Recently I was contacted by IGG Software about a post I wrote back in early 2010 detailing my search to replace Quicken with a Mac equivalent. Doug Bowman (formerly of Google and currently at Twitter) commented about my article on his Twitter feed. I guess that generated a little buzz for a couple days. In my original article I evaluated GnuCash, Moneywell, Moneydance, and iBank, eventually settling on Moneydance. In that original comparison I used iBank 3, but the performance after importing my ten years of existing Quicken data was so poor that I couldn’t actually test the features.
When IGG contacted me, they informed me that they’d released version 4 of the software since then and that the performance had been improved drastically. They asked if I’d take a look at their latest version. I love personal finance software and I was interested in seeing the improvements, so I happily agreed.
The goal in my original article was to find a Mac-native replacement for Quicken. As I mentioned I did that with Moneydance over a year ago. Since that problem has already been solved I decided that this article should focus on two things:
- Answer the question of whether or not iBank is now capable of handling large amounts of data
- Finally review iBank to see if the important features are there
The short answer to question #1 is a resounding yes.
I have over eleven years of financial data stored in Moneydance right now. I exported all my data out of Moneydance in QIF format, then imported it into iBank. It took a very long time, so long that I thought the software had stopped responding, but iBank successfully imported all my transactions. When it was finished, it provided me the opportunity to map my existing imported accounts to the correct account type (checking, savings, credit card, 401(k), etc).
After the import was complete I tested the software by simply switching between account registers and seeing how long it took. I was pleasantly surprised to see no noticeable delay. iBank 4 was quick and responsive, even with eleven years of transactions loaded. I noticed only a minor slowdown when viewing reports and budgets, but nothing so severe that I’d consider it an issue.
Unfortunately not everything imported exactly right. It’s likely some of this is due to the QIF file itself while some of it might be due to the fashion in which iBank imports data. Regardless, I fixed most of the issues quickly and I will assume I can fix the few remaining issues. I don’t expect the QIF import to be completely error-free with any software package; even Moneydance had a few issues importing my data after I switched from Quicken.
Now that question #1 has been answered I’ll move on to #2. Does the software contain all the features I’d expect in personal finance software?
In a word, yes.
iBank 4 provides what you’d expect in terms of account registers and transactions. Data entry is reasonably fast, as fast as anything else I’ve used. It supports splitting transactions into multiple categories. I particularly like the way iBank handles splits by expanding the register and adding lines rather than popping a new window. Less mouse movement and clicking. I also like that calculations can be performed within a single number field, just like Moneydance. I never knew how powerful that could be until I finally used it.
iBank 4 supports multiple account types; checking, saving, cash, investments, assets, loans, and more. It will also calculate interest and principle on loans. It allows transfer of interest and escrow payments into separate categories.
Accounts can be manually grouped and ordered in the sidebar. I really like this because it allows me to group and order every account exactly how I want. Very flexible. It also provides the summed value of all the accounts within a folder group. That’s very cool.
iBank automatically downloaded the latest stock prices when I started the program the next time after the import. I like that it does this out of the box, without any setup. I didn’t enter any transactions into the register, but it appears to be straightforward.
One really cool feature is the ability to attach files to a transaction. Quicken had this feature; Moneydance currently does not (though there’s talk this will come soon in a future release). Personally I find this useful and I’m happy to see it implemented in iBank.
iBank 4 will also allow users to create budgets. I didn’t push budgeting much further than creating a simple one; it’s just not as important to me as tracking and reporting. It would appear the budgeting capabilities in iBank are comparable to Moneydance and Quicken, at least in my experience. If budgeting is your main focus, then you might want to look at YNAB (You Need A Budget) or Moneywell; both of those applications focus heavily on budgeting.
The reports in iBank 4 look amazing. They’re attractive and intuitive. They generate relatively quickly (at least quickly enough to not cause frustration) and they’re very easy to build. I was able to basically replicate the functionality of all my important Moneydance reports, save for the budget report (I didn’t see a budget report option in iBank). I created investment performance and portfolio reports, income/expense, net worth, itemized categories, and more. I was also able to save memorized instances of these reports for easy access later on.
iBank 4 guides the user through a wizard-like series of steps when creating a new report, making the creation process for less experienced users easier. I also like how iBank adds additional information about the report’s purpose to each report.
iBank doesn’t have anything resembling a “home page” like Moneydance has. The program starts wherever you last left off. To be fair though, most of the other finance applications I’ve looked at don’t have this view either. I tend to like the homepage because it gives me a “dashboard” view of my finances, but that’s me. Maybe it’s a hold-over from my Quicken days. In the end it’s not a necessity, just a nice-to-have.
There are other features and functionality which I haven’t touched on; this is not an exhaustive review of every single little thing iBank can do. Rather, my intention was to determine whether or not iBank handled the major stuff, and it does.
With the release of iBank 4, IGG Software has successfully addressed their performance issues and have produced an application that is powerful, fast, attractive, and full-featured. It does virtually everything I need a personal finance application to do. IGG has made tremendous strides in improving the performance of iBank; so much that the software is no longer not unusable, but desirable. It looks absolutely gorgeous, drenched in the native Mac look-and-feel. It’s also very intuitive, so I think it might be a better choice for newbies who need a little hand-holding.
I’m impressed with iBank 4. I would now recommend it, along with Moneydance and SEE Finance, to anyone who’s interested in purchasing finance software for the Mac.
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