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build an investment portfolio app

How to Build Portfolio App Solutions

Estimated read time: 18 minutes
Aran Davies

Aran Davies

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Are you wondering how to build portfolio app solutions?

Recently, online portfolio apps are gaining popularity in the financial industry as they provide tools and features to investors to manage their investment portfolios, track performance, and make informed investment decisions.

The top six investment apps were said to garner a collective 131.22 million downloads globally between 2015 and 2023. Moreover, the global market size for online investment platforms is expected to reach USD 5.90 billion by 2030.

Developing an investment portfolio requires a deep understanding of fintech development, application security, complex API handling, industry regulations, etc.

If you don’t have a professional team with this relevant expertise to take on the task, then submit a request for a complimentary discovery call, and one of our tech account managers who managed similar projects will contact you shortly.

You are making a viable investment choice if you plan to build an innovative portfolio app for the growing market, as a large target audience is ready to use such an app for investment purposes.

Let’s discuss how to build a portfolio app in detail.

Develop a Portfolio App

Take the following steps to build portfolio app solutions for your potential clients in the fintech sector:

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 on your customers using tools like “Pain and gain map”.
  • Prioritize features for your MVP with tools like “Prioritization matrix”.

Our guide to creating an MVP can help you with this.

3. Define the approach to building a portfolio app

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, etc.
  • 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 “OWASP Top Ten” report for guidance, and proactively mitigate such risks.
  • Always remain on top of 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.
  • Make compliance and security testing a priority, and don’t push them as the last item on a checklist! Embrace “Compliance-as-code” to incorporate such tests early in your CI/CD pipeline.

5. Find a PaaS platform for web app development

Sign-up for AWS Elastic Beanstalk, the PaaS offering from AWS to expedite 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 AWS Elastic Beanstalk in our guide to PaaS providers.

6. Sign-up with an MBaaS provider to expedite your mobile app development

Mobile backend development and maintenance take 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 to build a portfolio app

You need to onboard the following roles to form a complete development team:

  • UI designers;
  • Front-end web developer with JavaScript skills;
  • Back-end web developers with Node.js skills;
  • Native Android developers with Java skills;
  • Native iOS developers with experience in the popular Swift language;
  • Testers;
  • DevOps engineers.

Finding a competent software developer 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.:

  • Prices;
  • Financials;
  • ETFs, etc.

Read more on 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.

Use the SMS API from Twilio and consult the messaging services guide. Check out the Twilio pricing page.

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 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.

Use a modern PM tool like Asana to manage such a team, and read our guide “How to build a Scrum development team?” for more insights.

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 the 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:

13. Develop the planned web app

Use Eclipse, the popular IDE to code the web app. You also need to use “Enide (Studio) 2015 – Node.js, JavaScript, Java, and Web Tools”. Take the following steps:

  • Code the app using JavaScript and Node.js.
  • Integrate the APIs you have developed, moreover, integrate the 3rd party APIs.
  • Digital.ai offers a web and mobile cloud testing solution for you to test the app against a wide range of devices and browsers. Sign-up 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 Digital.ai testing solution.
  • Publish the app into Google Play.

Code the iOS app using Swift, the popular modern programming language to code apps for Apple devices. You should use Xcode and take the following steps:

  • Code the necessary API calls.
  • Test the app using XCTest and the Digital.ai testing solution.
  • Submit your iOS app to the Apple App Store.

Tips and Traps for Developing Investment Portfolio Management Apps

We offer a few tips for building successful investment apps. Additionally, we highlight a few risks to consider when you develop an investment app. These are as follows:

A. Analyze your business capabilities and determine the service to offer

Investment portfolio management apps can potentially offer a broad range of services. You might have strength in some of them, whereas you might not have enough expertise in others.

The following are just a few of these services:

  • Managing investment accounts;
  • Managing investments in mutual funds;
  • Offering a portfolio tracker;
  • Helping users manage their personal finance;
  • Investment research;
  • Brokerage services;
  • Wealth management;
  • Tax reporting;
  • Portfolio analysis;
  • Helping customers gain financial literacy;
  • Tracking cash flows;
  • Providing investment news feeds;
  • Tracking market movements;
  • Providing up-to-date financial information to customers;
  • Cryptocurrency trading;
  • Providing robo advisors;
  • Helping to improve your investment performance;
  • Wealth management;
  • Managing retirement accounts.

You might have expertise in portfolio monitoring and retirement planning. Focus on them. You can then build an app that reflects your true expertise.

Avoid the risk of focusing on areas where you lack the expertise.

B. Hire a development team with knowledge of investment-tracking apps

You need a software development team that understands how investing tracking apps work. Team members need technical knowledge, however, they need knowledge of investment apps.

For example, they should understand the following:

  • Managing financial accounts;
  • Handling brokerage accounts;
  • How asset allocation works;
  • How to buy stocks;
  • Investment account management;
  • How financial institutions work;
  • Functioning of stock trackers;
  • Portfolio tracking and portfolio management;
  • How different financial products like mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, etc., work;
  • Functioning of trading platforms;
  • How robo advisors work;
  • Financial metrics like expense ratio;
  • How crypto exchanges work.

You need developers with financial literacy for portfolio app creation. Avoid the risk of asking only programming-related technical questions.

C. Maintain a high quality of content if you provide professional financial advice via your app

You might want to provide financial advice to new, intermediate, and advanced investors via your portfolio website or app. The market for such content is lucrative. However, maintain a high quality of general and editorial content if you provide such advice.

