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What Do We Call PFM as it Becomes Part of Digital Banking?

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The term PFM has gotten a bad rap. Clearly, Personal Financial Management is not a consumer-friendly term. You can’t use an acronym unless it’s ingrained in society (IRS, FBI, etc.). And stringing together three 3-syllable words to spell it out is too cumbersome (and doesn’t fit on a smartphone menu anyway).

So what do we call this thing formerly known as PFM? Today, I saw “money manager” used at America First Credit Union (an MX client). That’s a 56% reduction in syllables, but I fear it, and its longer sibling, digital money management, are still too generic to be meaningful for consumers. When you think about it, every single time you log in to your bank you are doing some type of “money management,” so that term doesn’t really call to mind the advanced feature set we in the industry have called PFM.

The best approach may be to simply not give it a name. PFM is really just additional features integrated into online or mobile banking. As those features become fully integrated, and relatively common, they become harder to single out with a unique term.

So here’s where I net out. Just between you and me, let’s keep calling it PFM within the industry (on our blog alone we’ve mentioned it in almost 500 posts). But when talking to consumers, let’s not create another confusing term. Especially since personal financial or money management is already an assumed benefit of digital banking.

Then, when looking to create more interest, use the classic marketing terms attached to “online” or “mobile” banking, for example:

  • Advanced online banking
  • Enhanced mobile banking
  • Do more with online banking
  • New-and-improved mobile banking
  • Features added to online banking
  • v2.0 mobile banking
  • Manage your money better with mobile banking

amex_cardsThat still leaves the problem of what to call it on a menu, or in a tab, if you offer a stand-alone service. Outside of banking, I think the most common term today is Advanced as in Google’s Advanced Search. Or, if you are potentially going to charge a fee, Pro is commonly used. If that seems too specific, it could be Premium or Select. Even the old credit card standbys, Gold, Platinum or Black, could be used.

Bottom line: FIs should use descriptions that fit with their other branding. Here, we are going to stick with PFM, with the understanding that the term should not be used on your website.

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Opening graphic is from MX on the cover of its white paper on Digital Money Management.