The financial sector has been innovating ever since the first private mutual fund came to India in 1993. There are now a great number of creative investment options and the count and variation will only increase.
However, with more complex investments available, it is also much harder to keep track of your financial portfolio. An investor could easily lose track of where his money is and what it's doing and, so, give diminished returns.
Keeping an account book and saving the paper trail might no longer help keep your accounts in order. So, why not consider what technology has to offer.
There are multiple options, ranging from a simple online accounts book to smart applications that will update your balance sheet based on bank and trading accounts statements integrated with the app.
There are quite a few out there, so choose wisely. Base your decision on what you require from the online service.
First, take an account of how your investments are spread out. Obviously, the more assets you've invested in, the more complex an application you will have to choose. Also consider the investments you might make in the next few years. It would be too much work to change applications as your investments get larger.
Tools such as Perfios.com, MyUniverse.co.in, InvestPlus.in, ETPortfolio.com and RupeeX.com all allow you to track equity, mutual funds, commodities (gold, silver, etc.), fixed income investments (fixed deposits, post office savings schemes) and even real estate. All are comprehensive enough to manage the diverse investments an individual investor can access.
Most of these applications also help you add the expenses of the whole family or the other earner of the family, including Pefios, RupeeX, MyVault and InvestPlus, while keeping it separate for each member.
Further, consider the amount of work you would have to do to keep your account up to date. If you wish all your transactions to be updated instantly or daily, choose an application that provides considerable automation.
Choose one that let's you link bank accounts, brokerage accounts and credit card statements to your money manager. This will ensure that every time there is a transaction, it is updated and is added to your personal financial statement. All except ETPortfolio and MyVault (manual entry) has some form of this option, while RupeeX is currently working on integrating credit card and bank statements.
On the other hand, if you only wish to track your expenses, you can choose something simpler, such as MyTAFI.in. It is a pure expense tracker that let's you set your monthly budget based on your income and expenditure. It'll be of great use for someone who's just started earning and won't have considerable investments for the next few years.
If you've opted for online bank ing,, MyTafi can import transaction data for analysis, including from savings, credit card and investment accounts. This way you can check how a risky investment or an expensive smartphone will affect your budget before you buy it.
Having the use of such applications also allows for access to better financial analysis instantly.
For example, Perfios categorises all your transactions so that you'll have an updated overview of your finances any time you want. These applications also convert such information into charts and maps. This will help you understand where you invest and how much of it is working for you.
Take RupeeX, which even computes risk-adjusted return when analysing how your portfolio is performing, or MyUniverse, which automatically generates advice specific to your financial profile.
These programs also help you set a prudent budget. Most of these will help keep track of your monthly income and expenditure. Add to this credit card and bank statements (automated), and you can make a budget. RupeeX, Perfios, MyVault and MyUniverse have all been designed for this.
Pefios lets you set up budget limits for expenses by category (you can create your own categories as well) to track spending while MyUniverse auto-categorises your expenses using bank and credit card accounts statements.
A major component of financial planning is preparing for taxation and getting your documents in order to file your returns. Perfios has an automated 'Income Tax Wizard' that helps calculate tax based on the data stored in your account. On the other hand, MyUniverse and RupeeX also help plan your taxes for the next financial year. The latter also has a capital gains tax calculator.
Once you've calculated tax to be paid, Perfios and MyUniverse will help you file it from your accounts. As for ETPortfolio, while there is no option to file online, it does generate a tax report, including long-term or short-term profits or losses on stocks and funds.
Just as it is hard to keep track of your portfolio, it's also hard to remember all the payments you have to make as SIPs, premiums or just bills. Automated reminders and alerts in Perfios notifies you of important payments, maturity dates and so on to ensure you don't miss a deadline. The same goes for RupeeX (any payments, plus alerts related to your investments), MyVault (set EMI schedules), MyUniverse (schedule automatic payment of bills) and InvestPlus (any reminder).
Of course, there are services that are unique to each portal that set these apart from one another.
For example, MyUniverse will track offline assets, such as gold or silver, daily and update it in your balance sheets. The more useful feature, though, is that you can transact and pay bills from your account. You can buy or sell stocks and mutual funds (also allowed by InvestPlus) and the auto-pay facility allows payment of bills based on limits that you have set.
Some of these are also more focussed on stocks and funds, primary investment vehicles for a lot of people. Take RupeeX, which automatically adjusts stock prices for split, bonus and rights and you can set price alerts on any stock that you want to track.
ETPortfolio is another. You can track stock prices using live data from NSE and BSE. ETPortfolio updates the prices and related profit or loss every few seconds. You can also create a watch list section to track specific stocks.
Perfios has a mobile application and let's you store documents online, while MyTafi has a financial simulation option, using which you can create budgets for different financial scenarios and know how your plan would hold up.
Further, both MyVault and InvestPlus are downloadable software and, so, can be accessed offline. All automated updates happen every time you go online when using the software.
Security is major concern for such tools as a lot of sensitive data is being stored online. Money management sites usually follow the best security protocols and are safe as long as you don't divulge information to any third party.
While only a couple allow transactions through your accounts, keep in mind that they will never ask for any information related to your bank or brokerage accounts, credit cards and debit cards. It is important to keep this in mind to avoid any leak of information.
All of these sites also allow you to try the service for a certain period. So, take advantage of the trial period to figure out which one would suit your needs the best.