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Mapa Research Report: PFM Insight Series 2013

Making PFM work better

20 August 2013 | PFM |

Compiling our third edition review of the changes and current best practice in the PFM (Personal Financial Management) market has involved us completing a combination of original research, vendor interviews and accessing our own PFM activated bank accounts for screenshot capture. Our findings show a market that is far from being moribund, as might have been expected. It is, in fact, in rude good health, and innovations and new initiatives both large and small abound.

Looking first at the market holistically, this year has confirmed our earlier observations of the PFM market segmenting into three distinct levels of customer sophistication. In order: 

  1. Basic Level
  2. Intermediary Level
  3. Advanced Level

Our findings confirm that each level has its own unique PFM associated behaviours relative to tool use. The evolution of use is, in turn, driven by both extended customer experience and provider initiatives. Both drive increased sophistication.
In order to make the tools work providers need to manage the successful transition of users from a basic level to a progressively higher level of sophistication well. This is the key to successfully getting any sort of return on investment in the long run. After a number of false starts it is evident that many of the providers we reviewed are now doing this, and we have examples that make the point:

Basic Level:  Belfius Bank (BE) recently launched a transaction review feature on its iPad app that uses spheres to represent transactions. The sphere size reflects the transaction size. Tapping on each sphere links directly to more information. There are also many mobile banking examples here that use good transactional visualisations.

Intermediate Level:  BNP Paribas (FR) have refreshed their “Mes Comptes” apps providing an easy to analyse account information. One of the key features of this in particular is the excellent cross device experience, a key theme throughout the report. Other banks perform well here. Danske however are unique in including a mortgages feature.

Mapa screenshot of Simple's PFM tool

Advanced Level: New entrants shine here with Simple (USA) “Safe-to-Spend” being the most proactive tool. Interestingly for a new entrant, its whole offering has been built around PFM. In a more traditional setting, ING Direct (CA) offer a  “small sacrifices” mobile app which is one of the most engaging savings tools.

Getting many customers to use the tools remains a challenge. Getting people to compare themselves to others is one of the ways of broadening engagement, but that is not easy, particularly given increased personal data privacy concerns. A good example of getting around this can be found in Australia, where Ubank have launched a "People Like U" microsite using anonymous census and customer data. This has enabled the bank to provide quite personal comparisons without compromising privacy.

For more information on this or any other report in the Mapa Insight Series, please send us an email or give us a call.

Written by Mark Pavan.

Tags: pfm, report, customer experience, Simple, Belfius, Danske Bank,

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