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Is PFM The Future of Online Banking?

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13 September 2011
Jacob Jegher
You will have to read my new report to find out the full answer. Although PFM solutions have been in existence for several years, adoption is pitiful. To give you an idea, only 3.8% of users across large banks and software vendors have been active in the last 30 days. It's a horrific statistic, and it's no wonder so many financial institutions are reluctant to move into the PFM realm. Here are a few examples of why adoption is so shoddy:
  • Poor overall online banking user experience and customization capabilities. See this post for more info and examples
  • Assuming PFM can serve the mass market (e.g. not everyone wants to or needs to budget. What a wealthy person needs or is willing to do online is not the same as what someone in debt requires or is willing to do).
  • Poor auto categorization accuracy
  • Lack of relevant and targeted user education
  • The list goes on and on



The good news is that adoption is expected to climb. The report has all kinds of forecasts that provide insight as to where PFM is headed. It also delves into qualitative details as to what is required by financial institutions in order to make PFM viable. There's also a whole discussion about tablets and their role and potential in online banking and PFM.

Comments

  • Online Banking is Online Banking, its only presents a narrow view of the various financial services that most customers have. Personal Financial Management needs to include all financial services, internal and external accounts, aggregation, budget and financial planning tools.

  • Jacob- Based on my own personal experience with PFM, I think your reasons for why it has not been widely adopted are spot on. I also think that banks are not properly assessing the value of PFM as a tool for meeting some of their other strategic goals. As several people including myself have pointed out, PFM can be a data gold mine which can be used to drive incredibly relevant and valuable cross-sell offers.

  • I think you're right, PFM is often poorly implemented. A lot of banks see it as an add-on, rather than an integral part of their online offering. As a result, it often comes across to users as having been an afterthought. But as a consumer, I never feel I can trust the tools that my bank gives me. They seem very "salesy", designed to lead me down a certain path no matter what parameters I enter into the system. If banks truly want to offer PFM, they actually need to stop seeing it as a cross-selling tool, and consider it more as a service to maintain or improve customer loyalty.

  • Great comments all.

    Bo - I'm a big believer in account aggregation as a building block to PFM. Problem is, the user experience is lacking. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't; Some institutions are not supported; sometimes duplicate transactions pop up or some are missing. There's still a lot of work that needs to be done here.

    Alex - I think that most banks get the value of the data gold mine. They just don't know what to do with the data or understand how to turn it into something they can monetize without upsetting customers.

    Kenneth - Excellent points. In order to get to the customer loyalty piece, there is still a lot of work to do on PFM solutions. The pie charts may be pretty, but yes, it is still very much an add-on at most financial institutions. Defining user roles and tailoring the service is another area that needs to be tackled.

  • [...] I’m also very intrigued regarding how adoption of PFM will materialize (see my blog post, Is PFM The Future of Online Banking? and my recent report, Personal Financial Management: The Devil Is in the Details). American Banker [...]

  • [...] Is PFM The Future of Online Banking? [...]

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