Friday, June 06, 2008

Follow up Review

Yes, I kept my account, and still play with it on occasion, especially when I'm in Germany, where I haven't been able to keep tabs on my Quicken account as often as I usually do. Hint to Intuit: move Quicken to the web, as soon as possible, and stop trying to charge me $20 to store my data on your servers.

Recently, when they announced the new investments section of the product, I jumped in and signed up for the beta. So far, the feature is nothing to write home about. There's a portfolio view, which lets you look at your various accounts and transactions. But there's no search or filtering functionality, so if (like me), you use your money market account as a general transaction account, good luck hunting for that check you wrote last month.

The performance tab is bad. I don't understand why so many financial websites don't understand fundamental investment principles and effectively design for the day-trader. 6 months is a really short time for a long term investor. Having that as your longest possible period is really useless. Then, insists on providing me with a stock by stock comparison with some index, like the S&P 500.

But a good investor doesn't care about that stock by stock comparison. He wants to aggregate his portfolio, and compare it with a benchmark. As mentioned before, the S&P 500 should not be your investment benchmark!

I really feel that dropped the ball on this one. When introducing a product for beginners, you have an opportunity (and dare I say responsibility) to introduce best practices. Provide sample asset allocations. Allow the user to model different portfolios over long time periods (10 years is a good start. 50 years is even better. 100 years, and I might be ready to give up Quicken). Give the user a good interface for managing his taxable events, and paying estimated taxes.

As it currently stands, this first step just doesn't cut it. I'm sticking to my spreadsheet method of keeping track of my portfolio sales and taxable events. And I'm moving that data on the internet so that my stay in Germany doesn't cause me to lose track of that stuff --- but I'm using Google Docs and Spreadsheets instead of
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