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QuickBooks 2014 Bank Feeds

September 19, 2013 | By | 24 Replies More

One of the areas that needs improvement in QuickBooks is how they deal with online banking  – importing transactions from your bank to add and reconcile your bank accounts with your QuickBooks file. With QuickBooks 2014, Intuit has made quite a few changes that is moving this in the right direction. Let’s take a look at the new QuickBooks 2014 Bank Feeds feature.

Note that this is not a tutorial on how to use the feature, I’m just giving you an overview of the changes.

Bank Feeds vs. Online Banking

Let’s get a one thing straight here – what do they mean by “bank feeds” and how is that different from “online banking”?

Intuit found that there was some confusion regarding terminology here. They’ve had “online banking” as a feature in QuickBooks for many years – as in, the ability to download transactions from your bank or credit card to see what transactions have cleared, match transactions from the bank with transactions in your QB file, add transactions that you haven’t entered in QuickBooks yet, and to see the current account balance.

If you ask a group of QuickBooks users if they use “online banking”, a good majority will probably say “yes”. However, if you look at how many people actually use the “online banking” feature in QuickBooks you’ll find that instead, only about 15% of QuickBooks desktop users actually use the feature that you find in your QuickBooks menu. That is because the term “online banking” is confusing, people that say that they are using this are also thinking about logging in to their bank accounts online (outside of QuickBooks) to view statements, make payments, pay bills, and more. Activities that aren’t limited just to what you do in QuickBooks.

So, Intuit decided to rename this feature to be “Bank Feeds”, to differentiate it from the more expansive definition of “online banking”. Instead of selecting Banking and then Online Banking as you do in QuickBooks 2013, now you will select Banking and then Bank Feeds in QuickBooks 2014.

Only 15% Use Bank Feeds?

Do you use the QuickBooks online banking or bank feeds feature? I’ll be honest – even though I’ve been using QuickBooks for my business accounting since 2005, and I immerse myself in the details of how to use QuickBooks every year, I haven’t been using this feature. And, I’m not alone. Why don’t people use the feature?

Intuit did some research and compared the feature in QuickBooks with other products, such as Mint, Quicken, QuickBooks Online and Xero. They looked at these three areas:

  • Connectivity: How hard is it to initiate a connection to your account and is there an additional fee for that?
  • Usability: Is the feature easy to use? Is the user interface easy to work with?
  • Automation: How much of the chore of reconciling your online bank account with your QuickBooks file can be dealt with automatically so you don’t have to work through all the details?

Intuit’s research showed them that the Online Banking feature was far behind what is found in these other products.  So, with QuickBooks 2014 Bank Feeds, they worked to improve the user experience in the QuickBooks desktop product in each of these three areas.

QuickBooks 2014 Bank Feeds

To use the new Bank Feeds feature you need to enable it in your Preferences.

QuickBooks 2014 Bank Feeds Preferences

In QuickBooks 2013 we had Side by Side Mode and Register Mode. Now we have Classic Mode, which is the same as the old Register Mode that has been around for years, and Express Mode. Is this just a renaming of “Side by Side” to “Express”? Well, not really. Express Mode is essentially the Side by Side Mode with an improved user interface and better “rules”. When you dig down, you’ll see the old side by side mode is still working underneath.

Let’s take a look at how Intuit is addressing each of these three areas with the QuickBooks 2014 Bank Feeds feature. Note that this is not a tutorial on every aspect of the new feature – for detailed help you’ll want to look at the upcoming book QuickBooks 2014 In Depth by Laura Madeira.

Connectivity

The first thing you have to do is to connect your QuickBooks accounts with your bank or credit card accounts.

QuickBooks 2013

In QuickBooks 2013 you had two ways to connect – Direct Connect and Web Connect.

QuickBooks 2013 Connecivity

Web Connect is usually free – you download a file from your bank website and then “open” that file to apply the records to your QuickBooks file. This is a time-consuming manual task that is inconvenient. Many banks offer this file, but not all.

Direct Connect is simpler – once you connect your online bank/card account to QuickBooks you can easily transfer the information without having to log in through a separate browser and manually download a file. The problem is that this usually is not free and some banks don’t offer this option.

QuickBooks 2014

Is this improved in QuickBooks 2014? Well, there are a few improvements, but at this time they aren’t all that significant. The setup process has been reorganized and leads you through the steps. I’m not showing all of the steps that you’ll take – the big difference here is that after you select your bank you’ll see this screen IF your bank offers a Direct Connect option.

