Online Cashbook Accounting App BanktoBook


Product Comparison

See which product is right for you

There are many products in the fields of accounting and personal finance (also in money management and tax preparation). This table may help you decide WHICH BROAD PRODUCT CATEGORY SUITS YOU.

BanktoBook is unique as it is a cross between a personal finance manager and an accounting system. It is aimed at the home business, small business, and sub-contractor who finds the mainstream accounting systems too difficult and personal finance managers too limited. It can be a gateway that provides a conversion or translation from one system to another. It can be a gateway to your tax agent's more advanced accounting and tax return system. That's why we call it the accounting system for people who don't want a mainstream accounting system.

Product Comparison

Feature BanktoBook Personal Finance Manager Accounting System

Free?
Free trial, paid plans Usually free with paid services Free trial, paid plans

Products main strength 
Business and Personal mixed Personal Mainly for Business. Some have a separate product for Personal.

Ease of Use 
**** ***** ***

Online 
Yes Yes Yes for the main ones. Usually a choice of either online or installed software

Online connection to bank 
Not usually. The idea is that you logon to your bank and download transactions. Yes Usually optional

Ability to import when an Online connection to bank is not available 
Very high limited limited

Requires you to give away your online banking password 
No Yes Yes if the online option is taken

Bank Compatibility (click to see notes) 
Very High. Low-Medium to High. Limited to those linked. Low to Medium-High. Limited to those linked.

Frequency of Downloads 
Periodic as required such as either monthly, quarterly or yearly. Not daily. Daily to periodic Daily to periodic as required

Historical Transactions 
7 Years or more Some only keep 1 year 7 years or more

Bank Reconciliation 
Yes. Only required to confirm bank balances. Not required. The software trusts the bank connection. Yes. A complicated transaction matching process made easier by the software.

Ability to change a transaction amount 
No* No Yes

Chart of Accounts 
Yes Not usually Yes

Ability to edit rules 
Yes. Powerful editing. Rules can be reapplied to whole imports. Varies but usually more limited. Varies but usually more limited.

Automatic Categorisation 
Yes. High for business and personal. Improves dramatically with custom rules. Yes. High for personal. Usually limited to what the banks have. Obtain a high percentage by misleading category matches. Yes but usually more limited.

Rating of Automatic Categorisation
IMPORTANT - please read the notes below 
*90% to 99+% 98% to 100% but see notes Varies and generally less

Read Only 
Yes Maybe Maybe

Budgets 
Simple Yes Yes

Invoice Tracking 
Simple Maybe Yes

Export Category 
Yes No Unlikely

Gateway 
Yes Maybe Maybe

Category Listing for Tax Return 
Yes Not Really Yes

Online Tax Agents 
Yes Probably Not Maybe


Products explained

BanktoBook
 
The strength is "business and personal" mixed. BanktoBook is primarily a cashbook accounting system with some similarity to a personal finance manager and with the strength of a cashbook accounting system. It is designed to produce the main output which is the category report. This goes to your tax agent who then completes your tax return. It understands business and personal, GST/VAT, and presents a category report for your tax agent to do tax preparation. It has a powerful rules categorisation engine, the ability to add your own categories and powerful transaction search capabiities. BanktoBook has links for tax agents who can log on, with your permission, and assist with your tax preparation.

Personal Finance Managers
 
The strength is "personal". What are personal finance managers? The whole banking industry is moving towards supplying data for personal finance managers. These may also be called terms like Money Manager or MoneyCenter. The banks provide the ability for these to automatically connect to the banks (and financial institutions) and automatically download transactions and balances. The banks also have standard categorisation which is broadly pretty good for personal but not so good for business. The personal finance managers have the ability to work across many banks and consolidate most of your accounts in one place. They usually allow for setting budgets, tracking bills due to be paid, making online payments and other add-ons. However, they may not understand tax entities and the difference between personal and business. Typically, a bank link will link all accounts and not understand, that for tax purposes, it is necessary to distinguish these. Typically, they do not have links for tax agents.

Accounting Systems
 
The strength is "business". Accounting Systems are a very broad group. It is beyond the scope of this document to try an explain them. Some have special variations for personal use. We call them "mainstream" accounting systems because the most common ones are widely used and share a similar set of features. These have been around for the longest and offer multiple solutions for different types of businesses. There are generally the ultimate solution for business accounting, payroll, point-of-sale, general ledger, asset depreciation, stock, manufacturing, invoicing and tax preparation. They are more likely to have releases for particular countries. Some personal users will disagree because they have learned the skills to master an accounting system, but it is reasonable to say that accounting systems are mainly for business and to be used by properly trained people. BanktoBook is simpler than a typical accounting system. Typically, they do not have links for tax agents.

More details about features

Free?
 


