SOME TIME ago I reviewed Va£track 2, a program that kept track of a portfolio of stocks and shares. This month a more specialised area of investment, unit trusts, is the subject of a review. The Unitrust Program costs £12.00 from Michael Slatford Software and is designed to monitor a unit trust portfolio by giving information on the current value of the portfolio and its individual trusts using a 48K Spectrum.
The program is supplied on cassette with a manual consisting of four single sided A4 sheets. You are expected to know the language and terms of unit trusts but apart from that, the manual adequately describes the function of each of the main menu options.
Data on up to 50 unit trusts can be kept. Unfortunately the number you intend to keep data on must be specified on the first run through the program. After that the only way to keep information on more trusts is to keep a separate copy or run the program again and re-enter all the data.
The program is run from the main menu and is based on the concept of a database of cards containing the name of the company and unit trust, the amount invested with the price when bought and the quantity. Also shown on the card is the value of the holding at the latest bid price entered and the date of that price, together with other information on how the trust has performed over the period.
The main menu has seven options which allow data to be entered for new investments, updates to be made to the portfolio, analyses and printouts of the information to be obtained and the program to be saved. Each option has a subsidiary menu with a more detailed choice.
Despite being a first offering from Michael Slatford the error trapping is of a high quality, even to accepting 29 February only in leap years. Although, at times, it seems to take an age before spotting an unacceptable entry. The screen displays, in general, are clear and readable although the card display does become cluttered when large amounts are used. In every case the clarity of the display is lost when it is printed. Unlike most business programs these days the data is not stored as a separate file but is stored as variables within the program. Saving a new copy of the program each time the data is updated could be a problem. However this seems to have been anticipated by allowing different versions to be saved with different names.
The Unitrust program will not tell you when to buy or sell your units, nor will it help you sort out your Capital Gains Tax. Problems of this sort are for you and your accountant. What the program will do is give information on the state of your portfolio and individual trusts within it. For someone who is relatively new to this form of saving, perhaps there is too much information when all they may be interested in is how much the original investment is worth.
Since this article was written an improved and extended version has been released. The program is now called The Investment Monitor and now covers the whole range of investments including shares, gilts and investment bonds. New features include the ability to renumber the cards to suit yourself and high and low values of the investment. For current users of the program wanting to update, this can be done by returning the original version and including a £5.00 fee.
Unfortunately you will also have to retype all your data into the new version.
Publisher: Michael Slatford, 3 Campden Road, South Croydon, Surrey CR2 7EQ