What are the Benefits of an Automated Portfolio Tracker?
It probably goes without saying, but having a real-time pulse on your personal financial portfolio can be very beneficial. If you have a complete understanding of how much you own at any given time, you can better budget, make smarter spending decisions, and gift yourself financial peace-of-mind. Throughout modern history, advances in technology have moved us closer to this reality. Prior to the personal computer revolution of the 1970s, “mom & pop” investors, budgeters, and households had to manually track their financial positions with just a pencil, paper, and – for the highest of rollers – possibly a calculator. After the PC and accompanying software revolution, spreadsheets with embedded calculators became the de-facto household method for tracking spending and budgeting. Although these new “automated” features improved accuracy and saved time, spreadsheets as a service didn’t fully solve the pain-points of frequent revisitation and manual intervention to stay current. The Internet partially solved these problems as cloud-based products such as Intuit’s Mint.com offered spreadsheet-style synchronization to bank accounts and other electronic databases. As time passed, however, these solutions became increasingly viewed as clunky and cumbersome, and by most accounts failed to fully replace the 1970s manual spreadsheet system. In 2007, with the launch of the iPhone, apps posed the most legitimate replacement threat yet to the spreadsheet-as-a-tracker system. As the underlying technology – in particular APIs (see API discussion for more) – improved rapidly, transmitting data across different web applications became easier, more secure, and more reliable. Now in 2019, remarkably with just a few taps, these same investors, budgeters, and households can get a comprehensive understanding of their entire financial portfolio, all on a 4 - 6.7 inch (10.1 - 17 cm) screen.
Now that we (hopefully) better understand how we got here, let’s discuss some real benefits of automated portfolio trackers relative to manual spreadsheets of the 1970s:
As of 2019, automated portfolio tracking apps are free. Since a spreadsheet system such as Excel is a licensed product, you will be charged you to use it. There are certainly free spreadsheet programs available on the market, but the highest quality and most functionally complete ones require subscription payments for ongoing use.
As the name suggests, automated portfolio trackers update themselves. With spreadsheet-based portfolio tracking, your numbers will stay the same unless you manually update them. Especially if you own complex portfolios or execute a lot of trades, regularly offlining and updating all this data yourself can be both excessively burdensome and error prone.
Automated portfolio tracking apps offer more customized capabilities and features than mass-market spreadsheets. Whereas Excel and other spreadsheet systems are optimized for mass consumption, portfolio tracking apps are much more focused on the freedom and choice of the individual user. For instance, the charting, layout, elevated content, interface, optionality, and overall user experience have been designed and optimized specifically for the portfolio tracking user – you!
- Emotional Attachment & Brand
Apps as a category offer some “fuzzier” benefits of emotional attachment and personal brand. You’ll get to know your tracking app and it will get to know you. Your spreadsheet won’t remember your preferences, likes and dislikes, and custom configurations the way an app will. And if your personal brand matters to you, you may be perceived as trendy, slick, and tech-forward by using an app-based tracker, while manual spreadsheet users may be perceived as outdated, stodgy, or old-fashioned. Just like Apple’s “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” campaign suggested...who wouldn’t want to be a Mac if given the choice?
- Cross-Platform Integration
I could go on, but we’ll end with the fifth and final key benefit of automated portfolio trackers over manual spreadsheets – cross-platform integration. A well built, managed, and networked portfolio tracking apps allows users to simultaneously integrate almost any digital financial product, alleviating the common frustration of having to log in to multiple accounts and maintain a mental rolodex of complicated passwords (UGH…^#&&@(#^*)! Especially for those of us who use multiple banks, brokerages, and/or exchanges (and also have a limited memory), integration offers us substantial convenience and simplicity benefits over manual spreadsheet tracking systems. Even without the free price tag and auto-updating, it could be worth moving to an app-based tracking system for the cross-platform integration benefit alone.
Now that we understand how we got here, and some real benefits offered by automated portfolio trackers over spreadsheets, it becomes clear why these apps have recently exploded in popularity. In particular “fiat” – non-cryptocurrency (teaser alert…) – tracking apps such as the iOS default Stocks app, which also offer these advantages over manual spreadsheet systems, could be a great choice for investors, budgeters, and households who wants to track their fiat (think US Dollar or Chinese Yuan) portfolio holdings. In 2009, however, as many of us know, a revolutionary new technology stack was released into the world called Bitcoin and Blockchain, which by most accounts has forever changed the global financial system. Following this launch, the emergent asset (and potential currency) class, called cryptocurrency, has introduced a whole new frontier of investment and personal finance opportunities for a new, decentralized, pseudonymous global user-base. With an estimated global market capitalization of $180B – approximately the GDP of Portugal – a cryptocurrency analog to fiat portfolio trackers was clearly necessary. In 2015, developers got to work building. Two years later, the crown jewel of these development efforts, Blockfolio, was released into the world.
Now in 2019, Blockfolio has emerged as the world’s most popular cryptocurrency tracking app, having built an ecosystem of 5M+ global users, 8,000+ supported cryptocurrencies and tokens, 300+ exchange connections, and a live feed to 400+ token projects. Compared to the manual spreadsheet system of the 1970s, the pairing of a fiat-tracking app such iOS Stocks with a leading crypto-tracking app such as Blockfolio will give you a more convenient, accessible, and real-time understanding of your entire financial portfolio. With this newfound control and ownership, you’ll be able to better budget, make smarter spending decisions, and gift yourself financial peace-of-mind. Oh, and I almost forgot, free up valuable time to buy and trade more crypto!
If you’d like to browse more tracking apps, refer here and here for a complete set of excellent fiat and crypto portfolio tracking app choices. And as always, if you found this content to be informative or useful, please Like, Follow, and Share us on Facebook or Twitter.