If you’re like me, you have shares spread over a number of brokers, accounts, pensions etc etc. It can make tracking your portfolio a nightmare. There are some websites which offer portfolio tracking for free but I have never found one which has all the functions I would like. That’s when I decided to build my own simple spreadsheet in Google Docs to monitor my portfolio for me. It has live prices fed into it, as well as exchange rates and now makes monitoring my portfolio a breeze. And now with the help of this guide below, you too can monitor your portfolio in a totally customized way with Google Spreadsheets.
You can follow this guide while looking at this spreadsheet I made as an example.
Step 1: Open a Google Drive account
Google Drive is a free online storage drive, but we are mainly using it for its ability to create and store a Google spreadsheet. I chose Google because it is the simplest (and cheapest!) spreadsheet software available, and I would guess most people already have a Google account so opening Drive isn’t a problem. It is possible to monitor a portfolio with Excel, but not everyone has access to it.
Step 2: Create the spreadsheet
Once you have a Google Drive account, you simply click on the ‘Create’ button and choose ‘Spreadsheet’. Done!
Step 3: Listing your portfolio and tickers
I recommend listing the stocks you own in the portfolio down one column, with their tickers in the column next to them. You can use either Yahoo or Google (more often than not they are the same) but I find Yahoo has a greater range of markets. Finding the Yahoo ticker is easy, simply search for it on the Yahoo Finance website. For example Kentz is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and its Yahoo page shows the ticker in brackets just after the name, “KENZ.L”. Go through a similar process if you prefer Google finance.
Once you have the tickers, add another column with the number of shares you own of each stock.
Step 4: Get share prices.
You have a choice of either using Google or Yahoo for share prices. I understand Yahoo uses prices from the previous day whereas Google is only a 15 minute delay, but Yahoo seems to have more international stocks. The following formula in Google spreadsheet will get the share price from Yahoo
In the place of the hashes, you need to input the ticker that you looked up previously. So for example in the case of Kentz the formula should be
Alternatively, this command will get the price from Google, and can be linked to a cell rather than hard coding the ticker.
If neither Yahoo or Google can provide the stock price you need then there are other ways to get stock prices. Any website can theoretically be called to get a price. The formula below for example will get the stock price from Bloomberg. This has the widest range of coverage that I have found.
Do this for each stock, putting the share prices in another column in the same row as the number of shares. If it doesn’t work, make sure you got the ticker from the same website (Yahoo/Google) as you are using in the formula.
Step 5: Get Exchange Rates
I, like many others, hold a lot of foreign stocks, and even some domestic holdings that have shares denominated in a foreign currency. We need to convert these holdings into our base currency in order to monitor performance. Luckily we can also extract these live from the web with a simple formula:
USDGBP can be replaced with any currency pair you wish, and you can change the order (to for example GBPUSD) depending on what version of the exchange rate you want. All you need to know is the three letters that the Forex markets use to denote the currency. You can find this on Google, but some common ones are Canadian dollar (CAD), Australian dollar (AUD), US dollar (USD) and Pound Sterling (GBP).
Put these formulas somewhere in the spreadsheet so that you can refer to them. They should bring through a decimal number such as 1.554568
Step 6: Calculate Values
We now have everything we need to calculate the value of everything in the portfolio. Simply multiply the number of shares by the share price and then divide (or multiply depending on the rate used) by the exchange rate to get the value of that holding. I also like to work out each holding as a percentage of the portfolio total in another column.
Simply sum your holdings to get the overall value of the portfolio. You can compare this to earlier values and work out percentage gains/losses.
Step 7: Advanced Extras
There is other information you can retrieve from Yahoo finance, but it involves some trial an error. The command given above retrieves information directly from a dataset and the &f=p command at the end relates to the information being accessed (p = price).
You can experiment with this to get more information through on a stock, for example &f=x brings through where the stock is listed.
Using this guide you should be able to build a spreadsheet that tracks all the information you need, and you can then use things like charts to present the data however you prefer.