Even advanced investors look for high-quality investment tips. Many self-directed investors use Google Sheets, etc., to track their investments. They need relevant content.

Beginner or intermediate stock and mutual fund investors need even more specialized content. They might need content that covers the following areas:

  • Fundamentals of investment management;
  • Enhancing a portfolio’s performance;
  • How to trade stocks;
  • In-depth analysis of the past performance of stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs;
  • How to evaluate the performance of other assets;
  • Identifying the non-performing stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs;
  • How to connect investment accounts;
  • Calculating the expected dividend income and capital gains;
  • Socially responsible investing;
  • Retirement planning tools;
  • Making sound financial decisions and investment decisions;
  • Interpreting financial data like earnings forecasts;
  • Adjusting risk tolerance according to different financial situations;
  • Net worth tracking;
  • Trading commissions;
  • Dealing with fractional shares;
  • Tax reporting;
  • Commission-free trading;
  • Setting financial goals;
  • When to buy and hold stocks;
  • Creating wealth management plans;
  • Advisory or brokerage services;
  • Evaluating insurance policies;
  • Navigating the stock market complexities.

Don’t compromise with strict editorial integrity. Avoid the risk of hiring a below-par editorial team. Publish accurate and genuine reviews of stocks and funds.

New investors, self-directed investors, hands-off investors, retirement investors, and even experienced individual investors want expert advice. They should get to see genuine reviews of other financial products.

Opinions expressed by reviewers should be supported by facts. Provide content that shortens the learning curve.

D. Explore relevant investment tracking apps to get excellent ideas

You might already have a great product idea. However, exploring the best investment tracking apps can give you a new perspective before you start to build a portfolio app. You can find them on Google Play or Apple App Store.

The following are some of the best investment apps:

  • Personal Capital;
  • Active Trader;
  • Yahoo Finance;
  • Stock Rover;
  • Alpha Premium;
  • Morningstar Premium;
  • Retirement Planner;
  • Quicken Premier;
  • Seeking Alpha.

Some of the companies mentioned above offer free versions. Paid versions naturally have more features than free apps though. Some of the apps offer a free trial.

Quite a few of these apps provide important research tools, analysis tools, and tools for other services. Personal Capital’s free tools are examples.

Evaluate the automated tools offered by different apps. Analyze how they handle different functions, e.g.:

  • Investment tracking;
  • Advanced reporting;
  • Managing investment information;
  • Managing the taxable accounts;
  • Tracking the portfolio holdings;
  • Tax loss harvesting;
  • Providing individual information security to actual members;
  • Tracking the cash flow and account balances;
  • Making algorithm-based investing decisions;
  • Reporting foreign income of users;
  • Linking bank accounts with brokerage accounts;
  • Providing financial calculators;
  • Managing linked accounts.

Check out their annual fees. Analyze whether customers are billed annually or monthly. Study the business model of apps with a low fee. Find out how they make profits despite charging lower fees.

Study and analyze the relevant investment tracking apps. Avoid analyzing all investment tracking apps though. Even some of the best apps might not be relevant to the products and services you will offer.

E. Simplicity is the hallmark of the best investing apps

The best investment tracking apps are simple and easy to use. There are good reasons for that!

Managing all your investments can be hard. New investors especially find it hard to manage and track investments. They need to manage portfolios. Investors need to manage savings accounts, investing accounts, taxable accounts, etc.

Beginner investors can find it hard to manage interest payments, trading fees, financial relationships, portfolio performance, investment fees, account minimum balance, and so much more! The last thing they want is a complex investing app.

Best investment apps help users to track the performance of their portfolio easily. Such apps provide a holistic view to users. These apps provide tools to manage your portfolio better.

Strive for simplicity. Avoid offering too many features on one screen, which makes it hard for users.

Planning to Launch Your Investment Portfolio App?

You can offer many innovative features to investors via an investment portfolio app, including a robo-advisor, data analytics, goal-oriented investing, etc.

However, a high-quality investment app requires outstanding knowledge of the fintech industry, compliance frameworks, secure development tools, etc.

If you do not have such specialized talent on your team to take up the complex app development task, then why not take a moment to fill out a DevTeamSpace project specification form.

One of our team will get back to you to answer any questions that you might have and to link you with fintech developers with experience in building similar past projects.

All our developers are skilled in advanced development technologies and have profound industry knowledge. Moreover, an experienced technical manager supervises all our developers and manages all the projects.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Build a Portfolio App

How to build a portfolio app?

You need to do the following to build an investment portfolio app:
Determine the features you will offer, prioritize features for the MVP, and plan the project.
Choose a cloud platform, technology stack, and development tools.
Form a development team and use the “Scrum” technique to manage the project.
Develop APIs, design the UI, and code the other components.
Test and deploy the app.

2. Is it easy to build an investment portfolio app?

While you can use app builders to create apps in just a few minutes and modern development tools and cloud platforms can expedite app development, building an investment portfolio app can be complex. Such a portfolio site or app processes sensitive personal data, therefore, application security carries a lot of importance. API integration in such apps can be complex. You need experienced project managers and developers to develop such apps.

3. Which are the top investment portfolio apps?

There are multiple apps in the market to help with investment portfolios, such as a one-page portfolio, personal portfolio, etc. These include:
Personal Capital;
SigFig;
Morningstar.


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