Review #5: Wave Accounting


I want my clients to keep a good set of books so that I can help them make good decisions. I also want them to have as few barriers to getting that system running as possible, including the excuse of how costly it is. This is where Wave has given me an opportunity to recommend a quality product to get my clients organized and help us work together more effectively.

Goal: Give small businesses the tools they need to run their business at the best price point possible: Free.


  • Free (and intends to stay that way!)
  • Balance sheet and profit and loss reports
  • Export reports to Excel
  • Banking integration (import transactions automatically)
  • Bank reconciliation (feature in progress)
  • Can make general journal entries to adjust your books (or for your accountant to adjust them)
  • Transaction splitting
  • Send and track invoices
  • Accounts payable tracking
  • Accept payments with integrated payment processing
  • Integrated payroll tools
  • Free multiple user access (Read only or Edit access available)
  • Special accountant user role for your external accountant
  • Attach receipts to transactions (can add right from the camera on your phone)
  • Multiple businesses under one user login
  • Premium services and support at reasonable cost
  • Find a Pro to find an accountant that uses Wave
  • Integrate with Shoeboxed, Etsy, and PayPal
  • Foreign currency considerations


  • Reports sometimes look funny. It’s a Canadian company which explains some of it.
  • No account numbers in the chart of accounts
  • No control over ordering of accounts on Income Statement
  • Cannot show multiple periods side by side in reports (no comparing to last year)
  • No report customization
  • No equivalent to “Classes” in QuickBooks
  • I would rather classify my transactions between accounts than use the “transfer” feature
  • Difficult to troubleshoot why my balance sheet balance does not agree to the imported bank balance in the dashboard (this is why a bank reconciliation is so desperately needed)
  • Only 2 user role options: view or edit
  • Stops categorizing transactions if you are inconsistent with the vendor (for instance if you categorize Wal-Mart as both Groceries and Hardware)


I have used Wave to track my personal expenses for several years and will continue to do so. I like the banking integration and the fact that it’s free and has all intent to remain that way. I like the way that they are using advertising and premium services in their revenue model to keep the basic product free. I’m interested to see how well the bank reconciliation feature works. I do recommend Wave to some of my clients that are struggling to total up their spreadsheets at the end of the year and can’t bring themselves to pay anything for software that they think just makes my job easier.

The style of Wave reports has always annoyed me a bit as well as the fact that expense accounts on the Income Statement seem to have no particular order. I have asked customer support to ad comparative reports and they told me to export both periods to Excel and do it myself. I would really like some type of report builder so that I could make reports that the development team doesn’t think are important.

If you have a relatively simple business that doesn’t need to track divisions or profit centers, Wave may be an application that will suit your needs. The fact that it includes a Balance Sheet in its reporting makes it usable even if your business is organized as a corporation or partnership and needs to report a Balance Sheet for tax purposes.

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  1. Thanks for the great review! We’re moving very quickly at Wave, and you should expect to see plenty of ongoing improvements and new functionality rolling out. As you pointed out, bank rec is very close to completion, and should be deployed this month.

    I do agree that there’s room for improvement in our reporting, and we’ll be focusing our efforts on this area very soon. Although I’m still trying to wrap my head around your comment: “Reports sometimes look funny. It’s a Canadian company which explains some of it.” – Wait, are you saying Canadians look funny?? Doh! 🙂

  2. The reports looking funny is partly a function of the fact that I can’t control what group my accounts go into if I use system set accounts. I can’t put my incorporation costs and accumulated amortization into other long-term assets instead of fixed assets. Also, the total for current assets does not include the bank balance.

    Additionally, the account I usually refer to as “Retained Earnings” is called “Previous Year(s) Earnings” in Wave. I also can’t have a section below operating income for non-operating income and expenses such as gains on asset sales or interest income.

  3. Gotcha… good feedback. I’ll make sure to review this with our product team as we begin to make improvements to reports. If you’re open to it, we’d love to talk to you 1:1 when we start gathering requirements and prioritizing our development tasks for this area.

  4. I’d definitely be open to talking with you about upcoming development priorities. I’ll DM my contact information on Twitter and we can set something up.