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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Money, Money, Money!

A number of years ago I used a piece of software called Quicken which similar to Microsoft Money let people manage personal finances on their computers.  Readers from the USA will no doubt be familiar with both titles, though here in the UK neither have been available for a number of years.

Around three years ago I was forced to ditch Quicken when my PC died and the only option was to upgrade to Windows Vista.  After some searching I came across some software called AceMoney which I still use to this day and find very useful, but recently there have been some newcomers to the market in the form online applications.

kublax The two I have come across for UK users are Kublax and LoveMoney.  The makers of Quicken, Intuit, have a similar product for people in the USA called Mint, though it remains to be seen if they bring that to the UK market.

Both Kublax and LoveMoney automatically connect to your banks and provide a summary of your financial transactions.  I was unable to get LoveMoney (personal finance arm of The Motley Fool) to connect to any of my banks, though judging by their support threads I may have been unlucky, but as a result could not properly test their service.  Whether down to luck or poor software it doesn’t give a very good first impression.  Kublax faired much better though did lovemoneyalso struggle with one account.  For the others it did a good job of importing transactions and categorising them.  Its key feature for me was the ability to create a budget and instantly see how your actually spending compared to it, along with account balances from multiple accounts showing all on one screen.

Probably the biggest concern with these services, similar to the password managers I have been testing with Google Chrome, is security.  Both services go to a great extent to explain how they use the same level of encryption that banks use, allow read only access to your bank account and store your login details and bank details separately, the idea being that if anyone did steal account details they wouldn’t be able to read them as they need decrypting with your login details which are stored separately and also encrypted.  Still, whether people would be happy with a third party holding this data only time will tell.

While they have advantages such as the automatic transaction  importing, they are new and still lack most of the functionality of the likes of AceMoney and Quicken.  With the obvious security concerns, unless major banks actively support such software, they perhaps won’t become mainstream anytime soon, but as more and more computing becomes web based this could change.  It also solves the problem I had of finding your software no longer works when you get a computer.  Probably as with many examples of ‘Software as a Service’ (SAAS) and ‘Cloud Computing’ its a case of watch this space.

3 comments:

Money said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Money said...

It seems you are an experienced test user of personal finance software. We'd be very happy if you could sign up to test our new product, Money Dashboard.

Money Dashboard is aimed at a UK market. Like Kublax, you are able to set a budget on Money Dashboard and compare your monthly spending to that budget. I hope you will find our interface a lot more user friendly and customisable compared to some of the other offerings.

Security is our number one concern. We hold no bank account data on our own servers at all. All of it is managed by the financial data aggregator Yodlee, which is the same system used by Mint.com, Bank of America, Paypal and Fort Knox US Gold Reserve.

http://www.moneydashboard.com

A.Dot said...

Hi Paul,

If you need a hand getting started with lovemoney.com online banking just let me know. If you email obfeedback@lovemoney.com I can pick it up.

Thanks for the mention!

Best,
Carl
(Product Director, lovemoney.com)