Tom Meyer: Hello, everyone. This is Tom Meyer with TradeStops. I’m pleased to be joined today by Alison Kirton, our TradeStops Broker Synchronization Expert. Good afternoon, Alison.
Alison Kirton: Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining us. It’s great to be here.
Tom: Alison, you might not remember this but you were the first person I met when I arrived at the TradeStops headquarters, and your kindness set the tone for what I was going to see from the entire organization. Thank you.
Alison: Thanks, Tom.
Tom: Also joining us today is Heidi Shubert, the Product Manager for TradeStops. Heidi is responsible for all of the upgrades to the TradeStops site. We have new ideas that come from both the TradeStops teams and from our members, all the time.
Heidi is the one who collects all these ideas, coordinates with our development teams, and makes sure they’re tested and released in a timely manner.
Heidi, thank you for joining us today.
Heidi Shubert: Thank you, Tom. Thank you, everyone.
Tom: We’re very excited to have welcomed thousands of new TradeStops members in the past couple of weeks. This has created a backlog with our Customer Success Team, as you might imagine. We have received, literally, thousands of emails and calls in the past two weeks. We are working our way through them, and we appreciate your patience.
Hopefully, today’s presentation will answer some of your questions and help you on your way to using the TradeStops site effectively and easily. We are planning more training webinars next week and in the upcoming weeks, so you’ll continue to see the emails about these.
TradeStops is the one tool that can help you become a more successful investor from the very first time you log in. Dr. Smith and his team have spent years analyzing the risks of individual stocks and portfolios, and our TradeStops members are the beneficiaries of this research.
We are recording today’s presentation and will send you a link to the recording either later today or tomorrow. If there’s something you don’t understand, you’ll be able to review the presentation at your convenience. We do have members of our Customer Success Team answering your questions during this webinar presentation, and we will also answer some of the questions at the end.
The webinar today will be shorter than the past few webinars, as it’s extremely focused and technical in nature. We do encourage you to ask questions. There’s a question box on your screen, and you can ask them there. We have Gail, Mendy, and Brian answering your questions today, so you’ve got the TradeStops all‑star team working for you, and the Customer Success Team members who have been with us the longest.
Today, our focus is going to be on synchronizing your brokerage accounts into your TradeStops account. Most of the time, this is an easy process to complete, but there are a lot of moving parts. We want you to know what issues you could possibly run into, and then how to resolve them. We’re going to look at synchronizing with your broker, how we manage the synchronized positions in TradeStops, troubleshooting issues, and where to go look for some help.
Synchronizing your online brokerage account is the quickest and most efficient way to add positions to your TradeStops account. An added benefit is that it will update daily with new trading activity, so new positions are automatically synced into TradeStops. Now, security is the single most important issue that you have. It’s also the single most important issue that we have.
The synchronization is done through a one‑way connection. We use a third‑party data vendor, named Yodlee, to synchronize your brokerage accounts. Yodlee is a leading technology and applications platform for digital financial services, and they provide similar services to hundreds of banks and brokerage firms around the world.
The synchronization process is a one‑way, read‑only, secured data transfer from your brokerage firm to TradeStops that uses bank‑level encryption. This means that the dataflow is only from your brokerage firm into TradeStops. You cannot access your brokerage firm from TradeStops to place any trades, or access any funds, do any transfers.
Your brokerage user name and passwords are not stored in TradeStops. They’re not stored on our servers. Even Dr. Smith cannot access this information. We do use the bank‑level encryption, and this is the process that Yodlee has been in business. They’ve been doing this for almost 20 years. It’s the highest level of security possible within the brokerage firm.
None of the TradeStops members can log in and see what you own and make any changes into your accounts.
By the way, sometimes there are issues when you synchronize with your brokerage firm. Many times, the issues, though they’re frustrating at the time, are actually to your advantage because 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every brokerage firm is working on increasing their security.
We all have read the news articles. They’re subject to hacking attempts all the time. They’re staying ahead of that. If they come up with some new internal software, that might mean that when TradeStops goes to log in to your brokerage account to retrieve the information, we might get stopped because there are new items that are required of you.
