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What your broker tells you vs what they actually mean

by Doug Morris, CEO, Sharesight

Most Australian stock brokers, especially the online outfits run by the big banks, care about one thing: getting you to trade more. They’re not particularly interested in the “picks and shovels” aspect of investing, such as helping Australian investors complete their tax returns.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what Sharesight was built to do.

Right around this time of year I look forward to a bit of comic relief in my inbox. That is, the annual “how broker X is making tax time easy” email and marketing campaign.

If you define “easy” as downloading spreadsheets, sourcing three different registry websites for unit balances and dividends (god help you if you reinvest dividends), and checking PDFs for distribution data, then you’re in luck. Tax time will be a piece of cake for you!

What your broker tells you vs what they actually mean

There are a number of common phrases in these broker emails, here’s what they really mean:

Broker SaysBroker Means
Be a Smart Investor at Tax TimeSavvy investors use tax time to their advantage, especially if they’re sitting on capital losses. Unfortunately, we don’t provide you with tax reports and if we do send you something notional it will be for the trades you’ve made with us, and not anyone else.
Update your Personal DetailsWe’ve posted you a bunch of stuff, hopefully you haven’t moved house. Would you like a home loan?
Download your TradesIncredibly, the only way to view your transaction history is by downloading raw data into Microsoft Excel and parsing the actual share trades from the other junk (like the fees we charge you).
Review your Contract NotesWe don’t make it easy to download all of these, much less a summary. Hopefully you’ve created an email filter so you find 12 months’ worth of trading history and then print each one for your accountant. Consider buying premium Adobe so you can collate PDF files.
Check your DividendsEven though Aussie investors love dividends because of our incredible franking policy, we have no insight into your dividends whatsoever. You need to create an account on the three different registry websites and download your dividend history. This will probably cost you $40 per registry if you need historical data.
Update your Tax File Number (TFN)The ATO is cracking down on the entire industry so it’s best you stay on top of your tax. Also, we’re now responsible for sharing capital gain and loss data with the tax office as well so it will pay to be organised!
Understand your Portfolio PerformanceWe’ll show you green numbers if you’ve made money and red numbers if you’ve lost money. If you see green, you probably owe some tax. We don’t provide information on investment duration, cost bases, or dividends. Also you can’t benchmark your portfolio against the market.

Sharesight actually makes it easy at tax time

Sharesight Hero - Laptop

Unlike most brokers, Sharesight actually makes it easy for investors at tax time. With Sharesight you can:

The best way to understand what Sharesight is all about is to sign up and try Sharesight for yourself. We’re confident that you’ll agree that it’s the best portfolio tracker for investors.

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