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3 easy ways to automate your portfolio admin

by Angela Thompson, Sharesight

Investors tend to fall into two camps when it comes to maintaining their investment portfolios. They either attempt to track every minor detail in a spreadsheet – or they don’t really bother doing it at all.

Don’t get us wrong – spreadsheets are awesome and certainly serve their purpose. But there are many reasons why you shouldn’t track your portfolio in a spreadsheet. Alternatively, if you’re not actively tracking your portfolio, how do you know how you’re really performing? Casually checking your broker’s online reports from time to time is misleading because they often fail to incorporate the impact of things like brokerage fees, currency effects and corporate actions. (Here’s a real-life example of how an unreported share split made an investor think she was down -47.73%, when she was really up nearly 5%.)

featured - gears on desk

Like most things in life, the key to maintaining your portfolio is to make the process as easy as possible (and satisfyingly fun). So the first step in automating your portfolio admin should be to sign-up for a Free Sharesight account. Import your holdings (either your entire trading history or simply your opening balances), then sit back and watch as corporate actions such as dividends and share splits are automatically incorporated. From there, you’ll want to automate as many of the day-to-day portfolio-related activities as possible. Here are 3 easy ways to do that:

1. Track ongoing trades

Keeping your portfolio up-to-date with your latest trades is a crucial step to staying ahead of your portfolio admin, as it ensures that your performance figures are accurate and allows you to make timely data-driven investing decisions. There are 3 ways to get your new trades into Sharesight:

Auto sync via Sharesight Connect

If you trade with any of the following brokers, then you’re in luck:

  • CMC Markets Stockbroking (AU)
  • Bendigo Invest Direct (AU)
  • Bank of Queensland (AU)
  • eBroking/eSuperfund (AU)
  • ANZ (NZ)

That’s because these brokers have partnered with Sharesight to allow their customers to automatically sync ongoing trades into their Sharesight portfolios. Here’s how to connect one of those brokerage accounts using Sharesight Connect. And for those of you in Canada or the UK, stay tuned for upcoming Sharesight Connect broker integrations in your region.

Forward your contract note emails

If your online broker provides contract notes, then you can email those emails to Sharesight and we’ll automagically “read” the PDFs and add the trades to your portfolio. It’s just a matter of forwarding the emails to us, or including Sharesight as a recipient on your trade confirmation emails. Learn more by visiting: importing contract notes via email. We currently support contract notes from 50+ online brokers – leave a message in our community forum if you’d like us to support one not currently listed.

screenshot - broker email import

Manually add new trades

If your broker doesn’t provide contract notes, you’ll want to set aside some time each week/month to manually record your trades. Yes, it’s a manual process, but it’s one of those things that you’re better off doing every now and then, as opposed to scrambling to pull it all together at the end of the year.

2. Keep up with corporate actions

Sharesight automatically tracks the vast majority of corporate actions that occur throughout the year – including dividends and share splits. They appear as unconfirmed transactions on the portfolio overview or individual holding pages:

screenshot - unconfirmed transactions

From the individual holding page, simply click on the unconfirmed transactions icon in order to review and confirm the transaction(s):

screenshot - confirm transactions

In the event of a complex corporate action which requires a decision on your part, you’ll need to manually adjust your portfolio according to your particular situation. Here’s how:

We recommend reviewing your corporate actions on a monthly basis. This ensures the accuracy of your performance figures, and depending on the number of holdings in your portfolio (and how active they are in terms of corporate actions), it can save you a lot of time at the end of the year.

3. Track your DRPs

Speaking of dividends, if you’re partaking in a dividend reinvestment plan (also known as a DRP or DRIP), it’s especially important to properly track its impact on your portfolio. Sharesight makes it easy:

  • If you hold shares with companies listed on the ASX or NZX and have opted-in to their dividend reinvestment plan, then you’ll want to activate the Auto Dividend Reinvestment feature, which will automatically track a DRP by reinvesting all dividends. It will even let you automatically track the residual balances that can occur with some DRPs.

  • For shares listed on other markets, you can manually record a dividend reinvestment when you add or edit a dividend payment.

Either way, when a dividend reinvestment is recorded in Sharesight, a dividend reinvestment trade for the new shares is recorded in your portfolio, in addition to the dividend record. And your performance figures are updated accordingly.

screenshot - dividend reinvestment

Automating day-to-day portfolio transactions can save you hours of manual updates at the end of the year. And with everything always up to date and in one place, you’ll always know exactly how you’re doing.

FURTHER READING