How to track your investments with Portfolio Performance

Recording your ETF transactions allows you to keep an historic log of your investment history and visualize the performance of your whole portfolio.

Portfolio Performance is the free (and open-source) tool I use to track my investments.

There are many (free and paid) alternatives to Portfolio Performance. I chose Portfolio Performance for the following reasons:

  • It has the ability to automatically fetch prices from European ETFs. Many investment portfolio tools only have support for US domiciled ETFs.
  • It has support for assigning investment transactions to different brokers.
  • It allows recording fees and taxes paid on a single transaction.
  • It allows recording transactions with different currencies.
  • It allows recording different types of transactions (e.g. dividends, buying, selling, depositing, withdrawing).
  • It even has support for investment saving plans – ETF Sparplan (useful if you live in Germany/Austria).
  • It tracks different useful metrics about portfolio out-of-the-box (e.g. drawdown, true time weighted return, volatility, internal rate of return, true time-weighted return, capital gains, etc).
  • It also has useful charts that allow visualizing the current status and performance of your portfolio.
  • It supports exporting the information to CSV. This is useful in case you decide to change to a different software or need to run some specific analysis in Excel.

Installing the application

Portfolio Performance is primarily targeted at a German speaking audience. Therefore, the application’s website is in German. If you aren’t fluent in German, you can use Google translate to understand what is written in the page.

The image below shows where you need to click in order to download the application for your operating system (as of June 2019).

downloading the App

Changing the language

When you install the application its language is configured to “Automatic”. Therefore, the language will be inferred from your operating system. If your operating system’s language is “English” your application will be in “English”.

The application is available in English, German and Spanish.

In case the application is in German you can change the language in the preferences of the application. In Mac OS:

  • go through the menus “Portfolio Performance > Einstellungen > Sprache ”.
  • select “English” in the “Sprache” dropdown
  • click “Anwenden und Schließen”
  • Restart the application
Changing the language to English

Landing page

The application works by storing all your portfolio information in a XML file stored on your computer. From the landing page you can create a new file or open an existing one.

The application also has a few sample files you can use to look at example portfolios so you can see the features of the application in action. The rest of this tutorial uses the kommer sample file for the examples.

Landing page

Main sections of the application

The application has 5 main sections:

  • Securities – In this section you specify all securities that you intend to create transactions on.
  • Accounts – In this section you register your transactions in your brokerage accounts (e.g. deposits, withdrawals, buy, sell, dividend).
  • Reports – In this section you can see graphs about your portfolio and how it is performing according to several metrics
  • Taxonomies – In this section you can see how your portfolio is allocated across asset classes. You can also specify your target asset allocation.
  • General Data – In this section you can see the evolution of currency exchange rates and can also change the details of the where ETF information is fetched from.
Main sections

Securities

In the “All Securities” tab is where you add your ETFs. Follow these steps to add an ETF:

  • click on the right side “+” sign and then click on “search for instruments..”.
Search for ETFs
  • type the ticker symbol for the ETF/exchange you are using and click on “search”. You can find the ticker symbol per exchange in the listings page of justETF. It is better to search by ticker symbol than by ISIN because this way the application will automatically pull the historical prices for the ETF you are tracking buying – ETFs have different prices depending on where they are listed.
Add ETF
  • select the ETF you are looking for and click on “Apply”. Multiple exchanges might have the same ticker symbol. You will have to select the one that applies to you.
  • confirm if you want to change the name of the ETF and then click “OK”
Edit ETF
  • optional: categorize the security. You can categorize a security according to its asset class (e.g. Equity, Debt) or its Asset Allocation (e.g. Risk Free Portfolio Part, Risk Based Portfolio Part) or Region. You can do that in the Taxonomies tab. This categorization will be useful when viewing charts.
Edit taxonomy

Accounts

Portfolio Performance has a concept of Deposit Accounts and Securities Accounts. A Deposit Account is where the “money” is deposited to/withdrawn from, as well as where dividends are credited. A Securities Account is where you hold the different ETFs.

You will have to create a Deposit Account and a Security Account.

