A portfolio tracker is a crucial part of your trading tech. And your trading tech should be a big part of your preparation.
You may know I’m a bit of a nerd. I love gadgets and tech. And when that technology actually makes my life simpler? I’ve probably already got it.
So I’ve been tracking my stock portfolio online since the early days. I’m talking about back when Yahoo Finance’s portfolio tracker was the smart pick. (It’s not anymore.)
These days, we’ve got options. This article will help you separate the cream from the curd.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is a Portfolio Tracker?
- 2 Why Do You Need a Portfolio Tracker?
- 3 What Is the Best Portfolio Tracker?
- 4 Important Tools Your Portfolio Tracker Must Have
- 5 How Do You Track Portfolio Performance?
- 6 How to Choose the Best Stocks Portfolio Tracker for You
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 One Platform. One System. Every Tool
What Is a Portfolio Tracker?
A portfolio tracker does what it says on the label — it tracks your stock portfolio.
Portfolio trackers used to be simple. Most were just spreadsheets with some related news links. They were usually hosted on business news sites.
About a decade ago, that started to change. Dedicated portfolio trackers started to crop up. They came equipped with powerful analytical tools. And they integrated with brokerages and stock screener tools.
Around five years ago, news sites started deemphasizing portfolio trackers. Yahoo Finance crammed in a load of sponsored content. Google Finance totally killed theirs.
The good news is that the portfolio trackers that are still around are better. They’re mostly a lure for paid investment services, but these are easier to fend off than pop-ups.
Why Do You Need a Portfolio Tracker?
What’s the one thing you need to keep a closer eye on than the market? Yep, that’s right, you need to keep track of what you’ve already bought.
If you’re an investor, it’s pretty obvious that you need a good stocks portfolio manager.
But if you’re a day trader, it might seem like less of a need. It might seem like you can juggle positions without one.
But let me ask you this … Do you ever hold a position overnight? Or keep some of your money in longer-term trades?
If the answer to these questions is ever gonna be yes or even maybe, you need a portfolio tracker.
The one you find should help you do the following…
1. Make Smarter Spending Decisions
Knowing how much money you have to make trades is the single most important part of a trading plan.
It’s easy to overextend yourself when you’re excited about a play’s potential. That’s why you need to know what percentage of your money you’re putting on the line.
2. Better Management of Your Budget
The flip side of spending is managing your risk. You need to understand how much you can afford to lose.
Too many traders don’t think about losing. And realistically, they will lose and often.
Your number-one goal as a new trader is to stay in the game.
Tracking your budget is essential for doing that.
3. Keep a Running Record of All Your Investments
It’s easy to lose track of your less sexy investments. If you don’t see the investment daily, it can become dead money.
And what happens to that dead money? It shrinks the pool of cash that you can draw on for trades. And then you think about it … and it reminds you of sunk costs and bad investments.
This goes against another one of my rules: Don’t be a bag holder.
This is someone who holds onto a losing position with the false hope that they’ll make their money back. A portfolio tracker will help you avoid this pitfall.
4. Easily Identify Your Trading and Investing Needs
A big part of creating your trading plan is figuring out who you are as a trader. A good portfolio tracker will help you see who you really are as a trader.
Some will even let you import your past trades.
What Is the Best Portfolio Tracker?
Sorry, I know you’re not gonna like this… but as in all things trading, this is a matter of personal fit.
If there was one best app for every trader, the others wouldn’t exist. Heck, some people still use Yahoo Finance!
Let’s start with my favorite…
Of course I’m going to mention StocksToTrade here. The best portfolio tracker is the one you’ll actually use. And if you’ve been following me for a while, you know I think you should use StocksToTrade.
StocksToTrade has a portfolio tracker that’s easy to pick up. It lets you quickly import your current stocks and connect with your brokerage. Then you can access STT’s other functions: charts, indicators, watchlists, relevant news stories, and so much more.
See what StocksToTrade has to offer with a 14-day trial for just $7.
Sharesight heads up the new breed of portfolio trackers.
It makes a product that stands on its own, not as an add-on to a resource you already check for stocks. It doesn’t benefit from existing traffic like Yahoo Finance does, and its tracker is stronger for it.
It has some neat features like native crypto tracking and customizable tax reporting. Not all levels are free, but the trial will give you a taste of the Sharesight experience.
3. Morningstar Portfolio Manager
Morningstar offers one of the widest arrays of features in the free trial class. If you want to spend a monthly fee, there are some good extra features. But it’s lost ground on the competition since it was introduced.
Its Portfolio X-Ray tool was revolutionary when it came out. And it’s a powerful tool to evaluate the distribution of your holdings.
But if that’s your draw to the premium version, you’re better off just getting something like Quicken. X-Ray is included in this one-time cost.
4. MarketWatch Portfolios
Like Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch draws a lot of traffic from site visitors. The Dow Jones-owned site also manages to add a few nifty features to its free tracker.
