Bank of America is the first major U.S. bank to provide full online personal financial management (PFM) within its online banking service. It's an important development and one we predicted in our detailed look at online personal finance (Online Banking Report #131/132, published in September). So, in conjunction with our sister publication, we are awarding it the fifth and final OBR Best of the Web for 2006 (click here for other recent winners).
The bank uses its Yodlee-powered My Portfolio account-aggregation service to deliver the PFM functions. BofA is the first financial institution to use Yodlee's new MoneyCenter module since its launch six months ago (see our coverage here).
The bank has chosen to offer the full MoneyCenter suite with Net Worth Summary, Investment Detail, Transactions, Rewards, Email, and Search on the main page (see screenshot below).
My Portfolio also includes basic personal finance functionality, including budgeting, categorizing and a nice array of preformatted reports including:
- Cash Flow Analysis
- Expense Analysis
- Budget vs. Actual
- Credit Card Utilization
- Get Transaction Reports
- Set Budget Goals
See Online Banking Report 131/132 for more details on Yodlee's MoneyCenter.
Overall, we believe the new PFM functions are a great addition to the bank's online banking program. However, it still feels a bit "bolted on" to the core online banking service. For instance, My Portfolio does not yet warrant a place on the primary top navigation bar. Instead, users must click on a link in the middle of the main Account Overview screen.
Once the Yodlee-powered service has loaded (which took 10 to 15 seconds in our tests at broadband speeds), it's relatively well integrated. A second My Portfolio navigation bar is loaded under the main online banking navigation. Finally, a third row displays the options available for each function in row two (see screenshot below).
The pages load relatively fast as long as you stay within the My Portfolio area. However, moving back and forth between BofA-served online banking functions and Yodlee-served My Portfolio functions is a bit clunky with the 15-second delay. But the overall experience will be fine once My Portfolio is incorporated into primary navigation.
The main My Portfolio page is automatically pre-filled with applicable BofA accounts; however, in my case, I was unable to update older credit card information. When clicking Update All Accounts in the upper right, error messages indicated that my Bank of America credit cards could not be updated (see screenshot below).