Q&A Interview with Rob Koyfman, Founder/CEO of Koyfin
Today’s online space is loaded with thousands of tools for investors to better view, understand, learn, share, and trade in the stock market. There are naturally many services that don’t offer any value at all, but then there are some that rapidly grow into household tools that every investor is talking about, and this is exactly the type that Koyfin falls under. As a website that strives for genuine recommendations and knowledge sharing I was compelled to bring this interview with the Founder and CEO of Koyfin for you to understand exactly why you should be using this tool! Here’s Rob!
1) Can you tell us a little about your backstory and how you ended up founding Koyfin?
After college, I was on Wall Street for 15 years in trading and research roles. I have an unusual background because I focused on stocks in some of my jobs, but in others focused on ETFs, options and macro. So I've had the ability to look across different trading styles. I was also interested in data visualization after reading Edward Tufte's books and going to his classes. He is considered one of the top experts on data visualization and teaches how visual elements can communicate trends, outliers and other important information. After leaving my latest job on Wall St at a hedge fund, I started to trade on my own and wanted to create a research subscription product with trade ideas. As I was building up the infrastructure and process to do that, I was frustrated that I couldn't do proper research on stocks and the market without paying for a Bloomberg. Now that I was on my own and a company wasn't paying the $25,000 bill, I couldn't afford to pay for a Bloomberg especially since they require a 2-year contract. I needed fundamental data on companies and data on ETFs and macro themes. I started to experiment with other lower priced systems and I was disappointed with the functionality and data they offered. The user interface for all finance platforms was vey antiquated and not user friendly. The Atari from my childhood had better graphics! The main benefit of these systems was getting the data, and then doing the analytics in excel. If I were to pay a lot of money for a platform, I wanted the analytics included! That's the point where I decided to start Koyfin with the mission of creating a user-friendly research platform that offers quality data and analytics, and is accessible to every investor.
2) Tell us about Koyfin, what is that value proposition and how does it help investors?
We help investors by making them smarter about stocks and helping them understand thematic trends in the market. The way we do that is in four main ways. First, Koyfin is accessible to all investors and currently our product is free with plans in the future to have a free and premium version. Second, our platform provides high quality data about stocks and fundamentals, but also about macro trends like bonds, currencies, commodities and economics. That's because today every investor needs to follow and understand macro trends even if they are primarily focused on stocks. Third, we provide analytics so that investors can interpret the data and turn it into information. For example, it's one things to know Apple trades at 13x PE (that's data). But graphing the P/E over the past 10 years and seeing where is trading relative to its history provides the context (information). Lastly, we have an intense focus on making our product intuitive and easy to use. You don't need to read a 10 page manual to understand how to use Koyfin, just like you don't want to read a car manual before you drive a car you bought.
3) Who would be the target audience for Koyfin? What type of investors will benefit most?
Our goal is to provide powerful tools for all investors. Since our product is currently free, about half of our users are retail investors. These individuals want to track and research stock fundamentals and valuation. Graphing and analyzing financial statements is one of our most used features.
4) What makes Koyfin different from other stock charting tools?
The main differences are that we have high quality financial data about stocks and our platform is very easy to use. We also have unique tools such as MyDashboards where users can set up a watchlist of stocks or any security, and then set up "Views" which is a group of columns to analyze the watchlist. The columns can be price change, valuation, fundamentals, short interest, earnings date, etc.
5) How do you envision Koyfin evolving into the future? What kind of features can we expect?
We will continue to expand our data coverage and functionality. For example, shortly we'll cover all global equities whereas currently we cover only US and Canadian listed stocks. In addition, we're building out more functionality like a screening tool and portfolio analytics.
6) Personally, what type of investing strategies do you deploy?
I don't invest currently but when I did, I combined fundamental analysis, thematic top down analysis, and technical analysis. I would find an interesting theme and figure out the best stocks or ETFs to play that theme. Also I believe every investor should incorporate technical analysis into their workflow to understand what the market is saying.
7) Where do you see the markets going in the next 12-24 months?
I think this bull market will continue and will be the longest and biggest bull market in history. It won't last forever but it will last longer than many people expect. The risks of a recession are low because we never had above average economic growth in this cycle. I believe that economic growth will be shallow and drawn out. I'm always ready to change my view based on the data.