Insight into Sharesight
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One of my subscribers sent me an email telling me that I really should look into Sharesight because it is an excellent tool for gauging how my SmartShares are tracking. What? Is my excel spreadsheet not good enough? It is good enough for many things but because I am drip feeding money into two Index Funds these days and I get dividend payouts from other shares it is hard/impossible for me to get an accurate gauge on how these investments are performing. Is my money making money or is it losing money?
Although I have been aware of Sharesight for quite some time I had assumed it would not really live up to the bold claims on the packet:
Simply the best share portfolio tracker for New Zealand investors.
And I know from experience that every system that is designed to be easy to use is often complicated to learn, requires yet another password and adds yet another web address to my already cluttered browser. I have lost track of how many things over the years have been recommended to me as “can’t live without this” and “it is amazing”, only to find out that they didn’t hit the mark with ME. On a non financial note I remember my neighbour phoning me in great excitement telling me I had to go to her place RIGHT NOW because she had something amazing to show me. I dropped what I was doing and sprinted over there. She had bought one of those Karcher electric window cleaners! Although her excitement was infectious, alas I still have dirty windows.
A good investor should hold a steady course and not jump into every new fad and product going.
But this subscriber and I had a few emails back and forth and everything they said made sense. When they pointed out that by the way they are an accountant, it gave them some street cred on the matter and the googling searches began! And ever since we first connected it has been 5.30am starts all week, such was my EXCITEMENT to check it all out. I even made it to the fifth page of google searches, followed many Reddit threads and the conversations I read had me wanting to try it out for myself. I had to peel myself away so I could get to work at 10.30 each day! I was even tempted to call in sick!
My accounting subscriber made the point about being able to accurately see how your fund is performing when you are drip feeding an amount into it. That struck me as being pretty useful. Because I have been growing my Index Funds from zip I have not taken a huge deal of notice of performance yet, but the balance is steadily growing now and my interest in “is this actually working” is growing too.
Sharesight was started in New Zealand and is now offering its product in Australia, Canada and the USA. It is designed for DIY investors like ME (and you) right up to those with complicated share portfolios and brokers. I read every word on their site, watched the video from the founder, cringed at the size of his son’s beard and then went on to sign up for the free trial.
I signed up for the free plan but there are two other plans: Investor ($25 per month) and Expert ($39 per month) for those with unlimited holdings. The free plan is perfect for me because I only have three funds I want to track. This is not a site for buying and selling. It is just combining the data that I put in with the data that it has in its very clever system to tell me how I’m doing.
Their homepage elevator pitch succinctly sums up what they do:
Lose the spreadsheet
Keeping track of investments used to be a hassle.
Sharesight makes it simple.
Want automatic holding updates, with comprehensive tax and performance reporting, wrapped up in an easy-to-use, fully online system?
That’s Sharesight in a nutshell.
They give us spread sheet lovers a bit of a hard time to be honest! My spread sheet may be basic but it has got me this far...
It was very quick to sign up, just an email and password required (another password to remember!). Then, because I’m impatient I pretty much just started clicking on things and following my nose.
It is quite intuitive to find your way around the site. I wondered how they got my share information and it turns out I had to manually enter it all. They throw you straight into it with prompting you to enter a holding that you already have, in my case I thought I would start with Meridian (MEL). It was a simple one for me to begin with because I bought a set amount, I have never bought or sold any and I have received the dividends into my bank when they were released.
Imagine my excitement when I entered all the data going way back to 2013 and then THEIR SYSTEM populated it with my dividend payments over that period. Woah! AND because the system has imported a dividend it alerts you so you can double check it against your own records from the company. I needed to go and confirm that the information that their system has imported is correct. I cross referenced this to the website where I go to check on those particular shares AND on my own spreadsheet. I made a few tweeks if their numbers were slightly out. A bit of common sense and basic maths sure does come in handy.
Well, if that was not exciting enough I then went on to create a new Holding and entered each batch of shares I had bought in the SmartShares NZ Top 50 fund (MDZ). This was about 25 separate transactions. Once again, the site added dividend payments etc and I confirmed or altered them before approving them. Once again I had to refer back to the site that holds this information (Link Market Services) to ensure it was correct. Then I did the same process for my SmartShares US500 fund (USF).
But how does it update?
Their system updates the share prices daily which makes sure that my portfolio is always current and up to date. If there is a dividend, it will show it and another feature I liked is that it links with Google to find news that is specific to that share. For example, it had quite a few recent news articles about Meridian. But, like my spreadsheet, it is up to me to keep it updated so going forward each time I acquire new shares I need to come here and enter them. This should be pretty simple as I get a statement about what I bought and how many units I got. I just have to stay on top of it and make sure I keep it current plus I also need to cross check that my actual allocations match theirs, if not I just edit them.
I probably spent about four hours reading reviews, entering information into their site and then playing around to see what I could break, delete, add or change. I settled on entering the details for three investments that I have (FNZ, USF and MEL) and for the short term I am happy with that. To see at a glance how much I have invested and the return I’m receiving on an investment I am drip feeding into is handy. Each month when I make a share purchase I’m going to manually enter them onto Sharesight, but I’m still going to keep using my own spreadsheet because although useful, this site can’t do everything. I still have other things I want to track like my household expenditure, other savings that I have going on, cash in the bank and my net worth for example.
Already I am receiving interesting emails from them about how the site works and if I wanted to I could sign up for weekly email alerts which will let me know if a dividend is paid, if the company announces something or if the price climbs/falls more than 5%. I’m NOT going to do this at the moment because Index Funds are about passive investing. A monthly check in is enough for me because I have read enough to know that those who come in and out of the market (i.e. buy and sell all the time) rarely end up ahead. Yeah you bet I will take an interest, no one will care about my money as much as I do, but I have better things to do with my day than watching my pennies move up and down. I don’t want to become a nervous investor who gets the jitters every time a price moves. Cool as a cucumber, that’s me!
I have just scratched the surface of what this site can do. But for now, that is enough.
So, a big thanks for sending me an email hooking me up to this site. I didn’t mean for this blog to turn into a review but I think that is what just happened! I didn’t get paid of course, but I had a really fun week checking it out and that is payment enough.