Measuring your Personal Investment Returns with Blueleaf

For a long time I’ve been frustrated that no matter where I hold my savings and retirement accounts, I can’t find out what kind of returns I’m getting.

NO MORE. Introducing Blueleaf Performance.

Background

Seems strange, right? Most people want to know the market returns of their investments — for example, I might like to know how my particular investment choices compare to an index like the S&P 500 — but most financial institutions aren’t very helpful here. Sure, they’ll give me information about the performance of a single mutual fund or stock, but I have no idea how my account is performing as a whole. And given that I’ve got multiple accounts with multiple financial institutions, fuggedaboutit.

Many advisors have access to software that will calculate market returns, but the best I can do is ask for a report and wait.

And I can’t just figure out my returns by watching the total value of my portfolio change, because depositing funds causes the value of my account to go up, but shouldn’t count as if my investments somehow performed better. (And with dividends, fees, etc. this gets even more complicated.)

So there has to be a better way.

The Blueleaf Solution

We’ve built a really simple, automatic way for anyone to know how their savings and investments are performing in any of their accounts and even across groups of accounts — in a way that is always up to date, automagically. No matter how many deposits, withdrawals, dividends or other transactions are made in the account, Blueleaf will give you a clear, simple picture of how you’re doing.

Here is an early version.

There are a couple of really great things going on here. (1) You’ll notice an account group is selected on the left side that has 4 accounts in it. That allows Blueleaf to measure your performance for each account as well as across all the accounts in that group. The aggregated performance for the account group is highlighted in blue at the bottom of the table. (It turns out you can’t just add up the numbers and get it right.) (2) For periods of 3 months or longer, we annualize the return % so you and your advisor can compare it to an annual target that you might be trying to achieve.

We use a method of calculation called Time-Weighted Returns. If you’re feeling ambitious, see this discussion of the methodology where it’s compared to another popular method, Money-Weighted Returns. They are both good ways of calculating returns. We started with time-weighted since it’s a little better for comparison to indexes and across managers.

So now you’ll know how you’re doing. Now let us know how we’re doing.

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John Prendergast John Prendergast is the co-founder and CEO of Blueleaf. He serves on the board of WiredTiger, a developer cloud optimized databases. He is also the founder and organizer of the Lean Startup Circle Boston. In addition to his decade and a half as an entrepreneur, John spent nearly a decade as an investment banker and financial advisor.
  • I’ve been using this feature of Blueleaf for a little while and it’s the best place for me to see a snapshot of how our family’s finances are performing. Our investments are spread across several institutions (Vanguard, TIAA-CREF, etc) and it is difficult to get a benchmark of how they are growing without our contributions confusing the picture. Now I tend to check on a weekly basis because it is so much simpler. Really helpful feature!

    • Thanks Mike. We really appreciate all your feedback and we’re working hard to make it even simpler to see and understand everything.

      Best,
      John Prendergast
      Co-founder Blueleaf

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  • megan

    Hey John, I have accounts with multiple custodians and am struggling to find a solution that lets me track performance across them as well as helps me view my true asset allocation. I saw your service recently and got thrilled. I submitted my name for the beta months ago but have not received an invite. I’m dying to use your product. How can I get access? 

    I’ve spent hours (if not days) searching the web and trying different products to find a reasonable solution, but turned up empty handed. 

    • Performance is a tough thing to find across custodians. Love to talk to you about what we’re doing and also love to learn more about what you guys are doing. I just sent you an email.

  • Kathy A

    I am an independant financial planner. I sell no products at all. I do review investments, returns and allocation of investments. So this software looks potentially an answer to my needs. I am Canadian and work in Canada. Will this work for me. Can I do manual data entry as well for some private investments?

    • Kathy,

      Whether Blueleaf works well or not will depend on the custodians your clients work with. If you’d like to discuss it more specifically send us an email at coach[at]blueleaf[dot]com and one of our Blueleaf coaches will be able to answer any specific questions.