The portfolio tool at Morningstar (aka M*) is malfunctioning again. Yesterday I had a look at a watchlist I have been using there for years and I couldn't work out at first how I could have lost a large amount overnight. I quickly found the problem. A Vanguard Money Market fund was being shown as having a share price of zero and therefore a monetary value of zero. I checked at Vanguard. No problem with the fund. (It's the former Prime MM Fund, now VMMXX whose unwieldy name is Vanguard Cash Reserve Federal Money Market Fund ). The money is all there. I sent an email to M* and got a surprisingly quick email response from someone with a weak command of English and no idea how to begin or end a sentence. He asked me for a screen capture so he could see the problem. I sent him a partial one including the fund with zero value. Now I wish I hadn't. None of his business what I've got invested. I suggested he create a test portfolio or watchlist with that fund entered. I was amazed and disappointed he hadn't thought of that. I sent some update emails. I heard nothing back so this afternoon I phoned tech support. I got someone in Mumbai. Uh oh. I said thanks and hung up. Morningstar is outsourcing to Asia. In my experience it means washing one's hands of responsibility for giving competent help. Please no admonitions about racism or xenophobia. I am not racist. I am bandit-ist. I am incompetent-is. I am We'll Keep You On The Phone for 30 minutes and Spout Nonsense and Never Fix It -phobic.
OK. Rant now finished.
When I set up a portfolio in January on Mstar, I had to enter a money market *fund* as cash.
That may solve the problem.
No carew388, you are not being too harsh. You are being objective. I'm starting to think of them as "Wrongingstar".
VMMXX still has share price of zero although VMFXX and VMSXX fine at $1
They have been cutting services, functions and support to retail users for several years. They do seem to be pumping resources into generic advice ( Bucket lists, "elite small cap funds on sale" etc) aimed I guess at people who are novices and dont use analytical tools that they used to have available.
The only thing that still works sorta is portfolio manger, but who knows how accurate some of their numbers are.
If it was any more expensive I would drop it. It doesn't help to complain to them as they don't want to hear what we want and need
For example - they are in the process of removing inbound secure email from their website. Once complete, you will only be able to contact (reach out to) Vanguard by USPS mail or phone.
Do you think that Morningstar and Vanguard are using the same consultants?
Mr. Schwab has provoked me a time or two when trying to connect via internet & being told that means of connection isn't working at this time ! I guess the "line" was over-loaded.
Stay Kool, Derf
The Independent Advisor for Vanguard Investors newsletter says many many people are leaving Vanguard because of this
In response to all the other recent contributions to this thread the short reply is:
A more detailed reply:
I began investing in a few Vanguard funds many decades ago, long before they had a brokerage. Jack Bogle was at the helm, Customer service was available by phone. A real person answered and no matter who I got at the other end that person was both articulate and well informed. They understood my questions and their replies were spot on.
The reason I invested in certain Vanguard funds was because of the excellence of the managers and an appropriate ratio of risk to return for my tolerance level. As time went on customer service got worse and worse. Eventually it became a negative quantity. No one was impolite, but incompetence was the norm. When it became impossible to directly invest in a Vanguard fund things got worse because an individual investor had to go through their clumsy poorly-run brokerage. Frankly I don't really see the point of using any brokerage for mutual funds (except in 401K where one has no choice) when one can invest directly with the fund. For individual bonds or stocks it's another story of course. But for funds it is so easy to get on the phone or the website or send an email to many or most mutual funds and get a quick and well-informed reply and pay no fee. That's been my experience anyway.
Do you have an investment account at Fidelity and/or have experience with their inclusive brokerage feature?
I never "upgraded" my Vanguard mutual fund accounts to their awful, awful brokerage and continue to hold them as just funds.
I have three accounts at Vanguard, two of which are "sticky." Soon the proverbial straw will break the camel's back as to the third, however, and that account will join another at Schwab where at least the web platform has joined the 21st Century.
I read in the Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors that not only are many fleeing Vanguard due to service issues, the newsletter's editor is as well. Yes, Dan Wiener wrote that he moved some of his accounts elsewhere.
Vanguard is great at running mutual funds; they pretty much suck at everything else they do. Talk about a failure of leadership.
See for example PIPNX. (M* shows $1 million minimum; not the case at Fidelity, at least.)
No I have had no dealings with Fidelity. Nothing against them, it just never happened. I have never used a brokerage for mutual funds except in assisting my wife with her 401k before she retired. Over the years there were several brokerages used, all of which were clumsy and difficult to use but which were positively ELEGANT compared to the Vanguard brokerage.
The "look and feel" reminds me of websites from the late '90s or early aughts!
I wonder if people really do remember what barebones websites looked like. It's not even close.
Poorly designed is a matter of opinion. Could you expound?
For example, when I want to buy a non-VG fund at VBS, I can enter a ticker or I can select a family from a select box, and then a specific fund from a second select box loaded with funds from the selected family. Clean, simple, informative.
Fidelity's website has two different trading interfaces. One is a pop up summoned by clicking on "Trade" when viewing one's portfolio, the other is a stark web/mobile page navigated to by clicking the "Trade" selection from the drop down "Accounts and Trade" link near the upper left corner of most account/portfolio pages.
