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Computerized Investing > Fourth Quarter 2009

Portfolio Management Software Programs

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by Cara Scatizzi

Every investor needs a portfolio management tool to track investments and generate accurate performance reports, no matter the size of your portfolios. Portfolio management systems allow investors to organize investments, track performance and assess a portfolio’s asset mix and risk levels. Most will also help at tax time. A good system will track buys, sells, dividends, splits and other transactions within a portfolio for a variety of securities. Performance data is measured over various timeframes and most programs will allow users to graph performance and print reports.

This comparison examines the best portfolio management software systems designed to help you accomplish these tasks. Since our last comparison in 2007, Microsoft has discontinued its Money software programs. Portfolio Systems Inc. was bought by Scottrade, who continues to offer their Portfolio Director tool. This tool was always aimed at professional portfolio managers and is even more so now; therefore, it is not included in this comparison. Portfolio Systems Inc.’s Option Money has been discontinued.

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Discussion

Jonathan from NY posted over 3 years ago:

The most difficult part of downloading accurate transaction histories from broker is always the reconciliation of the cash pooling account - the account used to debit for purchases and credit for sales and deposits, etc.
But this crucial aspect does not seem to have been addressed. Further a search of Computerized investing's page yielded no hits.
Anybody have help on this issue?


Frank from VA posted over 3 years ago:

Jonathan from NY;

Quicken is versatile in this regard.

The "portfolio" screen enable you to list all investments, with numerous fields for each in vestment, eg, purchase price, current price (downloadable anytime with 20 min delay), ROI, GAIN/LOSS, etc.

The investments can be instantaneously sorted by; Account, or type (stock, fund, etc), objective, etc. Cash is totaled for each sort. A side bar shows current totals for each account and overall total. Also net worth (incl home/ mortgage/ insurance.

Buys and sells can be downloades daily (eg each am) from your Broker(s). Takes less than 2 minutes and new stocks are added automatically when you download. Sells are logged and removed from portfolio. All cash totals recomputed. Works well for me!


George from PA posted over 3 years ago:

I use Quicken to closely track my portfolio and its transactions but Morningstar to analyze it. Both do a good job at each of those functions but neither does both very well.

But one thing that neither does is accurately report performance (at least from my point of view). More specifically, my desire is for one very simple thing, tell me:
How much I bought
How much I sold
How much I received in dividends, captial gains, etc.
How much I have left nd the difference.

Neither program can do that accurately.

An example may illustrate this point:
I bought $15K of a fund and through dividends and appreciation it climbed to $25K. I sold everything I had invested ($15K) and left my profits ride. But, neither program can reflect that accurately: one tells me my gain was $6K and the other says it was $4K.

Quicken specifically is frustrating: It cannot report how much you bought and how much you sold. Its closest is what it calls "invested" -- but that only includes how much you bought. It does not deduct for any sales of a particular fund and neither does it have a column to report "sold".

In addition, it tends to treat dividends, captial gains and such as a purchase when computing returns. I'm sorry but, they are NOT the same. It may be worthwhile in some circumstances to consider reivested dividends as a purchase -- but usually I simply want to know how much did I put in and how did I get back and how much do I have left?

The Quicken programmers seem to have gotten lost and confused in the math...


Ronnie from LA posted over 3 years ago:

I will address several issues. I have been a Quicken user for over 20 years. I started with Quicken 3 for Windows. I am currently using Quicken Premier 2011 that I bought on eBay for $23. If you are interested in buying from the same vendor, email me at the local Baton Rouge, Louisiana Chapter of AAII. (See AAII website for the email address.) And no, I don't get a kickback.

1. Cara, I was disappointed that this featured article on May 14, 2011 was written for the 4th Quarter in 2009 publication. I think I read this article at that time and commented on it.

