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Consumer Microsoft 365 Users Get Financial Management Tools

Subscribers to Microsoft 365 Personal and Microsoft 365 Family products will get access to two new Excel features this month aimed at helping users keep better track of their finances.

Money in Excel became generally available in the United States on Monday, Microsoft announced. This feature lets users pull their financial information into spreadsheets and charts. Microsoft also announced a beta preview of Stock History in Excel for Microsoft 365 subscribers this week.

Money in Excel
Once it's set up, Money in Excel can receive data from "bank, credit card, investment and loan accounts," Microsoft's announcement explained.

This template for Excel is notable for offering a graphic "snapshot" view of spending month over month, and it'll send alerts on "increases in your subscription fees, changes in bank and overdraft charges, or any big purchases that were posted during the month." It's also possible to add customized spending categories on top of what's included in Money in Excel.

Money in Excel is currently just supported in the U.S. market, according to a Microsoft FAQ, but a worldwide expansion is planned. It works on the Mac (macOS version 10.9 or newer) or PC (Windows 10 version 1903 or newer) platforms, as well as Excel for the Web (a browser-based application).

Money in Excel is described as an Excel "template or add-in" that needs to get downloaded for use in the Excel spreadsheet program (the download page can be found here). In addition, users need to get a "third-party plugin" from Plaid, which is Microsoft's partner on the Money in Excel feature. The Plaid plug-in is used to connect to a user's financial information.

The announcement indicated that "Plaid currently supports most major U.S. financial institutions." Oddly, users will have to agree that Plaid has access to their financial data, according to the FAQ:

After granting permission for Plaid to connect a financial account with Money in Excel, Plaid will have access to the account's balances, transaction history, and associated account information, like owner name and address. Plaid will not have access to your Microsoft 365 login credentials.

Microsoft claims in the FAQ to just use your financial information in Money in Excel to improve the service:

We do not sell or trade your data. We do collect it and provide it to you to meet your personal finance needs and improve how Money in Excel works. 

The FAQ added that "there may be occasions when Money in Excel engineers will need to look at anonymized data to fix a problem or to train our technology to be more accurate."

Stock History Beta
The Stock History feature for Excel is available for Office 365 beta testers. About half of Microsoft 365 subscribers currently have access to it, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Stock History is an Excel function that provides access to historical data on stocks, funds, bonds and currency. The data can get refreshed, too. Users also can show the data in charts and graphs, if wanted.

Stock History gets used from the Function field of Excel as "STOCKHISTORY." Users can add parameters to it, such as a stock-ticker abbreviation, a start date, end date and interval for getting the data (such as daily, weekly or monthly). There also are some formatting options, including the ability to display the high and low values of a stock.

The Stock History feature by default uses NASDAQ, but it's possible to specify a data type and use a different stock exchange. Microsoft lists the supported stock exchanges at this page, which also explains that there are some time delays on the non-NASDAQ pricing reports:

Prices are real-time for all trades executed on Nasdaq exchanges. Prices are delayed for all trades executed on other exchanges as per the above table.

Microsoft pulls the stock information with the help of Refinitiv, a financial market data provider. Last year, Refinitiv announced its acquisition by the London Stock Exchange Group, a "consortium of investment funds affiliated with Blackstone as well as Thompson Reuters," for about $27 billion.

In addition to these recently added Excel features, Microsoft generally has been making Excel become a more dynamically updated information-based service via its data types additions to the product. Ideas on where Excel data types may be heading are described in this recent article by Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Brien Posey.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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