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Kelley Rating (one asterisk = lowest, five asterisks = highest):
* Ease of navigation, design of interface and learning curve *****
* Instructional documentation and help system ****
* Carries out the goal of the product as advertised *****
* Overall usefulness ****

Competitive Products

Xcitex provides original corporation action information but does not address tax-lot accounting (as GainsKeeper does). GainsKeeper is a web-based service that facilitates managing a securities portfolio (including mutual funds, bonds and options) from the tax perspective, including tracking the impact of stock splits, stock dividends, liquidations, name changes, mergers, spin-offs, reorganizations and return of capital, thus providing a service beyond what is typically furnished by brokers. It adjusts cost basis and deferrals for wash sales. The service develops an income tax Schedule D and a Form 1099B that can be exported to tax preparation software, such as Turbotax.

The basis of securities may be manually adjusted, which makes it possible for portfolios maintained in GainsKeeper to be adjusted in estates for the step-up in basis at death. The publisher indicates that its newly released BasisPro product will address the management of securities portfolios of charitable organizations and trusts. GainsKeeper permits you to run "what-if" scenarios to determine potential tax effects of a buy or sell trade and to analyze tax-savings strategies. It helps you identify the best lots to sell from a tax-efficiency standpoint, avoid wash sales, capitalize on the tax advantages between short-term and long-term holding periods and identify investments for the "Double Down" strategy. It also identifies lower tax rate qualified dividends.

The site includes charts and graphs that help illustrate portfolio strategies. It also has educational material explaining basis, trading and tax-efficiency issues. GainsKeeper is constructed in an easy-to-navigate file-tab metaphor with main and sub tabs. The following are the main divisions (that is to say the main screen tabs) of the service:

GainsTracker -- This is a tax-lot accounting service that operates in this sequence:

(1) You begin with an update message and a list of your portfolios. All your brokerage accounts may be aggregated for comprehensive gain/loss calculations and Schedule D generation.

(2) You may add to, view and edit a matrix of transactions in a given portfolio by securities type, symbol, units, price, fees and cost or proceeds. "View Accounts" then gives you a page that lists the securities in the portfolio in a matrix by number of shares, cost, market value and gain.

(3) You may manually record your trades. Or you can import brokerage files from a number of listed brokerage services, xls (Excel) files, QIF (Quicken, MS Money) files, as well as csv, ofx, xml and flat text files. Some brokerage services, such as Ameritrade, have direct connections to GainsKeeper and continually update the data used by the service. Trades may be identified to an extensive list of types of transactions from simple purchases to complex wash sales and corporate divisions. You also may transfer shares between brokerage accounts.

(4) At "Symbol Details" you may look up (by securities symbol) the transaction history of a given stock including wash sales and corporate actions.

(5) The "Check-Up" feature displays trade activity that may have been recorded incorrectly, or possible missing trade activity that would need to be recorded before generating your year-end Schedule D and "Realized Attachment" reports.

GainsAdvisor -- This tool offers a set of decision and analysis tools to help you maximize after-tax returns, including:

  • A "What If" tool allows you to know the implications of a trade before you execute it. The service lists your securities by built-in gain and calculates the effect of a given sale on your income tax for the year.

  • "Sell Grades" is a proprietary ranking of your tax lots.

  • "Portfolio Analytics" provides asset allocation and diversification tools.

  • "Tax-Smart Trading" offers strategies to minimize taxes and maximize after-tax returns. This tool lists your marginal income tax rate, short-term and long-term gain and the tax result of the year's transactions, lists securities that are about to move from short-term to long-term and lists wash sales and the lots that qualify for the double down strategy.

  • A "Summary" displays bar and pie chart depictions of your portfolio in a variety of views, such as diversification and tax loss. It also summarizes your gains and losses for the year, provides their tax impact, and lists corporate actions affecting your portfolio during the year.

Markets -- GainsKeeper automatically adjusts your holdings for mandatory corporate actions. This page offers information on past and upcoming events, hot corporate action news and how to adjust your accounts for voluntary corporate actions.

Tax Center -- Generates your Schedule D for the year; lets you create custom reports of your portfolio's performance; exports your portfolio data to a number of tax preparation packages, such as Turbotax; and includes a number of articles on income tax planning and portfolio management.

My Settings -- Allows you to add brokerage accounts, edit them, and change ownership.The publisher furnishes an online description of the security technology utilized by GainsKeeper. It provides security for data through the industry standard secure socket layer protocol with password. GainsKeeper includes a web-based comprehensive help file with context-sensitive help for each screen. It also has a helpful FAQ and a glossary of securities trading terms. Email support is available during business hours Monday through Friday. A product brochure is available to download. You may view a flash demo and representations of the product screens on the GainsKeeper website. A 30-day free trial is available with a 25 transaction limit. Upon purchase, a registration key is furnished for an annual use of the service.

GainsKeeper is $49 per year for 100 transactions and $149 per year for 1,000 transactions. Additional transactions may be purchased at any time.

Contact the publisher at:

Wolters Kluwer Financial Services
101 Federal Street
Boston, MA 02110
Phone: 1-800-PFX-9998

GainsKeeper aggregates investment data and automates the process of tax-lot accounting and basis tracking. The all-in-one site portfolio gain tracking and compilation of tax management tools and advice saves time in tax preparation. It assembles a variety of portfolio tax management tools in one place for convenient analysis.

Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley -- a respected connoisseur of the software and Internet resources wealth management advisors use to further their practices.

Kelley is a lawyer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo. and is of counsel to the law firm of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne, P.C. of North Platte, Nebr. He is the co-author of the
Intuitive Estate Planner Software, (Thomson-West 2004). He has served on the governing boards of the American Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section and the American College of Tax Counsel. He is a past regent and past chair of the Technology in the Practice committee of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

Trusts & Estates has asked Kelley to provide his unvarnished opinions on the tech resources available in the practice today. His columns are edited for readability only. Send feedback and suggestions for articles directly to him at [email protected]

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