I’ve written thousands and thousands of words about personal finance management (PFM) including seven deep dives in our Online Banking Report (see note 1) and 130 131 blog posts. However, I’ve never articulated the behavioral aspects as well as NY Times software developer Andre Behrens who pens the occasional post at NYTimes.com.
Simple.com is the most beautiful bank site I’ve ever seen…but aesthetics are just a baseline. Because what Simple actually wants to do is get you to play a game. The game is called “Master Your Finances”….
He then describes a key part of this game, which Netbanker readers will recognize as Simple’s Safe-to-Spend balance:
If there’s one number you’re guaranteed to see on a bank site, it’s your balance…I take this number for granted…what other number could there be? But once you start playing the Simple Game, you realize this is a number that matters to the bank much more than it matters to you. What you care about is how much money you can use right now.
He goes on to write about how Simple encourages users to keep savings in unique buckets associated with goals:
…saving has always felt to me like denying myself fun spending opportunities. In the Simple Game, the opposite has proven true. Because every goal has a name and a committed plan, and because the transactions are presented in small increments, saving has become an anticipatory pleasure.
Bottom line: Read the whole article. It may help reinvigorate your efforts to infuse basic PFM concepts directly into everyday online/mobile banking. Every customer should be able to reach the first level of the finance game simply by logging in. How do you take it to the next level? That sounds like the makings of post #132, 133, 134 …..
The OBR PFM library consists of three reports penned a decade ago on account aggregation, the PFM enabling technology pioneered primarily by Yodlee. Then four reports in the modern PFM era looking at features, benefits and bundles (subscription required):
— June 2012: PFM 4.0 here
— May 2010: PFM 3.0 here
— June 2007: Social Personal Finance here
— Aug 2006: Personal Finance Features for Online Banking here
— July 2003: Account Aggregation 3.0 here
— Aug 2000: Account Aggregation 2.0 here
— Oct 1999: Account Aggregation