QuickBooks 2014 Bank Feed Connectivity

So, has Intuit improved the Connectivity aspect of Bank Feeds? Looking at the R1 release, I would have to say “not a whole bunch”.  It is much easier to get bank information in a product like Mint or Quicken than it is here.

HOWEVER, this is an area that Intuit is investing time in, and I expect that you’ll see some big changes here in the near future. We’ll have to see what they can do!

Usability

How easy is it to use Bank Feeds? This is an area where Intuit has made a lot of improvements.

QuickBooks 2013

Let’s start by looking at the “Side by Side” mode in QuickBooks 2013. First you open the Online Banking Center, where you see the summary information on your accounts.

QuickBooks 2013 Online Banking Center

If I want to work with one of the accounts, I click on it in the list in Items Received, and I see the list of transactions on the left. You have to click on an individual transaction to open the window on the right (which is a bit crowded) to be able to see the transaction detail on the right.

Transaction Detail in QuickBooks 2013

You also can click the Add Multiple button in the prior window to get a list of transactions to work with. This is a bit faster to work with when you have a lot of transactions, but you can’t easily do “splits” or other actions from this list.

QuickBooks 2013 Add Multiple Transactions

QuickBooks 2014

Now let’s look at how this has changed in QuickBooks 2014. Here’s the Bank Feeds window, which uses fonts and colors in the standard fashion that we expect in the newer user interface. This is clean and easy to read – I particularly like the improvement in the bank account list on the left side.

QuickBooks 2014 Online Banking Center

Click on the Transaction List button and you see a list of all of the transactions that are waiting for you to look at. You can easily apply different actions to each transaction, you can click on the colored bar at the top to filter the list by different status types. This is an easier screen to work with than the older “side by side” screen, and because you have the “action” list on the right side it is easier to work with than the “add multiple transactions” list from before.

QuickBooks 2014 Transaction List

It is important to note that you haven’t lost any of the features of the “side by side” approach from before. The transactions list view is a layer added on top of the side by side feature, providing you with additional capabilities and an easy way to work with a lot of transactions quickly. If you select the Add More Details option from the Action list, you will see the underlying screen that is essentially the detail view of the old side by side approach.

QuickBooks 2014 Add More Details

Automation

This is another area where Intuit has been working on adding improvements. It is important that the Bank Feeds feature save you as much time as possible, and the best way to do this is for the program to automatically classify transactions for you. QuickBooks does this by creating “rules”. In addition to applying rules that you create, if the program can create new rules for you based on your actions, the speed of the system improves dramatically the more that you use it.

QuickBooks 2013

QuickBooks 2013 had very simple rules, just a way to search the downloaded name for certain values and then renaming the transaction to a particular vendor.

QuickBooks 2013 Rules

QuickBooks 2014

Here’s the rules feature in QuickBooks 2014. In addition to being able to classify the name, you can set the category for the rule as well. This is a big improvement. As you go through the transaction list and name/categorize transactions, QuickBooks will learn from your actions and will create rules of its own.

QuickBooks 2014 Rules

What Do I Think?

I remember the hullabaloo that people raised back when QuickBooks 2009 dropped the register mode and added the first iteration of side by side mode. It was one of the largest mass rejections of a new QuickBooks feature that I’ve ever seen. Intuit did fix the product, AND they restored the old register mode to satisfy people who wanted to use that method. So I get nervous when Intuit makes changes in this feature. Fortunately, this time I think that Intuit is on the right track and this is going to be a feature that I’ll want to use myself.

I talked about the three areas that Intuit focused on:

  • Connectivity: This hasn’t improved dramatically in the R1 release. However, there should be some great improvements coming here as Intuit continues to develop the new Bank Feeds feature. They’ve shown us that they are working hard to update the entire feature, I expect that they’ll focus their attention in this area.
  • Usability: Yes, they have greatly improved this aspect of the product. They have updated the user interface to make it fit the overall scheme, they have simplified the workflow, they have made it easier to accomplish your tasks in fewer steps.
  • Automation: There are advances here as well. Renaming rules are greatly improved – but there is more that they can do. I also believe that they are going to work on improving this area of the program in upcoming releases.

As I’ve said all along, don’t use the R1 release if you can avoid it. There are a few problems that have shown up in my initial testing, as I would expect in an R1 release. I haven’t seen anything that damages my files or posts incorrectly, but there are a couple of places where the program crashed.

