Intuit puts venerable Quicken up on the block – How will this impact our Money data downloads?


I’ve just learned of an announcement from Intuit that could spell the end of our scripted access to OFX/QFX downloads within 2 or 3 years. The reason financial institutions keep the portal servers going for access to our financial data is because of agreements with Intuit for updating account data for their Quicken program. The announcement is actually a couple of months old (August 20th) where they state that because about 2/3rds of Intuit’s business now comes from online and mobile activity, they intend to sell its Quicken unit, the group that creates the personal finance software that made the company famous.  Here’s more from an article by Gregg Keizer in Computerwold magazine published 8/21/2015…

The news — and Intuit management’s explanation for the sale — illustrated the retreat of personal computer desktop software and the rise in cloud- and subscription-based services. It also distressed users, who wondered whether the banking and investment software would survive, and if not, how they would replace a program they’ve relied on for years, sometimes decades.

On a conference call with Wall Street analysts Thursday, CEO Brad Smith said Intuit would focus on its small business and tax software, represented by QuickBooks and TurboTax, respectively — both have strong cloud- and subscription-based businesses — and is ditching Quicken because, as a strictly desktop product, it has neither.

“As you know, Quicken is a desktop-centric business and it doesn’t strengthen the small business or tax ecosystems,” said Intuit CEO Brad Smith in a conference call with Wall Street Thursday. “Our strategy is focused on building ecosystems and platforms in the cloud. We value our loyal Quicken customers and we’re seeking a buyer who will provide the product support and the service they deserve.”

Right.

“I expect Quicken to be dead in two years at best,” predicted someone identified as “rickbee9,” in one of several comments on the Quicken discussion forum thread about the proposed sale.

Others questioned Smith’s explanation, saying that Intuit is simply ditching its weakest money makers to make its balance sheet look better. “[It’s] clear that Intuit is divesting itself of the lowest revenue items, no matter how they spin it,” wrote “smayer97” on the same thread. “It is clear that this has nothing to do with which segment classes of products they are keeping vs. not … they are clearly only wanting to keep the top revenue items.”

The three units Intuit plans to sell — Quicken, QuickBase and Demandforce — accounted for less than 6% of the firm’s fiscal 2015 revenue, and just 2% of its net income during the same period. For the last 12 months, Quicken contributed just $51 million to the company’s total revenue of nearly $4.2 billion.

One indicator of the soon-to-be-sold units’ worth in investors’ eyes is that not one Wall Street analyst asked a question yesterday about their proposed sale.

In a FAQ about the Quicken sale, Intuit asserted that it would find the right home for the personal finance software. “We are seeking a buyer that recognizes the value of the brand, respects the customers and will invest in upgrading the product and support experience,” said Intuit. “We intend to run a crisp process, focused on engaging with strong and reputable buyers.”

Customers weren’t buying that either.

“I love how [the CEO] is telling you that he can pick a buyer in a way that they will do everything they didn’t do,” said “QuicknPerlWiz”. “Quicken is 32 years old, and to a developer that usually means code that is really hard to maintain, and that certainly shows.”

In many ways, Quicken is software that users love to hate. With years of data in the company’s proprietary format — and few alternatives — they not only feel trapped but also regularly rail about the product. Quicken’s listing on ConsumerAffairs.com, the consumer advocacy organization’s website, makes for dismal reading: The overall satisfaction rating is one star out of a possible five.

“I hate this program. I’ve been using Quicken for many years, and it just get[s] worse and worse with each update. It is less and less user friendly,” alleged Beverly of Midland, Tex.

“I have never seen a major software company so technically inept and getting worse. Every month there seems to be some new major issue with this software,” griped Bill of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Intuit promised that it would continue to maintain and develop Quicken until it finds a buyer, adding that it plans to release the next edition, Quicken 2016 for Windows, and would keep working on the Mac version. Current users should see no interruption in their ability to use the software or its associated services, such as Quicken Bill Pay.

“As we move through this sale, it’s business better than usual,” wrote Eric Dunn, who heads the Quicken unit, in an online statement. “As a standalone business, we’ll focus solely on taking Quicken to the next level. And until we find that buyer, we’ll continue to provide you with [the] dedicated, uninterrupted service and support you deserve.”

If Intuit keeps to its usual schedule, it will ship Quicken 2016 in the next several weeks.

Quicken is one of the oldest desktop products, preceding even Windows. Quicken debuted in 1983, near the beginning of the PC revolution, and first ran on Microsoft’s DOS.

I think Intuit is trying to sell Quicken simply because it doesn’t add enough to their bottom line. We all know that in this day and age, public companies care only about the bottom line – if it doesn’t make enough money, they don’t want it.

With that said, the reason I’m writing about this is that I strongly feel that the functionality of MS Money and Quicken will depend on who buys the Quicken product. This could give Quicken a good kick-in-the-pants and improve the product OR it could be the death blow of Quicken along with the Pocketsense update features of MS Money.  Banks and brokerages would no longer have reason to keep the OFX/QFX servers running if the Quicken agreements are dissolved, and in fact they would rather you access your financial data exclusively with their web portals.

