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FAQ: PLACEHOLDERS deciphered: If you are frustrated with placeholders read this.

K.O. (Win-Premier)
K.O. (Win-Premier) Member ✭✭✭✭
edited December 2020 in FAQ'S (Windows)

It is a good option in Quicken to allow you to compare your share count in a Quicken Investment Account with the share count reported by your brokerage. This way if you accidentally delete a transaction in Quicken or double enter a transaction in Quicken you can catch this mistake before it causes a big problem. That said, I know from personal experience that brokerages don't always report accurate share counts via the interface into Quicken. And I know that at least one brokerage doesn't report any share count information which makes Quicken identify share counts as being different for every security.

So, when Quicken identifies this discrepancy it *can* enter a placeholder which makes the number of shares identical between Quicken and your brokerage but requires you to go back and fix the date and cost information (which is appropriate for accurate reporting). This is also good in that it allows you to acknowledge the difference but not have Quicken report the difference every time you download transactions if this is how you would like to operate.

But, while placeholders serve a function, there are many problems users are having with them even resulting in a big movement to disable them completely. I'm posting this to help users who don't like them so that they don't have to deal with it.

There is no magic bullet to disable placeholders but if you understand a couple of settings in Quicken you’ll understand how to deal (or not deal) with placeholders

In Quicken go to the Edit > Preferences menu and then the “Downloaded Transactions” selection on the left-hand side then make sure “Automatically add to investment transaction list” is not checked. 

If you have this checked Quicken will automatically accept every transaction that was downloaded from the brokerage and in turn will automatically add placeholders if what the brokerage tells Quicken you have in their system does not agree with what is stored in Quicken. If you are having problems with automatically added placeholders turn this option off. It will be far less work to manually accept each downloaded transaction that to retroactively clean up placeholders.

Now go to Tools > Online Center and for each investment account, you can turn on or off the “Compare account portfolio after download” setting under the Options dropdown in the upper right-hand corner.

If you find it valuable to have Quicken compare the share count stored in Quicken with what your brokerage account is reporting via the interface, and your brokerage account rarely reports inaccurate information turn this on. If you are never concerned about this comparison or if your brokerage provides such inaccurate information that you don’t want to be bothered turn this off.

If you turn off the automatic acceptance of investment transactions and you leave on the compare account portfolio you can choose to add placeholders or not for any differences in share count. After the download, you accept your downloaded investment transactions, and then if there are differences in share count a screen will pop up where you can choose to add the placeholders or just ignore them all (i.e. don’t add them).

If you turn off the automatic accept investment transactions setting and turn off the compare account portfolio setting then after you accept all investment transactions Quicken will not run the comparison for share count and you should never even see differences and never get placeholders (nor the option to even add them if you wanted them).

My personal advice (and how I operate) is to turn off the automatic acceptance setting but leave on the compare account portfolio setting. You can avoid adding placeholders while still catching that “once in a great while” instance where you truly are out of sync with the brokerage and avoid many hours later trying to figure out where you got out of sync. If Quicken reports a difference in share counts determine its valid or not and if it is fix it. If you need to do research you don’t need to add a placeholder because the next time you download that account it will tell you about the same difference.

Note: Just because Quicken identifies there is a share count difference does not mean there is a difference between Quicken and the actual number of shares in your brokerage account. It could just be the share count information reported to Quicken by your brokerage is inaccurate.

Disclaimer: I am not an employee of Quicken. Just a user trying to help out based on what I have figured out. There may be quirks in what I’ve described above but I have no issues with placeholders in the way I operate.

I’ve made a suggestion to Quicken to alter the way the “automatically accept investment transactions” function works. I suggest that if the user has this turned on, then automatically accept the transactions but still pop up the comparison of shares window if there is a discrepancy. In other words, never automatically add place holders. Users must choose to add placeholders or disregard discrepancies if discrepancies exist in the share count between Quicken and what the brokerage passes through to Quicken.


  • Quicken Kathryn
    Quicken Kathryn Administrator admin
    edited May 2017

    Great post! Thanks, Kevin!
    Quicken Kathryn
    Community Administrator
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