Investment Accounts Balance Always Wrong

I have several investment accounts (401k, Roth IRA, IRA, Brokerage, 529) from different institutions (Fidelity, Vanguard, etc). Whenever I import an account, the Total Market Value of the account would match the account perfectly. However, without fail after a few weeks, the account balance would be off (usually by a few thousand).

What is the proper way to manage investment accounts in Quicken so that the investment amounts accurately reflect how much is in each investment account?
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Best Answer

  • Sherlock
    Sherlock SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer
    There are many proper ways to manage an investment account.  Generally, we must maintain the holdings using a list of transactions.  The transactions may be entered manually and/or imported from a financial institution.  To assess the market value and performance of an investment, we also need to maintain a price history for the securities we hold.  The entries in the price history may also be entered manually or imported.   To maintain accuracy, it is important to reconcile the investment account with the financial institution's statements.

    Quicken makes it relatively easy to import transactions and price quotes and to detect discrepancies with holding share balances reported by a financial institution.  However, establishing an accurate initial state of an investment account may be challenging especially when all of the appropriate transactions are not available at import.  It is also important to recognize when it is appropriate not to accept an imported transaction.

Answers

  • Sherlock
    Sherlock SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer
    There are many proper ways to manage an investment account.  Generally, we must maintain the holdings using a list of transactions.  The transactions may be entered manually and/or imported from a financial institution.  To assess the market value and performance of an investment, we also need to maintain a price history for the securities we hold.  The entries in the price history may also be entered manually or imported.   To maintain accuracy, it is important to reconcile the investment account with the financial institution's statements.

    Quicken makes it relatively easy to import transactions and price quotes and to detect discrepancies with holding share balances reported by a financial institution.  However, establishing an accurate initial state of an investment account may be challenging especially when all of the appropriate transactions are not available at import.  It is also important to recognize when it is appropriate not to accept an imported transaction.
  • Jim_Harman
    Jim_Harman SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    If an account balance does not match, I would start by clicking on Holdings for the account and comparing the securities, share counts, share prices, and cash balance to what is showing on your statement. Set the As of date to match the statement closing date.

    You can adjust the date to match previous statements to see where things went wrong, then compare transactions in Quicken to your statement and correct any issues.

    Make sure that you don't have Placeholders that are confusing the issue. These are hidden by defaut. To make them visible, go to Edit > Preferences > Investment transactions and make sure "Show hidden transactions" is checked.
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  • Tom Young
    Tom Young SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2019
    You might want to expand on your explanation of how you are working with Quicken.
    For example, you say that when you "import an account" things match perfectly but the values drift over the following weeks.  One explanation for this behavior could be: you are only downloading transactions at month end so in the following weeks as transactions occur at the financial institution - transactions that aren't being included in Quicken until the next download - the financial institutions numbers can't possibly match Quicken's numbers.  Is that what's going on here?  Somehow I doubt it, but assuming you are regularly downloading transactions - daily, weekly or similar - why would only one of these events result in matching balances?
  • f_stopblues
    f_stopblues Member ✭✭
    > @Sherlock said:
    > It is also important to recognize when it is appropriate not to accept an imported transaction.

    This might be my issue. I usually just accept all the imported transactions. I update investment transactions pretty frequently, and I just click on accept all for all transactions. I just assumed that the transactions imported are correct
  • Tom Young
    Tom Young SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2019
    While financial institutions do sometimes send transactions that don't accurately represent the correct account for a certain activity - mergers come to mind here - they are very, very good about sending correct balances, i.e., number of shares and per share market price.  I just can't see a drift of Total Market Value, unless you are entering manual entries in your transaction lists, entries that don't match what the financial institutions are sending you, but then also accept the financial institution's entries.

    " I just click on accept all for all transactions. I just assumed that the transactions imported are correct."
    Don't make that assumption and don't just click accept all.  Quicken doesn't "do your accounting for you" it "helps you do your accounting."  You need to scrutinize transactions before accepting them.  "Best practices" is that you make manual entries and the downloaded transactions "match" your entries, give assurance that things are correct.  You can't do that for every single transaction - reinvested dividends for example where you don't know with certainty the number of shares and price.

    I still can't reconcile your statement "Whenever I import an account, the Total Market Value of the account would match the account perfectly" and your statement "I update investment transactions pretty frequently" (but "without fail after a few weeks, the account balance would be off".)  What's the distinction you're making between "importing an account" and "updating transactions"?
  • chitownhockey
    chitownhockey Member ✭✭✭✭
    I still can't reconcile your statement "Whenever I import an account, the Total Market Value of the account would match the account perfectly" and your statement "I update investment transactions pretty frequently" (but "without fail after a few weeks, the account balance would be off".)  What's the distinction you're making between "importing an account" and "updating transactions"?

    If the op has non-standard securities that can't be downloaded...and they don't download the security prices manually in a more timely manner...the only time you'll get an accurate account share or cash balance is when transactions are downloaded.  The download will have the price inherently built into the transaction, ie shares and total amount of the transaction, therefore calculating the share price.

    Some examples of this might be 401K accounts that consist of funds that aren't publicly listed.  Or mutual funds that make up an annuity, which are also not publicly traded.  If the security/funds/shares/units don't have a valid ticker symbol, you'll need to manually enter the prices for those.  

    So, values in between downloads will be inaccurate because there's no current share price entered.  
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