Posts Tagged ‘Personal Financial Management’

PFM Saved My Bacon

Over the weekend, I was collecting information to prepare for doing our taxes.  During my preparation, I needed to get some account information for 2010.  Unfortunately, for one bank, I could only view 6 months of history.  For another, I could only view 12 months.  With each bank, I could view 18 months of statements online, but didn’t feel like viewing each statement to get the information.  What I needed was a way to search and download the information I wanted.

After pondering it for a few minutes, I figured, there’s got to be an easier way.  Then I remembered, “duh, login to Mint to get it”.  After a quick search in Mint, I had all the information I needed and finished putting everything together.

Needless to say, I was pretty annoyed that neither of my banks offered more than 12 months of history (6 months seems to be the standard) and 18 months of eStatements.  Financial institutions are pushing their customers towards electronic services, but there is a time limit on available information.  The question I have is, “Why?”

For the bigger FIs that built their own online banking system, there is no excuse.  If I do a quick search online, I can find an external terabyte hard drive for less than $100.  When I last checked, I had over 7 GBs of space available for use in my Gmail account.  With the abundance of cheap storage, FIs can’t offer more than 12 months of transaction history and 18 eStatement files per account?

I’m willing to bet that if I download all my available transaction history and eStatements, it would take up less than 250 MB.  That is all the information for 15 accounts and 270 eStatement files.  I’m also including all loan history and check images in that number (but who writes a lot checks now-a-days?)

With online storage solutions like Amazon Web Services, there is no excuse for the larger FIs to not offer unlimited history and storage.  The smaller FIs have their vendor to blame.  They aren’t completely off the hook, however.  Their vendor will implement a larger storage solution as soon as a few FIs start complaining loudly and/or switching vendors. (With all their hype, I fully expect BankSimple to offer unlimited storage.)

So I hope you all start complaining to your FI, and they start complaining to their IT department or vendor.  If they want us to go the self-service route, then they need to enhance the service.  Otherwise, there’s always Mint.

Betting on PFM

March 28, 2011 2 comments

With so many articles about the benefits of PFM, you’d think you’d see more banks and credit unions jumping on the bandwagon.  The big boys are starting to offer it and you know we all like to follow the big banks.  But there seems to still be a lot of skepticism on offering the service.  One thing that decision makers seem to be unsure about is the ROI on offering the service.  I can understand the reluctance to charge for the service, but there is a customer segment that is more than willing to pay.

Small businesses seem to love what PFM can offer them.  PFM offers a better way to see the financial health of their business.  Interestingly enough, I haven’t heard anything about banks and credit unions offering a PFM solution to their business customers.  And business customers are proving that they are more than willing to pay for this type of service.  Just ask inDinero and 60mo.

Once again, banks and credit unions are missing out on a market that is interested in paying for a needed service.  Fortunately, customers would prefer to use their FI for this service.  However, they won’t wait forever for their FI to make up their mind and offer the service.

Photo by RambergMediaImages

Wesabe, We Hardly Knew You

July 1, 2010 2 comments

Wow.  I’m really sad to see Wesabe go; I was really rooting for this company.  Their technology was great and really helped transform PFM.  The Springboard application was also a cool idea.  I believe Wesabe was the first bank tech vendor to offer a way for banks and credit unions to signup for a customer facing service that would be active within 48 hours.  A lot of vendors could learn from that.  Sidenote: if I were a white-label OFM company, I’d look into buying this piece of technology from them.

But looking back, as much as I liked Wesabe, I didn’t really use the service that much.  Mint, on the other hand, I use at least once a month.  The reason for this?  I’m lazy.  One of Wesabe’s key points was that they didn’t store your online banking credentials.  You had to constantly upload your account information.  Mint, on the other hand, loaded it whenever you logged into their service.

I imagine that for a lot of people, this also made a difference.  Now, I don’t remember if Wesabe offered weekly alerts about your accounts, but I know Mint does.  Seeing those weekly emails and push notifications to my iPhone constantly reminded me about the service and reminded me to login and update my accounts.

So what does this mean to us financial folks?  It means that we need to stay in constant contact with our customers.  Customer apathy towards their FI helps increase the churn rate.  As we push our customers to online channels and branch traffic drops, contact becomes increasingly important.  Ron Shevlin’s post Why Engagement Matters and The Financial Brand’s post How To Build Relationships With Branch Avoiders are two great insights into this.  Otherwise, you could look up one day and wonder where all your customers went.

One bright side to all this is Wesabe will open source some of their technology.  I’ve been looking for a reason to build my Ruby on Rails chops and this looks like a great one.  I’m sure other developers are chomping at the bit also.

Related Posts:
Is PFM Really the Answer?
Wesabe Launches Springboard
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Buy ‘Em
No Know-How, No Order