The latter interface has a Symbol box which when made active (clicked) shows current fund holdings in the selected account. But I can find no help in identifying the symbol of a new fund to buy. You need to look up the symbol on your own and enter it.
The former interface, the pop up dialog box, has the same limitation unless one switches off what Fidelity calls the "New Trade Experience". Then when one activates the Symbol box, one sees a link to "Find a Symbol". Now we're getting somewhere, albeit slowly.
That link brings up another window, where one has to again click on "Find a Symbol" (that choice isn't pre-selected), then indicate that the search is for a fund (not stock), then do a search. That search returns tickers of the matching fund or funds.
Next, either copy that ticker back into the original pop up dialog search box or click the ticker symbol. Doing the latter navigates that search page to summary data of the selected fund. That page has a trade button. Hurray!
But clicking that button causes the original Fidelity page to navigate away from the page it was on (thus abandoning the pop up dialog trade box), and brings you to the web/mobile trade page already briefly discussed. It loses some of the info you may have entered into the original pop up dialog box.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Finding and entering a fund to buy on VBS is significantly easier and more efficient. Other parts of entering a fund trade are more difficult.
Hence the request for specifics about the poor design and inefficiencies you find on the VBS website for mutual funds.
This divergence can be distracting when an investor is navigating between various account information.
Balances and holdings
Account Overview Screen
Vanguard does not have an effective screening tool to research mutual funds.
I use Fidelity's fund screener for this purpose.
Also, as @sfnative mentioned, mutual fund / portfolio values can be inconsistent depending on which page is viewed. The data on these different pages are not updated synchronously.
Stay kool, Derf
Going one by one, and recognizing that what matters to some doesn't matter to others:
Personally, what I care about is functionality and ease of use for buying/selling/exchanging mutual funds (including the ability to cancel orders). Not research, and not nightly updates by 9PM ET. Sure the website could be better, though.
- Inconsistent holdings data (balances), varying by page - I haven't experienced this, but then again I don't go into Vanguard's site two different ways in the same session. I'll take your word for this. Sounds like a similar problem to what Fidelity has where one sees updates in one's portfolio view soon after market close, but one has to wait until the wee hours of the morning to see the same account updated on the Full View holdings page. This problem clearly comes under "poorly designed".
- Mutual fund orders cannot be cancelled once placed - this is simply not correct. I just tested this by submitting an order on Vanguard's brokerage site and cancelling it a few seconds later.
- It can take several days for a non-house fund distribution to show up in an account - I see the same thing at Fidelity, where two funds (different families) make a distribution. One shows up that evening, the other isn't posted for days (though it is backdated). It's likely a matter on the third party fund side, especially since it is the same families repeatedly that I see posted days late at Fidelity.
- Inconsistent statistics by page - is this different from the first item, that the holdings data (and hence derived data like asset mix) vary by page?
- Research facilities are clunky and barebones - I completely agree that Vanguard doesn't provide useful fund search tools (poorly designed site in this respect, since the info is there, just not easy to get to). Then again, I wouldn't use Fidelity's fund search tool or that of any brokerage for a new search. YMMV.
- Can take up to twelve hours for a trade to post - I see the same thing at Fidelity. The impression I have is that on the fund side, they gather all the orders together and process them in bulk. If that's correct, this would be an example of efficiency, not inefficiency. And not a problem with the website, but an attribute of the in-house fund family.
- "Balances and holdings" view of data different from "account overview" view of data - These have a relatively small amount of data in common (current price and holdings), but otherwise differ in content and purpose.
- Two different presentations of transaction/activity/history data- Unlike the other example, here the two sets of pages really are presenting "the same (or essentially same) data".
A Fidelity-specific problem is that in order to see closed funds (which may be open, just not at Fidelity), you have know it's necessary to include closed funds. Then you have to work to find "include closed funds" checkbox. It's buried under "Fund Features" in full criteria screener.
More generally, brokerage screeners won't show you funds that the brokerage doesn't carry, unlike MFO or M*. For example, Fidelity's screener doesn't show you Vanguard U.S. Multifactor Fund. But Schwab's screener does, because Schwab sells VFMFX.
The pages reached via "account overview" provide lots of data in addition to price and holdings (YTD/1/3/5/10 year returns, SEC yield) but only as of the current (or standardized) moment in time. The pages reached via "balances and holdings" provide only the price and holdings, but at multiple moments in time.
Where I think the "modern" layout erred was in including divs and capital gains data under "Holdings." These data belongs under "Activity" as they are historical. In fact, you can find them under the Activity tab, and filter for them using the Transaction Type select box.
Some people like the ability to choose a layout, especially a "classic" (what you call "dated") layout that they're accustomed to. Others, as you wrote can get confused by having too many (read: more than one) choice.
It might have been better had Vanguard provided a mode setting for the website: "new" vs. "classic". Though given Vanguard's inability to support a "new" (brokerage platform) and "classic" (fund platform) simultaneously I have doubts about their ability to implement a mode setting.