One of the most common challenges of the early retirement or personal finance enthusiast, is the ability to meaningfully track all their investments from a common platform. The investment avenues are so diverse in India, that typically your investment universe is spread across everything from your friendly neighborhood banks, online brokerage portals, MF AMCs, online portfolio management tools, your own local excel spreadsheets, insurance agents, relationship managers, post-offices, and the list can go on and on. How does one really manage all of these different avenues, and more importantly is there a single platform from which you can access and view all your different investments? If this sounds familiar, read on.
The need for a common platform to view all of your investments is so pervasive, that several online services provide portfolio management software, and there are multiple start-up ventures that can link all your accounts, and provide you complete visibility of your investment portfolio in one place. For example in India, Perfios is a commonly used account/investment aggregation site, somewhat similar to Mint, that is very popular in the US. However, I have never been comfortable using these services since the aggregater sites require you to share your account password details, which makes me nervous. The online portfolio management software, requires you to diligently enter every single transaction that you do, which is very painful, and soon becomes unsustainable.
Recently, the Government of India has come up with this very nice NSDL based initiative, that attempts to provide a single view into all your investments as linked to your PAN number. In India's financial landscape, the PAN number is the closest thing that comes to a single unique ID across all kinds of platforms, investment avenues and services for every single person or financial entity. This is akin to the SSN concept that is so convenient in the US. So it becomes rather evident, that using the PAN number, one should be easily able to link all the transactions and holdings (since practically all financial matters are dealt with in DEMAT form these days) into one common place. This is precisely what the NSDL CAS (Consolidated Account Statement) attempts to do.
Using the PAN number as the key, the CAS statement provides a consolidated view of all accounts that are associated with that particular PAN number (so this covers any joint accounts you may have, as long as your PAN number is associated with that account)
This is what the NSDL CAS statement states as a preface to the actual numbers and data.
The data itself seems to cover all my DEMAT accounts which covers all my direct equity holdings, all MF folios and all bonds. It does NOT cover my insurance products, bank accounts (so no FDs, RDs, etc), PPF or EPF contributions (which in my opinion should be very easy to link as well)
In addition to holdings, the statement also provides a neat summary of every single transaction made, and also provides details of the various accounts, SIPs, etc. In short, it is jam packed with a ton of relevant information about your financial health. One note of caution with finding all this data in one place, is to be extremely careful of securing the data so it does not fall into the wrong hands.
The overall holdings summary it provides is very intuitive, and the graphical format is quite easy to ready as a consolidated statement of my networth (except of course the missing pieces I described above) The statement arrives once a month, which is perfect to review any changes in my overall networth. I have not seen a similar consolidated statement ever before, and I dare say there isn't one available even in more advanced developed countries, with this level of detail.
I plan to use the NSDL CAS statement as my single source of networth information, and track it monthly to ensure I am hitting my financial goals. My only recommendation to NSDL would be to include bank account, insurance, PPF, EPF and any other financial data that is already linked to my PAN, to provide a more comprehensive view of my portfolio and finances.