Every product needs to be looked at individually to see whether it is free, free with paid services, free trial and paid plans. Free usually means linked to advertisers with associated products and services. Paid plans usually scale according to the features being used. Our review indicates these generalities.
BanktoBook has fees to suit monthly, quarterly and annual usage.
Personal Finance Managers are generally free with paid services and linked to advertisers.
Mainstream online accounting systems usually have a fee per month that rises according to the plan.
Products main strength
 


BanktoBook suits a mix of business and personal. For example, say there is a home office which is entitled to claim 20% of Electricity as a Business tax deduction. With BanktoBook, you just put 20% against the Electricity category and the rest is automatic.
Personal finance managers suit personal use.
Accounting systems have extensive options that mainly suit multiple business complexity. But there is none known that do BanktoBook's automatic business/personal splits.
Ease of Use
 


BanktoBook is very easy to use after the first time.
Personal finance managers vary but the best have made it very easy even to get started.
Accounting systems have tried to make it easy but it if you want the features you get the complexity.
Online
 


Online means it is Software-as-a-Service. It runs from your browser. It is cloud software. Some products require installation of software on your computer. Be aware that this limits the ease of access from a different computer. BanktoBook runs on almost any computer and browser with no software to install.
Direct connection to Banks
 


This is sometimes called automatic bank feeds. BanktoBook does not rely on automatic bank feeds. Products that depend heavily on feeds become restricted to certain countries and financial institutions. Feeds require you to supply a very sensitive userid and password for each of your financial institutions.
Banking Password
 


Giving away your online banking userid and password usually transfers liablilty to yourself. If the online product has these details then so do their support personel. If the product is hacked, then it could expose risk.
Bank Compatibility
 


BanktoBook is highly compatible because it is not directly connected to banks. It relies on you connecting to the bank and downloading transactions. It uses standard download formats which makes it compatible with the largest number of banks and financial institutions. New formats can be added.

Products that are directly connected to banks will vary with their compatibility. Directly connecting to banks requires the product to meet the highest standards of security. It involves a contract with each bank and financial institution. If they have not made the arrangement then that bank or financial institution will not be connected.

The best personal finance managers will have a high level of compatibility. Some are much better than others. Some are only good in a country like the USA. Because this makes or breaks their success, they try to add more in time.

Accounting systems are more likely to be weaker in this regard.

Frequency of Downloads
 


With BanktoBook, it is periodic as the user chooses. It is typically yearly or perhaps quarterly for BAS/GST purposes or perhaps monthly.
With a Personal Finance Manager, it is usually automatic daily, automatic when you logon or when you click to download. These are intended to be a real-time image of your consolidated bank accounts.
With Accounting Systems, it is usually periodic as the user chooses.
Historical Transactions
 


7 years is usually preferred by the tax office. With BanktoBook, it is as long the user chooses.
With a Personal Finance Manager, it may only keep one year or as otherwise indicated. These tend to automatically purge to keep the volume of transactions low. This needs to be checked to avoid disappointment.
With Accounting Systems, it is usually as long the user chooses.
Bank Reconciliation
 


This is traditionally the process of making sure what is in the accounts (books) matches to what is in the bank. With BanktoBook, the bank balances are entered and then it automatically tells whether what is in the Book matches. It should normally match unless a download was missing transactions. The user has the means to resolve missing transactions.
Personal Finance Managers do not have this process as their automatic downloads are assumed to be correct. If transactions are missing it could be a difficult situation to resolve.
Accounting Systems have a complicated transaction matching process. The user has the means to resolve missing/non-matching transactions.
Ability to change a transaction amount
 


BanktoBook does not allow a transaction amount to be changed. They can be split/distributed into multiple amounts and categories. However, it is an offline batch system in that whole imports can be undone and redone. The user could add or change a transaction by editing say a CSV file and importing it. This gives ultimate control to the user with the only goal being for bank balance reconciliation.
With Personal Finance Managers transaction amounts cannot be added, changed or deleted as they must come only from the bank.
With Accounting Systems, transaction amounts can be added, changed and deleted to the extent allowed.
Chart of Accounts
 


BanktoBook comes with a special Chart of Accounts to suit a mixture of business and personal.
With a Personal Finance Manager, there is usually no chart of accounts as such but standard categories.
With Accounting Systems, the Chart of Accounts is an essential element. They will vary in the content of a standard chart and may let you choose from different models.
Ability to edit rules
 


Rules can be changed and reapplied singularly to one transaction, one imported file or many imported files. Rule sequencing, the order they are applied, can be changed. Transactions can be rule locked to prevent subsequent rule changes. Rule locks can be to a single transaction, a whole file import or before a given date.
Automatic Categorisation
 


