January 17, 2011 |
One of my key predictions for 2011 is that this will be a year when financial institutions make a committed push to shine a spotlight on personal finance management tools. As I wrote in a pair of reports in November and December, that ideally will take the form of PFM integrated right from the log-in and will provide the customer with a consolidated view of outside accounts, categorized spending recaps and a foundation for mobile PFM that will serve up unprecedented real-time control of their money. (If you want to hear more on that, register here for a Yodlee-sponsored Javelin webinar on Tuesday, Jan. 18.) In the meantime, though, the industry is likely to see a number of unsatisfactory incremental steps like Wells Fargo has taken with its new “My Money Map.”
Bringing PFM out of the shadows of a tab will require a new type of thinking at most FIs. The payoff is that FIs have an opportunity to change not only how customers think about their money but also to expand the role of the FI as their primary financial portal. Currently, FIs focus the online experience on accounts and balances. But smart PFM can expand the “conversation” to touch on bill pay, transfers, financial alerts, spending categorization, financial goals and more – all from the log-in.
Leading FIs will accomplish this goal in 2011 by upgrading to better online-banking. Other FIs, though, will take a more evolutionary approach. Wells Fargo’s My Money Map is an example of the take-it-slow approach. My Money Map represents solid progress, but ultimately adoption will be limited because PFM remains in a tab where consumers must seek it out, be coaxed to try it — or they must chance across it as they troll through the 12 tabs they see when they log in. (See Figure 1.)
Customers who discover My Money Map will find that Wells Fargo has combined previously created elements of PFM on one page: My Spending Plan, featuring categorized spending (of Wells accounts only); Budget Watch, for monitoring expenses; and My Savings Plan, a goal-tracking tool. (See Figure 2.)
These are useful tools that could benefit consumers on a daily basis. The reality is that tucking them away on a tab means that comparatively few Wells Fargo customers will ever know they exist – and they’ll have to make a concerted effort to revisit them. The better approach is to turn your PFM thinking inside-out – and reset the context for how your customers think about their money – all of it – when they log in at your FI.