Creating a deposit account:

  • Click on the the “Deposit Accounts” tab
  • Click on the “+” sign on the top right corner
  • Select “Add account”
Add Deposit Account
  • Change the name of the new Account from “No Name” to your account name (e.g. DeGiro). You may also change the currency of the account.
Edit Deposit Account

Creating a securities account:

  • Click on the “Securities Accounts” tab
  • Click on the “+” sign on the top right corner
  • Click on “Add securities account”
Add Securities Account
  • Change the name of the new Account from “No Name” to your account name (e.g. DeGiro).
  • Change the associated “Reference Account” to the appropriate Deposit Account. Securities Accounts and Deposit Accounts are linked so that for example, dividends from a ETF are credited to the correct deposit account or purchases are debited from the deposit account.
Edit Securities Account

The purpose of the accounts is so that you can record your transactions. This is where you will spend the majority of our time. In the Deposit Accounts you can add “cash” related transactions like “Deposit”, “Withdrawal”, “Fees”, etc.

In the Securities Accounts you can add “ETF” related transactions like “Buy”, “Sell”, “Dividend”.

Securities Account transactions

A typical workflow you will see is something along the lines of:

  • Create a “Deposit” transaction in the Deposit Account
Create Deposit
  • Create a “Buy” transaction in the Securities Account
Create “Buy” Transaction
  • Create a “Dividend : in the Securities Account
Create “Dividend” transaction

Creating other types of transactions is as easy as the example transactions shown above.

Reports

In the reports section is where you will find charts and metrics of your portfolio.

The “Statement of Assets” subsection has a global overview of the market value of all your open positions.

Statement of Assets

The “Holdings” subsection shows your portfolio in a pie chart.

Holdings

The “Performance” subsection has key indicators for your portfolio like volatility, internal rate of return, drawdown.

Performance

The tabs under the “Performance” subsection – Calculation, Chart, Return/Volatility, Securities, Dividends – allow you to dive into more specific details of your portfolio’s performance. In those tabs you can answer questions like:

  • what is the total amount of capital gains?
  • what is the total amount of dividends?
  • how much have I spent in taxes?
  • how has the portfolio grown over time?
  • how is the performance breakdown per ETF?
Performance Calculation

The “Chart” tab of the “Performance” subsection allows you to compare your portfolio against a benchmark. A benchmark can be any ETF you add to the “Securities” section.

Benchmark comparison

To add a benchmark you have to click on the settings wheel and then click on “Add benchmark…”.

Add benchmark

Then you can select a benchmark from one of the “securities” you added and press “Ok”.

Select benchmark

You can remove a benchmark from the graph by clicking on the name of the benchmark from settings wheel.

Remove benchmark

Taxonomies

Taxonomies is how you categorize your ETFs. Categorizing ETFs allows you to see how much of each category you are exposed to.

You can have categories for “Asset Classes” like Equity, Cash, Debt, Real Estate, etc.

Asset classes

Categories can be used so you can analyze how well you are doing in regards to your target allocation. You can use the “rebalance” menu to set your target allocation and compare it to your “actual” allocation.

Rebalancing

You can create new taxonomies by clicking on the “+” button. There are a few “template” taxonomies you can use or you can create something entirely new.

New Taxonomy

As I mentioned earlier in the “Securities” section, taxonomies are assigned to your ETF in the “edit” menu of a security.

General Data

In the “Currencies” subsection you can see the evolution of currency exchange rates between two currency pairs.
In the “Settings” subsection you can edit the data sources used for things like pulling historical prices.

I haven’t spent any time using the features of this section.

Exporting to CSV

You can export data to CSV from the application’s menu bar “File > Export …”. There you can select which information you want to Export.

FIle > Export
Export CSV

Conclusion

Portfolio Performance is a powerful tool. It helps you keep an accurate record of all your ETF transactions. It helps you get insight into how your portfolio is doing. I think it is a great alternative to rolling out your own spreadsheet.

Andreas Buchen, the application’s creator, along with other contributors have done an amazing job building Portfolio Performance.

The easiest way I found to get started with it is to start the application with one of the sample files “Kommer” or “Dax”. I used these files to show you how the application works. You can use these sample files to create fake transactions, accounts, etc. You can use these samples files to get to know about more advanced features.