Large account balance suddenly appears in investment account

When reconciling an investment account against brokerage statement, one security suddenly shows a balance that is exactly $50K higher than it should be. I can trace the error all the way back to 2010 but not to any specific entry. A possible related event: my program shut down two days ago, had to reboot but no evidence of problems at that time. Should I completely reload the program so I don't get totally screwed up?

Best Answer

  • Frankx
    Frankx SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer
    Hi @GeneS

    Thanks for the very detailed responses to my questions - this is very helpful.

    While It is difficult for me to understand what went wrong and caused this one investment holding to dramatically increase in value, I think that the "fix" for it should be relatively easy to complete.  

    Based mostly on the fact that the increase goes back in time and that you haven't ben able to determine exactly when this increase occurred, I think you should restore your file from a recent backup (which you have indicated was made last Saturday evening.  But before you restore that backup, I would suggest that you make a new backup of the current file, just in case.  Then restore the backup from last Saturday evening, and perform a close review of the data file to make sure that: a) the 50k increase is gone and b) that there are no other issues and that the data file makes sense.  Once you are comfortable that the file is in good shape - continue on with the backup and chalk it up to whatever unusual event (maybe a power surge, or some hardware failure, or who knows what) cause Sunday's abrupt shutdown and the resulting increase to that one investment.

    And to answer the last question that was in your original post - I do not believe that it is necessary for you to "completely reload the program" because I think it unlikely that the program was the issue, rather I think this was an unusual corruption of your data file related to the shutdown.

    Let me know if you have any followups.

    Frankx


                           Quicken H&B-Subscription Ver. 34.24 - Windows 10-Home Ver. 2004
                                             - - - - Quicken User since 1984 - - - 
      -  If you find this reply helpful, please click "Helpful" (below), so others will know! Thank you.  -

Answers

  • Frankx
    Frankx SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Hi @GeneS,

    If you can provide some additional information, that will help us to help you.

    Top of the head questions are:

    1) How often have you reconciled this brokerage account?  You said that this "security suddenly shows a balance that is exactly $50k higher..." but then you said "the error goes way back to 2010".  Those two statements seem to be at odds with one another - can you explain why?

    2) When you say "I can trace the error all the way back to 2010" - what does that mean exactly?  Are you saying that something - like a stock split, or business combination happened back then, or are you saying that something happened in Quicken (such as an error) to change the pricing or number of shares two years ago?

    3) You said your program "shut down two days ago" - what caused the shut down?  

    4) What is the date of your most recent backup file - prior to the "shut down" event?

    5) Is there anything particularly different or relevant about this "one security" that could be related to this problem - e.g. - did it recently split or was there some other unusual transaction (such as a merger) it was involved in, etc. ?

    Any - and all - additional details will help.

    Frankx


                           Quicken H&B-Subscription Ver. 34.24 - Windows 10-Home Ver. 2004
                                             - - - - Quicken User since 1984 - - - 
      -  If you find this reply helpful, please click "Helpful" (below), so others will know! Thank you.  -
  • GeneS
    GeneS Member
    Thanks for your questions; they are all valid.

    1. I've had the brokerage account and the same Quicken account for over 15 years and have successfully reconciled them every month against the broker's statements. I manually load all transactions into the Quicken account - no automatic downloads of any kind. The account has about 10 securities which automatically track daily price movements. While reconciling the account yesterday, one security (a "cash reserve" account the holds funds for future investment -- not tied to the stock market) strangely had a balance that was $50,000 higher than shown on the brokerage statement. I went back through history on the statements and in the Quicken files and discovered that all the past computer balances for that security now were $50K higher than they were before. No entries were found that explained where the additional $50K came from, it just appeared. I have paper statements that go back to the early 2000's for this account and I compared every year's data, statement vs. Quicken, and every single entry for that security now is $50K higher than it was the last time I reconciled the report, which was March 31, 2021.

    2. I am saying something happened in Quicken which changed the data - specifically, the number of shares in this, and only this account. Note that all shares in this type of account are valued consistently at $1.00.

    3. I was entering transactions in Quicken Sunday - not related to this account at all - when the program abruptly, with no advance warning, shut down. I got a message on-screen saying I might receive an email related to this but received nothing. After regaining my good nature, I booted it up again it and took off as if nothing had happened. Whether this is related to my problem is unknown but I am suspicious.

    4. I back up the Quicken files every evening onto a portable device, so the last previous backup was Saturday evening just prior to my closing Quicken and shutting down the computer. Nothing unusual was noted when the system was powered up Sunday morning, until the very fast shut-down (that in itself may be the most striking aspect, as it just ... shut down, like someone pulled a plug, no preludes of any kind.

    5. As I mentioned above, this is just a money-market holding security, of constant and 'guaranteed' $1 value per share. So it is not related to any daily-price retrievals or any manipulations at all that I can think of, other than transfers of funds in and out as required. I purposely stay away from downloading transactions from brokerage sites. However, Quicken does download and process daily stock prices, when I request it, for all the other securities held in file, so it is conceivable that some interaction took place. I usually request a stock price update soon after booting up Quicken in the morning, which it processes immediately; and the shut-down event did take place within 5 minutes of that on Sunday. Whatever event caused one could have been related to the other.

