and “Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service” (MBaaS) for that.
- Design and develop your “Application Programming Interfaces” (APIs) for core features while using market-leading 3rd party APIs for non-core features.
- Focus on security since your app will process sensitive information.
- Use a mobile device and browser lab on the cloud to improve your test coverage.
Read our guide “What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?” to learn more about this approach.
4. Plan to secure your app
Your proposed investment portfolio app will process sensitive information such as bank account details and personal identity. You ought to secure your app, therefore, follow our guide “How to secure your Fintech app” and take the following steps:
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) so that you don’t rely solely on passwords.
- Incorporate industry-standard data encryption algorithms like AES-256 to protect sensitive data.
- Use next-generation firewall solutions and robust antivirus solutions.
- Make judicious use of cloud computing, e.g., you might need to use a “Hybrid cloud” deployment. Here, you host sensitive information on a private cloud whereas you can store other information on a public cloud.
- Take cognizance of top application security risks like injection, XML external entities (XXE), cross-site scripting (XSS), etc. Read the “Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) top 10 application security risks – 2017” report for guidance, and proactively mitigate such risks.
- Always remain on top of the emerging security threats by using real-time threat intelligence capabilities.
- Secure your APIs with the help of authentication tokens, encryption, API gateways, quotas, throttling, etc. Read “What is API security?” for guidance.
- Make compliance and security testing a priority, and don’t push them as the last item in a checklist! Embrace “Compliance-as-code” to incorporate such tests early in your CI/CD pipeline, as explained in “Compliance-as-code: Addressing compliance challenges through automation”.
5. Find a PaaS platform for web app development
Sign-up for AWS Elastic Beanstalk, the PaaS offering from AWS to expedite the web app development. You can get the following advantages:
- Elastic Beanstalk, like other reputed PaaS platforms, manages the cloud infrastructure, networking, operating system, runtime environment, and middleware. You can focus on design and development.
- Elastic Beanstalk has robust DevOps and auto-scaling solutions, which make testing, deployment, and scaling of the web app easier.
- You can easily integrate databases and APIs when using Elastic Beanstalk.
I have explained the advantages of PaaS platforms like Elastic Beanstalk in “10 top PaaS providers for 2020”.
6. Sign-up with an MBaaS provider to expedite your mobile app development
Mobile backend development and maintenance takes considerable time, however, you can simplify your project by using an MBaaS platform like AWS Amplify. You get the following benefits:
- Since MBaaS providers manage the cloud infrastructure and persistent storage, you don’t need to build and maintain the mobile backend.
- MBaaS platforms enable you to easily implement security features, moreover, you can easily implement features like user management, push notifications, etc.
- Integrating APIs and scaling your mobile app is easier with an MBaaS platform, as I have explained in “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?”.
7. Onboard your development team
You need to onboard the following roles to form a complete development team:
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- UI designers;
- Web developers with Node.js skills;
- Native Android developers with Java skills;
- Native iOS developers with experience in the popular Swift language;
- DevOps engineers.
Finding competent people can be hard, therefore, use our guide “How to find a good software developer”.
8. Find an API solution to integrate market data
You need to display market data in your investment portfolio app, however, it’s not a core feature. Use a market-leading 3rd party API solution for this, and I recommend Intrinio.
You can get a wide range of market data from Intrinio, e.g.:
Read more in the “Financial Data Marketplace” page on the Intrinio website. Consult the “Getting started” guide on the Intrinio webpage to learn how you can use these APIs, and check out the Intrinio pricing page.
9. Get a bulk-SMS API solution to implement the push notifications feature
You need the “push notifications” feature to engage your users. Use a 3rd party bulk-SMS API solution to implement this non-core feature, and Twilio is a great choice.
10. Organize your team for productivity
You need a productive team, therefore, organize the team to foster collaboration. Use “Scrum”, a proven technique to manage Agile projects. Take the following steps:
- Form a “Scrum” team, where the PM performs the role of a “Scrum master”.
- “Scrum teams” are small, cross-functional teams where developers and testers work together.
- A “Product owner” provides the requirements in a document called “Product Backlog”, and an empowered scrum team estimates them. The team schedules the requirements in “Sprints”, i.e., iterations.
- The team holds “Daily stand-up meetings” for tracking the project status, moreover, it obtains the approval from the business stakeholders by demonstrating the app in a “Sprint review meeting”.
- A scrum team also holds a “Sprint retrospective meeting” to learn lessons from a sprint they complete.
11. Develop APIs for your core features
Managing investment portfolios, tracking income/expenditure, linking accounts, budgeting, etc. are the core features of your app. You should design and develop RESTful APIs for these so that you can fully utilize your business capabilities. Do the following:
- Use an effective tool like Postman for development and testing of your APIs, and document your APIs using Swagger.
- Utilize your AWS cloud services account for hosting the APIs.
- As I have stated earlier, you need to secure your APIs.
- Manage the development, staging, and production environments well.
- Use robust database solutions like PostgreSQL and MongoDB.
- Design the URL paths smartly, and formulate effective rules for requests/responses.
Read “How to build RESTful API for your mobile app?” for more guidance.
12. Design user-friendly and elegant UIs
Your web, Android, and iOS apps need user-friendly UIs that also appeal to users. Design effective UIs by following the below guidelines:
- “User interface design guidelines: 10 rules of thumb” for designing the UI of the web app;
- “Human Interface Guidelines” for the iOS app UI design;
- “Material Design” guidelines for designing the Android app UI.
13. Develop the planned web app
- Code the app using js.
- Integrate the APIs you have developed, moreover, integrate the 3rd party APIs.
- Experitest offers its mobile device & browser lab on the cloud so that you can test your app against a wide range of mobile devices and browsers. Sign-up for it and use it.
- Test and deploy the app using the AWS DevOps tools. You can find the instructions for using these tools in “Deploying Node.js applications to AWS Elastic Beanstalk”.
14. Develop the planned mobile apps
Use Java to code the Android app, and use Android Studio. This involves the following steps:
- Integrate the APIs.
- Test the app using Espresso, and the Experitest mobile device lab on the cloud.
- Publish the app to Google Play by using the instructions in “Publish the app”.
- Code the necessary API calls.
- Test the app using XCTest. You should also use the Experitest mobile device lab on the cloud.
- Read “Submit your apps to the App Store”, and publish the app to the Apple App Store using appropriate instructions.
Planning to launch your investment portfolio app?
This guide will certainly help, however, creating a successful investment portfolio app in a competitive market can be complex. Engage a competent and trustworthy software development company for such projects, and read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” to find one.