I have no affiliation or company interest in ShareSight. This is my unbiased review of my use of ShareSight over the past two years to manage my portfolio accounting for tax purposes
TL;DR – Give me the BLUF!
ShareSight is an incredibly easy to use tool that is completely free for the overwhelming majority of those on the path to Financial Advice who use an index tracking ETF or LIC strategy (since you will have less than 10 unique stock holdings).
ShareSight literally saves me from having to do hours and hours of manual spreadsheet data entry, check sum calculations and pissing around with tax office rules and regulations to make sure I’m not committing tax fraud.
I open up Sharesight once or twice a year and blow the dust off the login screen, import the data about all of the ETFs I have bought that year, verify all of the dividends paid into my brokerage account, and then print out my Tax summary which I hand to the accountant. Then I log out and leave it to accumulate dust for the next financial year! 🤣
“Captain FI – How do you manage your Stock portfolio?”
I frequently get asked something along the lines of… “Hey CaptainFI, how do you manage your portfolio? Do you use Excel or which accounting software did you buy? Or do you just hand a shoe-box full of ASX trade notes to the accountant?“. I’m not even kidding, there is about 10 of these sitting in the inbox right now, from last night alone.
I usually reply “Uhh yeah so I really don’t do anything… I initially used Excel and freaked out over every detail but now I don’t bother“. If I am honest, I don’t actually do anything at all for the most part and I only really care about it at tax time. Of course, I do post nifty little pie charts for my monthly Net Worth updates and this takes a few minutes in Excel, but I wouldn’t say this is how I legally manage my portfolio for tax purposes.
Since I am in my ‘accumulation phase’ all I really care about is aggressively acquiring as many shares of low cost ETF index funds that I can, with the odd LIC sprinkled in for good measure if its trading below NAV.
Portfolio management to aid decision making
I guess it could be useful to review your portfolio between purchases as it might help you figure out which ETF or LIC has ‘gone down the most’ and presents the best ‘value’ at the time. But you can just look at google for this – I tend to just look at whatever LIC is trading at biggest discount, or buy an ETF for whichever market (AUS / US / WORLD ex US) that seems to have dipped the most.
Portfolio management becomes important at tax time
Of course, portfolio management becomes important when it is Tax time; any dividends, extra shares or bonus shares you receive from a dividend reinvestment plan (DRP) or Dividend share substitution plan (DSSP) you are liable to pay income tax for. You need to know just how much tax you are liable for so that you don’t attract the attention of the constabulary…
The simple, hassle free way that I manage my portfolio
So maybe I should finish my answer. I don’t really do anything, because Sharesight does it all for me.
I used to keep track of everything in an excel spreadsheet, but it got really clunky. As much as I used to geek out over excel tables of budgets, net worth and investments which I kept meticulous records of, I just don’t care anymore these days.
I let ShareSight do it all for me – the best part, its 100% free!
So I have personally used Sharesight for a couple of years now, and have a pretty good grasp on how to use it. I have used it to prepare two years of tax returns, and about to use it a third time. I’ll run through what I think some of the important bits are
Sharesight is a web based software which keeps track of your investments for you. You can create a free account, log in, and then enter all of your holdings (or import them all at once). It automatically spits out performance, dividend payments, stock splits etc for you to confirm and cross check against your other records should you wish.
There are increasingly clever ways to import data – for example the functionality exists using API keys with over 100 online stock brokers to automatically import your live purchase data from your brokerage account without the need to ever manually input the transactions.
It took me less than an hour to set up my Sharesight account and import all my data. Now once a year at tax time I input all of my transactions (purchases) and verify all of the dividend payments. Then I simply click ‘Print’ on my tax documents and hand that to my accountant. It couldn’t be more simple.
The best part is, if you have under ten holdings like most of the FI community, then its completely free. If you hold the Aussie FI portfolio of ultra low cost index tracking ETFs such as Vanguards VTS and VEU, and the Betashares A200, then you’ll have absolutely no worries.
Even If your a tinkerer like me (and tinkering has proven to reduce your investment returns so do so at your peril) and you own a few more holdings like the LICs I have, you’ve got up to ten holdings to play with before you start having to pay for the service.
How much will you have to pay? Who knows, its irrelevant to all of us on the path to Financial Independence! We know keeping costs low is crucial to maintaining out low cost of living and maximising our savings rate and minimising our time to reach FI. With the fantastic tool that are ETFs and LICs, we can have global diversification in thousands of individual companies in just one holding, so there is no need to ever have as many as ten!
Sharesight is easy to use. They have detailed user guides and its very intuitive from a web design point of view. Just don’t use it like an idiot and be logged in all the time hawk-eyeing your stock performance!
Remember that saying a watched pot never boils? Yeah well, something something, stop looking at your ETFs! Just chill and let them do their thing in the background. Go do something productive like bake a sourdough or make some beer!
