Messages: What Members Are Asking On-Line
by CI Staff
Thank you for your January/February 2005 Computerized Investing article Money 2005 Premium vs. Quicken 2005 Premier. Not only is your review well-written, but it also provides the most in-depth comparison of the two programs that I’ve come across yet!
While I congratulate you on your reporting, I must urge you to expand this discussion and explore the incompatibility issues between the personal finance programs and the financial institutions that are supposed to work with them. As far as I am aware, the incompatibility issues do not apply to all combinations of personal finance program/financial institutions (i.e. Quicken to 4,000 financial institutions or Money to 5,000 financial institutions). However, they do exist and when they occur, serious problems result. Let us consider two examples—your experience and mine.
In your review, you describe this problem while attempting to import transaction history from a Scottrade brokerage account. Remember the delays you experienced using the setup wizard in Money? Remember how your downloaded account balances in both Money and Quicken did not match the Scottrade Web site? You had to spend unnecessary time resolving these issues and still do not know what caused the problems or if they will happen again.
I attempted to upgrade from Money 2004 Premium to Money 2005 Premium. Some of my accounts, such as my E-Trade brokerage account, set up smoothly and downloaded transactions accurately. Other accounts, such as my Bank of America checking account, did not work at all. Problems included:
- Money disabling my checking account for automatic downloads after it was set up,
- Money downloading duplicate transactions into my checking account, thus creating an incorrect balance,
- Money downloading duplicate checking accounts, thus creating two of the same account in my Account List, and,
- Money somehow causing my Windows XP Professional operating system to crash, forcing me to spend hours restoring my entire system.
My discussions with Money Phone Support yielded several insights. First, before purchasing and installing one of these programs, it is critical to find a source that can explain the real problems associated with the program. I was particularly frustrated after one of the Money Phone Support techs confided in me that he personally did not upgrade to Money 2005 Premium because he was aware of the “incompatibility” issues. Second, I realized that you cannot depend on the companies themselves for help. Both Microsoft and Bank of America denied that there were incompatibility issues during my initial help-desk calls. When they finally agreed there might be problems, their reaction was to blame each other. All the while, I was being transferred between India and U.S. call centers, and like a robot, spending hours repeating my case ID, address and phone number to tech support gatekeepers.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with Money 2005. Microsoft and Intuit have been trying to get financial institutions to adopt a low-level standard interface that allows applications like Money or Quicken to interchange data with financial institutions. As it turns out, while thousands of financial institutions have adopted low-level standards, they represent only a small portion of the overall marketplace. This has prevented Quicken and Money from providing a seamless, uniform interface to gather information from all of your brokers and banks.
With Money 2005, Microsoft turned to a third-party financial account integrator, Yodlee, to expand the number of supported institutions in its software program. Microsoft has been using Yodlee on its Web site since 2001. Yodlee specializes in the aggregation of financial information from any financial institution with a Web interface. Yodlee pretends to be you, logs into an account and “skims” the information out of the resulting Web pages, reformats it, and presents it to you in some aggregate form. This allows all data to be collected, even if a bank doesn’t have a low-level interface to exchange data with software. Yodlee’s client list includes top financial institutions and portals, such as AOL, MSN, Yahoo!, Bank of America, Charles Schwab, Citibank, CUNA, Fidelity, ING, J.P. Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, and Wachovia.
The integration of Yodlee into Money 2005 allows Microsoft to support many new institutions, but problems can crop up. And when this indirect data transfer method does not work, troubleshooting the problem may be more difficult because you now have an additional layer to deal with.
We would be interested in hearing of any negative or positive experiences that members have had with data integration in Microsoft Money or Quicken. Please send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.