July 2, 2007 / 9:22 PM / 11 years ago

Covestor creates stage for virtual money managers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Think you’re better than Warren Buffett and ready to provide the proof?

Individual investors can show off their stock-picking skills and make a name for themselves at Covestor LLC, whose Web site lets members share their investment picks and pans.

But unlike many other financial networking platforms, members are held to similar standards as a money manager in that Covestor members must upload brokerage statements to verify their actual holdings.

“Thousands of bloggers out there are providing their views on which stocks are a ‘buy’ or a ‘sell’,” Rikki Tahta, co-founder and chairman of Covestor, said in an interview. “Covestor is not fantasy investing -- it enables you to prove that you are putting your money where your mouth is and to be rewarded for your hard work.”

Tahta said on Monday that the company is partnering with popular stock-blogging site SeekingAlpha.com, which includes more than 400 contributors providing stock market opinion and analysis, reflecting the rising popularity and influence of financial networking.

Yaser Anwar, a 21-year-old college student who has become something of a rising investment star, blogging on trading at yaseranwar.com, said he uses Covestor because “all of your trades are verifiable so you can’t just recommend something.”

Anwar, whose missives on the markets have been frequently quoted on Wall Street Journal’s Web site, said his personal portfolio is up 25 percent. “Covestor adds more transparency to bloggers and to everyone who claims they have a track record,” Anwar added.

After an account is created at Covestor, the company gathers that member’s trades and holdings -- using a secure link provided by Yodlee into his or her brokerage accounts.

Investors also have the choice of plugging in their transactions manually. Tahta said reported trades are later verified by cross-checking against the investor’s paper brokerage records.

Other members on the www.covestor.com site can then track the real-time investments of those with similar portfolio strategies.

If Covestor members agree with another investor’s take on a stock or sector, members can allocate a small or big portion of their own investment dollars to mirror that investor’s investment style.

“The more successful a Covestor member is, the more followers he or she will grab,” said Thata. “That happens with real money managers, the better they perform the more assets they will see flowing into their funds.”

All participants can choose to publish their real names or remain anonymous by using a screen-name alias. Trade sizes are not disclosed, merely the stock or securities purchased and the price.

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