The investments arena is large, complex, and dynamic. These characteristics make it interesting to study, but also make it challenging to keep up. What changes? Laws and regulations, the introduction of new types of securities, innovations in markets and trading, company events (such as the passing of the CEO or a settlement of a lawsuit), and a persistently changing economy to name a few. Add to this mix the political, technological, and environmental changes that occur throughout the world every day, and you have quite a task to understand investment opportunities and investment management.
There is a wealth of financial information about companies available to financial analysts and investors. The popularity of the Internet as a source of information has made vast amounts of information available to everyone, displacing print as a means of communication. Consider the amount of information available about Microsoft Corporation. Not only can investors find annual reports, quarterly reports, press releases, and links to the companies' filings with regulators on Microsoft's web site, anyone can download data for analysis in spreadsheet form and can listen in on Microsoft's management's conversations with analysts.
The availability and convenience of information has eased the data-gathering task of financial analysis. What remains, however, is the more challenging task of analyzing this information in a meaningful way. Recent scandals involving financial disclosures ...