Note: The online tools and reports outlined in this article are specific to clients of Bragg Financial. However, we believe all investors should have an understanding of, and access to, the information described here. Reach out to your advisor if you have questions about where to find this data for your accounts outside Bragg Financial.
Six years ago, we introduced our clients to the Bragg Client Portal. This tool is complementary to your Pershing or Schwab access and offers a detailed view of your accounts held with our firm. Clients occasionally ask, “Why are there two sites that I have to access?” and “Why would I use the Bragg Client Portal instead of Pershing or Schwab’s site?” Let me explain.
Pershing and Schwab are the custodians of our clients’ investment accounts and both custodians offer account holders online access. Their online access is akin to logging onto your bank account. Clients can view in-depth details about their financial accounts or groups of accounts. Conversely, the Bragg Client Portal provides a customized view of your accounts, updated daily with data from each custodian.
Bragg Financial offers the Bragg Client Portal as a more robust way to view your investments with an in-depth historical perspective. The same software that we use to manage your accounts powers the Bragg Client Portal, allowing you to view your account information through the same lens we use. Here are some reasons that we prefer the Bragg Client Portal over the custodians’ sites:
The opening screen provides an at-a-glance view of the tiles described in the first point above. All the tiles except account balance offer historical views (see the yellow arrows on the image below). Some clients may log onto their Bragg Client Portal for a daily, weekly, or monthly glance and leave the site having gleaned a summary of their accounts.
However, some clients choose to dive deeper and study some of the intricacies of their portfolios. The row of tabs found immediately below the tiles (highlighted in yellow on the image above) offers additional views for a more in-depth visit. You may navigate through these tabs using the arrows at either side of the page. Here are some suggestions for the more in-depth visits.
Account Performance. This option offers a summary of returns by asset class year-to-date and for the previous 12- month, 3- and 5-year periods. In addition to viewing the asset class returns, users can click the carets at left to drill down to view the performance of each portfolio holding for various time periods.
Asset Allocations. This tab shows your holdings broken down by asset class. Equities are shown by US Large Cap; US Mid Cap; US Small Cap and Foreign. Bonds are displayed as Taxable Fixed Income and Municipal Bonds. Cash is also shown, and should generally represents about 1% of your portfolio, unless we have other instructions on your Investment Policy Statement.
Capital Flows. Your holdings are shown in a chart over time. The solid line on the chart represents your net investment—the money you initially invested, plus additional deposits, minus withdrawals—over time. The shaded area represents the values of your accounts as they are invested. I describe the line as what your money would look like if you just deposited it in a checking account, and the shaded area shows the results of your investments with Bragg.
When taking clients on a tour of their Bragg Client Portal, I occasionally hear, “I’ve lost so much money this month!” But, by visiting the Capital Flows chart, I can help clients see how their portfolios have grown over time. There are some dips in the shaded area, and with clients who have invested with us for a long time, my eye often seeks the spot on the chart that represents the market crash of 2008. From there, we rarely see the shaded area (what I call the mountains with a few valleys) dip below the solid line.
Account Balances. This tab offers a list of the accounts in your portal (or a group of accounts) with a summary view of account values with the prior day’s closing values compared with the last day of the prior month. Also shown are columns representing contributions, withdrawals, and the net investment gain per account for the current month. For clients who only view the first page of their account statements, this is the screen that answers the question: “What happened to my account values last month?”
Holdings. This option offers a detailed view of your holdings organized by asset class and individual investments. There is a link for each of your holdings (click on the ticker) that directs you to an up-to-the-minute snapshot of pricing performance, as well as basic financial information, for that security. You may have a particular investment that you enjoy keeping an eye on. If so, this is a great tool.
Realized Gains/Losses. The data under this tab are particularly useful at tax time if you need information on the gains and losses in your accounts.
Transactions. This tab offers details of daily activity including dividends and interest received, trading activity, deposits, and withdrawals, etc. This is the place to look for a particular transaction, or to see if dividends have been paid.
Document Vault. This icon, located at the top left of the screen, serves as storage for reports and other information Bragg has shared with you. Quarterly reports are posted here if you have opted for electronic delivery, and we may occasionally direct you here to access items for review, or for you to post a document for us to retrieve or review. Monthly statements, trade confirmations, and tax documents are recent additions to the Document Vault. You will find two years’ history stored for your retrieval.
You may gather that we prefer the Bragg Client Portal over Pershing and Schwab’s access. If so, you are right! We do prefer it because there is a wealth of information at your fingertips. Most important, and regardless of the online access that you choose, we always want you to have access to your account information. We welcome your feedback. Please let us know your observations or challenges on the Bragg Client Portal or the Schwab or Pershing sites.
We appreciate your trust and confidence in us. Thank you for the privilege of working with you.