I selfishly want Quicken to remain strong, so that Money will continue to function perfectly as-is.


[UPDATE 5/17/2016]
Intuit has indeed sold its Quicken personal finance software unit to H.I.G. Capital, a Miami-based private equity firm. Eric Dunn, the head of Quicken, announced the sale in a message and video posted to Intuit’s website. https://qlc.intuit.com/questions/1328117-update-on-the-quicken-sale-from-eric-dunn

“[H.I.G. is] confident, as am I, that Quicken will thrive with increased investment, leading to product improvements and advances that will allow Quicken to continue to serve you well for decades to come,” Dunn said.

The sale, said Dunn, will allow Quicken to double the number of engineers working on the Mac version — which has long lagged behind the Windows edition in features and functionality — and devote more resources to improving the program on the dominant platform, Windows.

“We all know that Quicken could use some TLC, some tender loving care, to be as great as it can be. I’m very aware that Quicken isn’t perfect,” said Dunn. “Quicken [for Windows] could probably use some attention to the fit and finish, the polish, usability, resilience and reliability.”

Dunn has his work cut out for him.

-ameridan

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15 Comments »

  1. William R Wood said

    I manually download checking and credit card transactions from my banks using OFX or QFX files both of which work fine. I simply change (rename) the QFX extension to OFX for banks that do not provide OFX directly.

    I do not need scripting to initiate downloads from within Money, it is easy enough to simply log onto my bank’s websites and manually download the transaction files.

    Are the OFX/QFX servers you mention the source of scripted access data and manually accessed data? Are you suggesting that the total death of Quicken could mean that banks will stop providing any way to download transaction data, even manually?

    I don’t think that is possible. I am entitled to my transaction data and I believe that my banks have a legal responsibility to make that data available in a format I can use irrespective of whether they get any financial benefit from Qicken or anywhere else.

    • I’m honestly not sure they have any legal responsibility to make the data available. You could just load it up in your web browser and print the screen after all.

      But even if need to make the data downloadable, they could just provide it in a text file, CSV or Excel file. There is certainly no requirement that it be provided in OFX or QFX.

      And if Quicken dies and Money is already mostly dead, a lot of banks may not see a reason to keep on supporting the formats.

    • ameridan said

      William,

      Of course they will probably make your data available via their website, but if Quicken were to die, what reason would they have to keep OFX/QFX servers online, unless perhaps cloud-based financial tools like Intuit’s Mint required data in that same format. You stated “I am entitled to my transaction data and I believe that my banks have a legal responsibility to make that data available in a format I can use” – here I agree with Joe – they wouldn’t have any legal responsibility to provide data in OFX/QFX format outside of legal agreements (ie with Intuit). Unless the remaining array of cloud-based financial programs use data in the QFX format, we’d probably be limited to the data output of their proprietary web-based solutions. So, the manually accessed data you refer to, may only be available to you because of agreements made with Intuit to fulfil data requests from Quicken. You will see disclaimers on many of their websites stating that MS Money is no longer supported and as you stated, we have found ways to use data meant for Quicken instead.

      I hope you realize that I hope the data remains available forever – and just brought the subject up for discussion.

  2. damo said

    I have to admit, I see the appeal of cloud services – for example, I can share details with my wife without having to give her shared access to a desktop application.

    I was a fond user of Money, and I now use ANZ Money Manager – it’s basically a local bank-managed front end to Yodel, who write all the parsers for all the bank online banking sites but only provide it B2B on a global basis (I’m in Australia).

    So – ANZMM is free, and you don’t need to be a customer, it can read and centralise any bank account in the world(?!), and it provides CSV export with categorisation that could feasibly be imported to MS money.

    I personally am looking for a cloud service now as it’s easier to collaborate, but none provide the insights that Money did. They also don’t have the share and asset tracking capabilities of Money. [emphasis added by admin]

  3. Norm said

    I use the WEB access OFX download for Money updates. Tried PocketSense and it work OK, but wasn’t worth the effort when I switched from XP to Win7. Now switching to WIN10 and everything in the WEB OFX download works great into Money.
    The OFX/QFX servers are not essential to Money, provided the WEB access to OFX downloads remains. When Ally Bank removed OFX and only provided QFX that was incompatible with Money, just changed banks. Both TD BanK and EverBank support compatible OFX, among many others.
    Someday I’ll find a current program that has the same capability as Money, either desktop or cloud. So far nothing comes close particularly with the forecast capability.

  4. ameridan said

    Norm,

    I doubt that there will ever be a program as good as Money! Microsoft invested over a BILLION dollars in the program in competition with Quicken before giving up. As to all of the banks offering OFX and or QFX file downloads, it’s because they know there are potential and existing clients out there with Quicken (along with some others with Money, Mint etc.). As long as Quicken remains strong that should continue, but if some company buys and kills it, well I think you see what could happen…

  5. Norm said

    I spoke with the software support department of Ally Bank when they removed WEB access to OFX download. As far as the bank was concerned there were only about 1500 users and they removed the access. I removed my account, not that my small pittance was even noticed.
    Tried Quicken twice and used their satisfaction guarantee to get my money back (both figuratively and actually). Quicken user interface is a joke and Quicken or any other I’ve found will support the most important feature to me, the ability to forecast account balance using bills and deposits. I believe Quicken can do this for a month, but I need to see a year or more ahead to plan.

