Merrill Lynch Reinvesting issue (Shares ADDED instead of BOUGHT)

Within the Merrill Lynch system... when I receive a dividend, the dollars are first added to my cash... then they are moved to "Reinvestment Program"... then to "Reinvestment Shares". Quicken shows the cash inflow... then shows WITHDRAWAL of that cash.. and then shows shares ADDED but... the ADDED shares have no cost basis. Is there a way to change the way quicken recognizes the shares purchased as "BOUGHT" with cost basis instead of ADDED.


  • jmms
    jmms Member ✭✭
    In these cases there is no indication of a placeholder and there is an actual transaction in my ML activity list on their website. So Quicken is actually downloading an activity from the ML data.

    The three step process at ML seems odd.
    Dividend - Reinvestment Program - Reinvestment Shares (actual transaction language from ML site)

    I would have thought it would just be two steps or even one step.
    Dividend - Bought or Reinvest Dividend (as shown in my Fidelity transactions)

    For ML: Quicken Entry (some header names removed)
    Action Description Inv Amt Cash Amt Cash Bal
    Div NORTHN TRUST CORP 4.90 +4.90 $XXXX (+4.90)

    Action Description Inv Amt Cash Amt Cash Bal
    Withdrawal Reinvestment Program -4.90 -4.90 $XXXX (-$4.90)

    Action Description Inv Amt Cash Amt Cash Bal
    Added .046, no price, no date acquired - All other fields are blank

    In the space under the Security name it has:
    (...but I assume this is just text)

    My thought would be... the withdrawal entry is OK but... the "Reinvestment Shares" from ML could be recognized by Quicken as "Bought"... as long as the Cost Basis is in the data (or derived some other way).

    Your thoughts?
  • q_lurker
    q_lurker SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    I believe it might rest upon your choice (I am not a ML client).  You can accept the cash dividend and change the Added to a Bought filling in the cost basis (dividend amount).  OR you can, I believe, edit the Div to be a ReinvDiv filling in the number of shares and not accepting (or accepting then deleting) other offered transactions.
  • MangoMan
    MangoMan Member ✭✭✭
    I am an ML client and this is a pain in the **** for dividend reinvestments. I have a work-around. I do believe the issue though is because there is a delay in the settlement date from the issue of the dividend. So ML gets the dividend first, buys the shares, and then settles in your account.

    My work around is to make the entry once all 3 transactions are in the register - Div, Added, Reinv $ Withdrawal.
    1. Select the Div transaction and in the register choose Edit.
    2. Change the Enter Transaction field in the popup window to Reinvest (or press Alt-V)
    3. The dollar amount now shows in the Dividend Amount field - in the window's shares field enter the corresponding number of shares showing below in the grayed out Accept Downloaded Transactions list (Note this can be problematic if you have multiple dividend reinvestments going on)
    4. Now that the shares are entered the "Price per Share" field should reflect the correct PPS - this is a good check in case you fat fingered the number of shares/fractional shares.
    5. Press "Enter/Done"
    6. The Reinvest Dividend is now correctly entered into your account in a Single Transaction and you can delete the 3 downloaded individual transactions in the Accept Downloaded Transactions list.

    It is truly ashame that Quicken can't figure out a way to work with Merrill Lynch (or others) that do Dividend Reinvestment downloads this way. Even possibly identify the situation in Quicken and suggest to the user a Dividend Reinvestment entry to save us from so many steps.

