I like having comprehensive records, so I use Quicken, but I dread the inevitable changes in financial system accounts that will mean phoning a ‘support’ number and begging them for help getting their statement downloaded.
I started using a modem connection to Columbus in 1994 for bill paying and credit card statements. For my Sovran, I mean my NationsBank, I mean my BankofAmerica account, along with my investments, I kept a big stack of paper statements on my desk, which I manually typed into Quicken once or twice a year, or before I did my income tax, whichever happened first. As retirement accounts multiplied, as financial service firms bought each other, as securities spun out subsidiaries, split, renamed, went out of business, etc, at an ever-increasing rate, it became more and more complex to manually type in all that stuff. I knew that someday it would all be electronic, and life would be easy.
A couple years ago, financial service firms started falling all over each other to support Quicken. Living in Europe, with accounts in the USA, paperless online accounts were especially appealing, so I paid my bi-annual tax to Quicken, twice, updating to a version that almost all of my financial service firms promised to support. After a couple weeks of diligent work, virtually my entire portfolio of mutual funds, savings accounts, and credit cards could be automatically downloaded into Quicken.
I was downloading from USAA the hard way, logging into their web site and manually downloading files that would launch the actual Quicken download. I had to do one for the cash accounts, and another for Elizabeth’s IRA. Every time I did it, Quicken patiently suggested that I setup one step download. Wanting to avoid the hassle of setting up a login and PIN that was different from the web site login, I avoided this for 18 months. USAA is a wonderful company–everyone should marry a military brat and get access to their services–but Quicken is Quicken. Even if you know that you are going to be speaking to polite and intelligent people whose native language is almost English (best way to learn a language is in bed, which is why I understand Texan), it is still going to be painful. If Intuit hadn’t yet again forced me to change my Quicken credit card account yet again, I would have limped along with USAA indefinitely.
So Quicken takes their logo away from Travelers, I mean Citi, and gives it to Chase Manhattan, I mean Chemical Bank, I mean JP Morgan Chase, which sends snail mail to the address that I explicitly was NOT using because I had electronic statements. Note from the photo that they take credit for holding my account for all 14 years. 6 weeks later, when I figure this out, I crank up Quicken, and it immediately offers to download an update, which I accept. After getting the update, I initiate a one-step download, resulting in a message from my new Quicken card provider explaining that I need to follow certain steps before I update Quicken. It includes a pointer to a Chase web site that doesn’t exist. Using Google, I find the document from Chase explaining how to convert my credit card account in Quicken. After getting a fatal error half way thru that process, I phone up the Chase phone number provided as part of the Quicken update, which actually rings thru to Citi, who give me Chase’s number.
I can hardly understand the non-native English speaker who asks me if I’ve done everything that I was supposed to do. When I say yes, she transfers me. 10 minutes later, the system hangs up on me. I phone back in, this time they lead me through by the hand. Eventually, I get Quicken connected, although there are no transactions to download, because I just got the card last week.
I try one last time to get our USAA accts to update the new way. It barfed, and after fussing with it for 30 mins, I figured I might as call USAA. When I explain that I’m not Elizabeth, they very politely told me that I needed to get my own login (to see the exact same info). I get that. It still doesn’t work, and I phone back. After we try a couple things, the support person suggests that I try to update a different USAA account, and suddenly, all the funny corrupted messages are gone, and the connection goes through. Even better, it updates savings, checking, and the CDs within Quicken.
So, now I’ve got one-step update to all our US accounts, except Elizabeth’s USAA IRA, which for obscure reasons I still need to download the old fashioned way (Quicken scolds me with “You are already downloading all the accounts for this account number” which isn’t the case at all–I’m downloading all the accounts for MY account number, not Elizabeth’s).
And of course, none of this works with my UK accounts. I’ve got 2 pensions from my first employer here (still using the same name, but I worked for HQ), one of which just moved to a new provider, but my second employer (just acquired for second time) didn’t help with retirement at all. My current employer (just buys other companies) mostly has only 1 pension, but they switched providers and for reasons that I’ve never figured out, I actually have 2 accounts with them–or is it 3. I still enter that stuff manually.
How did we ever get along without PCs? Could I have possibly accomplished all this in less than 110 minutes the old fashioned way?