    Now, of course, my confidence is shaken on the integrity of all the data held in Quicken files. I lived for one month unaware that one error (fortunately of a nice round number) was hidden away in an account that is infrequently accessed other than secondarily. That's why I'm wondering if I should get a clean copy of Quicken Deluxe and load in my Saturday-night (or earlier) backup data, and avoid everything that's happened since.
    Thank you very much for whatever insight you can provide.

    Eugene Schwarting (in Tucson)
  • Frankx
    Frankx SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    Accepted Answer
    Hi @GeneS

    Thanks for the very detailed responses to my questions - this is very helpful.

    While It is difficult for me to understand what went wrong and caused this one investment holding to dramatically increase in value, I think that the "fix" for it should be relatively easy to complete.  

    Based mostly on the fact that the increase goes back in time and that you haven't ben able to determine exactly when this increase occurred, I think you should restore your file from a recent backup (which you have indicated was made last Saturday evening.  But before you restore that backup, I would suggest that you make a new backup of the current file, just in case.  Then restore the backup from last Saturday evening, and perform a close review of the data file to make sure that: a) the 50k increase is gone and b) that there are no other issues and that the data file makes sense.  Once you are comfortable that the file is in good shape - continue on with the backup and chalk it up to whatever unusual event (maybe a power surge, or some hardware failure, or who knows what) cause Sunday's abrupt shutdown and the resulting increase to that one investment.

    And to answer the last question that was in your original post - I do not believe that it is necessary for you to "completely reload the program" because I think it unlikely that the program was the issue, rather I think this was an unusual corruption of your data file related to the shutdown.

    Let me know if you have any followups.

    Frankx


                           Quicken H&B-Subscription Ver. 34.24 - Windows 10-Home Ver. 2004
                                             - - - - Quicken User since 1984 - - - 
      -  If you find this reply helpful, please click "Helpful" (below), so others will know! Thank you.  -
  • GeneS
    GeneS Member
    Thanks for your questions; they are all valid.
    1. I've had the brokerage account and the same Quicken account for over 15 years and have successfully reconciled them every month against the broker's statements. I manually load all transactions into the Quicken account - no automatic downloads of any kind. The account has about 10 securities which automatically track daily price movements. While reconciling the account yesterday, one security (a "cash reserve" account the holds funds for future investment -- not tied to the stock market) strangely had a balance that was $50,000 higher than shown on the brokerage statement. I went back through history on the statements and in the Quicken files and discovered that all the past computer balances for that security now were $50K higher than they were before. No entries were found that explained where the additional $50K came from, it just appeared. I have paper statements that go back to the early 2000's for this account and I compared every year's data, statement vs. Quicken, and every single entry for that security now is $50K higher than it was the last time I reconciled the report, which was March 31, 2021.
    2. I am saying something happened in Quicken which changed the data - specifically, the number of shares in this, and only this account. Note that all shares in this type of account are valued consistently at $1.00.
    3. I was entering transactions in Quicken Sunday - not related to this account at all - when the program abruptly, with no advance warning, shut down. I got a message on-screen saying I might receive an email related to this but received nothing. After regaining my good nature, I booted it up again it and took off as if nothing had happened. Whether this is related to my problem is unknown but I am suspicious.
    4. I back up the Quicken files every evening onto a portable device, so the last previous backup was Saturday evening just prior to my closing Quicken and shutting down the computer. Nothing unusual was noted when the system was powered up Sunday morning, until the very fast shut-down (that in itself may be the most striking aspect, as it just ... shut down, like someone pulled a plug, no preludes of any kind.
    5. As I mentioned above, this is just a money-market holding security, of constant and 'guaranteed' $1 value per share. So it is not related to any daily-price retrievals or any manipulations at all that I can think of, other than transfers of funds in and out as required. I purposely stay away from downloading transactions from brokerage sites. However, Quicken does download and process daily stock prices, when I request it, for all the other securities held in file, so it is conceivable that some interaction took place. I usually request a stock price update soon after booting up Quicken in the morning, which it processes immediately; and the shut-down event did take place within 5 minutes of that on Sunday. Whatever event caused one could have been related to the other.
    Now, of course, my confidence is shaken on the integrity of all the data held in Quicken files. I lived for one month unaware that one error (fortunately of a nice round number) was hidden away in an account that is infrequently accessed other than secondarily. That's why I'm wondering if I should get a clean copy of Quicken Deluxe and load in my Saturday-night (or earlier) backup data, and avoid everything that's happened since.
    Thank you very much for whatever insight you can provide.
    Eugene Schwarting (in Tucson)


