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.
(1) Rapidly improving their mobile services. Yes, this is now true of many banks around the world, but it's especially true in Australia. Following our reviews, CommBank announced updates to its app that would move the bank from 64 out of 100 to 69 out of 100, and up from 10th place globally, based on our reviews of 32 banks across 11 countries, to joint 6th. Westpac has already migrated 1.2 million customers to its new web based platform, which would move the bank from 62 to 77 out of 100, and 2nd place overall in our global reviews, up from 12th. These are dramatic positional swings in a very short period of time.
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.
It’s no secret that UK banks were slow to take mobile banking seriously. The iPhone launched in 2007, and it wasn’t until 2010 that we had the first mobile banking app from NatWest. Barclays and HSBC, two of the biggest banks in Europe, let alone the UK, didn’t release apps until 2012. But our new report, 2014 UK Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark, suggests all that is changing. UK banks now do well where it matters most to customers - across money movement, balance checking and transaction history search. Some of last year’s laggards have overtaken last year's leaders, and many UK banks now offer mobile sales functionality - ahead even of their peers internationally. Here’s the headline story: