Joe Lan, CFA is a former financial analyst for AAII.


Bernard Katz from VA posted over 3 years ago:

If you want complex and many-faceted outcrops, and X-ray moats and no moats and some moat, yes--Morningstar is great (and I have that). But for straighfowardness and simplicity I prefer and use more frequently Yahoo's Finance stock portfolio. A real delight -- it has one feature I love--the Annualized Return column. No more using the complex (for me) formula. It's here at a glance, besides having the overall gain and percentage (or loss!). A wealth of information--and free.

taxpayer from IL posted over 3 years ago:

(1)The article would have been a lot more useful if it looked at the actual performance of these sites, perhaps by surveying AAII members about their experience. Are the calculations accurate and complete? Are the sites reliable?

(2)Another useful feature would be a review of the user agreements. Do all these sites assert ownership of data I place on them? Do they use it for advertising purposes?

(3)And another advantage of on-line trackers over those you install on your computer is that the former don't require you to license a proprietary operating system from Microsoft.

David Damouth from CO posted over 3 years ago:

I've been using the Morningstar Premium tracker for several years, and I still find it very painful. I'm beginning to think that it just isn't worth the large amount of my time it requires.

a: I have a fairly large portfolio (over 100 securities), some with histories that go back 20 years. With re-invested dividends and capital gains, this is a lot of data to enter manually. I have been unable to make the import from Quicken work. Morningstar says that the import file is too big, and suggests manually editing the file to remove uneeded portions. It appears to me that this editing task would take more time than just entering all the data manually.

b: Morningstar attempts to update dividends for each security automatically. But most of their updates are wrong - either the date of the distribution is off by up to a month (making the share price wrong), or the actual amount of the distribution is wrong. I've been forced to enter this data manually and disable the automatic updates.

Allan Brockman from ME posted over 3 years ago:

Have you considered looking for and reviewing portfolio trackers that are stand alone and/or independent of the same old, same old standards. I can't believe that these are either the only or the best portfolio trackers. There is so much more that would be useful in portfolio tracking. One example is just keeping track of wash sales securities. Another would be a chronological tracking of security sales and purchases.Also, dividends received per security. Etc, etc, etc. I can't believe there are no products out there.

Bottom line - I, for one don't need an 8 page article to review the online sites. Five minutes on each site would give me the same info.

James Grant from OH posted over 3 years ago:

After speaking with several to many individual investors and participating in many investment group meetings, I come to the conclusion that while many investors can deal a lot of detail, few are really able to determine how to assess the overall performance of their portfolio and their investing skills, in general. Also, some investors have led me to believe that they didn’t understand that if, over a year, they invest $100,000 in a variety of securities at different times, buying and selling throughout the year, end up at the end of the year with $110,000 at the end of the year, that their return percent may be higher or lower than 10%.

Hence, I was disappointed to see that the author did not include “Portfolio Performance Measures” on his list of “critical features” of online portfolio trackers, nor was it mentioned in his paragraph on “Additional Analysis Tools.” - - - It is as though the author (and most investors) are only focused on the challenge of making a list of their transactions and adding up their assets, slicing and dicing them in 5 different manners.

I am not familiar with the details of any of the three online portfolio trackers that were covered in detail in the article. However, I’m guessing that none of them provides solid “Portfolio Performance Measures”. (If someone knows otherwise, please speak up.)

I happen to use both Quicken and MSN’s Portfolio Manager since they both provide “Portfolio Performance Measures”. In my opinion, MSN’s is better in that regard, but in the last year or so, MSN has eliminated other functions within its online personal financial system, thus weakening it.

Cacurmudgeon from CA posted over 3 years ago:

Would Mr. Lan explain why I should pay anybody a monthly fee for information that is available from Wikinvest and other web sites for free? Morningstar, which I recently quit, has a lot of "stuff", much of little or complex value-also annoying pop ups, advertisements, etc. I agree with others' comments-a poorly researched article.

MP from NJ posted over 3 years ago:

I came accross a site Kraytis which has a view of the risk of your protfolio. Mainly focuses on how risk the portfolio is, something whihc is not available on most sites.
Seems to be free for now.
Also gives different view of mutual funds.

L Clucas from AZ posted over 3 years ago:

Thank you for this good article. I've long used SmartMoney Select Real Time, and considered it the best of the lot. Now they have said they are discontinuing the service at the end of my current subscription (November of 2013. They have already stopped supplying me with real time quotes. So readers should be aware of this.

L Clucas from AZ posted over 3 years ago:

Mr. Grant:
If you are referring to time-weighted rate of return numbers either by portfolio or individual security, SmartMoney Select Real Time does not have such feature. It would,indeed, be useful.

Alfred from HI posted over 3 years ago:

So, Morningstar is often inaccurate on dividend updates.

I can't bring myself to trust anything with "Wiki" in the name (you probably know why).

And don't need real time update of a lifelong portfolio where I may make changes once a month or onde per year. You can get that free at Yahoo Finance, or better SmartCharts (great tools).. for those days you are looking for a good point to pull the trigger to sell or buy.

Your excellent selection of users comments seems to point solidly at Smart Money.

BTW, I have used Yahoo Finance for all of these functions over the past 15 years, as they seemed to be vey capable then; and still are. But of course it is all manual update.

Peter from NY posted over 2 years ago:

I switched to from excel. Don’t think that any other online platform provides so much info. Impressed by the spectrum of different statistics it provides. Short/long positions, attribution statistics, TWR, in short all a portfolio manager need to estimate his portfolio performance.

Rik from New Jersey posted over 2 years ago:

I have utilized many portfolio trackers over the years. None, so far, seem to have everything I would be looking for. I look for a portfolio tracker that includes notes, possibly target, high limit, low limit etc. Basically - I am looking for fields that would help to remind me if what interested me in the stock, where I would like to buy it, where I might look to sell etc etc. I also find a companion app very important. After spending some time on the computer I like to settle in on the couch with my iPad or while out on my iPhone. Here's what I've found so far ...
- Yahoo! Finance offers a lot, including the companion app and the notes fields described. Even so - there are others I like for other reasons.
- The Seeking Alpha portfolio tracker is excellent, especially the online version. They have a companion app which is nice - but greatly simplified, too much so.
- CNBC has a nice one as well as an app ... but they are independent, meaning they do not sync. Not looking to have to enter everything twice.
- AAII has a nice one, includes a notes field. No user available target fields and ... a dealkiller here ... no app.
- Zacks has a decent one (with subscription) which includes the Zacks Ranking, the real selling feature. But no notes, no target and no app.
Others from Marketwatch, The Street and some apps that have no web version show some level of promise but nobody gets all the way there.
Still looking. Would welcome other suggestions.

gneeby from Maryland posted over 2 years ago:

Two problems that I encountered:

1. Only about 2,500 stocks are covered, which doesn't include about 1/2 of mine.
2. Customized portfolio report changes when you exit the display and then reenter it; i.e. it rearranges columns and drops columns.

Sorry, you cannot add comments while on a mobile device or while printing.