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A walk through TESO

 

TESO 2.0, online personal finances and portfolio management

 

The Web 2.0 is growing. Using an online program, one to be accessed through the web browser is not as uncommon as it was a few years (months?) ago. TESO 2.0 is a personal accountancy application far more powerful than most of its peers.

The most outstanding features of TESO are foreign exchange operations, stocks and securities portfolio handling (including the daily update of stocks quotations) and the possibility to upload the bank statements to reconcile them with your own accounting; features usually reserved to commercial business software.

TESO home page will inform you of your accounts balances, last month expenses, the stock’s quotations and will prevent you of the shortages foreseen for the next 7 days.

 

Why an on-line program?

Because you can reach TESO from every PC connected to Internet, included the PC in your office or at the cybercafé round the corner. It is independent of the operating system of your PC, you will never worry about updates (the webmaster will take care of them) and your data will be safer than at your home PC hard disc drive… No kidding. Haven’t you ever lost a file?

The challenge for online personal accounting software is privacy and confidentiality. TESO solves the issue through anonymity. The registration form does not ask for any personal data nor will it be needed for a normal use. Of course, you will never have to type bank account or credit card codes. Even the email address is optional.

 

TESO basic usage

Register, obtain a username and a password and enter TESO. The first time you log in, the setup assistant will help you to configure TESO. The first step will be to prepare a list of items (the “counterpart accounts”) to classify your incomes and expenses. Select the profile “Home accountancy” and accept the proposed list.

Then it will ask for your bank, credit, cash and stock accounts. Define a code and a description for each account (e.g. Citibank VISA). Never use the real codes of your accounts. Once done, you can start entering your incomes and payments for your personal accounting.

It is important to define at least one Cash Account for the money in our pocket, so that we can enter the payments in cash.

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The Entries window let us enter the transactions using double-entry accountancy

Not all the data shown in the figure has to be typed in; just the date, description, the accounts and the value.

Entering every transaction is a hard work, but most of our payments happen at regular intervals of time (electricity, gas,…). TESO can compute and enter for you these recurrent entries. The monthly settlement of your credit cards will be handled the same way. Thanks to that, when we ask for the bank statement in TESO we will see, not only the money we have now, but the money we will have in future dates if all these foreseen payments take place. These forecasts are the lines shown in blue at the bottom of the statement.

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Stocks and securities

TESO updates every day the quotations of more than 1000 stocks listed at the main American and European stock exchanges. Enter your purchases and sales and TESO will promptly inform you of your portfolio valuation and the realized and unrealized capital gains. The so-called “broker TESO” window is quite clear and easy to use.

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The top table shows the stocks in our portfolio, the last quotation of each one, the portfolio valuation as of today and the unrealized capital gains, computed using FIFO. The next table shows the transactions history of a selected stock and its realized capital gains. The bottom of the page is a stocks-oriented version of the transactions entry window.

As everything in TESO, the portfolio can be multi-currency. If you manage stocks listed in dollars, euros and pounds, TESO is the software you need.

 

Foreign Exchange

TESO updates daily the exchange rates of the 23 currencies listed at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It may as well handle other currencies, but in this case the user has to manually update the exchange rate against the US dollar. If you have ever been expatriated or regularly travel to countries with non-convertible currencies, you’ll have a precise idea of what we are talking about.

Cash accounts (like the one defined for the money in your pocket) can handle balances in several currencies. If you deposit in an American bank a few euros, the bank will convert them to dollars, but your pocket is much more flexible and can simultaneously contain euros and dollars. That is the way TESO works for cash accounts.

To enter a transaction in foreign currencies, use the transactions entry window, enter the amount of the currency purchased (or sold), the countervalue in the local currency and the bank fee:

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From that moment on, every time we buy something paying in cash, we will just enter the amounts in the foreign currency. TESO will handle the counter values and will report the FX EGLs.

When we look at the statement of a cash account in TESO, it will display the balance in each currency and the total counter value in the local currency.

 

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TESO can handle bank accounts in several currencies, consolidating the balance of all of them.

 

Bank statements upload

This function is what usually makes a difference between consumer and business accountancy software. Download the bank statements of your accounts from your on-line bank and upload them to TESO to compare them with your own accounting, including the forecasts. This is the way to supervise your bank and your suppliers. Did they charge my account on date? Is the right price?

In Spain, where TESO is being developed, the commercial banks association defined a standard file format called “Norma 43”. Most on-line banks there publish their statements under this standard. These files can be uploaded to TESO, which will show the statement and our own accounting in parallel, so that you can check which lines match and find out the differences.

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Uploading the statements is a two-step process (bank -> PC and PC -> TESO) that could be direct and automatic, but doing it this way keeps TESO apart from our on-line bank access codes.

Non-Spanish banks use a wide range of file formats that TESO may not handle. If you find yours useful, please contact us. We will be pleased to have the opportunity to implement new formats and protocols in TESO.

The reconciliation window is quite powerful. You can select lines that do not perfectly match in both columns and the transaction dates will be updated to reflect the bank ones. If there were differences in the transaction values, you will be prompted whether to accept the bank values or not. If something is missing in your accounting, you can include new lines in two clicks, just adding the counterpart account to the bank information. If all of this is not enough, the transactions entry window can be accessed from this screen to freely modify the TESO lines.

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Budgeting our expenses

Not the best feature in TESO. TESO comes from a business cash management application, not from an accounting one. The objective of cash management in a company is not to find out what the money is used for (this is accounting), just to take care that always there will be enough cash to face the payments. And now, be honest to yourself, isn’t this your role in your family?

TESO reports do not have nice charts but all the reports are downloaded in Excel, where you can easily prepare them and compare to any budget. There are monthly reports of incomes and expenses classified following your own personalized list of concepts (the “counterparts”). A balance forecast is also available, build up adding to the current balances the recurrent incomes and payments you may have defined. This report will help you to prevent shortages in your accounts and to decide how to transfer funds to minimize bank fees and commissions.

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Other features

The remaining features are those most commonly found in this type of software. You can customize the interface, the way capital gains and FX EGL are computed, how often quotations are updated and many other things. One outstanding feature is that you can download all your data to your PC in an Access database, to have your own backup copy.

You will find much more information in the on-line help, the news at the login window and at the forum (www.tesoweb.com/forum). Hope you will find the software useful.

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