Late last year I introduced a fancy new feature called shortcodes that made it possible to save portfolio information. My implementation admittedly pushed the limits of Excel beyond the original design intent, so honestly it wasn’t a huge surprise when it eventually broke after Microsoft changed some things. But while technical constraints forced me to disable the shortcodes for a while, I really like the concept and I’ve never given up on finding a way to make it work.
After a ton of experiments and a lot of trial and error, I’m happy to announce that shortcodes are back! But rather than just resurrecting an old feature, I’ve also been able to finally figure out how to offer a useful site capability that always felt missing.
Have you ever wanted to not only save asset allocation ideas but also easily share portfolio links with friends and family? Me, too! The key to both doors is something I call a portfolio bookmark. Simply put, a portfolio bookmark is the combination of a unique portfolio identifier and a chosen visualization. A portfolio and a chart.
For a quick example, let’s say you’re interested in the withdrawal rates of an alternative version of the Swensen Portfolio using gold instead of REITs. So you fire up the Withdrawal Rates chart and enter the portfolio data like this:
When you enter the last asset to get the portfolio total up to 100%, you’ll notice something new appear. See that “Save & Share” link? Click on it, and a new window will open that includes a special version of the Withdrawal Rates page. It’s just like the original but with a new section right up top and different type of data entry.
Similar to how the tools normally work, the default asset allocation is simply a placeholder waiting for your input. But while a bookmarked page still requires one more action on your part to see the results of the saved portfolio, I’ve spent a lot of time making it as simple and self-explanatory as possible. Just copy the shortcode and paste it in the black box. That’s it! It requires a double-click and is much easier with a keyboard shortcut, so I recommend using a mouse and keyboard. But once you figure it out the first time it should come pretty naturally.
With a successful shortcode entry, the gray asset allocation squares will automatically update to your saved portfolio and the charts will change in real time. For investors outside of the United States, the home country and world stock settings are also part of the shortcode. Any chart-specific settings work independently, though, so you’ll still be able to tinker with those even with a bookmarked portfolio. And if you want to try something else, follow the “Model a different portfolio” link back to the standard interface with no bookmark.
While the shortcode feature is nice in terms of avoiding repetitive data entry, the coolest part to me is the seemingly minor note below the Portfolio Bookmark banner. The unique URL of the page can be saved for future reference or sent to friends and family so that they can see the same chart and portfolio! There are no logins required and no data tracking behind the scenes — just some clever coding that allows the charts to use information stored in normal URLs to understand portfolios.
Explaining a complicated concept in words, capturing and uploading screenshots, or attempting to walk someone through how to replicate extensive data entry are all a lot of work. But now with the click of a single button you can easily create a link to a specific portfolio and chart. Sharing good data just got way easier.
Check out the link that I created in the above example and try it for yourself:
While you’re there, be sure to also visit your favorite chart and practice making bookmarks for your own portfolio ideas. And when you’re done, take the opportunity to share the links via email, social media, message boards, or wherever else you think people will find those ideas interesting.
After all, Portfolio Charts isn’t just about data introspection. It’s also about the open sharing of asset allocation knowledge, and I’m honored to provide resources that empower you to share your best insights. This new one is particularly powerful as a communication tool, so I look forward to seeing what you all come up with.
I updated the terminology a bit since this post was first written. Where I describe “Save and Share” above you will now find a link called “Bookmark”. But the functionality is the same.
Share a coffee alongside your next portfolio bookmark