Data is essential for succeeding in business these days. It can help optimize all kinds of operations and get an edge over the competition. Financial data extraction, for example, is highly relevant — not only for finance-related institutions but for anyone who needs to determine what money to spend, where, and when. Financial data gives organizations an overview of the monetary status of similar companies in their sector. This information helps them learn more about their own financial health (and the competition’s), allowing them to craft better and more effective strategies to meet their financial objectives in the long run.
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However, gathering and analyzing relevant financial data in the vast universe of today’s internet is a lot of work. For data to serve as a powerful enterprise-level tool, you need high volumes, and collecting those manually would be a massive task. To prevent your financial data-gathering endeavors from eating up all your effort and time, you could use a trick or two — or, in this case, a good web scraping tool. Read on to learn all there is to know about financial data extraction, and feel free to use the table of contents below to skip right to the information you need.
Defining Financial Data
In a nutshell, financial data is all data that can be assigned a monetary value. It involves all information related to how, where, and when companies and individuals spend money and includes metrics like:
- Assets — what a company owns.
- Liabilities — what a business owes.
- Equity — what’s left after subtracting liabilities from assets.
- Income — any money made from the company’s operations.
- Expenses — any costs incurred in the regular course of business.
- Cash flow — the increase or decrease in the amount of money a business has.
Financial data extraction, therefore, means finding, collecting, and organizing this information so that you can use it to enhance your business operations.
Types of financial data
In general terms, there are two kinds of financial data:
- Structured — which includes data stored in databases and other organized templates. It’s clearly defined and searchable and, therefore, easier to analyze. Some examples of structured data are SQL databases, spreadsheets, OLTP systems, online forms, and network and web server logs.
- Unstructured — which includes data stored in various native formats and scattered across the web. Since it doesn’t come in a pre-set data model, this type of data is a lot harder to access and classify, which in turn makes it more challenging to analyze. Some examples of unstructured data are emails, social media, websites, text files, mobile data, and media files.
Only about 20% of relevant data generated and collected by organizations comes already digested and ready to use. The rest is unstructured. To better organize and interpret the financial data that will help your company thrive, you’ll need the right financial data extraction sources and tools.
Financial data extraction sources
Financial data is all over the web, and even in physical form. However, with the ever-growing nature of the internet, you’re likely to find all you need and more online and skip unnecessary paperwork. Some of the primary sources of financial data are:
- Social media platforms.
- Review sites.
- Commodity sites.
- Stock market reporting sites.
- Industry forums.
- Trade journal sites.
- Business websites.
- Foreign exchange sites.
- The US Securities and Exchange Commission electronic database.
- Search engine pages.
- Employment platforms.
- Retailer and e-commerce websites.
- Financial news sites.
Depending on your ultimate data goals, the list above will give you a good place to start your research. However, these platforms store vast amounts of information and are constantly updated. To keep on top of them, it’s recommended to aid your investigation with a good financial data extraction tool like Scraping Robot.
Financial Data Extraction Step by Step
To make the most of the financial data available online, you need to collect tons of it as quickly as possible. That’s where web scraping comes in. It’ll allow you to amass all the unstructured data you need from the most relevant sources and keep it organized and up to date in a handy spreadsheet. Of course, you could build your own web scraper, but that would take time that you don’t have. That’s why we recommend purchasing a scraping bot that requires little to no code. This will be especially convenient if you’re not particularly programming savvy.
When extracting data from your all favorite websites and platforms with your scraping bot, all you need to do is tell the bot the URL of the site and the type of data you’re interested in. Your bot will then send the necessary requests to the server and collect the server’s responses. The last step is exporting your freshly collected data into your format of choice.
Use Cases of Financial Data
Not only is financial data extraction useful for financial reporting. It can help in several other fields in business. For starters, analyzing your internal financial data will give you valuable insights into your company’s health and allow you to find areas for improvement. External data can also be extremely helpful in enhancing your business operations. Understanding how the market and your competitors are doing is key for business growth.
If you need additional ideas for putting your financial data to good use, here are some use case examples:
Finding investment opportunities
Investing veterans take full advantage of web scraping tools when trying to figure out where to put their money. Web scraping allows the experts to predict market trends and have a clearer idea of which investments are worth the cost. It helps them identify performance metrics and monitor customer sentiment to discover emerging markets before they reach the mainstream.
Performing equity research
Before investing in a specific company or organization, performing some good old equity research is in your best interests. Web scraping will give you access to a business’s financial reports, market price, and other relevant information that will help you make an educated decision. Knowing all this before you decide to put your money somewhere will spare you headaches in the long run.
Web scraping allows financial institutions to keep tabs on government websites for policy changes as soon as they happen. This further allows them to ensure compliance regarding regulatory requirements among their established clientele, as well as any new prospects.
Financial institutions must always use extra care when monitoring the market. Insurance and mortgage financing companies can benefit from financial data scraping when measuring risks in order to mitigate them.
Financial Data Extraction Best Practices
Web scraping is a great tool in financial data extraction — and in any data extraction, for that matter. Yet it’s important to keep the internet nice and safe for you and other web scrapers. Keeping it ethical and following the rules will reduce the possibility of sites and platforms adding on more anti-scraping measures. As a result, you’ll be able to keep on using your financial data extraction software with fewer limitations.
Here are some suggestions to maximize your success when scraping financial data:
- Refer to the site’s robots.txt file.
- Find out if the site already has an API to provide access to their data.
- Pace your requests and slow them down if necessary.
- Keep an eye out for honeypot traps.
- Randomize your scraping bot’s actions to make them look more human.
- Respect intellectual property.
- Include a user agent.
- Avoid fingerprinting with the help of a headless browser.
The Best Financial Data Extraction Tool
Extracting data from financial reports shouldn’t be a headache for business owners and their teams. Building your own web scraper might seem like the most viable option, but it may require more time and effort than you can spare. Besides, creating one that will meet your very specific business needs could mean hiring a programming team and investing money you could be using elsewhere.
Purchasing a pre-build scraping tool is your best bet. It’ll allow you to cut to the chase and go straight to the interesting part of financial data extraction. Scraping Robot, our data gathering API, is the solution you need to fulfill all your data collection needs and more. It allows you to forget about the challenging side of web scraping and focus on other important tasks in business. Scraping Robot offers:
- Hassle-free scraping.
- Proxy management and rotation.
- Numerous modules.
- Metadata parsing.
- Usage stats.
Scraping Robot is your best ally in business success. To learn more about our solutions and our pricing alternatives, visit the site today. We’ll help you meet your financial data extraction needs in no time.
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