Balancing Act 1.1

We just released version 1.1 -- The short story is that this adds new functionality while fixing a few minor bugs.

The main calculation results are the trades (dollar value or number of shares) required to rebalance the portfolio. Normally you execute trades via buy and sell orders. In some retirement accounts, explicit trades are not supported. The new feature includes a way to show percentages for assets (typically mutual funds) in the account. The original approach ($ or share trades) was awkward when rebalancing required specifying percentages. Now that's fixed.

Additional view options (with behind-the-scenes calculations) show more detail for each holding on a lot-by-lot basis, either for the selected account or the overall portfolio. These details include the current value or percentage or the planned value/percentage if rebalancing trades are executed.

Price War

Popular retail brokerage firms entered a price war on stock/ETF trading commissions. Schwab started the war by reducing commissions from $9 to $7 in early February. Others soon followed. Schwab retaliated by a second cut to $5.

Prices (as of March 9th),  published on public web sites are:

               Brokerage          Price ($)

  • E*Trade             7
  • Fidelity              5
  • Merrill Edge      7
  • Schwab             5 
  • Scottrade          7
  • TD Ameritrade  7
  • T.Rowe Price     10
  • USAA                 9
  • Vanguard           7

Balancing Act users should update the "Fee Schedule" window to reflect these changes. This is also a good time to remember that the Fee Schedule supports more complex fee structures, for various trade types. It also supports custom asset types. For example, some Schwab ETFs trade with no fee while ETFs incur the standard fee.

See http://www.statespacetech.com/selfhelp/fee-schedule for full Fee Schedule details.

BUG ALERT

Update (3/12/16) -- This bug has been fixed in version 1.0.2, now available on the Mac App Store.

An important bug has been detected in Balancing Act version 1.0.1 (it may exist in 1.0 also). Under certain circumstances the rebalancing calculation may fail. Calculated trades may be zero (blank) or they may result in a very large plan imbalance.

The root cause has been located and an updated version 1.0.2 will be submitted soon. Fortunately, there is a workaround. You should enter a value for either Deposit or Withdraw in the account setup dialog (reach this from the Edit menu). This value can be zero. Enter 0 (or some other value if you actually want to specify a value). Press return. The value will revert to blank if zero is entered. This step will force internal initialization to correct the problem. Be sure to repeat this procedure for each additional account, if any.

Thank you for your patience while a permanent bug fix is being implemented.

Seeking Alpha

I have been a regular visitor to Seeking Alpha for a few years. The site is full of investment articles with daily updates. It was founded more than 10 years ago -- it has real staying power with a diverse community of individual and professional contributors. The focus is on the individual investor.

I am especially impressed with the ETF Investing Guide which covers many issues that an individual should consider when constructing and managing an investment portfolio. As a minimum I recommend reading the Introduction and the One Page Summary (actually its longer than one page).

The guide explains how ETFs can be the basis for a core portfolio. It makes a good case for taking control of your portfolio as compared with paying potentially high fees in managed funds and to investment advisors. This is, of course, the same theme that StateSpaceTech preaches.

One of the topics in the guide is rebalancing, which is helpful. It does not cover all rebalancing issues, but its a start. Of course, our website goes into great depth in discussion of rebalancing. And our product Balancing Act makes it possible for both new and experienced investors to expertly rebalance their portfolios, regardless of portfolio value or complexity.

The Seeking Alpha guide is especially impressive in that it was published 10 years ago but is fully relevant today. This was leading edge advice. One notable missing component is a discussion of robo-advisors, which appeared in the last few years. It would be nice to see the guide updated to reflect this option that may suit some investors.  

Slow as Christmas -- Version 1.0.1

It took a while, but version 1.0.1 is now available on the Mac App Store (as of Dec. 17th). The delay relates to the high standards that Apple applies, in this case rules related to In-App purchases.

The base license for BalancingAct allows one investment account. You can add support for additional accounts via In-App purchases. An introductory price for the base license is being offered for a limited time. The base plus In-App license approach means that BalancingAct is cost-effective regardless of the complexity of your portfolio. Most users will recover the purchase price after the first rebalance. This is especially true for more complex portfolios.

