Technology has always been at the forefront of financial markets – and finding the best portfolio tracker is as simple as ever. Hedge funds used algorithms and automation long before Amazon and Google. Computers fully manage our money today at firms like TD Ameritrade and Personal Capital.
But technology isn’t just for the “set it and forget it” crowd. Investors who want to accurately (and instantly) track the market can benefit from portfolio tracker platforms.
The Best Free Portfolio Trackers:
- Best Overall: Sharesight
- Easiest to Use: Personal Capital
- Best Visual Representations: M1 Finance
- Best Mobile App: Betterment
- Offers the Most Features: Morningstar’s Portfolio Manager
- Best for Custom Portfolios: MarketWatch Portfolios
- Best Free Version: Active Portfolio from Mobile Interactive
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What’s a Portfolio Tracker?
A portfolio tracker is a program or service that allows you to trace the movements of your individual holdings. You can see how your current allocation stacks up with your long-term goals and get an idea of how your portfolio is doing compared to the rest of the market.
You can add portfolios from your investment accounts or create manual portfolios to test out particular strategies. Remember, checking your investments too frequently can lead to excessive trading, but if you want to keep your asset allocation on the right path, a portfolio tracker is a simple and effective way to monitor it. Most brokerages have some sort of tracking and research tool, but you can only use accounts affiliated with that broker.
If you have a 401(k) with TD Ameritrade and an IRA with Vanguard, you’ll get access to great research but you won’t be able to combine the accounts and form an overall snapshot. With a portfolio tracker, you can better analyze your total allocation and formulate a more pointed strategy.
Qualities of Great Portfolio Trackers
Great portfolio trackers have a large pool of investment tickers to draw from and provide great research tools. Here’s the criteria we used to determine our top seven favorites:
- Cost: All seven portfolio trackers we’ve put on this list have a free option to get started. Some have add-ons that can be purchased to enhance the experience, but a free method for new users is a must.
- A high number of trackable assets: What good is a portfolio tracker if you can’t follow the funds you own? A good tracker will let you follow all types of investments, from stocks and bonds to ETFs. There are even crypto portfolio trackers.
- Speed: You obviously want a tracker that loads quickly on your phone or laptop, but speed is also required for price updates. A tracker should post real-time (or close to it) stock quotes; you can’t trade if you’re getting prices more than 15 minutes old.
- User-friendly interface: A portfolio tracker should be easy to use and simple enough that your parents (or grandparents) can operate it.
Best Portfolio Trackers
All seven of Benzinga’s top trackers have a free service of some kind, but many do offer premium subscriptions for extra perks.
1. Active Portfolio from Mobile Interactive
Active Portfolio lets you build and track custom portfolios containing stocks, bonds, options, cash, and cryptocurrencies. You can also import portfolios by linking the app to your brokerage account.
The free version lets you track two different portfolios and you can add more with the premium monthly package for $2.99 (or $19.99 for 12 months). The premium package gives you access to market research, stock charts, and SEC filings.
The biggest drawback is the app only supports iOS, so anyone using Android or Google products won’t have access to it.
Price: Free, but a premium package is available for $2.99/month or $19.99 annually.
2. MarketWatch Portfolios
Register for a free MarketWatch account and you can not only build and track custom portfolios but trade in real-time on a virtual stock market.
MarketWatch’s portfolio tracker is backed by Dow Jones and Company, so you’re getting plenty of relevant investing news and data.
You’ll stay informed about trends, economic reports, and world news as you track your investments. A MarketWatch smartphone app is available in both the Apple and Google Play stores, but the portfolio tracking must be done using a desktop computer.
Still, you’re getting all the tracking and research tools for free, something for which most apps would charge monthly.
3. M1 Finance
M1 Finance uses Pies, which allow you to show your holdings as slices of a pie. All you need to do is assign a percentage to each slice, fund your Pie and you have a portfolio of stocks. You also have the option to take advantage of M1’s ‘Expert Pies’ feature. M1 Finance has an in-house asset management team for those who prefer to invest passively but maximize returns. This feature is great for investors who are transitioning from a robo-advisor.
One of the best parts of using M1 Finance – it’s without brokerage commissions and fees, so it is not a problem to frequently change your position by buying or selling few shares.
M1 Finance offers a great new approach to portfolio creating. The CEO of the company, Brian Barnes, calls this approach “engaged investing”. He explained on his blog that investors don’t have to choose between active and passive investing. He thinks that they can have the best of both worlds by paying attention to costs and also on what they own.
Betterment’s mobile investment app is available for both Android and iOS and can be downloaded from Google Play and App Store, respectively. The app is available for free and allows you to:
- Check the balance and returns of your portfolio in real time
- Deposit and withdraw money anytime anywhere
- Manage your portfolio’s bond and stock allocation
- Review your goals and account activity
It also allows monitoring of all accounts in one place, helping to diagnose how much your outside accounts are costing you in fees and uninvested cash. You can sync your outside accounts such as bank accounts and other investments.
5. Morningstar Portfolio Manager
At the top of the list, we have one of the most recognizable names in the industry.
Morningstar’s Portfolio Manager offers the widest array of features, and many are available on the free service. You can import or manually enter 25 different portfolios, the highest number on any free tracker we could find.
Registered users can also use Morningstar’s X-Ray feature, an under-the-hood analysis of your portfolio. Are you diversified enough? Paying hidden fees? You’ll find out using these tools.
Morningstar’s platform offers a premium monthly version for $21.99, but the free stuff is more than enough to adequately track any portfolio.
Price: Free, but a premium package is available for $21.99 per month
6. Personal Capital
We like to think of Personal Capital as Mint with an investing kick. Personal Capital monitors not only your portfolios, but your bills, bank accounts, and credit card statements.
This all-inclusive snapshot makes managing and funding your investments easy since you’ll know where every dollar you make goes.
Personal Capital will survey your risk profile and keep your asset allocation on target. You’ll get everything that Mint offers, plus an extra focus on investing. And it’s free to use on iOS, Android, and desktop.
Sharesight truly revolutionized the online portfolio tracking space. They are a frequent award winner, including placing in Benzinga’s Best Financial Advisor or Wealth Management Platform in 2019.
With Sharesight, you can automatically track the true performance of all your listed stocks from over 30 global stock exchanges. You will also be able to track multiple asset classes such as currency (including top cryptocurrencies), private equity, alternatives, bonds, property and other custom investments in a single place using their custom groups feature.
Sharesight makes it easy to benchmark your portfolio and see how you are performing compared to others. Plus it keeps track of all your dividends, making tax time a breeze.
Price: Free, premium plans available for sophisticated investors
A smartphone or laptop can track and analyze your investments in real-time. But beware of information overload.
If you pay too much attention to daily market moves, you’re bound to make investment mistakes. Don’t treat your portfolio tracker like you do your Facebook page and check daily. Breathe, relax and let the computers do the work.
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