Even though it’s a bit of a hassle, most of the time, this hassle is to your advantage as it is to our advantage. Let’s go ahead and get started with the synchronizing. Alison, would you mind taking over?
Alison: Yes, absolutely, Tom. Tom, if you want to go perhaps show them the portfolio screen within the TradeStops account…
Alison: …we can just show them how to start their synchronization.
Tom: We go to the Portfolio tab.
Alison: On the Portfolios…right.
Tom: Good, what do we do next?
Alison: Just click on the Add Portfolio button on the left there. You’ll see a screen come up. The first screen you see is our Link to Brokerage screen. If you don’t see your broker in the nine of the most popular brokers, you can type it into the search field, just below. It should come up.
Note, if you don’t see a broker even after searching, there’s a good chance we may be beta testing it before adding it to the site as we are adding to our broker list all the time. Just drop us an email and we may be able to add your broker.
It’s a good thing that we are testing. We like testing because the more people that’s our testing brokers for us, the quicker we can get them added to the website.
Go ahead, Tom. We’re going to test the Merrill Edge account. It is one of the main brokers at the top there, so click on that.
Tom: You did give me some login information. Give me just a moment while I enter that.
Tom: After the username and password has been entered, I just click Log In.
Alison: Correct, yes. Some brokers may ask for additional security challenges such as security questions or tokens. Just go ahead and enter additional security information when you’re prompted. We might get a question from Merrill Edge. We’ll just see.
Tom: That was quick.
Alison: …successfully. Yes. [laughs]
Alison: The speed it takes does depend on how many holdings you have and how many accounts you have as this, I only have one holding and one account. It was very quick. You may need to wait, it’s usually under a minute. Some of them can take a little longer.
Let’s see. Once your broker is in here, you can go ahead and repeat that process. If you have accounts at different brokerages, you can have as many accounts in here as you want to. Now most…
Tom: Usually this comes in and it identifies under the last four digits of your brokerage account.
Tom: If we wanted to change this, we could click on this Edit icon, and we can change the name of the portfolio, correct?
Alison: Right. If you have a lot of different accounts, you might not remember what that particular one is. You can just call that Merrill Edge or give it a name you’d remember.
Tom: I’m not going to change it at this moment, but this is how that is done. You just press the pencil icon next to the account itself. You can go in and change the name of the portfolio.
Alison: Correct, yes. Now, once your portfolio is in there, you can view the positions. You can either click on the portfolio name or go to your Positions and Alerts screen. We have one position in this portfolio.
A few things to note on this page, we will bring over your portfolio value and cash balance from the broker and you’ll see those on the top of the screen there under Value and Portfolio cash. The cash will include anything like a money market accounts. May include margin balance, and that’s also updated daily from your broker.
Tom: Now, I’m noticing, Alison, on the very far left, there’s a warning sign. When I mouse over that, it says, “The position has incomplete data.” What do we need to do to correct that information?
Alison: From many brokers, we don’t gather some of the pieces of information and very commonly that includes entry dates and entry price, and you’ll see there that those show just N/A symbol there. The easiest way to…
Tom: …cost basis.
Alison: Cost basis, once you add your entry price, that should calculate by the TradeStops program. If you want to add your entry date and price, you can just hover over that N/A symbol and you’ll see an enter data link, so you can go ahead and click on that.
Tom: I’ll click on that. What was the date of entry? We can just make up a date, if you’d like?
Alison: Right, yes. [laughs] You can scroll back on the calendar and add your date.
Tom: March 20th, is that a good date?
Alison: Yes, that’s good. Entry price would be the price you purchased on that date. The Get Quote button will pull the latest close on the date you’d enter as your entry date, but often if you purchase during the day, it might be a slightly different entry price.
Tom: Sure. For now, this is good.
Alison: You can enter an entry commission there if you paid commissions when you purchased the position.
Tom: Maybe $4.95 we could enter?
Now, one thing to add as well, as soon as positions are imported from your broker, we add an alert to it automatically. Go ahead and click Save there, Tom, without adding any alerts. Just show them…
Tom: Wow! OK. We’ve got the entry date now, the entry price, and the total cost basis.
