The Digital Money Management The People Want

Stephen Walker

We at Forrester believe Digital Money Management, often referred to as Personal Financial Management (PFM), is the future of digital banking. But as we find in our new report, The State Of Digital Money Management 2014, available here, it doesn't appear to be the present. Fewer than 22% of customers in the US and Europe have used a single money management feature in the last 90 days.

Why? It's simple: most people just don’t want to manage their money. They don’t want to budget, as in doing any work. They don’t want insight, beyond one or two bite size chunks. And they don’t want to save. They may think they want to, so they’ll set up a savings goal, but most won’t stick with it. Even if they do, it's not about the saving. It’s the buying – that’s the thing they actually want to do. 

Even with today's money management, I suspect many of the best users actually spend more, not less, as a result. Few banks measure this - and that's another blog - but it's an instinct I know some clients share. When customers have more transparency around their options, they feel empowered to buy more.  

Those users who have no choice but to save often find money management too depressing and give up. Efforts to gamify money management, to make it social, or send “you should save” reminders just alienates them further - the digital equivalent of that unopened bill reminder in the post. 

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Keep The Bank Account, Lose The Bank

Stephen Walker

Only 20% of European customers trust their bank to treat them fairly and honestly, but with a lack credible banking alternatives it doesn't actually seem to matter. As most customers see it, they can either have a bank account, or they can not have a bank account. Account switching legislation in the UK perpetuates the problem, Henry Ford style: “you can have an account with any provider you want, sir…..as long as it’s a bank”. Our new report, “Disrupting Finance: Digital Money Managers”, profiles a series of disruptors offering your customers a third way. Here’s why we think you should be worried:

1.       They offer aggregation. Digital money managers offer aggregation because they have to, of course, but in doing so they enable users to manage their finances independently of the firms they don’t trust. Users can pick and choose products from different providers then manage everything in one place - a sort of iTunes for financial services. There's clear disruptive potential here, particularly if an already proven price comparison site acquires a promising digital money manager, as we've already seen in the UK with MoneySuperMarket’s acquisition of OnTrees

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The Business Case For Personal Financial Management

Benjamin Ensor

Back in November 2006, a startup called Wesabe first showed the potential of online money management. Packaged personal financial management (PFM) software for PCs like Intuit's Quicken had existed for years, but Wesabe, Mint.com and a handful of other startups showed the value of using customer data, and community, to help people understand their finances better.

Since then, hundreds of banks, credit unions, wealth management firms, and other companies have launched a range of spending categorization, budgeting, peer group comparisons, and other money management features for their customers.* The leaders are increasingly making money management available in mobile and tablet apps, as well as on their websites. Fuelled by the poor state of many of the world's developed economies and growing use of digital channels, customer interest in online money management is substantial, as my colleague Reineke Reitsma wrote on her blog a few months ago.

Yet despite the growing number of firms that already offer money management, and the evident interest of some customers, many financial services eBusiness executives still question whether the business case adds up. Our new report on The Business Case For Personal Financial Management addresses that question. Here's what we found:

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Finovate Europe 2012: Innovation In Digital Financial Services

Benjamin Ensor

A number of people asked me to repeat my blog post from last year with my impressions from Finovate, so I thought I would.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Finovate, it’s a fast-paced format with seven-minute live demos and pitches from 35 financial technology vendors. It’s produced by Online Financial Innovations, the people behind the excellent NetBanker blog.

I was lucky enough to go along to the show in London today. Unlike last year, when four or five themes dominated the day, this year’s exhibitors were more diverse. Among them were:

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The Next Generation Of Digital Financial Services

Benjamin Ensor

[With apologies to all those of you who had already read this, I'm re-publishing this as the Forrester gremlins ate my previous post.]

For the past few years, many eBusiness and channel strategy executives in financial services have had a nagging sense that today's websites would be rendered obsolete as new technologies emerged or younger consumers developed radically different behaviour patterns. We think that time if fast coming upon us. 

For the past six months we've been working on our vision of the Next Generation of Digital Financial Services, led by my colleague Alexander Hesse and inspired by the work of leading eBusiness teams worldwide. Although our vision is not an exact description of how all digital financial services will evolve, given the wide variety of markets that eBusiness executives operate in and the different strategies of their firms, we think the next generation of digital financial services will be characterized by five things:

  • Simplicity. Making it easy for customers to achieve their goals.
  • Ubiquity. Interacting with customers wherever they want.
  • Personalization. Making the entire experience relevant to individual needs.
  • Empowerment. Enabling customers to take action by themselves.
  • Reassurance. Providing human help whenever it adds value.
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Some Observations From Finovate Europe

Benjamin Ensor

For the past few years I have watched enviously as the Finovate online financial technology show has gone from strength to strength in San Francisco and New York. So I was thrilled to hear that Finovate was coming to Europe and today I was lucky enough to go along to the show in London.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Finovate, it’s a fast-paced format with seven-minute live demos and pitches from 35 financial technology vendors. It’s produced by Online Financial Innovations, the people behind the excellent NetBanker blog.

The big themes were:

                Money management: Figlo; IND Group;  Linxo; Lodo Software; LoveMoney.com; Meniga; Strands Personal Finance; Yodlee.

                Security: Business Forensics; miicard; SilverTail Systems; SolidPass; Voice Commerce.

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