Messages: What Members Are Asking On-Line
by CI Staff
Specifically, I am looking for a product that can download not only pricing, but also transactions from an on-line discount broker—such as purchases and sales of stocks and mutual funds. I currently use Ameritrade. The few demos that I have downloaded seem to suggest that I have to manually enter my transactions.
CI editors respond:
A number of years ago, a common standard was established for transferring account information among brokerage firms. CheckFree, Intuit and Microsoft established the Open Financial Exchange (OFX) specification in close concert with financial services and technology companies for the electronic exchange of financial data between financial institutions, businesses and consumers via the Internet. OFX supports a wide range of financial activities such as consumer and small business banking, consumer and small business bill payment, bill presentation, and investment tracking—including stock, bond, mutual fund, and 401(k) account details.
Over 30 brokers currently support this OFX format, making it easier to pull in transaction data. These brokers store historical trade information on an OFX server so that it can be imported into portfolio management and tax preparation services and products. The importing of this data does not occur from your trading account, since it is only a historical record. Furthermore, there is normally a delay of one to two days between when a transaction occurs and when it is posted to the OFX server.
Note that your broker may only keep a limited history of your data on the OFX server. GainsKeeper, an on-line portfolio management system, reports that most brokers only keep transactions over the last 90 days on their OFX servers, requiring customers to be diligent about updating their accounts.
The list of OFX brokers supported by the GainsKeeper Web site is presented in the accompanying box below.
|Brokers Supporting OFX Transaction Reporting|
We review on-line portfolio management systems in this issue and three services offer OFX transaction importing—GainsKeeper, Quicken.com, and Yahoo! Finance. Any of these services should be able to import portfolio data from the brokers listed in the box to the left. CNBC on MSN Money also offers OFX importing, but only supports six brokers: Datek, E*trade, Fidelity, Harrisdirect, Charles Schwab, and td Waterhouse.
Two personal finance software programs also support OFX transfers—Quicken by Intuit and MSN Money by Microsoft. One of these packages would be your best option if you want to avoid entering your transaction by hand. Captool Professional by Captools.com also offers portfolio transaction importing, but its individual investor version of the program does not. For more information on portfolio management software programs, please refer to our most recent comparison in the May/June 2003 issue of Computerized Investing.