Electronic investment reports that dont work
Over the course of the years, i've found a couple of discrepancies in the way some electronic tools (web sites, personal finance s/w) report information. I thought I'd share mine and see if anyone else has seen one.
#1: MSN's Money web site. If you have the deluxe portfolio downloaded into internet exploder and track your portfolio through this, be aware of one oddity that makes no sense to me, but MS has decided to stick with it. Note I havent used this tool in six months so they may have fixed it. If you buy a common stock, hold it for 3 years (during which time it generates dividends), sell it, buy it back six months later, and go look at the 'gains', the money portfolio tool includes the dividends paid to the stock during its previous owned period as part of current gains. Perhaps theres a reason for this, but it looped me once when I thought my newly rebought stocks were doing really, really great.
#2: More insidious. Ameritrade users with Quicken (any version). Perhaps Money as well but I dont use it. If you hold mutual funds at Ameritrade (admittedly a small percent of their users overall) and you pay dividends and gains out instead of reinvesting them (admittedly an even smaller slice of the pie), and you download your account data from Ameritrade into Quicken (ok, at this point I may be the only human on earth doing this), Ameritrade reports these not as dollar item payouts, but as zero dollar dividend reinvestments. Example: you have funds x, y, and z, they pay out $1000, $2000, $3000 in dividends/gains, you download your data into quicken, the three data records will say 'fund x dividend reinvestment $0'. The first time this happened was on year end payouts on six funds at the end of the year. I didnt notice it and filed tax returns with quicken/turbotax data that included this, and ended up getting hosed because I under reported income to the IRS. I reported this to ameritrade routinely for a year, they kept promising to fix it, as of a few months ago they hadnt. After pulling my money out and reporting this to the SEC, Ameritrade subsequently admitted the problem but suggested that nowhere do they claim their electronic reporting is accurate, and that customers should use their paper statements. Swell.
Any other oddities that people have noticed?
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.