BanktoBook comes with a powerful rules engine for automatic categorisation and you can add your own categories.
With a Personal Finance Manager, automatic categorisation is high but are usually limited to standard categories. Variations on this need to be evaluated.
With Accounting Systems, automatic categorisation varies greatly and is usually limited. While some allow you to import transactions, you may then have to select and accept each imported transaction, decide to whom it is associated (merchant, debtor, creditor), and then further decide how it is to be categoried. Variations on this need to be evaluated.
Rating of Automatic Categorisation
 


BanktoBook's automatic categorisation can be 50% on the first load before custom rules are established and then 90% to 99%.
With a Personal Finance Manager, automatic categorisation seems very high but they lump deposits into Deposits and cheques/checks into Checks. BanktoBook treats these as Uncategorised because Deposits and Checks are not very meanful categories. What was the deposit for? Was it a receipt from a customer to pay a bill. For example, if you bank 3 cheques, the bank just records the total and usally indicates how may deposit items were involved but that is all. No automatic system can categorise what the banks don't provide. The user needs to get the deposit book out and then do a split of the transaction and manually assign the categories. What was a cheque/check you wrote for? Who you paid the cheque to (the merchant) should determine the category and no automatic system knows that because the banks do not provide who the payee was. Variations on this need to be evaluated by individual product.
BanktoBook makes sure these are Uncategorised so that you just don't continue thinking everything is sorted out when it is not.
With Accounting Systems, the rating of automatic categorisation varies greatly and is usually limited.
Read Only
 


BanktoBook is read only. Read only has a particular meaning in this software sector. This means if someone gains access they can see the data but no funds can be moved at anytime from within the software.
Some Personal Finance Managers and Accounting Systems may allow movement of funds.
Multiple Datasets
 


A dataset is a database or a set of files. The technical term is multi-tenancy. In BanktoBook, only 1 dataset is usually required for a mix of personal and business. Two or more are available for more tax entities. For example, a second dataset may be needed for a superannuation or pension fund. A self-managed super fund must be a separate dataset for tax reporting purposes. You can switch between them with one logon.
With a Personal Finance Manager, the concept is different. They may not understand different tax entities. They usually consilidate whatever accounts are linked by your banking logon. Multiple registrations are usually required for different entities.
With Accounting Systems, they usually allow for multiple datasets (companies).

Budgets
 


BanktoBook's Budgets are designed to be simple and easy to use and show budget vs actual comparisons.
In Personal Finance Managers and Accounting Systems, budgets are usually a key strength with advanced features.
Some Personal Finance Managers are primarily designed and optimised for budgets.

Invoice Tracking
 


In BanktoBook, this feature is designed for the small business/contractor that prints invoices in say a word processor and then inputs a summary one line invoice into BanktoBook. When payments/receipts come in the invoice number may be automatically detected by a rule or it can be manually entered. It allows combining multiple receipts for one invoice or splitting an invoice into multiple categories (sales and service). It is targeted for ease-of-use but does not print invoices.
With a Personal Finance Manager, this capability is usually not-provided or limited.
In Accounting Systems, there is usually comprehensive capability for printing and tracking invoices.
Export Category
 


Export categories provide a translation from BanktoBook's categories to your other system's categories. They are included in an export file. For example, BanktoBook's code for Groceries is 4700 which can be translated to an export category of say 6-2720. They enable BanktoBook to act as a gateway to another system.
With Personal Finance Managers and Accounting Systems, this capability can be assumed as not-provided unless indicated otherwise.
Gateway
 


BanktoBook is specifically designed to be a gateway. This means it can bring transactions in various formats from one system and output them in various formats to another system. It also allows for custom export formats. An extended CSV format is the standard one.
With a Personal Finance Manager, exporting is usually a basic CSV file or no export capability.
With Accounting Systems, this will vary. It may be provided for registered developers only.
Here are some advanced Gateway ideas.
For example, say you used Yodlee Moneycenter for Personal Finance but it lacks the more advanced requirements for your tax reporting. Yodlee does an excellent job of linking and importing from many banks and financial institutions. What if you could export from Yodlee and then import to BanktoBook? You can do this. What if you want to convert an Intuit Quicken format to an OFX format for Microsoft Money. You can do this too.
Category Listing for Tax Return
 


BanktoBook's Category listing presents your accounts in a format suitable as a basis for preparing a tax return. It particularly suits giving to your tax agent who prepares the final tax return.
With a Personal Finance Manager, this listing is usually limited and not designed for business tax preparation.
In Accounting Systems, one can expect comprehensive reporting.
Online Tax Agents
 


BanktoBook is designed for tax agents. They can manage many linked clients with one logon. The tax agent and the client can both be remotely viewing and discussing and changing the same data. This is one of the great advantages of the data being in the cloud.
With a Personal Finance Manager, this should not be expected unless stated.
In Accounting Systems, this should be assumed as no unless otherwise indicated.

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