Website of the Month: Financial Wonder

By Susan B. Anders

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Financial Wonder (www.financialwonder.com) offers free online access to corporate budgeting calculations. To provide anonymity, no user registration is required for the basic forecasting functions, and data is not stored on the website. Although designed to assist in the budgeting process, the website’s projection functions are adaptable for other purposes. It is a quick and easy- to-use “what-if” tool, and could also be incorporated into accounting course assignments. Additionally, the website can be used by people with no prior spreadsheet training.

Financial Wonder allows users to project individual income statement or balance sheet accounts over a 12-month period. The website’s variety of preprogrammed options allows for quick changes of input assumptions. The output spreadsheet formats can be saved as Excel files, permitting further manipulation.

The website is well organized. The main functions (financial statement, formula method, enter financials, and display results) appear in a horizontal menu bar at the top of all main webpages. Navigation between function pages is smooth and can be accomplished via the main menu bar.

A particularly outstanding feature of the website is the obvious care taken to provide new users with easy-to-follow information about the website, organized in a second horizontal menu bar. “Why” provides a brief overview of the website’s purpose. “What” describes the Financial Wonder formulas, which were developed from a predecessor commercial software package. “How” walks the user through the forecasting steps. “Tutorials” provides access to five short videos that demonstrate the choices, functions, calculations, and results, and should leave users ready to start performing their own projections.

Basic projections. Financial Wonder provides free preformatted spreadsheet formulas that allow users to project monthly income statement accounts and balance sheet accounts over a 12-month period. Users can create forecasts using the formulas on the website and estimate individual income statement or balance sheet accounts. The projection results can be saved using in the user’s spreadsheet or word processing software.

Data input uses a straightforward question-and-answer approach, similar to that used by many tax return software products. The first step is to click on the “financial statement” button, which appears at the top of all main pages. The user begins to create a projection by selecting the type of account. The user then selects either a standard- method projection formula or a progression- method projection formula. The monthly projection amounts can be spread evenly over 12 months, distributed using a seasonal history, distributed using a geometric progression, or distributed using a geometric progression and a seasonal history.

The user must then input financial data. The formula requires an input amount for last year’s ending balance, income, or expense for the account to be projected. Then, only one of the following must be entered: 1) projected ending balance, income, or expense; 2) projected dollar increase in the account; or 3) projected percentage increase in the account. The final entry is a historical (or projected) seasonality for each month, expressed as a percentage of the total account for the 12-month period.

The website will present an HTML table of the projection results. These results can be transferred to an Excel file, which can then be used to create charts and graphs.

Advanced projections. Although most of the website’s functions are free, users who need more complex calculations or integration of the formulas with their own software can subscribe to those services at annual rates of $475 or $975, or a one-month rate of $175. The fee-based subscription service integrates Microsoft Excel with the Financial Wonder functions and allows subscribers to save the Financial Wonder spreadsheet formulas in their own Excel files and perform projections for performed for quarterly and annual periods. Subscribers can integrate the Financial Wonder functions with third-party applications and custom applications utilizing HTML.


Susan B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor at St. Bonaventure University, N.Y.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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