We don't all have a $100,000 portfolio. But if you do, consider this scenario. Pay an investment advisor one percent annually ($1,000) to manage your portfolio. That's $10,000 over ten years.  The cost of BalancingAct is insignificant compared with fees you would pay. Actually, investment advisors are not interested in your "small" portfolio. You are not likely to find an advisor that wants your business -- they often require a minimum $500,000 portfolio.

Of course, if your portfolio is $1,000,000 you can save $100,000 over ten years by doing it yourself. Now you are talking real money!

Here is the introductory pricing, subject to change at any time:

Base License -- $20

Additional Accounts -- $10 each

Unlimited Accounts -- $25

Invest $45 now for unlimited accounts.

Happy Holidays, and again thank you for your interest in BalancingAct. 

It's a Treat -- BalancingAct is now for sale

BalancingAct was approved, quickly. Get it now at the Mac App store. A small update, version 1.0.1, should be released in a few days. This will correct two minor issues. It will also enable In-App purchase which is required when adding accounts to your portfolio.

Watch this blog for late-breaking news. We expect to acknowledge bugs and offer workarounds (if possible) on these pages first. Permanent fixes and official software updates can take time. Feedback via our support page is always welcome. Good, bad and ugly (really).  And, thoughtful reviews on the Mac App Store can be a great help -- for both prospective users and developers. 

Thanks for your interest and support.

Trick or Treat

BalancingAct has been submitted to the Apple Mac App store. It normally takes about one week (a little longer for a brand new app) to go through the approval process. We hope that Apple will respond with a "treat". If so, BalancingAct will be released for sale soon thereafter. Of course, Apple might respond with a "trick" in which case we will correct any defects found and resubmit for approval.

Apple has a stringent set of requirements to be met before an app is approved for sale in the Mac App store. These are mostly related to the security of your (the end-user's) data and personal information. There are lots of behind-the-scenes protections. Some are content related (a little like movie ratings) and others are technical such as allowing an app to access internet content from approved sites only. The extra effort that Apple and its developers endure are all aimed at making your experience as good as it can be. We have strived to meet and exceed your expectations in this regard.

Now the ball is in Apple's court. What will it be -- trick or treat?

Real Soon Now

BalancingAct is very close to release. A date has not been set, but sometime in November is likely. It all depends on final testing and the Apple Mac App Store approval process. The software will require OS X Yosemite (10.10) or OS X El Capitan (10.11).

It has been a long journey, with an unwavering goal of building a product that really does make it possible for a typical investor to manage their investments. "Investment Portfolio Rebalancing for the rest of us" has been a guiding principle all along and we are proud to have achieved that goal.

It is certainly too early to predict the path the product will take after public release. TurboTax came to life about 30 years ago and has become a dominant force for do-it-yourself tax returns as well as a tool for professional tax return specialists. Maybe it's a stretch, but BalancingAct just might do for investors what TurboTax did for taxpayers. Stay tuned...

Progress -- Slow and Steady

Work on BalancingAct continues, after quite a bit of testing.  It is premature to announce a release date.  That said, all the really important features are now working.  There are a few pesky issues to resolve in order to meet our standard for a top-quality product.  We feel strongly that your out-of-the box experience should delight.  We strive for perfection, but temper that with the desire to release this unique product.  Your patience is appreciated.

 

Balancing Act News

 

Update -- January 19, 2015 -- Beta test is complete.

StateSpaceTech announced that BalancingAct will be entering a final beta test soon.  Some beta testers have been invited.  A limited number of others from the community will also be selected. Send an email if you would like to be considered.  A short message indicating why you are interested will be helpful in the final selection.  We are seeking testers just learning about investment portfolios as well as seasoned investors that can push the software to its limits.

You can also indicate that you wish to be notified when Balancing Act is released for sale if you do not care to participate in the beta test.

Consistent with our privacy policy, your email address will only be used for direct contact from StateSpaceTech.  It will not be released to others for any reason other than as require by law.

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