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What Works Next: Portfolio Trackers

Tell us if your tracker updates in real time, and your take on streaming quotes.

Portfolio trackers are a topic that hits investors where they live. Perhaps because that's where investors'



In this year's two online broker surveys, swarms of


readers kvelled and grumbled over their brokers' trackers, especially about how often they update. "I stopped using

TD Waterhouse

for several reasons," wrote reader

Jeremy Abbott

, saying "My portfolio did not update in real time."



needs to have real-time account and portfolio updates," wrote

Christoph Jennings

. The most important feature is real-time portfolio tracking and here


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is the best, said another reader.

Just how important is it to have an immediate view of your holdings and account buying power? Is once a night OK? Or is real time the new minimum standard?

The next

What Works

topic will look at real-time portfolio updating, along with related tracker issues. For example, are there other portfolio functions that are as or more important than real-time updating? Does your broker's tracker provide them? Or do you track your portfolio at a better, nonbroker site and is that a viable alternative?

We'll also talk about the trendy streaming quotes feature that's gaining traction this year. Streaming quotes are like real-time quotes, except you don't have to hit enter on your keyboard or refresh your screen -- the latest quotes stream right in.


, for example, offers streaming quotes to account holders and nonaccount holders (fewer quote-watch lists for the nonaccountees), while DLJdirect and

, a nonbroker


site, offer streaming for a fee. Others, like


, provide streaming to "power" customers.

So here's what I'd like us (that's me and you, the


readers) to tackle:

How important is real-time portfolio updating? Is it critical to you that your broker offers that feature? Can it be improved?

What other features are as or more important, and does your broker offer them? Do they work?

Do you keep your portfolio at a nonbroker site, and if so, why?

How valuable are streaming real-time quotes?

Finally, are there hidden downsides with real-time portfolio updates or streaming real-time quotes? Do they function as promised? Can they stand improvement?

Please write in to Please include your full name and the broker and/or other portfolio services you use. Also, please indicate what type of investor you consider yourself to be (buy and hold, active, day trader, etc.).

This week What Works tested the online stock screeners. Let us know what you think of our

evaluation and

share your views on stock-screening tools.

Also, see the favorite sites of

Scott Fullman

, chief options strategist at

Swiss American Securities

in the reader

mailbag on last week's

wireless trading report.