In case you missed it, our show on 4/21/2015 was magical. Intuit Product Specialist Valerie Heckman was our guest and gave the audience a deep dive into QuickBooks Online bank feeds. You can catch the video here.
We asked her to do a guest post, and of course, she rocked it:
Banking in QuickBooks Online (QBO) is sometimes called “The Bank Feed”, sometimes called “Downloaded Transactions,” and sometimes “Online Banking”. Regardless of what you call it, this is essentially the connection between QBO and your various financial institutions to bring your transactions into QBO quickly and to match up your transactions already in the books to the bank’s data. The goal is to know that what is happening in QBO is reflecting what is happening in real life in real time (without the long wait for a bank statement to arrive!) and to automate as much as we can.
I stopped by The QB Show to help de-mystify some of the processes and options involved in QBO Banking. Please keep in mind that QBO updates often, so the information shared here may change over time. In my opinion, we’ve improved so much of this process over the past year or so. I’m excited to see how we make it even better!
Section 1: Connecting Accounts
When making the connection, you’ll be prompted to search for your bank. Using the URL for your bank sign-on webpage is going to yield the best results. Why? Some banks have more than one webpage for different types of accounts. If you’re connecting to the wrong site, your user ID and password may not be recognized.
Biggest decision during the connecting process is “How many days of data do I want to bring in?” The default is 90, but you can decide to bring 0, 7, 30, or 90 through the connection. My best suggestion is to base this choice on the last time you reconciled.
Section 2: File Upload
There are a handful of common reasons to use a file upload (.csv, .qfx, .qbo, .ofx) instead of/ in addition to a connection:
a. You want to bring in more than 90 days of transactions (most common)
b. You want to bring in a very specific date range
c. There’s an issue with the connection and you need to manually upload in the meantime (I hope this doesn’t happen, but just in case!)
d. You are interested in only bringing in “money spent” or only bringing in “money received” transactions (rare, but a reason)
Your bank might make it hard to find the file on their website. My advice is to look for anything section that mentions downloading activity for financial management software or accounting software. Some will call out QuickBooks or Quicken by name.
.QBO is the ideal file type to bring in and it’s usually listed as “QuickBooks Web Connect QBO”. CSV files will involve a little bit of mapping, but nothing too complex.
Section 3: Navigation and Setting Up
Once connected, you’ll have a box or “card” for each account along the top. The name of the account pulls directly from what it has been named in the chart of accounts and you’ll see the bank balance vs what is in QBO.
Even after we match/ add, these amounts may not match if there are transactions in your books that have not yet cleared the bank (i.e. I recorded a payment, but my vendor has not cashed the check yet).
Toggle between the cards or hide them to give yourself more space. Each card will show a time period that reflects the last time new transactions were found. You can perform a manual update if you’d like, but QBO will search for new transactions every night. Keep in mind we only bring in transactions that have posted, not pending.
The pencil icon allows me to edit the sign on info (if I change my user id or password for the bank website) or edit the account info for the chart of accounts.
“Go to Register” will open the register for the account. I like opening the register in a separate window or tab and using it as a reference. This is a personal preference, not required by any means. Just keep in mind that if you make changes in one window/tab, you’ll need to refresh your page to see them in the other window/tab.
The Gear Icon lets you make some customizations to the page. Compact will consolidate the rows to view more at a time. You can think of these views like “wide ruled” vs “college ruled” notebook paper.
Columns can be sorted as well by clicking the header. I like to sort to make my dates ascending (mostly to match the register), but your way of tackling this task may be totally different.
My primary tabs are New Transactions, In QuickBooks, and Excluded. When you accept bank transactions, they go from the New Transactions tab to the In QuickBooks tab so you have a record of the items you accepted. You can undo from here if needed.
Transactions that have been excluded do not post, but can also be reviewed from this menu in the future and undone. The most common use for exclusion is when you have a duplicate.
Section 4: Transactions
When QBO receives your bank data, it does a number of things:
• Cleans up the often cryptic/ coded bank text to give you descriptions.
• Looks for matches to the transactions you already entered into QBO.
• Checks for rules you’ve created (we’ll talk about those in a bit!).
