I will confess one of the main reasons I got an iPad is that I was growing weary of being glued to my laptop when having to read a 10Q or having to print out a bank’s 10K at 25 sheets with four pages to sheet so as not to print a tome and be forced to practically read with a microscope. This just seemed to be counterproductive and something technology should handle appropriately. So, I got an iPad.
Up until recently, I’ve read SEC filings on Morningstar either on my iPad or laptop. I’d make a few notes in a Google spreadsheet, but I definitely haven’t been actively reading as much as I should. Following my reading of Neil Golding’s post on Deliberate Practice, I realized I needed to refine my process as I often am just reading. True critical reading involves annotating, underlining, and asking questions in the margins. However, I don’t exactly have the ability to annotate a web page like I do on paper, which is a real downside, but definitely not an insurmountable one.
Xamtech SEC Filings
Firing up the app store, I found Xamtech’s SEC Filings readers. They offered a few choices, and I opted for the XBRL one which was $20 and could display all types of filings. At first, I got a bit excited. The app had the ability to underline and annotate, even optional public sharing of annotations. I could easily select any SEC filing for any company I followed and also convert the documents to PDF and mail them to myself.
However, it suffers from a number of deal-breaking flaws:
- It only displays small sections of SEC filings at a time, i.e. you can’t easily move around the entire document.
- Search only applies to a small section. This drove me bonkers as full document search is absolutely vital.
- You have to opt out of sharing each annotation you make. I understand them wanting to encourage sharing, but I should be able to turn it off forever in a single setting.
Hopefully they’ll update the app with these problems addressed, and I’ll give it another look.
I then switched to getting my SEC Filings in PDF format and reading them on my iPad with Aji’s iAnnotate. iAnnotate seemed to have a daunting number of bells and whistles at first, but is rather simple to configure when you play with it. Once I got scroll lock and page tap working, I’ve been totally happy with underlining, annotating, even drawing on the document. (Whenever I get the urge to write “WHAT THE HELL???!!!?” in the margins, I want to do so in my own handwriting.) They even have the option of turning web pages into PDFs which means my dream of annotating everything I read may come to fruition.
Overall, I’m really happy with my new iAnnotate PDF setup. I know I’m reading more critically and am using tools that don’t force reading glasses upon me. I will update this post if I find something better.
Full Disclosure: I have no interest or stake in any company product in this article. However, I’m a software developer and someone who cares deeply about good tools. Time wasted with an improper tool feels like a sin. One which will occasionally cause me to write something myself largely because I just get annoyed and see an opportunity.
In the interest of full disclosure, I do plan on writing some investing tools, especially for mobile devices, and I started this blog not just to refine my investing process, but also to get feedback on investing tool ideas. Any time ValuableBehavior does an investing tool review, I will be clear about whether I am planning to make such a tool, or am offering something I have made. Know that your feedback here or to @truelson on Twitter can help design future tools; tools that might help us become even greater investors.
At present, I am not planning on making an SEC Filing reader any time soon, but could be persuaded if I see a good reason to, and there’s enough demand. For now, I’m pretty happy with PDFs and iAnnotate.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto.com / author: dspn