All in all, this is a great improvement and I’m expecting great things in upcoming updates.

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Category: QuickBooks Tips/Tricks, Software Updates

About the Author ()

Charlie Russell is the founder of CCRSoftware. He's been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had a one-floppy disk drive system, loading the program from one floppy and then replacing that with the other floppy to hold the data. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise. He also is a Xero Certified Partner. Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. Charlie can be reached at charlie.russell@sleeter.com He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog Connect with Charlie at Google

Comments (24)

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  1. MB Raimondi says:

    One of the advantages that QBO Downloaded Transactions over Bank Feeds is the fact that once you set up the banking connection, you don’t ever have to enter password or pin again. I was hoping they’d do same for desktop. Maybe that will change!

    • MB, in talking with Intuit folks about this, there is a lot more work being done on Bank Feeds for future revisions. They want to bring up ALL THREE of the areas to be top notch when compared to other products.

  2. William "Bill" Murphy says:

    MB – ‘and the QBO’ will download automatically (overnight) and the new QB-2014 won’t do that (at present either), but I am like “Charlie”, I think that Intuit is ‘committed’ to make this functionality work, and work as well as it does in QBO.

    As such the natural tendency of their new ‘Harmony’ efforts across platforms is that the QB-desktop version of on-line banking should become ‘even more like’ the QBO version than visa versa.

    Murph

    • I think that it is unlikely that the desktop product will do an automatic overnight download (specifically), because the desktop product isn’t really suitable for that kind of off line update. Heck, the computer that has the database is very likely to not even be turned on overnight! That is one advantage to something like QBO. But there are other aspects of the QBO bank feed management that could be brought in.

  3. Sue says:

    I don’t really see any advantages to doing this within the QB browser vs the bank online with an outside browser. Hopefully they aren’t changing that by disabling the use of the outside browser to download a QBO file.

    I download QBO or CSV and when I download a CSV is the QBO isn’t available I then turn the CSV into a QBO and I am done.

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it – there are many more issues that need to be addressed like allowing more than on AP or AR file in one journal entry? There are so many more issues and improvements that could be made over the Banking function

    • Due, for those people who work with QB on a regular basis, who are accounting professionals, the differences might not be as significant. For people who are end users and who don’t do this often, the improvements are going to be more significant. And, moving forward, some of the changes coming up should make the connectivity part much easier.

      The majority of what I’m showing here are changes that improve how you work with the data once it is loaded. In fact, in my examples here, what I did WAS to download the QBO file and open it. All of the significant changes here so far are changes to the process to what you do AFTER the transactions are acquired, no matter which method you use.

      Yes, there are a lot of things that they can work on that we all want, but I do believe that the effort put in here will be of value to many people.

  4. Three cheers for this change and for Charlie’s detailed article.

    There is a simple reason why Intuit is moving now. COMPETITION = XERO. An Intuit employee admitted this applied to the new CPA practice manager and we now see it applies here as well. I told top Intuit executives that QuickBooks desktop needed an automated bank feed option in 2005. They said it was a great idea, but did not move until they had to buy Mint in 2009 ($170 million, which killed Quicken Online). They also waited until 2013 for QuickBooks. NUTS! This is because Xero is growing users 100% to 500% a year. QBO only got about 75% of the 800,000 users that QB desktop recently lost. You also now have the free Wave at the low end, growing far faster than Mint, though neither will catch Xero and bank partner Yodlee (40 million users). Intuit also lost $300 million when it dropped Digital Insights, a Yodlee competitor.

    QuickBooks desktop now has a “Keep QuickBooks running” option. Intuit can make this support automatic nightly bank and credit card feeds easily, but did not yet do so for Quickbooks desktop. 75% of Intuit development money is now going to the web, so QuickBooks desktop still has an annual development cycle, compared to three weeks for Xero.

    I still would rather go to the dentist than use QB Online, so I will keep quickly switching to Xero. My 0CPAs program also increasingly automates Xero. Doug Sleeter, Joe Woodward and Gary Boomer attended the recent Xero conference. Based on my many conversations there, there will be many more new U.S. Xero users this year. In two years, there should be many more Xero users than QBO users.

    • Thank you, Mike. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to go to Xerocon and meet you face-to-face, but I was sequestered down in Mountain View at the Intuit event.