To be honest, as the end user you probably don’t really care about this. But, since the team are providing such a bloody awesome free tool I think it would be rude not to acknowledge their efforts and generosity
Tony and Scott Ryburn are a very switched on and successful father-son duo. Tony had been a committed and enthusiastic investor in both the Australian and New Zealand share markets for decades, and worked as a director in the finance industry. His Son Scott worked extensively in the project management and Information Technology industry, managing computer networks, working as an IT analyst and managing high end home automation.
Together they dreamt about creating a better way of managing investments. Tony had spent decades as an investor, frustrated with the record keeping tools available at the time. Around 2006 they got serious about working on the project, bringing on board two highly experienced software developers.
Since then it has grown into the tool we use today, and is managed by a great team across their development team in Wellington (New Zealand), and a management team in the Sydney (Australia) office.
I was lucky enough to be able to chat to Dave Olsen, Sharesights content manager, about the software tool and some exciting new functionality that is in the works.
David has been a self confessed economics and finance nerd since high school and has been with Sharesight for almost 3 years. Before that he worked with companies including AppSense, Salesforce and Appliances Online.
Sharesight is an online portfolio tracker built to give self-directed investors the full picture of their investment performance, with automatic tracking of prices, dividends (including reinvestment), currency fluctuations and powerful tax reports.
For people on the path to financial independance, Sharesight takes the hard work out of portfolio maintenance and tracking your journey — plus it’s free for portfolios with 10 holdings or less.
Sharesight has offices in Wellington, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia, and is used by investors in 97 countries around the world. Sharesight has a number of core tax reports available for all users, but offer a number of additional reports built to local tax rules for the needs of investors in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Brokers will only generally tell you the difference between your purchase price and today’s price, totally ignoring the impact of dividends (and reinvestments) on your investment performance.
Registries are a good record of the number of units you hold, but if your portfolio holds shares across multiple registries, you’ll still need to consolidate those figures in one place — that’s where Sharesight comes in.
Plus Sharesight takes much of the manual portfolio admin out of the equation (particularly if you use a broker Sharesight supports) so no fiddling with a complicated spreadsheet to calculate your performance.
Sharesight supports a range of instrument types on almost 30 exchanges worldwide, including shares, ETFs, LICs, REITs as well as Managed Funds/Mutual Funds in Australia, NZ and Canada. Not to mention almost 100 worldwide currencies, fixed interest and a number of cryptocurrencies.
We recently wrote a blog post detailing how to track investments in property (including tracking rental income) this can be done through Sharesight’s Custom Investment feature.
Sharesight sources pricing information for ETFs directly from the ASX/NZX as well as international ETF data from our additional data providers. We also source ETF distribution component values for tax purposes directly from a number of share registries in Australia, including Computershare.
As I just mentioned, we work directly with the share registries in Australia to source ETF component data to help investors complete their tax returns and comply with the Attribution Managed Investment Trust tax reporting requirements for the ATO. We have no direct link to the ATO, but all our reports are built for Australian users to make completing their tax returns for the ATO as easy as possible.
Sharesight doesn’t sell or share any of your individual investment information. Though we do occasionally share updates using aggregate data such as our Sharesight20 trading snapshots of the top 20 trades across our users on the ASX and NZX exchanges.
We hear that many Sharesight users like to create a separate portfolio that they use as a watchlist of shares they are interested in buying, waiting for an opportunity to either buy on an up swing, or watching to strike when it becomes a value buy.
Sharesight already supports over 100 brokers through our emailed contract note functionality plus a number of brokers through API connections (including CMC Markets). We’d love to see more brokers integrate directly with the Sharesight API to make it easier for investors to connect their brokerage accounts to Sharesight.
We’re always working on new and exciting features, and have a number of improvements on our internal roadmap for 2020. We’ll have more details to announce on these when they’re ready.
Question eleven: do you personally invest in index fund ETFs or LICs?
I personally like to keep things fairly simple with my investing, and generally stick to a few core index tracking ETFs, plus a couple of thematics to gain exposure to particular sectors.
Question 12: is there anything you’d like to chat about or point out which we haven’t covered which might be relevant to investors?
Often the best way to see what Sharesight is all about is to just sign up and see it for action yourself. It’s free to sign up, so give it a try.
Now before you go thinking I’m just advertising Sharesight, I don’t have any affiliation with them at all. I just think its a great product which saves me countless hours of pain-in-the-arse busy work at tax time. I’m even negotiating with them to try and get some kind of sign up bonus for you readers (maybe a couple of months free access to the premium version?) so we will see how that pans out.
I personally find Sharesight to be a very useful piece of free software to help make my life easier come tax time. If your worried about hawk-eyeing your shares performance then I guess it makes that a little easier, too (as compared to your brokerage account which won’t factor dividends etc) but you still shouldn’t be doing it every day.
It was great to chat to Dave about the tool, and if you think Sharesight could help you, head over to their website at https://www.sharesight.com/au/ for more details about how to join and start benefiting from it, completely for free!