    Hello Frankx!
    Thank you very much for your recommendations. I finally got some time to spend on this issue and think I understand what happened (but not why).
    I took your advice and loaded data from a backup file from Saturday, May 1, but it was contaminated with the same error in the Brokerage ‘Cash Reserves’ account. So I decided to work my way backwards, sequentially loading in earlier month-end backup files until I (hopefully) found one that had no error. I am persistent if nothing else. The backup file for April 25 still contained the error, but the March 31 file appears to be correct in all respects. (What is interesting is that the name assigned to that file -- being a ‘copy’ data file -- is not only different from the ‘backup’ data files, but it also contains the letters ‘R-32.10’ which might suggest it was performed in conjunction with a version update. Or maybe not - I keep looking for some logic.)
    With more digging, I finally found the scene of the crime. (It helped to have saved month-end statements from my checking and brokerage accounts - I was within weeks of shredding all that stuff.)
    I had made an entry on March 29, 2010, to move $50,000 from an IRA account to a brokerage account and then transfer it to a checking account: IRA - -> Brokerage - -> Checking - -> Asset. It appears that something happened shortly after March 31, 2021, which deleted the amount somewhere in this string of transactions.
    The initial transaction was a “Cash Transferred into Account” type of transaction which should have moved the funds two steps, from IRA into the Checking account. That transaction is still in place on the ‘Brokerage - Fidelity …’ account page, with the “Amount to transfer” window empty. As a result, the whole string of transactions which follow have no amounts or, in some cases, there is no transaction at all. There is no evidence of any transaction in the IRA account to move those funds on any date -- which is why the IRA account is unaffected and reconciles properly. The funds then should have been withdrawn from the Brokerage account, which when I run the 3/31/21 backup program, is exactly what happens. The $50K now appears in the Checking account on 3/29/10, and is properly withdrawn for purchase of the assets. And the number of shares of the Cash Reserves fund held in the Brokerage account is reduced by 50,000 going forward to the present date, beginning on 3/29/10.
    Why this happened I have no clue, but I have seen similar events with Quicken before (which became apparent during reconciliations) but never with such terrifying results. This has shaken my confidence in Quicken and, if others have similar problems, deserves some attention. Trust but verify! Keep those old statements.
    So the remaining issue is how to reconstruct all the entries in Quicken from March 31, 2021 to the present so I can use the backup file of that date. Fortunately, most of the accounts affected have external statements which contain “truth” and also fortunately, it’s only one month’s worth of data that’s affected (I think).
    Thank you again for your recommendations which inspired me to get to the root of this issue. We may never know what happened. Incidentally, it’s not lost on me that the original entry and “the problem” both occurred on March 29.
    If you hear of any similar problems, please let me know so I can worry about what to do about it.
    Best wishes,
    Gene Schwarting
  • GeneS
    GeneS Member
    Hello Frankx!
    Thank you very much for your recommendations. I finally got some time to spend on this issue and think I understand what happened (but not why).
    I took your advice and loaded data from a backup file from Saturday, May 1, but it was contaminated with the same error in the Brokerage ‘Cash Reserves’ account. So I decided to work my way backwards, sequentially loading in earlier month-end backup files until I (hopefully) found one that had no error. I am persistent if nothing else. The backup file for April 25 still contained the error, but the March 31 file appears to be correct in all respects. (What is interesting is that the name assigned to that file -- being a ‘copy’ data file -- is not only different from the ‘backup’ data files, but it also contains the letters ‘R-32.10’ which might suggest it was performed in conjunction with a version update. Or maybe not - I keep looking for some logic.)
    With more digging, I finally found the scene of the crime. (It helped to have saved month-end statements from my checking and brokerage accounts - I was within weeks of shredding all that stuff.)
    I had made an entry on March 29, 2010, to move $50,000 from an IRA account to a brokerage account and then transfer it to a checking account: IRA - -> Brokerage - -> Checking - -> Asset. It appears that something happened shortly after March 31, 2021, which deleted the amount somewhere in this string of transactions.
    The initial transaction was a “Cash Transferred into Account” type of transaction which should have moved the funds two steps, from IRA into the Checking account. That transaction is still in place on the ‘Brokerage - Fidelity …’ account page, with the “Amount to transfer” window empty. As a result, the whole string of transactions which follow have no amounts or, in some cases, there is no transaction at all. There is no evidence of any transaction in the IRA account to move those funds on any date -- which is why the IRA account is unaffected and reconciles properly. The funds then should have been withdrawn from the Brokerage account, which when I run the 3/31/21 backup program, is exactly what happens. The $50K now appears in the Checking account on 3/29/10, and is properly withdrawn for purchase of the assets. And the number of shares of the Cash Reserves fund held in the Brokerage account is reduced by 50,000 going forward to the present date, beginning on 3/29/10.
    Why this happened I have no clue, but I have seen similar events with Quicken before (which became apparent during reconciliations) but never with such terrifying results. This has shaken my confidence in Quicken and, if others have similar problems, deserves some attention. Trust but verify! Keep those old statements.
    So the remaining issue is how to reconstruct all the entries in Quicken from March 31, 2021 to the present so I can use the backup file of that date. Fortunately, most of the accounts affected have external statements which contain “truth” and also fortunately, it’s only one month’s worth of data that’s affected (I think).
    Thank you again for your recommendations which inspired me to get to the root of this issue. We may never know what happened. Incidentally, it’s not lost on me that the original entry and “the problem” both occurred on March 29.
    If you hear of any similar problems, please let me know so I can worry about what to do about it.
    Best wishes,
    Gene Schwarting
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