Tracking Investments in Quicken

I've been using Quicken for over 20 years, mainly for tracking bank accounts and credit card spending, but not really my investments. I recently decided that it would be good to track my investments in Quicken, so I set up downloads from my Vanguard accounts. The setup was rather more work than I had anticipated because the initial download grabbed the various investments in the accounts, but without also pulling in obvious information like cost basis and, for bonds, the CUSIP. Ok, so I entered all of that manually and thought I was good to go.

Unfortunately, I've found it to be a difficult slog. For example, I got some dividends, and it told me they were for an unidentified security. And there was some sort of merger or acquisition, and it showed numbers of shares that moved in and out, but again, for an unidentified security. And when the money market fund attached to the brokerage account paid a dividend, it showed it as a sale of the security, not as a dividend.

I'm at a point of giving up, and simply tracking things in an Excel spreadsheet, which won't be nearly as convenient of downloading things directly. Before I give up, I just want to check whether I'm doing something wrong, either in the way I set it up, or the way I'm using it. it's hard to believe that Quicken (or Vanguard?) can have gone this long with something so clunky, so I need to wonder first whether I'm responsible?


  • Jim_Harman
    Jim_Harman SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Here are a couple of tips that will help prevent the sorts of problems you describe:

    -- In Edit > Preferences > Investing Transactions, make sure Show Hidden Transactions is checked and Enable Simple investing is not checked.

    -- In Edit > Preferences > Downloaded transactions, make sure Automatically add to Investment transaction lists is not checked. In Compare Account portfolio after download, make sure your investing accounts are checked.

    -- Accept downloaded transactions one at a time and resolve any issues at that time. This can be a pain when first setting up an account, because you may get dozens of transactions that you need to resolve.

    -- At the end of a download session, you may get a "Securities mismatch" dialog. Note any discrepancies to fix later, but do not let Quicken create Placeholders.

    Mergers and acquisitions often take some research to get the numbers correct and preserve your cost basis in Quicken. Check this forum, because there is often a discussion about specific ones.

    QWin Premier subscription
  • NotACPA
    NotACPA SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭

    Q user since February, 1990. DOS Version 4
    Now running Quicken Windows Subscription, Business & Personal
    Retired "Certified Information Systems Auditor" & Bank Audit VP

  • Fred9719
    Fred9719 Member ✭✭
    Many thanks for your quick response and for your detailed suggestions. I checked my various settings, and everything was set up as you suggested. When downloading, I don't think I've been doing anything different from what you've suggested.

    If every time I get a dividend I need to go to Vanguard's website to figure out what the "unidentified security" is, and every time the money market fund pays out a dividend it treats it as a sale (ensuring that the cost basis will always be wrong), I'm struggling to see the benefit of using Quicken to track my investments. And yet there seem to be many satisfied users out there, so I feel I must be doing something wrong?
  • q_lurker
    q_lurker SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    What securities are shown in you security list (Ctrl-Y)?  

    Do the have the correct names and ticker symbols?  Actually name is not critical to anything other than you knowing that it corresponds to a proper Vanguard held security.  Your Quicken name could be VGD Q&P500 with the ticker VFINX, whereas Vanguard might have a more elaborate name.  

    Edit the security details for each.  Do they show the security is "Matched with online security" (box checked)?  If so, uncheck it so that you can be sure to clear any mismatches.  

    With all matches cleared, Tools / Online Center -- Vanguard, Holdings, Account selection, Compare to Portfolio.  That should allow you to make sure you are getting the right Vanguard reported security matched to the right Quicken security.  

    Finally, just for reference purposes, are these Vanguard Mutual Fund accounts or Vanguard Brokerage Service accounts?  Doesn't really make a difference, but as conversation goes forward, it may prevent misunderstandings.

  • Fred9719
    Fred9719 Member ✭✭
    Thanks, I'm starting to get the hang of this, but I'm still confused. This Vanguard account (Brokerage Service, not mutual fund) contains a mix of ETFs and individual stocks. When I did the original download, information about some of the individual ETFs (both Vanguard and non-Vanguard) was downloaded, and some of the individual stock information was downloaded. For those where the individual information was downloaded, the market value shown as of today matches Vanguard's website.

    For other of the ETFs and most of the individual stocks, the information was not downloaded. There is a lump called "Unidentified Security" which, when I dig down shows purchases of 3 lots of a Vanguard ETF that were made last November (though 1 of the numbers of shares purchased are wrong). Everything else is simply missing: no share names; no amounts.

    I thought maybe that it was missing any holdings before some date, but that's definitely not the case - for things that I purchased before July 2019 (it appears they go back 18 months) it lists things as having been purchased in July 2019 and leaves me to fill in the cost basis, which is fine. But you'd think that they would have picked up anything purchased after July 2019, and those are not shown.

    When I ran the "Compare to Portfolio" it asked me if 1 security was correctly matched (it was) and then told me that the Quicken account and Brokerage Holdings are in agreement. On closer inspection, there are a whole lot of "unidentified security" entries there, which totally confuses me because when I look at the "Holdings" when I'm in the account, there's only 1 unidentified security and the balances don't match.
  • q_lurker
    q_lurker SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Yes, Vanguard downloads up to 18 months of prior transactions.  Some FIs are as little as 90 days.  

    I haven't been through the process, but I would expect Quicken to create placeholder transactions for holding acquired prior to that 18 month period.  If it sees you currently have 100 shares of XYZ (per the brokerage download) and in the last 18 months you acquired 10 shares (per the download and any other pre-existing transactions), Quicken would determine that a placeholder of 90 shares would be proper. 

    It is your choice how to deal with that placeholder.  I would likely delete that "Adjust Shares" transaction and enter a set of Add Shares getting each lot properly accounted for.  One Add Shares covering all lots of any one security is also a possibility but not as precise for tracking Cap Gains accurately.

    I don't know what would be happening with the missing transactions in the 18 month period.  While you could delve into the OFX log file (Quicken Help), your time might be better served by just manually creating the transactions from the Vanguard statements.  If there are transactions in your current records dealing with "Unidentified Security", I would be inclined to delete them.  (Make good use of backups.  Like friends, you can't have too many.)

    I suspect one you have the 18 month and prior state properly established, future downloads from Vanguard should go smoothly.  The do for me with about 7 accounts active there.