I have been keeping track of the portfolios in excel for over a decade now. Although I am pretty good at updating the data, it does take a little while and is error prone.
I recent started moving the portfolios over from Microsoft Excel to Google Sheets. Google Sheets have formulas that automatically update the stock prices via a formula call like =googlefinance(PG, “price”) and there are a host of other values you can invoke from 52 week high / low to PE to EPS. It is very cool when you build something that can auto-update just upon opening the spreadsheet.
It has been a while since I’ve built detailed spreadsheets with functions and formulas and it is a lot of fun (for me, at least). Google Sheets have many of the same features as Excel such as pivot tables and conditional formatting and Lookups and they mostly function the same. I was surprised that they could name a lot of features using the same names as Excel but I guess I’ve just been away from the game for a while, perhaps that is the norm.
The concept that the spreadsheet just opens up and auto updates via formulas or API’s is very powerful. It is interesting what data is readily available and for what exchange, while other information (notably the dividend yield) has to be obtained by looking it up manually (which is also not even correct sometimes). This is something I will be writing about more in the future as I do additional research.
The ability to share documents is also very powerful. I can create a spreadsheet and share it with the beneficiary via Google Docs and they can go in any time and see how everything is going. It will be about 98% right (the cash balance won’t auto update and the last few dividends won’t be recorded) and some of the new analytics I’ve created (just a start) will also auto update.
This is going to be something that I’ll be working on a lot and it opens a whole universe of possibilities. If you think about it, most of the data is out there somewhere in the public cloud, available in a database or by API. The data that you have on your particular situation is a mere tiny portion of the grand total. The fact that most of this can be available FOR FREE is also astonishing.
After I’ve beaten up Google Sheets for a while I will have to ask myself what incremental value, if anything, that Excel provides. I’m sure there are some advanced formulas they have that Google does not but sharing Excel files has always been a nightmare, and this is easy with Google Sheets (I realize that O365 is supposed to help this, but still….). I am using Excel 2011 for my Mac and haven’t seen the urgent need to upgrade and this won’t really help the need to upgrade, either. Microsoft still sends me security patches, which is great, when and if that stops I’ll have to consider my options. I guess the patches will stop in October 2017 for Mac 2011. Maybe at that time I will also trade in my Macbook from 2011 which has given me great service but likely will be reaching the end of its useful life.