Ode to the spreadsheet

by Doug Morris, CEO, Sharesight

Over 70% of investors used a spreadsheet before finding Sharesight. In fact, we keep the spreadsheet that served as the Sharesight prototype under lock and key in the Sharesight archives:

screenshot - Tony's spreadsheetThe spreadsheet that started it all – for more info see The Sharesight Story.

When we talk to new clients we often find ourselves delicately explaining how Sharesight will begin automating what used to be done manually in a spreadsheet. Customers sometimes ask if they can download our price or dividend data so they can manually do the calculations in their spreadsheet. It’s a case of letting go, we tell them.

Unfortunately, we can’t tell people what to do with the hours we give them back. It is truly amazing how some people don’t put a value on their own time, happy to tinker away on Saturday afternoons learning new Excel tricks. I’m guilty of it myself, having recently memorised the keyboard shortcut for “Paste Special”. (For other Mac users out there who are curious, it’s Command + Control + V.)

featured - laptop spreadsheet 2

Our spreadsheet upload feature is one of the most popular ways investors get started on Sharesight. With just a few required data points, you can import your historical trades to create your first portfolio, which in turn will automatically calculate your performance, capital gains and losses, dividend income, and more. If you don’t have your old trades handy, you can begin with an opening balance, which is the simplest way to get going.

And yes, you can always export your portfolio data back into Excel (.csv) if you can’t break the habit.

Again, I’m guilty as charged. Even though we use Xero for financial reporting I can’t resist downloading their profit and loss or cash summary reports into my own models, which I’ve been perfecting for years. Truthfully, I rely 100% on Xero to collect and process the data, it’s just that I can’t resist having a play with the numbers.

So in honour of underappreciated spreadsheets everywhere, have a listen to this recent Planet Money podcast on the history of spreadsheets and their surprising impact on a number of industries. (If you’re not already subscribed to Planet Money, we highly recommend doing so.)

Sharesight and spreadsheets: frienemies forever.