Google Finance will discontinue its portfolio feature as part of an overhaul that will occur this month. The company says it’s part of “an ongoing effort to make Google Finance more accessible and user-friendly for a wider audience,” but there’s no explanation for why the portfolio tracker will be discarded. Google says the new site will let customers monitor industry news and market trends, and maintain a watchlist, but will no longer perform any portfolio analysis.
The Google Finance portfolio tracker was about a half-step above a basic spreadsheet, but quite a few investors used it. When we looked at it a couple of years ago, it did not handle options adequately, and its rate of return calculations were extremely simple. There was no way to get an annual rate of return, for example, and corporate actions such as dividends or stock splits were ignored.
For those readers affected by the shutdown, we offer a few alternatives.
First, check out an online broker. Many have added the capability to import transactions from other brokers so clients can view all their holdings in one place. Fidelity, Schwab, and
all allow customers to consolidate transactions from other brokers and banks.
There are other options if this one doesn’t appeal. One of my favorite portfolio management sites is SigFig, which also shows expenditures on fund management fees (see chart 1), and can suggest less expensive alternatives. SigFig can import transactions from a variety of brokerages and banks, analyze portfolio valuations, and returns (chart 2), and track dividend payouts (chart 3). But if handing over account credentials to a third party makes you nervous you can import all trades manually. I’ve tested these websites and apps that import transactions for more than 10 years, and have not had any issues with security. They encrypt the details so they’re not visible to the third party.
SigFig is free, but also offers a robo-advisory that puts together portfolios of low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The first $10,000 incurs no charge; above that, the fees are 0.25% per year. A short questionnaire evaluates the investor’s risk tolerance and investment horizon, and then a portfolio is suggested that contains a mix of U.S. and international equities, as well as global fixed-income investments. It’s worth looking at the suggested allocation even if the robo-advisory isn’t ultimately used. The robo-advisory service partners with TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, and Schwab, so clients of these brokers can just transfer some cash into the managed account, and be on their way.
SigFig also has mobile apps that run on iOS and Android devices. The tablet apps are especially elegant, and make viewing and customizing charts extremely easy. It can handle options transactions though it doesn’t have any options-specific tools built in (yet).
Personal Capital also has portfolio management tools, though its main purpose is to manage a customer’s money. Still, the tools are free even without signing on for the management service. The site guides investors in linking all their external financial accounts, including brokers, banks, and loans, to calculate their net worth. At this point, customers can talk with an advisor, or just keep using the site’s tools on their own. Their mobile apps include the Apple Watch, which displays portfolio totals and alerts.
If a customer has a very simple portfolio–10 holdings or fewer–he or she can use Sharesight for free. This site is reaching out to Google Finance users, and can directly import a portfolio that was set up on that site. Portfolios that contain more than 10 holdings, or clients with more than a single portfolio, will have to pay $12 or more per month to use Sharesight. Pulling transactions from a brokerage into Sharesight requires a two-step file import function, which requires logging onto a broker’s site and exporting a comma-delimited file (or .CSV). Then the user can import the resulting file into Sharesight.
When entering a transaction manually, Sharesight suggests the closing price for the date of the trade. That makes it easy to get a portfolio up and running quickly for those who type in their transactions by hand.
Sharesight has some terrific reports available though it doesn’t have options tools. Performance reporting calculations are based on their own dollar-weighted methodology, which takes into account the size and timing of cash flows in and out of the portfolio. You can switch between a simple annualized return, or a compound annual growth rate, when measuring portfolio performance. Another valuable report displays future income. There are tax planning reports as well. Unfortunately, the free version is quite limited, and most investors will have to upgrade to one of the fee-based alternatives.
Wallmine is a startup that has set its sights on Google Finance refugees. A Google Finance portfolio can be imported by downloading it to an OFX file (not CSV), and then uploading the resulting file into Wallmine. The site contains a variety of tools including a market map, which displays a visual representation of price changes and volume, and a stock screener. Unlike Sharesight, though, when a client enters a transaction manually, the site suggests the current price of the stock rather than the stock on the date of the trade. The customer has to look up the price paid on his or her own.
Dividends are not yet supported, but Wallmine says it hopes to build that capability in soon. We did not find any options capabilities either. We expect this site to develop further; in the meantime, it’s got some interesting tools to play with.
Have you got a favorite portfolio-analysis platform? Let us know, especially if it also analyzes options positions.
I put in an order for a new iPhone last week, and opted for the upgrade plan for the first time. This plan incurs a monthly fee and gives me access to a new phone in one year. However, it requires a credit check, which was halted because I froze my credit reports after the Equifax breach. After temporarily unfreezing access to my credit report, the purchase went smoothly. I overheard quite a few other purchasers run into this problem. They seemed to feel they were being punished by Apple. Rest assured—it wasn’t Apple. Blame it on Equifax.
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Email: [email protected]