For more seasoned investors, we like the idea of tracking our stocks, bonds or other assets and managing our investment portfolio. This can come in the form of profit and loss tracking, dividend income tracking and forecast, as well as comparing our portfolio against an index or other benchmarks to see if we actually did better than just buying and holding the market.
With portfolio tracking spreadsheets and platforms, we have a realtime understanding of our portfolio performance, track dividend and corporate actions, and more. Such insights can give us a powerful understanding about our investment strategy and refine them if necessary.
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Portfolio tracking and history
I first explored tracking my investment portfolio a couple of years ago during national service, and InvestmentMoats has a really good and free Google Sheets-based investment tracker that helps investors track their assets by transactions, realised and unrealised returns as well as the amount of cash dividend received.
The online-based spreadsheet was first introduced in 2011, and refined slowly over the years. I enjoyed the level of tracking, as I could visualise my dividends received per year and the P&L trend of my portfolio by month. These were insights that my Singaporean brokers did not offer and they were really useful for me.
However, as the years passed, Google and Yahoo Finance started breaking or decommissioning their finance APIs and the spreadsheet worked less well than it used to. For example, prices would fail to fetch, daily updates would not automatically refresh and my tracking would be messed up.
The other drawbacks of the spreadsheet were that dividend payouts had to be entered manually and the chore of manual tracking soon became too cumbersome for me.
Introducing Sharesight – a portfolio tracking platform that’s easy to use and visually attractive
Sharesight is an online portfolio tracking and management tool that helps investors track stock prices, trades, dividends, performance and tax.
It was launched by a father-son duo looking to create a solution that made it easy to track the true performance of investments.
Spreadsheets were the tracking method of choice, but they failed to provide the level of oversight and efficiency needed to track, analyse and make informed decisions accurately.
Since 2006, Sharesight has evolved into an innovative product with best-in-class tracking and corporate action processing. It also allows you to compare the performance of your investments with hundreds of ETF funds to see if you’ve beaten the market or not.
As of July 2019, Sharesight announced that they have hit 100,000 users around the world.
To better understand its value proposition, I decided to try out Sharesight myself.
Importing historical transactions
With years of transaction history in my pocket, I had to get started by importing my transaction history from their many supported brokers. Users can choose to import transactions from Google Finance and Yahoo Finance, Saxo Markets, TD or banks like HSBC. For me, I chose the old school option of importing from a CSV (which Sharesight has a nice template for me to use).
In the following illustration, I will be using their sample transactions and CSV file on a new account as a demo.
Importing and categorising my historical transactions were relatively straightforward. I matched the fields of my transactions export to Sharesight’s template (bulk_trades.csv) before importing them back onto the platform as trades.
Sharesight was intelligent enough to ask for my confirmation on the data types in the various columns in the CSV file such as trade date, value and commission. It also supports tons of exchanges (NASDAQ, LSE, SGX, BME etc). My entire import process took less than 5 minutes from set up to confirmation.
Portfolio overview and trending
The Overview page shows the portfolio value over time. You can graph it is various dimensions (e.g. grouped by market/sector/industry/country/no group) and across various time periods (e.g. since first purchase, this financial year, last six months, yesterday etc).
In their sample portfolio above, I illustrated my portfolio gains by market in a stacked area chart. The summary statistics below show my capital gains, dividends and total return in a nice table.
Scrolling down, I’d be presented with a detailed breakdown of my holdings by the dimension selected above (in this case – by market).
This breakdown shows my performance by holding, and even accounts the gains and losses from currency movements. The yellow box on the right shows the number of unconfirmed transactions from corporate actions and adjustments which were generated automatically by Sharesight – based on the quantity and time the holdings were held.
Individual holding analysis
Let’s now go one step deeper into analysing the individual holding by clicking into a holding from the overview screen.
As above, the screen shows the price of the holding across the time period. You could also graph the holding value instead based on your quantity held. Similarly, there is a summary table showing the individual holding returns – split by capital gains, dividend gains and currency gains.
Transaction history and dividend tracking
My favourite part of this platform is the automatic dividend tracking of each individual security.
After a corporate action or dividend is declared at the custodian level, Sharesight will pull that data into its systems and update your pages auto-magically. The beautiful thing about this is that you can see your upcoming dividends (declared but non-paid) and have them retrospectively tracked based on your transaction dates. You don’t have to key in every dividend from your very first trade manually – saving you lots of time!
A safety mechanism by design is to have the user (that’s you) confirm each automatic dividend entry. That helps keep the entries accurate and you can override the system entry if you think they are wrong.
Tracking Dividend Reinvestment Plans
Most spreadsheets cannot track dividend reinvestment plans (DRIP) accurately – because of how complicated reinvesting dividends and getting new shares can be. Tracking performance can become a pain in terms of the paperwork required.
Sharesight can help with that by adding a dividend reinvestment when you add or edit a dividend payment.
For ASX or NZX traders or investors, Sharesight provides automatic DRP tracking just by enabling the auto dividend reinvestment feature under the holding settings on the sidebar.
Being informed helps an investor be up to speed in terms of what’s happening around the world, and to your investment holdings. The news feed section is one feature that such information flows to you right at your fingertips.
For this, Sharesight actually partnered with several news partners such as Livewire, Simply Wall St and The Motley Fool to provide published content right at your wall. They are working to get more partners onboarded with time, so I expect this feed to be improved over time.
Reports and analytics – future income, historical cost, contribution analysis and more
This is the bonus section of Sharesights – occasionally insightful reports that further expand the usefulness of the platform.
For example, in the Contribution Analysis report, you can analyse in detail which of your holding is driving your overall portfolio performance in %. In the Future Income report, you get to visualise your upcoming dividend payments by date in a single table (including withheld tax if any).
Some of these reports are not available in the free plan, so more advanced investors who want access to them need to upgrade to one of their premium plans.
Integration with InteractiveBrokers
Recently, Sharesights introduced a beta integration with InteractiveBrokers (21 Aug update: formally announced) which allows retail clients to have their daily trades from Interactive Brokers automatically synchronised into their Sharesight portfolio.
Once you’ve set up the sync, Sharesight automatically calculates your portfolio performance, and factors in the impact that FX movements, dividends, and corporate actions have on your investment returns.
What this means for you is that you have a single, consolidated view of your investments across multiple brokerages!
I believe this is just the start of their growing partner ecosystem and API interface to link many more brokerages and services around the world.
Other useful features like share checker
There are other features that some investors might find useful. Without overwhelming you with too much information, Share Checker enables you check the performance of a hypothetical investment of $10,000 of any share, ETF or mutual fund listed in their database within a selected date range.
Finally, the important question…. how much does it cost?
If you have read until this far, congratulations. You must be as excited about the possibilities of tracking and managing your portfolio like me.
I have some amazing news to share – Sharesight is free. YES. Absolutely free – which explains my excitement!
Their free subscription is limited to tracking 10 holdings, which is honestly enough for most investors. Note – this is the number of holdings, and not transactions. You can have hundreds of transactions for each holding and it will still work.
The free plan comes with automatic dividends, weekly portfolio updates, price and email alerts and it’s absolutely brilliant. For more seasoned investors who want unlimited holdings and advanced reporting capabilities, then their investor plan starts at just $19 a month – roughly the cost of one brokerage trade.
As always, I love sharing good things with my readers, and if you come across other platforms that offer such sophistication, do share with us as well!
If you enjoyed reading this article, or would like to try out Sharesight for free, please use this link. For those interested in getting a premium plan, you can enjoy 2 months of subscription for free just by using the above link.