    Hope this helps
  • MangoMan
    MangoMan Member ✭✭✭
    If enough of us complain to Merrill about this maybe they will change it. I don't have this problem at all with my E-Trade or T Rowe Price accounts. There's no reason that Merrill can't just wait a day or two and send these as a single Dividend Reinvestment transaction instead of 3. This is such a pain in the **** and I always dread the amount of work at the end of each month or when dividends are distributed.
  • paladin
    paladin Member ✭✭✭
    I've been suffering with this issue for a long time, and I understand the workaround, but it is extremely unwieldy, particularly when you're dealing with large transaction registers (mine go back to 1993). With extensive files (approx. 100Mb) Quicken moves glacially, and handling each dividend reinvestment takes about 60 seconds (you can practically see smoke rising from the CPU as the Quicken struggles to digest each input). It doesn't matter whether I accept all the transactions and then fix them in the register, or edit them in the downloaded transaction list (at the bottom of the screen), it still means reducing three transactions to one. I first contacted Merrill Edge about this in 2018, and again in 2019, to no avail. And now (2021) ME no longer permits you to compose support messages using their inbox/mail system. It's done through the dreaded "chat" dialog. At this point I feel like giving up and just accepting the three transactions ("dividend," "withdraw," and "shares added"). Either that or migrate all my accounts to Vanguard, where my reinvestment transactions are handled no problem. But that would be a ludicrous workaround.
    If there are any smart developers reading this, please know that there are longtime Quicken users who feel trapped and unable to flee this bug-infested sinking vessel. We crave an escape, and ideally one that will preserve our meticulously kept records, but any decent alternative is better than this.
    Quicken Windows User since 1992
  • q_lurker
    q_lurker SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    @paladin -- I can appreciate your frustration but the Quicken program cannot rationally alter the transactions provided by the financial institution on your behalf.  ML sending three bad transactions instead of one is on them, not Quicken.

    Now the other side of your point - the smoking CPU(?) - Quicken does seem to get bogged down when transaction counts in an investment register get to be too many.  Number of securities and number of lots of those holdings may be additional factors.  For me I see this degradation in a single account, not in all accounts.  My approach for my records at that point of severe degradations has been to create a new account, use Shares transferred to move all holdings from the old account to the new account, and carry on from there, making other changes to FI connectivity if required (disable old account, enable for new account.  Transactions in the new account are much more responsive.  FWIW, with my system, my data, my holdings, the 'critical' level is reached in the range of 8-10,000 transactions in the account.  YMMV     
  • MauryJ
    MauryJ Member ✭✭
    I have a slightly different solution which eliminates accepting the 3 transactions, but a few comments first. I'm a relatively recent Merrill customer, and I do find Merrill's inability to fix this annoying. Aside from affecting the average share cost in portfolio view, and adding 3 line items in the register for every dividend reinvestment, you waste time fixing it - and whatever you do, don't make any mistakes doing it, or it will take even more time to get back to where you started!

    Quicken is already smart enough to recognize a dividend repurchase as a dividend (for reporting or other analyzing, so Merrill's 3 transactions don't even give you more detail or insight!

    I also have E*TRADE & Fidelity accts, which handle the dividend with one line item (dividend reinvested). I figured that if Fidelity & E*T have been doing this as one line item all along, why not fix Merrill to be compatible? I have complained to ML, and I will keep doing so periodically.

    My solution is slightly less work than ideas posed above (assuming you're OK with just 1 transaction in the register instead of 3). Here's what I do:

    When I see I have dividend reinvestments after a download, I don't accept them. I click on the "shares added" line in the list of "to be accepted" items. Clicking on it will auto-fill the register.

    Then as shown above, 1) Edit Button 2) From edit dialog box I select "reinvest..." as transaction type and 3) the # of shares is already noted, so just type in the $ amount and it calculates the cost per share.

    So - you don't have to manually add a line, nor do you have to accept any. Clicking on the pending item to be accepted automatically fills the register item to be edited, and don't bother accepting the rest.

    Now - if you already accept the items you can just edit the "shares added" line, and leave the "dividend" and "withdraw" items alone - it won't affect anything as they just cancel each other out, but I delete them where I find them, as I had quite a few of these before I puzzled it out, and I wanted my register to look a little cleaner. Luckily, I caught this before I gained a lot of tenure with Merrill, but I do love the way Fidelity and E*TRADE just know what to do.

    To find these, just generate a report by going to Investments >> Transactions, and select only the accounts in question, choose "shares added" for the "action" and see what you can find. It doesn't take long once you get into a rhythm.

    Then make yourself a pot of coffee or tea, get a scone, and roll up your sleeves!
This discussion has been closed.