Monitoring Your Investments
Monitoring your Investments
Some people will of course be happy to entrust their pension to a pension provider who will invest the pot on their behalf in one of their own funds, based upon the individual’s desired level of risk. These people will also be happy with the annual or six monthly report from the provider on the performance of their investments.
Whilst there is nothing wrong with this approach – indeed it has been the way things have been done for many years, The UK Pensions Blog is really for those who wish to take a more active role in managing and monitoring their investments. The internet, together with an increasingly sophisticated set of monitoring tools and Apps provided by pension providers and financial information sites means that you can now monitor the performance of your investments on a daily basis if you so desire.
The following sources provide links to such sophisticated tools and cover the key features of each. Some of the tools come from the pension providers themselves and are an integral part of the offering they have created to encourage you to use their investment platform to hold your pension investments – nothing wrong with that at all!
Whilst the basic versions of these monitoring tools are free for anyone to use, some companies reserve the more powerful features for clients who have an account with them – fair enough!
The list is not exhaustive and we will add to it over time. If you have come across a platform that you particularly like, do please let us know or post the details in the Forum section on monitoring. For the time being we are covering the following platforms:
- FE Trustnet
- Saltydog Investor
- Financial Times Portfolio Tool
- Hargreaves Lansdown App
FE Trustnet is a financial information site that specialises in the collection and distribution of fund and equity prices, and factsheet information (they also have an execution-only investment platform called TrustnetDirect that draws on the same research and data available at FE Trustnet) . Whilst they are the main supplier of data to the UK financial sector, their service is also aimed at private investors and Independent Financial Advisers.
The site is free to use, attractively laid out, easy to navigate and contains some really useful tools and features to help monitor your pension. These include an impressive portfolio management and charting capability, reviews and ratings of fund managers and regular suggestions and ideas for which funds to buy for what circumstances. All information is intended to be entirely factual and unbiased, however one should be aware that their service is funded by the investment houses that subscribe to it, which perhaps explains why some funds are featured over others and why there is a distinct lack of comparison charts of different funds in their editorial content. In their own words:
“We offer completely free access to our website as the fund management companies whose products are covered pay us a subscription fee. A reduced level of information is available for funds not paying a subscription. Revenue is also generated from the banner adverts placed throughout the site.”
They are particularly good when you want to set up a chart to compare funds in your portfolio or to identify the better performing funds from a particular sector. I keep charts, like the one below for the Japan focused funds, on each of the sectors I am interested in. If I was seeking to buy some Japan funds I can easily see the 10% difference in 3 month performance between the best and worst perfoming funds. You can show up to 15 investments at a time on the graph but your portfolio can contain many more and you can swap them in and out using simple check boxes.
Saltydog Investor is not an investment platform but it is a great complement to your investments if you are the sort of person who likes to follow investment trends and invest on positive momentum. I cover some of their philosophy in the section on Momentum Trading.
Saltydog is a subscription service. However, they do offer a two month free trial of their system and you can sign up for it here.
If you just want a thoroughly comprehensive, real-time review of the top decile funds in every sector delivered to you each week, then Saltydog Investor web site is great for that. Their weekly analysis covers the decile performance of over 21,000 funds and they focus on the top decile of the relevant sector, which means that you are looking at the top performing 10% of funds across every investment sector.
Saltydog’s presentation easily allows you to identify your investments and compare their performance with other funds in the same sector – ideal if you are an active investor and trade regularly to make sure you have invested in the best performing funds. A good example is the chart below which shows the Absolute Return sector. You can see and track the CF Eclectica fund which has dramatically outperformed its cohort over 26 weeks, delivering over 15% more growth than its nearest competitor and 25% better performance than the pack.
If you had decided that an Absolute Return fund was a part of your investment strategy, why wouldn’t you want to choose the best performing one?
You could of course replicate what Saltydog does in the Trustnet portfolio tool – but it would take you a week to do so! If you combine a Saltydog style tool with a strategy that employs moving averages over a relatively short period to give you a feel for price trends, you stand a chance of maximising any outperformance that Saltydog may identify.
Financial Times Portfolio Tool
The FT’s Portfolio tool is typical of many similar tools, but to my mind it is easier to use, more intuitive and more powerful than most. If you like to see how your funds are doing on a regular basis, it also has the advantage of updating fund prices shortly after the fund has been valued (most funds are valued at midday) rather than waiting until the midle of the night to do so, as Hargreaves Lansdown and others do. It is free to use, easy to add funds to and the presentation and ordering of gains/losses is intuitive and easy to assimilate at a quick glance.
I particularly like the interactive charting fuctionality. Whilst many portfolio tools will allow you to apply more sophisticated analysis to your chosen funds (such as the moving average lines shown on the Henderson European Smaller Companies chart below), many will only keep the analysis in memory during that particular session. With FT Portfolio you can save your charting settings so that the moving average lines for example will appear when viewing the interactive chart for any of your fund holdings. Not a major achievement, but an indication of the thought that has gone into creating the tool.
If you know of any other monitoring tools that you rate highly, do please let us know by commenting in the Forum topic.