      I don’t view the “Keep QuickBooks Running” option as a good one. In fact, more often than not, we tell clients to turn that feature off because of problems it can cause. Any time that you are working with an add-on product, for example, the first step in debugging a problem is to turn that feature off. AND Intuit Support commonly tells people to do that. Also, this kind of solution would require that you leave the computer on all the time – at least one that has the database – and for many users that isn’t a great solution.

      If Intuit streamlines the connectivity issue a bit more, you won’t really need that. It should be a simple task to tell the program to get your data every once in awhile. Daily updates of this sort aren’t that critical – who would go in to review the data EVERY day in most situations?

      I agree that Xero is a major contender in the marketplace, and that Intuit recognizes that they are their big competition. However, I am not going to bet against Intuit in this case, mainly because of their size and funding. It will be interesting to watch them, though!

    • Jenny Galang says:

      I have one client left using Quickbooks Online while all the others have switched to Xero. I was “contented” not happy with QBO but it made my client happy up until last Friday.
      We had a big issue with the bank feeds. There were errors with the connection so I had to delete bank connection and reconnect it again. The investment account was synchronized with client’s personal account. I thought it was my mistake so I had to delete the connection and link the bank accounts again. Tried it thrice, and the investment account got screwed up again this time with the company’s checking account. Called QB support and tried it for another 5 times using different browsers, but to no avail. It was downloading transactions from different bank accounts. Finally, after hours of talk, they were blaming it on the Wellsfargo side. Wellsfargo portal worked just fine. What disappointed me was the lack of sense of ownership of QBO when it came to this issue. I’ve had so many client using Xero with Wellsfargo accounts but had no such issues.
      Toward the end, we wasted more than 3 hours combined talk time with QBO support, with Wellsfargo and even with my own client. I had no choice but to do manual entries for the said account. I really hope this client of mine decides to move to Xero!

  5. Online banking is a very useful tool for me for working in my client’s books. It saves me a ton of time downloading as opposed to manual data entry. But it is not a user-friendly part of the program and I almost always use web connect. You are right, Charlie, I did not see a big change here, at least for what I use this tool for.

    On a side note, I am going to steal Mike Block’s line above. I agree, that I would rather go to the dentist than use QuickBooks Online. I have one client using this program and it is AWFUL!

    • Lynda (and Mike) – the Harmony release of QBO is much easier to work with, it will change the game for SOME people. Of course, it doesn’t fit all kinds of businesses, since it doesn’t have as wide a feature range.

  6. David Geller says:

    Intuit/QuickBooks is missing one TIME SAVING AWESOME FEATURE.

    In Quicken when you download and then at end of month to reconcile the download ALREADY checked off items and when you reconcile 905 of teh time all items on left and right side of the screen are already checked off. in Quicken I can reconcile 3 accounts in under 2 minutes.

    in QuickBooks you still have to check mark everything on the screen that is on the statement. how 1989!!!

    They already do this for their other product, come on Quickbooks/intuit!!!!!

    • Alex Blakey says:

      Hi David,

      I’m the QuickBooks Product Manager responsible for the new Bank Feeds design in QuickBooks 2014. I completely agree that we can do more to help clients reconcile their accounts faster and that we have some great examples of this in other Intuit products already. We are actively working on those enhancements right now, in fact, I’ll be at the Sleeter conference next week where I’ll be running a workshop to understand this problem in more detail and figure out some potential solutions.

      Thanks,

      Alex

      • Sarah Johnson says:

        Hi Alex,

        Keep up the good work those of us who use banking features will never retreat from using them.

        I am a QuickBooks user since 2005 and Bookkeeper for 20+ years. I won’t work with a company who uses QuickBooks without 100% automation with banking. (PS. at present I will never work with QBO-really lightweight bookkeeping- needs more punch & alot less end user clicking choices). Helping a friend set up Premier for Professionals tried not turning on classic mode for bank feeds. 1st issue when selecting to check-added bank memo the input box came in but not the ability to type in the box at the initial screen. 2nd issue never could figure out how to work on multiples and correctly save entries. (way too easy using select quick add feature on right to enter a uncategorized entry with blank vendor name) 3rd issue I could not figure out how delete 20 entries (en masse) from the “transactions” that are not needed. Looked up help-its suggestion was to find a button located under description, etc. but that did not exist at the transaction screen or the one before it. I am searching for this delete answer on the internet.

