My new portfolio tracking software

PieChartHey everybody! It’s been a while.

I’ve not been blogging, but I have at least been trying to practice what I preach.

In fact I’d probably say that in the past couple of years I’ve become a full-time entrepreneur. It turns out that self-determination, rather than free time was the thing I wanted all along. Who’d have known? 🙂

The niche electronics product I’ve spent much of my recent life working on, FaderMate, is on the market and now I’ve moved on to developing the next thing.

Money, money…

You might remember the idea I came up with last year when I was whining about the ‘messiness’ of managing my investment portfolio. Well, I’ve finally put something together – a portfolio management app for UK private investors.

If you manage your own investments and you’d like to have a look, and perhaps even play a part in shaping the development of my new product, please get in touch and I’ll set you up with a login.

At the moment, I’m really looking for people who are willing to give me some feedback and tell me what they want from the software. It’s not quite ready for mass adoption, but over the next couple of months I hope to have something fit for public consumption.

So, what is it?

No robots

When I started thinking about how I could rid myself of my rebalancing headache, I focussed upon the logistics of performing all of the transactions required to add new money to my portfolio. In typical nerdy engineer fashion, I was thinking about building an automated rebalancing service (a.k.a. a rebalancing robot).

Suffice it to say that building such a thing would be very difficult to get to a stage where people would be able to use it. I would need access to account passwords and other bits of information that many people are, shall we say, ‘hesitant’ to share.

However, there’s definitely a lot of ‘low hanging fruit’ which, if harvested correctly, would improve my current spreadsheet-based portfolio tracking process massively. I therefore set to work on making some software which:

  • Automatically keeps track of the prices of assets in my portfolio
  • Tracks my asset allocation
  • Calculates how ownership of joint assets is divided between me and my wife
  • Keeps track of the various tax wrappers/investment accounts we have
  • Draws some nice graphs to give me a good ‘at a glance’ view of the portfolio as a whole

At the moment, the software’s quite basic, but really, the sky’s the limit. In fact, I’ve thought of all manner of wacky things which are possible.

What’s your problem?

Of course, there’s no point in me just going ahead and implementing my grand vision without any thought for what users want. That’s why I’m talking about this in public – I want you to come and tell me what my portfolio tracking software would have to do to make you want to use it.

Here are a couple of the big ideas I’ve had so far:

  • Generation of automatic rebalancing ‘triggers’ (e.g. you get an email when you need to take action)
  • Total portfolio cost tracking (and possibly recommendations for optimisation – hat tip to beta user Alex for this one)
  • Tracking of more complex things on the ‘balance sheet’ (e.g. gearing ratio considering mortgages etc)
  • Tax optimisation strategies (e.g. capital loss harvesting)

I’d be really interested to hear what you think of these ideas. Is there a particular feature you think should obviously be included?

It might be better if we can arrange to get you set up to use the beta software so you can get an idea of what you think is missing. On the other hand, if that sounds too much like hard work, I’d be delighted if you could just just drop me an email with your wish list.

Another hedged risk

My intention with this post is quite obviously to try and get some exposure (and hopefully some enthusiastic beta users!) for my new app. However, I think that this project is another demonstration of how I am applying the philosophy that I’ve written about elsewhere on this site and so I think it’s worth a quick look from this angle.

I’m sure there are at least a few budding entrepreneurs reading this surreptitiously on their work computers during office hours. If you’re one of them and you’re thinking longingly of starting a similar project so you can ditch the day job, but you just don’t have enough days in the week (or money in the bank) to pull it off, please let this post act as your wake up call.

You’re all going to die.

Not soon, I hope, but one day. Don’t force yourself to live for the rest of your life with the regrets of not doing something which could have changed it for the better.

Work out how to free up some time. Bank some cash. Get yourself organised. Get an accountability partner. And then Just Fucking Do It!

I don’t think that the last project I did is ever going to make me rich, but it’s trickling in a bit of income now and giving me even more leeway to get on with the portfolio app.

I poured my heart and soul into the last thing and it took up a hell of a lot of my life. I made a lot of mistakes. I had a blast. But through it all, I was still bringing in a solid lower middle-class income from freelance clients whilst keeping most of my time available to work on the project. Even if the product had completely flopped, nobody’s standard of living would have dropped.

So, if you’ve internalised the dichotomy of either having a full-time job, or taking massive entrepreneurial risks which have the potential to wipe you out, just think about my experience: it’s not ‘either/or’.

Get in touch

I’m not going to ramble on about the app any more, but I do intend to post some progress updates over the next few months as I build the software out into something really useful for the UK personal finance community.

In the meantime, if you’d like to have a chat about what I’m doing, even if it’s just to tell me what’s wrong with my idea, please shoot me an email.

Thanks for reading.