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Can Your Smartphone Replace Your Financial Advisor and Accountant?

Preetam Kaushik

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Let's be honest: accounting and finance management are not exactly the most exciting activities in life, to put it lightly. But it sure does pay to keep track of your money, a process made all the easier by your smartphone. So can apps do away with your accountant and become your very own finance manager?

It's a question you'll have to answer yourself based on your proficiency in accounting and finance, but here's our list of some of most popular options out there.

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Mint: a mobile app for the extremely popular free online personal finance management site of the same name, this little fella lives up to the reputation of its parent site. It has the same layout and design aesthetics of the website, with a simple and colorful design that is easy on the eye. With a focus on accessibility, the app and the site make for a fluid user experience. Its various tools allow you to track your expenses, keep watch on your savings, manage your bills and budgets and overall, keep on top of your finances.

Quickbooks: this is one of the more hardcore accounting software options out there and stands as the bread and butter for professional accountants. For experienced business owners as individuals who know their book-keeping, QuickBooks Pro offers one of the best software suites that money can buy. And it doesn't come cheap either. Quickbooks offers a great online cloud service where you get a more hardcore and professional version of Mint with access to a lot of extra features, flexibility and access of other online services like Payroll.

Xero: a double entry accounting app that is tailor-made for small businesses. Much less complex than QuickBooks, it has seen steady growth here in the U.S. in the past couple of years. With a clean, clutter free-user interface, excellent on screen help features, incisive report making capabilities, and the ability to export your financial reports to excel, PDF and Google Drive, Xero has made a mark for itself. This web based app also has a separate personal finance version for individuals as well.

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EasyMoney: an Android-only app that will set you back $10, this personal finance manager boasts features that could very well make it worth your money. Notable features include a screen widget for real-time transaction inputs, the ability to categorize transactions under multiple categories, and tools that can import check book registers and photograph and import data from receipts. Along with that, you get the usual range of utilities that analyze your spending patterns and provide bill alerts and such.

These were just a few of the many, many accounting and financial management apps that are available for Smartphones and tablets. They vary in price, quality and features provided. The rise of touch technology means that there is a general trend towards GUIs with clear and simple layouts with easy navigation options. The most versatile apps tend to be those with cloud-based services. But then again, there are also standalone apps which tend to focus on a few aspects of finance management. The focus seems to be on harnessing the full capabilities of a Smartphone or tablet to bear on the task of bringing your finances in order.

But at the end of the day, it is all on you...

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It is not that easy to make money. Holding onto money earned is an even harder endeavor. Accounting and finance management apps are basically sophisticated tools designed with aim of assisting you in maintaining your books and more importantly keeping your personal eye on your finances or that of your business. They cannot change you into a professional accountant or manage your finances on their own. Just buying a long range rifle doesn't automatically make you a sharpshooter now, does it? Or, having a fully stocked kitchen doesn't guarantee that you will be a professional chef. In other words, we are still quite far away from the day when you can download an app from some store and then fire your accountant or finance manager. Let the professional handle their job. But for small businesses and working professionals to keep a healthy watch on their finances, these apps can be very productive tools--a more productive utilization of computing power than gaming and social media anyways.

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