The overall trend for banking has been moving towards customers and members of banks and credit unions having on-demand access to their financial information including everything from simple balance and transaction data to more detailed personal finance analytics.
Many financial customers want to be in touch with their finances. They want to know what their balance is at any time, and mobile technology is going hand-in-hand with this, by making information remotely and immediately available through smart phones. According to a March 2013 study conducted by the Federal Reserve, nearly half (48%) of smart phone users have used mobile banking in the past 12 months and the most common activity is to check account balances or recent transactions (87%).
While desktop personal finance management programs have been around for a long time, online and mobile applications (that are compatible with nearly all financial institutions) are becoming very popular as well. Many of the tools are independent of a financial institution, but banks and credit unions are also adopting their own personal finance management programs that are built into its product offerings, so its customers don’t have to do any additional sign-up.
Some of the applications go as far as combining all of the information from your financial accounts (checking, savings, credit card, loans, investments, etc). By aggregating all of your financial data into one management tool, the tool is able to provide you with detailed analytics such as categorized income and expenses, which allows you to set budgets and monitor how far along they are every month. Additionally, by setting these budgets, many of these tools can send you SMS/e-mail alerts to let you know if you go over budget in a category. In some tools you can also customize your own financial alerts such as letting you know if you have a major withdrawal from your account, or even an upcoming credit card payment that’s due. Mint.com is one example of an online finance application, and to show its massive popularity: it has grown from having 1.7 million users in 2009 to having 10 million users in 2012. Below is an example screenshot of categorized budgets from their website.
Ultimately, I believe the availability and accessibility of financial information (as well as analysis which help make sense of that information) is going to continue to become a more significant factor among banking customers – whether they choose to use this information or not, the customers appreciate the availability of it. We know through industry research that banking customers are looking to their financial institutions more and more for financial planning and advice, and with that said it’s going to be important for financial institutions to recognize the role in finance management and have it echo through all of the products and services they offer.