      • Lori says:

        I have spent DAYS on the phone with QB support: can’t get 14 to SEND a direct check to Wells Fargo. It tells me it is “Too Late” but does not offer a later date – just goes into a never ending loop. 3 level two techs and still can’t pay a bill.

      • Kathy Tudor says:

        Hi Alex,

        We are QuickBooks 2014 users that depend on bank feeds for updating our 41 active bank accounts; however, we’ve since added new bank accounts, and can’t seem to get the new accounts connected. I have to force close QuickBooks after staring at a spinning wheel for 30 minutes.
        I set up a test set of books with a bank account and was able to get a connection to our bank within seconds.
        We’re desperate for a fix for our connectivity issue, as manually importing transactions for 41 accounts each day isn’t feasible. Are there any troubleshooting suggestions for QuickBooks 2014?

    • Penny Hale says:

      David,

      If you’ve downloaded everything via online banking, reconciliation is actually a snap! Just check the “Hide Transactions After Statement End Date,” then “Mark All,” and you’re done!! Not quite so quick if you’ve manually entered checks by date written, as you do have to individually check their status. But what I love about the desktop version is you can rearrange checks by check number. That’s how they’re usually listed somewhere on the bank statement, so checking them off is a simple matter. I always do checks first, verify that the checks balance matches the bank statement, then rearrange by date, and the rest goes very quickly. That’s not something available in QBO, which is one reason I’d rather have a tooth pulled as well =)

      Maybe I need to quit resisting Xero…

  7. Actually, David, you can use that auto match when reonciling feature in Quicken in QuickBooks.

    I just showed a Seattle client how to check the box marked match already downloaded transactions already matched to transactions already entered in the QuickBooks desktop bank register.

    That reduced their time 90%.

    The box is right underneath the left side of deposit side of the reconcile window.

  8. Evan Adams says:

    Thank you for this. I had been hating the Express Mode this year. So nice to turn it off and go back to clasic mode. Express mode doesn’t let you edit the memo’s and I use the memos to tell me what was that expense… i.e. This month I had two auto credit card charges from logmein.com. One for Cubby and one for Logmein Pro. But without being able to edit the memos I’d have no record of what each charge was for. Thank you!

  9. Pete Gould says:

    There are some critical missing features from the new “Renaming Rules” functionality. Hopefully someone from the QB team will notice this.

    Let’s take a typical transaction reported via direct connect from Chase Bank as an example.

    The “DOWNLOADED AS” string from the bank might say “ACH Payment 1234567 to TOY” for a business vehicle lease payment from Toyota Motor Credit. “1234567” is the serial number of the payment so that is unique and not useful – it will change with every individual transaction.

    Hence, one would want a renaming rule that says IF “Downloaded As” contains “ACH Payment” AND “Downloaded As” contains “to TOY” THEN rename the vendor to Toyota Motor Credit and classify the transaction as a vehicle lease payment. However, in the Renaming Rules dialog box it appears the only available operator is OR. Of course we cannot say “ACH Payment” OR “to TOY” because then all ACH payments would get renamed to Toyota. We need an AND operator (really we need a pulldown menu where we can select between AND and OR as we add qualifiers).

    An additional approach that would add even more power to the process would be recognizable wildcards, like ‘*’ and ‘?’, where ‘?’ represents individual characters and ‘*’ represents between zero and an infinite number of characters. So in our example above, the rule could say “Downloaded As” CONTAINS “ACH Payment * to TOY”, and the system would find the transaction no matter what the number was (or even if there wasn’t one). Likewise “ACH Payment ??????? to TOY” would find the transaction, but this time only if there was a seven-digit number (or any seven characters) between the word “Payment” and the word “to”.

    Using a mix of AND and OR operators, coupled with wildcards, would make the Renaming Rules feature extraordinarily powerful. Without them, about half the transactions that come in here do not benefit from that feature since there is no way to construct a proper Rule.

    • Thanks for the comment, Pete. I can’t say if THAT specific feature will be updated, but I do know that Intuit is looking to expand the capabilities of this feature, moving forward. They have a lot of plans and ideas, but I don’t know what the release timeframe is.

  10. Katie says:

    My firm uses Bank Fees for one of our bank accounts and loves the way it works. We have tried to set up our master account on bank feed, but we are unable to select that QB account due to the fact that we use that account with Intuit Bill Pay services. Does anyone know how to use an account for Bill Pay as well as online bank feeds to download daily transactions? We use the direct connect method. Thanks!

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