Archives for April 24, 2018

Reader Question: Tracking Asset Allocation Across Multiple Investment Accounts

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portpie_blank200Here’s a reader question regarding my most recent portfolio asset allocation update. It has been edited for clarity and to remove personal details by request:

Thank you for posting the quarterly finance updates. I would like to do something similar to track the returns by asset class but unfortunately, I have my funds across multiple accounts. Some of my funds are in Roth, Rollover IRA and a 401k from current employer. My wife has her funds in similar retirement accounts. How do I consolidate all my investment funds to get a holistic view and correct asset allocation? Also, how do I get Vanguard funds when my 401k options are limited?

First of all, everything may look neater in my updates, but I also have my funds spread across multiple accounts. My wife and I have funds spread across Roth IRA, Traditional IRA (at least temporarily), 401k/403b, Self-Employed 401(k), taxable brokerage accounts, savings bonds, and bank CDs.

Here are the details on how I do my quarterly update.

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  1. I pull up my custom Google Spreadsheet and make a fresh duplicate of the most recent worksheet. I change the label to a brief datestamp so the labels aren’t too wide. “17.12” indicates December 2017, “1803” indicates March 2018, and so on. I keep all my old snapshots as tabs. This is handy because I can go back and remember what my portfolio looked like back in March 2009, for example.
  2. I log into each individual account one-by-one directly at the provider website. I could use an aggregator, but I do this just to make sure my addresses/passwords are correct in my trusty password manager and everything looks right. No new sub-accounts, no errors, new secure messages, etc. I pull up my holdings and type in the balances manually into the proper asset class cell. The spreadsheet adds them up.
  3. For most of my funds, the asset class is readily available. For example, I know that the Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index fund is going under “Emerging Markets”. If you aren’t sure or if the fund includes multiple asset classes (Target Retirement fund, LifeCycle fund, etc), you can either use a service like Personal Capital (free registration required) for a quick-and-easy analysis or Morningstar X-Ray (free TRP registration required) for a manual-but-deeper analysis.
  4. For the most part, the spreadsheet does the rest. The pie charts automatically update to show me my overall holistic breakdown. It shows me how far off I am from my target values, both in terms of percentage and dollar amounts.

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When your 401k options are limited, here’s how I would pick the best choice available. I would start by narrowing it down to the cheapest index funds available. Look at all the expense ratios. These days, at least one should be under 0.30%. You can verify using the ticker symbol on Morningstar. For example, for a while my best 401k option was a proprietary S&P 500 index fund. So I bought that, and adjusted my holdings elsewhere. Later on, they added Vanguard Total International Stock index fund and a Schwab brokerage window. There are probably 10-15 other funds on the menu that I have no interest in owning. A Target fund might be the most reasonable choice. Remember to roll your 401k over to an IRA when you switch employers.