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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

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Family Office Software Progam

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Dee Satterfield 3 years, 5 months ago.

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    I am currently using Quicken to manage multiple personal financial accounts for my self and my children, also multiple LLCs and Trusts. I have a couple of simple businesses on QuickBooks too. Has anyone found a system that will allow multiple entities to roll-up into one, that also has the ability to do reporting and search across the files? I have been Googling this, but to no avail.




    Our family shifted to a database program, File-Maker Pro, five years ago to handle multiple companies in one database.

    We have multiple ventures, from real estate -both personal and income property to business ventures, stock and various other asset investments. Once data is entered in a database program, we can turn out cash flow statements, balance sheets, relevant data for tax returns or narrow studies based on the data entered to assess how one venture or element within a venture is doing.

    A database program in my 50+ years in business ventures., including early on being a tax accountant in my own firm beats hands down anything on the market today and in the past. Most programs off the shelf have built in limitations you have to adapt to. A database program simply vacuums up data you enter no matter what the company or investment, all in one database and let’s you organize it to meet your unique needs. It has much more power and flexibility.

    My wife, Carolyn, will take if from here. She’s the one who does our entries and generates the reports we need to evaluate and track are finances and ventures. The fun part for me, though a challenge at times for her, is generating unique reports based on specific questions about each venture. Once she designed the initial input screen and company categories for sorting (organizing) the data and crafting output report formats; the program searches for the data and organizes it according the report format you want. And it is easy to alter or add to the sorting categories, even modify entries previously made if you change your mind later or want to recast a format.

    So here is Carolyn:

    Hi Bill, this is Carolyn, Norm’s better half! I started working with File Maker Pro, a Database program, some ten years ago when I worked for a commercial real estate developer in California. We were working with Peachtree up to that time. The level of tracking for our multiple builds, suppliers and so on could not be handled by what they were using. And the reports needed by the CFO were often unique and taking too much staff time to craft.

    So we shifted over to File Maker Pro.

    The key is designing the entry formats and assembling all the categories (account names) that all the ventures. Each venture can and often does have unique account categories, which is fine. Because once data is entered, your output reports/forms by company or macro categories will gather the sub-account data linked to it that you want to see. It is not like most programs, where one output form has to fit all needs, or having to set up redundant accounts for each venture. Once you understand how to build these forms into the system, the output is like magic. The data is there, you just need to learn how to ask for it and how you want it organized.

    Originally my CFO was going to contract with a professional firm to write the input and output formats, but the costs were upward to $30,000. And being the good fiscally conservative CFO, the project got turned over to me to save money. I don’t pretend to know all the in’s and out’s of the program even now, but I learned enough to made it work for that firm and now for our Family Partnership ventures. In today’s high-tech culture, you might find a 9 year old down the street who could do it. (smile). But check around. We don’t do tax returns from it, but we do gather the data needed by our tax accountants. The comforting part of it is, every input and every output is in the database system, one data base for all ventures and transactions. I can ask the database to gather together whatever is needed.

    Once you get it set up, you have one entry process where you specify all the information to be entered per transaction: company, vendor, date, description, amount, account name, debit or credit etc. That information gets filed “in the basement” so to speak of the database program.

    In addition I hard copy staple every receipt and disbursement document on an 8 1/2×11 sheet of paper by year, month,day of transaction,by company or personal account, and so on. I use these documents for my computer entry sheets into the database. Then I file these sheets in 3-ring binders by year separated by month. I also have sections in the binder for the credit cards reports and bank statements.

    If I don’t have a receipt or disbursement document, but know from credit card or checking account or P/C slips the relevant information; I create a separate sheet for each transaction where I record the data needed -vendor, account, date and so on on that sheet and file accordingly along with any relevant explanations. That way I have instant audit defense backup. When I want information or need to find the location of the hard copy support documents, I query File Maker Pro on the transaction by vendor or date, etc. what I need and the program pulls up all the relevant entries. You tell it how you want the information displayed and what the report should look like.

    So in summary, what you you may want to consider is a database program , not the packaged one program fits all situations. I imagine by now there are a number of database programs out there. File Maker Pro works for us.

    And depending on your level of familiarity and patience to read through the manuals, or choose to find an experienced programmer in your area who hopefully has familiarity with database programs; be prepared with all the information you want to track for each company or personal activities. And find out what they will charge to design it all or charge you for teaching you or consulting with you (Q&A’s) for that service.

    Also understand that what you need to track and the name categories you want to use for various transactions may not be the same account names used by IRS or whatever country tax returns you use. All businesses in my experience have two sets of books, the one that deals with running the business and another needed for tax reporting purposes. If you use a database program you can simply make one entry per transaction and then turn out reports that shows the more detailed tracking for running your businesses, as well as the groupings of transactions that lumped into the macro categories needed for tax purposes. So a dual account category for business and tax purposes can be built into database program.

    And make sure you have a good “cloud” backup system.

    If you have any questions fire them back off-line to either Norm at norm@almconsult.net or Carolyn at carolynawalker@hotmail.com Be glad to help out. Of course if you are a major player at the Bill Bonner level or Rockerfeller level, you can simply contract all of this out and not worry about it. We are not there yet. More fun anyway figuring it out ourselves.

    Norm and Carolyn



    Hi there –

    For investment tracking I use Investment Account Manager Pro which has better reporting etc than Quicken. It handles stocks, bonds, options etc.

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