Alison: Once you enter an entry date and price, TradeStops can then calculate your cost basis and any gains, you’ll see in the gain columns there. Those can now be calculated by our program.
Tom: Now, this [inaudible 13:14] , Alison, that I do have one alert created, how was this alert created?
Alison: As soon as positions are pulled over, all TradeStops accounts are automatically set up to add our most popular alert type, which is the SSI alert. If you click on Alerts there, Tom, you’ll see that we have an SSI alerts added automatically.
Tom: A stocks state indicator alert?
Alison: Right. Now, this is our most popular alert type, and it includes the SSI trailing stop, the yellow zone alert, and the green zone alert, all in one. However, if you would like to adjust the alert type that you add to all new synced positions, you can go to the settings area, on the top right corner of your screen.
Alison: Correct, and then on the Alerts tab on the left.
Tom: This is where it automatically has…
Alison: You can adjust this. Correct. You can adjust the alert type you have added automatically to synced positions and also options. A lot of our users trade options as we don’t have SSI alerts options, you can adjust the option type alert you add to options.
Tom: Now, we have gone ahead and we’ve created a synchronization, we saw that it came in to us without the entry price, the entry date, or the total cost basis. Just by clicking on that N/A, we were able to make those adjustments. That’s terrific.
Let’s go back to our PowerPoint slide. As you said, some of the data fields might not populate, but it’s easy to make the changes. Now, the accounts should be updated daily, when does that occur?
Alison: It’s not at the same time every day, but we do over a period of 24 hours, we will refresh all accounts every day. What this will do is bring over any newly purchased positions and we’ll also move your closed positions to the Closed Position tab.
That’s a nice feature as well once you’ve sold a position. We should pick that up and move it out of your open positions, and into the closed positions area for your records.
Now for newly‑purchased positions, usually it takes about one to three days for your transactions to settle in your broker. If you purchase a position today, you might not see it sync today or even tomorrow. It might just be in another two or three days before it shows up in TradeStops.
Tom: That depends on the brokerage firm, not TradeStops, correct?
Alison: Correct. In our experience, we’ve seen some positions come right away the next day, some take up to three days, depending on the brokers. Some brokers have a period of time they need to settle that transaction before it shows up.
Tom: That makes sense, because stocks are T plus three, options T plus one, one day settlement for options, three‑day settlement for stocks. That makes sense that it wouldn’t show that way immediately.
We’ve gone over what happens if there’s some positions that are brought in that don’t have data. We can go in and change that data. What about troubleshooting? I know that we get so many calls that having to do with troubleshooting. Most of the time, there’s not a problem.
Sometimes, as we discussed earlier, the problems aren’t a problem. It’s an upgrade of security, but how does the TradeStops member go about doing their own troubleshooting without having to wait on our Help Desk to open up, or someone to answer the phone?
Alison: We can go over those. Usually, if there is an issue with your import, you will see an error message that contains an error code and the description of the error. Our development team is doing a great job. We’re improving error reporting, so you can see exactly what cause the error and how you can resolve it.
Also, if there was an error with the daily refresh of your accounts, we also will send you an email letting you know that one or more of your accounts has stopped refreshing. When you log in you’ll see…Tom will show you a little screen later where your accounts will be highlighted. There’s a little button you can click to resolve. That’s it. You’ll see. You can just click that result button.
You’ll be able to enter your broker credentials again and get it to reconnect to your broker.
Tom: Now what are some of the common errors that we see?
Alison: The 402 error, which is what the little message you saw on the screenshot Tom had, that’s one of the more common errors. What that means is that an incorrect username or password was entered. It’s most likely just a typo on the user’s part. They might have entered there with a space or an incorrect character in their username and password.
However, if you get this error repeatedly and you’re sure you’re entering your right credentials, it could also mean that you’re using the incorrect broker link. For example, you may have a Fidelity 401(k) account and you’re using our main Fidelity link. Often, brokers separate those sites and we need you to use a different link.
You can always reach out to us by email as the link you need to use, maybe one that’s on our Beta list and not in the main website yet.