• Remembers what you did in the past and suggests categories based on those previous behaviors.
You have the option for each transaction to add, match or transfer. Transfer includes both bank transfers and transactions that pay off a credit card, since they are a transfer of money from one account (usually checking) to a credit card liability account.
QBO will attempt to match with most transactions you’ve already entered into the books. This includes journal entries and open invoices/ bills. If you match against an open invoice/ bill, QBO creates the receive payment/ bill payment transaction in the background for you. Saves time!
I recommend using the “Recognized” filter first to see everything that QBO has either matched, applied a rule to, or suggested a category for. Check matches for accuracy and then address the remaining items.
Section 5: Manual Matching
QBO will do it’s best to match, but sometimes you need to use “Find Match” to pair transactions. Here are reasons QBO may not have found a match:
a. The transaction has already been reconciled.
b. The transaction type is different in QBO than at the bank. Let’s say I record an expense as a check, but the bank has it as an ACH. QBO wants to match a check with a check and an expense with an ACH or debit/credit card swipe.
c. The amount doesn’t match. You can resolve the difference in the Find Match window by creating a new transaction for the amount of the difference, or go back and edit the original transaction and refresh your banking page to see the match.
d. The date is different. Usually if the recorded date is within a few days of the bank date, it will pull a match, but if there’s a several day discrepancy, you may need to search for the transaction.
e. If the bank account on the recorded transaction is wrong, it won’t match. Tip: Use your global search or audit log to quickly find that transaction in QBO if you are unsure which register it is in.
Section 6: Adding and Rules!
After matching, I may find there are transactions from the bank that are not in my QBO register. I could create them and then match, but why not save time and energy and add them from here?
I can add a payee (optional) and if I have class and/or location tracking turned on (QBO Plus), I can make those indications as well. I also have an option to perform a split. As mentioned, QBO will learn from past behavior and help you automate this process.
To fine tune how QBO automatically classifies transactions as they come in, I can create rules. Rules Rule! Rules allow me to set up conditions for transactions based on money in/money out, bank account, description, bank text, and/or dollar amount. I can assign to category, payee, and class/location (QBO Plus), and create splits if desired. You can add these on the fly while adding or through the manage rules window.
The Manage Rules menu allows for you to add new rules, edit existing, and reorganize them to prioritize which rules are to be applied first when more than one rule applies. You can save time when creating similar rules by copying existing rules and making tweaks. Rules will only apply to transactions that have yet to be added or matched.
You can export rules and import them into another file, which is especially useful if you are an accountant or a business owner with multiple QBO companies. When you import to the other file, you’ll have a chance to select the rules you want and map to the chart of accounts and payees.
Think outside the box! There are many, many ways to use rules to automate and streamline your common transactions. Do some brainstorming and try them out. You can always edit or delete rules if you decide they are not working for you.
Bonus: Basic Troubleshooting
I hope that you don’t run into errors much but if we are being realistic– errors happen sometimes when two services have to talk to each other. It’s good to be prepared. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes here at Intuit improve the processes of reporting and fixing errors. Please use the feedback link under the gear icon to share any ideas you have around any improvements you’d like to see in QBO (compliments are accepted, too ☺). Many errors will advise you on how to fix or report.
Here are a few things to try before speaking with support:
1. Run a manual update by clicking the update button.
2. See if you can sign in on your bank’s website. Sometimes there’s something going on in the account itself. Site maintenance, new terms and conditions, or security question updates are a few examples. Maybe you changed your user id and/or password on the bank website and need to update in QBO.
3. Make sure you are using the same URL for QBO as the bank webpage in your initial connection is coming up with errors.
4. Refrain from disconnecting and reconnecting, unless recommended by support (very uncommon), as that doing so may create duplicates or other issues.
Hope this was helpful! Thank you for reading and watching!
Valerie Heckman is a Product Specialist with Intuit’s Accountant and Advisor Group. She specializes in QuickBooks Online and best practices moving accounting firms and their clients to the cloud. Valerie lives just outside of Chicago in Schaumburg, IL when she’s not on the road with Intuit’s Business Development Managers. You can find her on twitter @vheckman.