On the tyranny of quarterly reporting
I have cobbled together a solution for tracking the 10-foot portfolio. It is not elegant, but it lets me see what I’ve got. Two months in, and the 10foot portfolio is underperforming.
For the first time I’m beginning to really grasp the tyranny of regular performance reporting at funds. I think it is vital for transparency and accountability, but I imagine it is hard to look at a quarterly report where you have underperformed the market and say ‘yes I am underwater here, this is fine.’
My portfolio vs the S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO)(source: Google portfolio)
Of course I don’t have any investors, but I am going to write quarterly updates to keep track of how I’m going. I have been investing privately for a number of years, and have had periods of underperformance, mistakes, and big losers. Yet funnily enough they make me far less uncomfortable than the simple act of writing this post saying “see here, I am down 2.9% in 2 months“. That is a trifling degree of underperformance and, I would argue, is not underperformance at all – just the usual market fluctuations that occur while you wait for a thesis to play out.
Still, when you invest on your own, the only person you have to justify yourself to is yourself and, perhaps the accountant or Significant Other. As I write this post, and when I publish about companies that I’ve bought, I get the uncomfortable feeling of “what if I’m an idiot and I just haven’t figured it out yet?” Hopefully, being self-aware enough to ask that question means that I’m not.
I’m surprised at the degree to which tracking my short-term performance like this is uncomfortable. One fund manager that I follow shows in this report (from December 2016) his monthly performance since inception, and I was comforted to see that he’s had plenty of down months, albeit far outnumbered by the up months.
Anyway, the point is that I need to remain focused on the 3-5 year time frame, despite the potential distraction of quarterly performance tracking. I’ve just spent 360 words writing about how I’m ‘underperforming’ 2 months in, which in my opinion is about 330 words too many.
And if you know of a good software/app solution for tracking a portfolio that doesn’t cost money and will update itself on my website in real time, let me know.
I own shares in Thorn Group, RNY Property Trust, and Eureka Group.
I’d highly recommend Sharesight. It’s not free (well their limited/basic plan is) but it’s ease of use and large range of functionality is certainly worth it. I’ve built spreadsheets and used numerous other software packages but Sharesight is easily the best bang for buck IMO.
Thanks Matt, I have used Sharesight previously but I couldn’t use it for the 10foot blog as it lacks (or lacked, a few months ago anyway?) a cash-linked transaction function. So I’d have to manually adjust cash every time I transacted or received a dividend etc. I also found its ‘whole of portfolio’ reporting tools were mediocre. I couldn’t see the whole portfolio value over time and compare it to XSO/XJO etc. Google Finance portfolio feature is basically perfect, but they’re either removing or updating it atm (I hope the latter). So I may have to go back to sharesight soon.
Id also love to get some sort of widget that I can put on the site to update in real time, but I have had a look at a couple of possibilities and they look like a LOT of work. It’s on my list for a rainy day.