Quicken is one of three very well-known, widely used and highly successful financial software programs developed by Intuit, Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU). Intuit subsequently sold its personal financial management tool to private equity firm H.I.G. Capital in 2016.  

Quicken offers users services from basic checking and savings account management and budgeting, all the way to portfolio analysis and management features such as capital gains tracking. There are Windows-based versions of the program available as well as for Mac that's compatible with Apple's operating system. 

Although manufactured for a number of global markets, Quicken remains focused largely on a North American customer base. While Quicken has dominated its niche market since its first released in 1984 [1], there are a number of similar, alternative products available and is increasingly challenged by competitors.

1) Mint.com

Intuit itself offers a simpler, more basic alternative to Quicken in Mint.com, which it acquired in 2009. Mint.com is Web-based, rather than a standalone software program. It is a free service and only offers basic features such as creating and tracking budgets and financial goals, and monitoring one's credit score. Mint.com offers services similar to those contained in Quicken's most basic "starter" version. It does not offer significant investment management services. The program is criticized for account synchronization problems and for the fact it does not allow monthly bank reconciliation, because it automatically assumes all downloaded data is correct.

The fact that Mint.com is a read-only service is both a plus and a minus for the program. A read-only service offers greater Internet security, since even if someone was able to access a user's information, all he could do is see the accounts. He is not able to take any actions such as transferring money out of them. Of course, on the minus side, being a read-only service also limits what the user of the service can do and, therefore, the capabilities and functionality of the service.

Like virtually all similar personal financial management programs, Mint.com is accessible through almost any Internet-connected device, including personal computers, tablets and smartphones.

2) Personal Capital

Personal Capital represents an attractive and less expensive alternative to Quicken for individuals who prefer a cloud-based program and one that offers extensive investment management tools.

Personal Capital compares closely with a registered investment advisor, with $8 billion in assets under management (AUM).

The basic Personal Capital financial services package, which includes account tracking, budgeting, bill paying and other basic services, is free. It is referred to as the company's Investment Service and users can have up to $200,000 in investable assets. Personal Capital makes its money primarily from individuals who choose to upgrade to the personal wealth management services the company offers, and for which it starts charging a 0.89% fee for $1 million of assets managed, and ranges to 0.49% for the next $10 million [2]. With the paid wealth management service, clients are assigned a personal financial advisor and receive all the usual services a client expects from a wealth management company, including tax and estate planning, tax loss harvesting, advice on insurance, educational funds for children and any other necessary services to provide full financial management for clients. Personal Capital's fees are significantly lower than average for full wealth management services.

Just the free personal finance services offered are extensive and competitive with what is offered by Quicken. Included are services such as budgeting, a retirement planner, a 401(k) fee analyzer and an investment allocation target checker. The budgeting component includes a cash flow tool that allows individuals to input income and spending, and then receive weekly, monthly or annual analyses of their projected cash flows. The retirement planner can be used to map out a retirement plan, and then to monitor how closely the user is adhering to the plan. This free feature allows users to set spending and savings goals, track income events and project the future value of their investment portfolios. The comprehensive features and the flexibility of input variables offered in this free module compare favorably to any comparable service, free or paid. The asset allocation component determines a user's risk tolerance profile and then makes appropriate investment allocation recommendations.

Personal Capital has received good reviews on a number of levels, one being that it offers better account synchronization than most programs of this type. It also receives high marks for customer service, a rare plus for a free financial services software program. Personal Capital offers much more in-depth investment analysis and planning than Quicken. It also offers enhanced security through its use of two-factor authentication.

Personal Capital services are accessible by computer, tablet or cellphone.

3) iBank

Designed specifically for Apple's operating system, iBank, developed by IGG Software, is touted as a superior alternative to Quicken for Mac users. iBank, which debuted in 2004 [3] aims to serve as a personal or small business financial management program. It offers a myriad of financial services, including bank, credit card, loan and investment account management. iBank offers detailed income and expense analysis, with continually updated charts. Features not included in Quicken but that come standard with iBank include multicurrency functionality and variable loan amortization. iBank's platform for reviewing all of an individual's financial accounts can be found on one central dashboard: checking, savings, money market, equity and fixed-income investments, retirement accounts, loan accounts and brokerage accounts

iBank stands out for the investment performance analysis it offers, tracking buys and sells of stock shares, dividends and stock options. The program allows for easy production and printing of custom financial reports, and it even allows a user to print new checks when needed.

 

1. Quicken 1984

2. Personal Capital

3. iBank

Want to learn how to invest?

Get a free 10 week email series that will teach you how to start investing.

Delivered twice a week, straight to your inbox.