  6. William R Wood said

    What is Web access to OFX/QFX? Is that the same as manual downloads? I log onto my bank’s websites and download transaction data which is provided in OFX or QFX format, most banks give me QFX, only Everbank gives me OFX.

    I think you guys are too pessimistic. I doubt Quicken will die. True, Quicken is crap compared to Money but lots of people still use it. And even if Quicken does die, I doubt most banks will stop QFX or OFX downloads simply because they already have the system setup and because it will infuriate many customers if they drop the service. I would immediately switch banks to get downloads back and banks don’t want to lose customers.

    Maybe MSFT will even resurrect Money if Quicken dies! 🙂

  7. ameridan said

    William,

    Yes, to your first question. And for the short-term I’m optimistic too, but I’d like to think that we can rely on Money for a long time yet, and for that reason I want us all to keep our ears open for ideas to keep things as they are –

      keep our program and passwords out of the cloud
      keep scripted daily OFX/QFX data updates going
      keep web access to OFX/QFX going (vs. CSF and QIF data)
      keep MS Money Quotes going
      etc.

    and that is why I selfishly want Quicken to remain strong. 😉

    • William R Wood said

      Totally agree… Money is by far my most important software, truly could not live without it. I am not an Intuit fan, quit Quicken long ago and even switched to TaxAct from TurboTax last year, but anything that preserves our ability to use Money is a good thing so I hope Quicken hangs in there indefinitely.

      As to Money long term, I will definitely use it forever. I will type my transaction data in manually if necessary. So far Money runs fine on all new Windows versions. I did switch my computers to Win 10 for about a month and Money ran fine but I hated 10 and went back to 8.1. If Money ever fails to work on a new version I will simply keep a separate computer running a version that does work.

      Not sure why you object to cloud data. I love it because I can access that data from any device with internet access from anywhere and all devices are automatically in sync. I now use Dropbox and Google Drive to store my Money data file. No longer have to worry about multiple backups of my data file or the issue of off-site backups since the cloud is an off-site backup and a primary backup. Even if our house burns to the ground or somebody steals all 3 of our computers and the external hard drives, I still have our Money files on Google Drive and Dropbox so they are safe. 🙂

  8. ameridan said

    I reworded it to “keep our program and passwords out of the cloud” – especially the way Mint does web scrapes of your financial institutions. You’re right, an encrypted data file in the cloud should be OK.

    • Andy said

      Are you storing the primary money in the cloud or just the Money backup and what form/type of encryption are you using to store your data on Google Drive and Dropbox? Any recommendations on how to handle it?

  9. William R Wood said

    Not sure if you asked me the question but if interested, I keep my working Money file in the Dropbox folder on my computers where they are backed up onto the cloud by Dropbox automatically as I work. I do not encrypt my Money file myself, Dropbox encrypts the files on their servers. I doubt anybody cares enough about my financial life to hack into my file on Dropbox but if they do good luck to them finding anything worth knowing.

    If really worried about security you could use Sookasa (https://www.sookasa.com/) which does its own encryption and covers the security risks related to Dropbox/Google Drive very nicely.

    I also backup my Money file to Google Drive and I keep copies of the file on several internal and external hard drives.Many years ago I lost all the local copies of my Money file due to a major blunder on my part and was saved only by an off-site copy on my son’s computer which was weeks out of date. Dropbox/Google solve that problem very well.

    • Andy said

      Thank you, William – Yes, that question was for you and I appreciate your reply. I’ve stored backups on OneDrive, but just didn’t put it together that I could place a working file on DropBox (or OneDrive). I’ll check out that encryption software, too. Cheers!

  10. ameridan said

    [UPDATE] Intuit has indeed sold its Quicken personal finance software unit to H.I.G. Capital, a Miami-based private equity firm. Eric Dunn, the head of Quicken, announced the sale in a message and video posted to Intuit’s website. https://qlc.intuit.com/questions/1328117-update-on-the-quicken-sale-from-eric-dunn

    “[H.I.G. is] confident, as am I, that Quicken will thrive with increased investment, leading to product improvements and advances that will allow Quicken to continue to serve you well for decades to come,” Dunn said.

    The sale, said Dunn, will allow Quicken to double the number of engineers working on the Mac version — which has long lagged behind the Windows edition in features and functionality — and devote more resources to improving the program on the dominant platform, Windows.

    “We all know that Quicken could use some TLC, some tender loving care, to be as great as it can be. I’m very aware that Quicken isn’t perfect,” said Dunn. “Quicken [for Windows] could probably use some attention to the fit and finish, the polish, usability, resilience and reliability.”

    Dunn has his work cut out for him.

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