Tom: For instance, TD Ameritrade has a retail brokerage firm. They’ve got the Thinkorswim that they own, which are separate firms but are still owned by TD Ameritrade. There’s TDA Ameritrade Institutional. I think that sometimes people are not able to bring in from TDA Institutional or in this case that you were talking about Fidelity.
Fidelity has their regular retail online brokerage accounts, but for the 401(k)s, even though it’s the Fidelity name, it’s actually a separate registered entity with the SEC. The Fidelity 401(k), if you try to log in using the user ID and password for your 401(k) account, it’s going to get that 402 error code.
Alison: Correct, yes. We often see customers try it, and they get a 402 error. They try and try and try again. As I said, if you repeatedly get that, it could mean it’s just the wrong link. Let us know, and we’ll look into that for you.
Another error is the 407 error. This means your broker account’s been locked. Now this is a security measure that most brokers have.
If you try too many times to synchronize with the wrong credentials, the broker will lock your account. To resolve that, you would have to just contact your broker and then have them unlock your account for you. We have seen this happen.
Tom: Really though the 407 error is not a bad error.
Alison: No. [laughs] Right.
Tom: It’s protecting our TradeStops members from…The brokerage firm thinks there might be something wrong. 407 error would be almost immediately “Call the brokerage firm,” correct?
Alison: Yes, right. I won’t go through specific error codes because there are many, many error codes that Yodlee has. Some of the more common that we see that usually can be resolved by the customer, they have to do with security challenge questions. One broker that very commonly fails with security challenge issues is Scottrade.
This broker has four security questions that you set up. You may see what will happen with this broker is that after you import successfully, it may fail the next day. This is because what’s happening is that when Yodlee is going to repress your account, one of the other questions is prompted by Scottrade, or it could be another broker that has a similar security setup.
It will just require you to go in and update your credentials. We will prompt for any additional security questions. Once those security questions have all been cycled through, Yodlee stores the answers encrypted. You’ll be able to refresh your accounts daily from then on. That is one common issue we see.
Another issue we may see is that the broker site may be prompting for users to accept new terms and conditions, accept trade confirmations, or update personal information on the broker site. What this means is that there’s a pop‑up message that’s blocking Yodlee’s access from fetching your data.
It will just require you to log into your broker, address any pop‑ups that are flashing up on your screen, and then going back to TradeStops and reconnecting. Those are some of the things that can be addressed by you as the user where you have to go to your broker and address one or more items. There are also other things that can happen that are out of your control.
These, you might see would have a description such as, “There was a technical error connecting to your broker.” If you do see this type of error, it may be a temporary issue. You can try import or refresh in a few hours. If you repeatedly see this type of error, just send us an email as we may need to address it with our data vendor.
We do very closely with Yodlee. We work with their engineers every week. We’re dealing with some technical things that happen periodically with different brokers. Just let us know if you can’t sync or you can’t import, and we can address that for you with Yodlee’s engineering team.
Tom: Excellent. Now, we didn’t have any errors, of course, when we imported your portfolio here, but we can go in. If there was something that popped up, we can click on this pencil icon.
Alison: Correct. We do have a few features with synced accounts that you can access by clicking the pencil. Let’s just go over those quickly. The first one you’ll see on the bottom of that pop‑up is “Update Credentials.” This can be handy, for example, if you’re someone who likes to change your password at your broker often, which is a good idea.
You can come here and click on Update Credentials to just update that in TradeStops as well. Otherwise, the sync will fail if we’ve detected you have a new password at the broker.
The next item, there is Restore Deleted Positions. If you’ve mistakenly deleted a position in a synced account, you can’t add it back manually. You’d have to use that feature there called Restore, and we’ll just bring it back from your synced account.
The last one, there is Imports Missing Portfolios. Say, you’ve synced to your account and you go and open up additional accounts at your broker after you’ve already imported it into TradeStops. You can use this to pull over any additional accounts that you already have. You don’t have to perform a brand‑new import. That’s a useful feature there called Import Missing Portfolios.
Tom: Alison, I know that this wasn’t available a year ago. You, Heidi, and the rest of the team have done a great job of making things so much easier for our TradeStops members. Thank you.
