There are a plethora of portfolio management tools available to the retail investor. Are they useful and, if so, which is best?
Maus and Quicken seem to be the most popular. Listed company Praemium also provides a sophisticated web-based software which looks pretty useful, although I’m not sure how suitable it is for retail investors (it seems to be built for planners).
Personally, I don’t use any of them. Excel suits me just fine. But I know many people are looking for a software solution so we’re throwing Bristlemouth open to recommendations, reviews and criticisms of the different options available.
We’ve already had a few comments on The Intelligent Investor‘s Ask the Experts forum so I’ve included those below to get the debate started.
George uses Quicken Cashflow 2004. ‘It was cheap, and allows one to monitor all bank accounts and share portfolios in depth. It provides dividend investment summaries, cash flow statements, BAS etc and keeps track of GST. It uses single ledger entry (as opposed to double entry accounting) and is therefore pretty simple for non-accountants and works on Windows XP and Vista. Quicken realised pretty quickly that it was too good, and have introduced new products which seem to do less for the same price. So an old copy of Quickbooks 2004 should be available pretty cheaply.’
John uses Maus Stockmarket Plus (I’ve had this one suggested to me before). ‘It reports on your CGT or income for the annual tax return, and provides some good performance reporting. It handles rights issues, stock splits etc which I’d find tricky using Excel. It’s supported in Australia so has all the current tax rates etc. The live price subscriptions are pricey so I simply update the stock prices manually once a month. It came in a deal as part of AFR Smart investor subscription, so was quite cheap.’
Pravin has been using Microsoft Money for the past 14 years: ‘Although its a primarily an accounting programme, it has a rather simple portfolio management tool as well that’s suited for private investors. You can keep more than one portfoilo (eg SMSF as well as individuals) and see all of them in one page for the convenience of overall performance. However, you can sort out all the transactions and get individual reports for dividends, capital gains, interest etc. I found its reporting capabilities very useful for tax purposes. The hidden secret is that you can download daily prices (for Australian and US shares) free of charge. The charting capability is very basic – but these days individual charts supplied by, say, Commsec are quite sophisticated for most private investors.’
Add your comments, suggestions and reviews below. If there’s a groundswell of opinion, I’ll give the preferred provider a call and see if we can organise a bulk deal.
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