Uehlinger, Tablack CPAs

Help if You Want It: Lessons From Your Account Statement

An account statement can provide investors with a wealth of information about their investments.

How closely do you look at your brokerage account statement? Your statement can tell you a lot about your investments. The following key elements of your statement contain important information that can help you assess the health of your portfolio.

Account summary. Your statement should include a summary of investment performance during the statement period. Typically, the summary also shows the total value of your account at the end of the period. This snapshot of your portfolio's performance can help you assess whether you're making progress or need to take a closer look at investments that may not be performing well.

Some brokerages offer consolidated account statements that can serve as a single source of comprehensive information for most or all of an investor's financial holdings, no matter where the assets are held. Generally, investors can specify which accounts they wish to have included and provide access to data for accounts not held by their brokerage firm.

Your income. Your statement may include information on withdrawals, deposits, dividends, and interest income. Bond investors also might see the detailed maturity dates of their bonds listed in this section.

Your portfolio. Check your account details to confirm that the names and amounts of individual assets held are accurate. If investments are categorized by asset class, use this information to help you determine whether your investments are well diversified. This section may also include additional information, such as bond insurance ratings, that can help you make decisions about your investments.

The details. Your statement should include explanations and/or definitions of terms, codes, fees, and account types, as well as new or revised legal information and fee details.

Investment objective. Your statement might include a description of your investment strategy -- for example, moderate, growth, etc. Confirm that any such description reflects your current goals and update it if your objective changes.

Trade protocol. Review the details of any trades you've made during the quarter by checking the original trade confirmation against the information in your brokerage statement. Trade confirmations list the date and time of the transaction, the quantity of shares bought or sold, and the price at which you bought or sold a security. The confirmation should also provide contact information for the clearing firm that handled the transaction.

Don't wait. Report any inaccuracies to your broker as soon as possible after you've reviewed your statement. At least once a year, visit your financial professional to discuss your progress.