Alison: Yes. [laughs]
Heidi: Thank you, Tom.
Tom: Let’s look at some miscellaneous issues. We get these questions and concerns quite a bit. What about if I pull in an account, and I’ve been using a dividend reinvestment plan, or I’ve been buying 10 shares of Apple every month? The brokerage firm is only going to show that as one transaction with one cost basis. How do I keep track of multiple lots or drips?
Alison: That’s a very common question. If you have added to position over time, what do you enter for your entry date and entry price? As Tom mentioned, for synced accounts we can only show one position with your total number of shares. Right now, we only allow one entry date and entry price in TradeStops. You can do one of two things. You can enter your average entry price.
Usually, your broker will calculate that for you. We may bring it in from your broker. It’s usually called an average cost basis, which averages out all your purchase prices over all your multiple purchase lots and shows one average price. You can enter the first date you purchased the position. This date is only used if you have a custom trailing stop or a VQ trailing stop.
We’ll start tracking from that entry date. However, if you would like to show accurate gains in TradeStops with multiple purchase lots and record each lot separately, then what we would recommend in that case is that you opt to set those positions up in a manual portfolio. You can do this. You can either duplicate your synced account, which is done…
Tom: Why don’t you show me how to do that? Let’s go ahead and go back to the website and show me.
For instance, I’ve got a portfolio here. It is an investment portfolio, but let’s assume, I bought these all on different dates and it’s just showing the total number of shares. How do I go about creating a duplicate portfolio so I can go in and manually make those adjustments?
Alison: You just put a checkmark in the little box on the far left. Scroll to the bottom of your screen. You’ll see a duplicate button. That will create a manual version of your synchronized account. It will show all the same positions. In that way, you can more easily manage things like multiple purchase lots. You can enter separate positions for each time you purchase that position.
Tom: That’s great.
Alison: A lot of users prefer it that way. They want accurate gains in TradeStops. They want to show each lot with the exact price they bought it at.
Tom: I can follow the overall portfolio with one portfolio name, and then I can break it up into the different components and get more accurate entry data and cost information in the second portfolio.
Alison: Correct, yes.
Tom: That’s great. Thank you.
Tom: What about if someone closes an account or transfers to another brokerage firm?
Alison: Again, if you’ve transferred to another brokerage firm, usually you can just import that new broker, and we’ll bring over the positions. If you’d like to stop synchronizing, you can delete the portfolio from TradeStops. I believe it takes about 30 days for Yodlee, will then stop synchronizing that. It will become deleted on their end as well.
You can just delete a portfolio from TradeStops. Also, you can set up a manual portfolio in the same way we mentioned. Just duplicate your existing synced account.
Tom: Now I think of all of the issues that we cover on TradeStops, with all of the investment ideas, with all of the stops, the SSIs, VQs, all of the tools that we have. In our Help Center, we probably have more information and more detailed information on actually synchronizing and the whole synchronization process. Let’s go ahead and go to our Help Center. Why don’t you walk us through everything that’s available?
Alison: We do have a section on synchronization and this is a handy place. Some of our major brokers, we have a lot of information on there on specific issues with the main broker. If you click on, we go through how to imports, managing your positions, and the troubleshooting will give you some idea on if you have a broker that has issues, you can sometimes find some information here.
Tom: These are fantastic.
Alison: We mentioned the Scottrade issue that I mentioned earlier about their security questions. We show you some screenshots on how it will appear.
Tom: How often is this Help Center page updated?
Alison: Heidi updates the Help Center all the time. [laughs] She is responsible for getting that updated for us.
Tom: Is that why she’s drinking coffee all day long?
Heidi: If there’s a problem with the specific broker, we also update the log in screen too. Alison is very good about keeping all of our customers informed when there’s something going on. As soon as you go to the credentials screen, there will be a note there as well.
Tom: This is fantastic. The Help Center is where everybody should go first if they have issues with their synchronization. Again, we want to get there by…I’m going to close this and show you the steps. We click on the Help Center screen at the top next to your name. It opens a completely separate window.