This could be an option if you head to MarketWatch for news.
5. Personal Capital Finance Tracker
Personal Capital offers a cool twist on your standard portfolio tracker…
It does everything that the Mint app can do, alongside a capable portfolio tracker. It lists bills, bank accounts, and credit card statements alongside your investments.
This total picture helps focus on departures from your risk management profile.
6. SigFig Portfolio Tracker
SigFig is disappointingly straightforward for a tracker with such a nerdy name. (It stands for ‘significant figures,’ which is some kind of math joke.)
Its free portfolio tracker is fairly stripped down. One thing it does have is a free portfolio analysis tool. This tool can uncover hidden fees and help balance your portfolio.
It’s probably better to avoid unless you’re already signed up with its robo-investing platform.
7. Betterment Portfolio Tracker
Betterment is another portfolio tracker made to complement a robo-investing platform.
As a standalone option, its free tracker is OK. It even has some of the touches that make its paid service unique. Like highlighting goals you’ve set.
One negative is the constant nudging toward a paid account.
8. Yahoo Finance Portfolio Tracker
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Yahoo Finance’s 2016 redesign. I get it, Yahoo has a team of developers always hunting for more clicks. This probably makes sense somehow.
All I know is that the great community of traders this site once had have now gone elsewhere.
Maybe you have to look at their portfolio tracker with new eyes. It’s still free, integrates easily with your brokerage account, and has a news feed you might have heard of.
Important Tools Your Portfolio Tracker Must Have
Now that you know the range, you might be getting some ideas. I’ll run down the specific tools you should be looking for.
The Number of Stocks Tracked
This is especially important for free trackers.
Some give you as few as 10 stock slots in one portfolio. Others give out up to 25 portfolios for the free version.
Another thing you’ll need to watch for are the securities that can be tracked. If you’re trading a lot of crypto, your needs will be more distinct than a large-cap trader.
If your brokerage isn’t supported by a tracker, that changes what you can use it for.
I wouldn’t go near a portfolio tracker that doesn’t have easy integration with my broker. If you’re a trader, what’s the point?
You’d need to enter each position manually. I guess this would help cultivate discipline…
But wouldn’t you rather spend your free time living that laptop lifestyle? It’s a lot more fun if you’re not spending all your time on a laptop.
I’m not convinced that day traders need these analysis tools. But you should at least know what your tracker comes with.
Who knows — you might even get some use from them.
Integrated News Feed
This is a really good thing to look at.
Some trackers have an advantage with this. Yahoo Finance and MarketWatch are business news websites after all. It’s in their interest to send you quality clicks. But that won’t stop them from getting greedy and top-listing garbage sponsored clicks as well.
StocksToTrade beats them all on this. Yeah, I’m biased, but it’s not even close. It gives you direct access to Twitter feeds, SEC filings, earnings reports, and a news feed. No need to sift through search engines and battle pop-up ads on the way.
How Do You Track Portfolio Performance?
There are a ton of ways to do this.
On the ground level, it’s a matter of what matches your trading strategy. But it doesn’t hurt to look at what other people are doing.
That’s one of the advantages of joining a tight trading community like our SteadyTrade Team. We’ve got all different kinds of traders on board. Day traders to swing traders to position traders. Please join us here.
If you trade short term, you might become as fanatical about tracking as I am. Every day, I watch the moves of stocks on several watchlists. I have multiple monitors running at once. I’m tracking them in real time.
For position traders, trusting a portfolio tracker might come more naturally.
Here’s a taste:
Can’t wait to see you there!
How to Choose the Best Stocks Portfolio Tracker for You
Ok, I’ve thrown a lot at you. When it comes to portfolio trackers you’ve got options. So how do you choose?
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is speed. Your tracker should have decent load times, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about how fast it communicates with the market. Even a few seconds of delay can really screw you up.
A streamlined, easy-on-the-eyes interface is also deceptively important. Hopefully, you’ll use this tracker. So it should be easy to use and have an intuitive layout. A clunky home screen is the main reason I stopped using Yahoo Finance.
Last but certainly not least — how much will it cost? There are a lot of options out there, but those options increase when you’re willing to pay more.
With StocksToTrade, you’ll get a powerful, integrated stock screener with your subscription.
The free-to-use MarketWatch also has a stock screener. I don’t think it’s 5% as good though. What can I say? I love StocksToTrade.
Like I said, the best portfolio tracker is the one that fits your needs.
When you’re starting to trade, it’s important to know what’s out there.
A good portfolio tracker won’t unlock trading opportunities. But it can help to be a solid foundation for future trades.
And that’s all you can really do — prepare yourself the best that you can. It’s what I still do every day, 13 years into my trading career.
Do you use a portfolio tracker? How does it help your trading goals? Let me know in the comments below!