These days, you can do almost anything online and that includes the buying and selling of shares.
The traditional method of sharedealing - over the telephone via a stockbroker - is becoming increasingly redundant, with both novice and experienced investors finding the internet a much more effective way of playing the markets.
One of the reasons why many people are opening online share dealing accounts is the fact that it is very convenient to do so.
There is an extensive amount of information online about buying and selling shares, giving you access to a wealth of educational resources that can improve your knowledge and help you develop effective strategies.
Once you have acquired the right amount of knowledge, you can set up an online share dealing account in a matter of minutes and begin trading almost instantly.
However, it is important to seek independent financial advice before committing any of your capital, regardless of how much research you have done yourself.
As well as being convenient to set up, online accounts make the actual process of buying and selling very convenient.
You can buy and sell shares at the click of a button from anywhere in the world, watch live prices and access all the charts and data you need to make an informed decision and act accordingly.
The development of smartphones and tablet computers means that you can trade shares on the move as well, however, not all companies offer facilities for handheld devices, so be sure to check.
Related to convenience is speed. Given that share prices can change in the blink of an eye, being able to execute trades quickly is of huge importance if you are to buy and sell at the prices you want. By trading online, your orders can be executed almost instantly.
You will also find that online share dealing can be significantly cheaper than trading shares in the traditional way.
Many share dealing websites will take a cut of your profits, however, it is usually less than a traditional broker. Execution fees are also likely to be lower.
Account management fees may apply, so it is important to know what these are and whether you will be charged on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.
Brokerages are aware of the demand among investors to be able to buy and sell online and many companies now have an online presence.
The benefit of this is that you have a wealth of choice when it comes to selecting a company with which to open an account.
You should ensure you choose a reputable company that is regulated and adheres to the highest standards of behaviour.
The number of dealing websites available to you means you may want to consider comparing several providers and look at what their different packages can offer you.
Some may charge a fixed fee per transaction, while others may give you access to greater markets, so it is in your interests to scrutinise different brokerages.
The advantages listed above can make a significant difference to how you buy and sell shares, which is why online dealing is becoming the most popular way of trading.
At the same time, however, there are some downsides you need to consider.
The biggest drawback is that if your internet connection is lost or your computer breaks down, you cannot trade.
Also, as most brokerages do not issue share certificates, you cannot enjoy the same shareholder perks as those trading in the traditional way.
With all investments, you must understand the risks involved and seek independent financial advice if you are at all unsure. The value of investments can fall as well as rise and any income from them is not guaranteed. You you should be prepared to lose your investment.