Friday, March 20, 2009

Green Sherpa Review: Personal Cash Flow Management

Ok, I admit it, I choose financial companies to profile based on my level of curiosity from the company’s name. Yes, a classic case of judging a book by its cover.

Unfortunately, with the Green Sherpa book, I’ve not had an opportunity to get past the cover, so will have to write this review solely based on the company’s press kit. A less-than-desirable level of transparency for this blogger, but you might want to know what this funny-named company does too, so I'll share what I've learned so far and fill you in later as I learn more.

I reviewed Green Sherpa’s materials and then tried to log in for the 30-day free trial. I was greeted by the following message:

Thank you for your interest in Green Sherpa and for signing up for our private beta!
We have been overwhelmed by the positive response and are slowly letting users in during our beta phase. Watch out for an e-mail with an activation link over the next few weeks as we activate your account.
The Green Sherpa Team

Well, I’m glad they’re overwhelmed, I guess, but considering how overwhelmed they are, you’d think there would be a little more buzz about them. Here’s what I know (again, almost exclusively from their PR efforts).

Green Sherpa is a fee-based personal cash-flow software. Their target is the serious DIY money-manager age 30 to 55 who currently uses software from a box on a shelf. They believe their continuous improvement cloud-computing model will show the consumer how easy it is to work online vs. downloading and installing software you’ve got to update and upgrade all of the time. Their theory is that this pitch will also help users to shell out their $7.95 monthly subscription fee.

Not updating and buying new software all of the time would sell me if I were in the market for such software. When will Microsoft get the hint and start doing this with Office? I digress….

Green Sherpa offers a few novel approaches that you don’t find in the free web apps like Wasabe and Mint. You can develop goals, and Green Sherpa shows you progress toward your goals. It also shows you cash-flow projections—the month’s “where you’re going” versus the “where you’ve been” information that most of us get from our personal finance reports.

The dashboard is spreadsheet based so should keep happy all of the spreadsheet devotees. Another distinct advantage is that you can share your information “real time” with your financial team (CPA, broker or attorney) without burning reports to disk, or emailing/printing cumbersome PDF reports. It seems like it would also be nice for baby-boomers who're managing their elderly parents' finances, especially if from a long distance.

Green Sherpa debuted September of 2008. It is currently in beta-release. As mentioned before, it is based on monthly subscriber fees of less than $10 per month. A 30 day free trial is offered, but they’re not accepting new subscribers at this time. I’m not sure if this is a capacity issue or an indicator of institutional health. Overall, it’s a great idea, and if it’s as good as advertised, I could see the potential that it may pay for itself in terms of subscriber fees to the user. I’d love to give this a test-drive and hope that we’ll hear more from these guys before the Finovate conference next month.

Jessica Ward is a freelance writer and blogger. She blogs on personal finance, real estate and families living frugally.

1 comment:

Tom said...

"continuous improvement cloud-computing model"

Some people are worried about the security of cloud computing. Given the general public's unease towards the security of cloud computing I'm a little surprised they are building a web-based financial company on the cloud computing model.