The “F” in PFM Should Stand for “Fail”: 3 Ideas on How to Fix PFM

The “F” in PFM Should Stand for “Fail”: 3 Ideas on How to Fix PFM

If any technology deserves the award for “most missing its potential”, it’s Personal Financial Management (PFM) software. Many analysts and consultants have talked about the abysmally low adoption rates for PFM (here, here, and here.) Research by Javelin points us in the direction as to why there’s a problem. We’re not giving consumers what they want. Consumers tell us that they want all their account information in one place – even from other banks. They also want alerts and help with shopping and card reward usage. Basically, they want help making decisions. That’s why PFM fails today. It provides lots of information, but no help making decisions. Mark Schwanhausser, director of multichannel financial services at Javelin Strategy & Research puts it this way: PFM will appeal to a mass audience of online and smartphone-toting consumers seeking help with immediate, on-the-go, everyday financial tasks and decision-making. It is only a matter of time before PFM will be virtually ubiquitous, offered not only by FIs but also by billers, mobile carriers, insurers, retailers – anywhere consumers make financial decisions. The PFM of the future Mr. Schwanhausser describes here is what I called Decision-Oriented PFM. I describe it in my book, Seven Billion Banks. Very few PFM tools are integrated into the mobile experience. Instead they sit on the desktop version of the online banking application – when they’re available at all. The concept that consumers want alerts to help with decision making is consistent with the mobile strategy I laid out in an earlier article. Those push alerts are extremely critical not just for adoption, but for the actual value created...