2. I agree with Jonathan. The 3 day delay between buying or selling a security and the money changing accounts is beyond Quicken's ability. I have 4 brokerage accounts, 2 at Vanguard, 1 at Fidelity, and 1 at Charles Schwab. Reconciling these brokerage accounts is a major challenge. It is so hard to get Quicken to agree with the cash balance that I only attempt to reconcile once a quarter. Then I never know if the brokerage has made a mistake. I almost always have to adjust the cash balance.

With the Charles Schwab account, I can NEVER get Quicken to reconcile. I use a spreadsheet to reconcile. Then manually enter the correct (or incorrect) cash adjustment. If someone has a better way please let me know.

Fidelity for some reason balances every time.

Vanguard, once I straighten out the “SWEEP TO BROKERAGE” transactions will some times balance. The Quicken downloads can't tell the difference between the 2 brokerage accounts and gets them confused.

3. Portfolio Balance and Asset Allocation.

The 4 reports; Portfolio Value Report, Portfolio Graph Report, Asset Allocation Report, and Asset Allocation Graph all get different answers. The differences range from -0.8% to +0.8%. For more details on the go to http://bribg.pbworks.com/w/page/9916898/Rons-Returns

Quicken Tech Support says this is because my data is corrupt. As a result, I use a spreadsheet XIRR function to calculate my returns.


Ronnie from LA posted over 3 years ago:

I would also like to say that the formatting in you comments section really sucks.


Carol from OK posted over 3 years ago:

I have used QuantIX's IAM program and its previous iterations for almost 11 years now. I would urge those unhappy with their current portfolio management tool to try their free demo. I can quickly access as much or as little information as I need through the varied reports. I don't use their auto-import features because I find that entering the quarterly and monthly info myself serves as a great refresher for me on my portfolio issues. Perhaps others could comment on that feature. Tax time is no sweat with this tool.
But what I like best is their support and service. These guys want to help you use their product optimally. They respond quickly and thoroughly and don't mind if you come back with follow-up questions. I am not very computer savvy, but they have patiently walked me through any problems. And they listen to their client's requests for possible improvements. I don't have any interest in the firm; I'm just one of their many satisfied clients. I consider the money I spend on this program one of my better investments!


Mike from CA posted over 3 years ago:

If you trade a lot of covered calls, this site does a nice job with portfolio management features: http://www.borntosell.com
They match up the long stock with the short option and show you time premium remaining, as well as any upside potential or intrinsic value. They also have a good covered call screener to help you find opportunities.


B from TX posted over 3 years ago:

I use Quicken Premier 2010 to track 11 brokerage accounts at Schwab. I don't download from Schwab but enter transactions manually. The trick to following cash is to create a linked cash account for each brokerage account. For my personal finances, I have all of my assets entered, and I use the online bill-paying function.

I also use it to download into TurboTax at the end of the year. I've been audited by the IRS four times in the past 8 years claiming I owed tens of thousands of dollars each time. The problem is in the IRS system not in Quicken or TurboTax. Three times I wound up with no tax due, and the fourth time the IRS had to pay me about $600.

If you own mutual funds in a brokerage account, they are treated like stocks. If you prefer, each fund can be it's own account. There is a great function for easily tracking reinvested dividends and tracking them as LT, ST, or qualified and you can look at all the lots you have bought and the dates acquired. You can track individual lots or use an average cost function.

When you sell it is easy to link sales to lots by a simple FIFO or other method, including manually matching. I have always been able to reconcile accounts to the penny. These accounts total to about $5.7 million. I do things such as short stocks and write covered calls, easily handled.

Finally, for the accounts that I'm managing for others, I can easily generate end-of-year reports to complete their 1040 schedules B and D.

Maybe it's because I've used it for about 15 years and know the nooks and crannies to make it perform, but count me as one big thumbs up for Quicken Premier.


Harry from NY posted over 2 years ago:

THIS SECTION WAS VERY INFORMATIVE.tHANKS FOR THE FEED BACK


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