We’ll go over to the portfolios tab at the top, synchronizes right at the top of that. We can click on synchronize, and it brings an overview of synchronizing the portfolios and some of the things that we talked about today. If you want more additional information, you can get it off to the side here, or you can go ahead and use the dropdown that we have. There’s a lot of information.
I would guess that 80 to 90 percent of what our TradeStops members need to know is over here in the Help Center.
Let’s go ahead and we’ll finish up here. As everyone knows Dr. Smith’s famous quote is, “Successful investing is about staying in the game.” That’s everything the TradeStops is about, is to help you become a more successful investor.
You end up taking less time managing your portfolio, less time trading, less time listening to noise, more time following signals, more time managing profitable portfolios.
Of course, for any information, or you need some specific help, feel free to contact us either by telephone in our Florida offices 9:00 to 5:00 Eastern Time, 866‑385‑2076, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heidi, I think we have time for maybe two or three questions. What questions do you see that are coming through right now?
Heidi: We have some customers wondering why there is a difference between their broker account balance and the TradeStops value displayed in the portfolios in TradeStops.
Alison: We can answer that. One reason why that may happen is that your broker is in real‑time while TradeStops is only updating your value and cash balance once a day, so that may be why there is a slight difference. Another difference may be that, in TradeStops, we don’t track all positions.
For example, if you have a lot of bonds in your broker account, this may be included in your total portfolio balance, but because we don’t track the bonds, we’ll only be showing your stocks and options and ETFs. The sum of those positions may not equal the balance that you see at the top of the screen, so that’s the reason why your balance may not match exactly what you see in TradeStops.
Heidi: Thank you, Alison. Another question we’ve heard a lot is, “If there’s an error synchronizing or refreshing from my brokerage, will it affect my existing positions or alerts on those positions?”
Alison: That’s a good question. Even if there is a synchronization error, we will still be updating the latest close prices on your existing positions. All positions that are currently in your TradeStops accounts, every night, we update the latest closes and send any alerts. We’ll still be doing that, so there’s no need to worry about not getting alerts sent to you.
It will only affect new positions that you may have purchased in your broker and you’re waiting for them to come in to TradeStops, so that’s the only thing that a sync error will prevent. There’s no need to worry about your existing positions.
Heidi: The last question that I’ve seen a lot coming across is, “Can options be removed from synchronized portfolios?”
Alison: Yes. Any position that you don’t want to show in a synchronized account, you can go ahead and delete it. From your Positions and Alerts page, there’s a delete icon, and they won’t come back. Often, it’s once you delete something, will it sink in again? The answer to that is no.
Once you delete something, the only way to bring it back is if you use that restore feature I showed you earlier from the Portfolio’s page. That will bring it back if you deleted it by mistake. If you don’t want to show it, go ahead and delete them and we won’t show them.
Tom: Everyone, this is great. Thank you so much. It’s good to get the experts on and help us with this.
Synchronization is one of the great features of TradeStops, but there are a few bumps along the way. It looks like most of the questions that people have had, you all have been able to answer them. Thank you so much.
Alison: There’s one other just a little briefing. Often, we do get some specific data quality issues with specific positions. If you do see things like that where for example, options may be missing some pieces of data, like their strike price or expiration dates, if you have foreign symbols, sometimes they may not show up correctly.
If you see anything like that, please drop us an email because those things, the nature of synchronizing is that we’re dealing with lots and lots of data.
We’re dealing with hundreds of positions coming in all the time from many, many different brokers. Often, there’s one or two little pieces that come across incorrectly. We can address those very quickly in customer service. We have tools in the back‑end that we can tweak things to make them appear correctly for you. If you see anything like that, let us know and we’ll fix them.
Tom: Alison, thank you so much. Heidi, thank you very much. It’s great to work with such a super team.
Thank you for joining us today on our synchronization presentation. I’m going to be closing the webinar here in a moment so that we can process the recording and get it posted up on the website as soon as possible.
Everyone, have a good weekend. Hopefully, you’ll be able to join us next week for more of our educational training webinars. Bye‑bye.
Heidi: Thank you.
Alison: Thank you very much, everyone. Bye.