A new report from Aite Group says that the growth of personal financial management use among American consumers has not met expectations.
A recent survey by the Boston-based research and advisory firm found that 58% of U.S. consumers have not used online PFM tools and don’t plan to. Another 14% said they plan to. Fifteen percent of those surveyed said they use PFM tools exclusively at their credit union or bank site, while the rest said they use them either at a non-financial institution site or at multiple types of sites.
The September report’s author, Ron Shevlin, recalls a report the firm did on the hot topic of PFM in early 2010, and observed, “Roll the clock forward to 2012, and many industry publications and conference sessions still talk about the ‘promise’ of PFM.
“(Yet), more than 10 years after financial institutions began implementing online PFM capabilities to help their customers create and manage budgets, categorize and forecast spending, and view budgets and spending in pretty charts and graphs, the promise of PFM has yet to be realized.”
But why? In the report, titled “Strategies for PFM Success,” Shevlin cites two primary reasons for slim uptake of PFM: Lack of involvement in the management of their finances (he noted that only four in 10 of the respondents manage their household budget in ways that include categorization of spending ), and that only 13% want their primary financial institution to help manage their finances.
“Almost half of all Americans … say they don’t look to their primary FI for help managing their finances and therefore don’t care if the FI offers tools to help them do so,” Shevlin wrote.
The report then details how PFM users are more engaged with their financial institutions, to the benefit of consumer and FI alike, and how banks and credit unions can encourage heavier use of the online PFM offerings.
Shevlin’s list of recommendations included better integration of PFM tools with advice and guidance, improving the interface itself to make it easier to use, enhancing social media engagement, and creating targeted mobile apps.
The percentage of users by age group breaks definitely to the younger set. Aite Group said 44% of PFM users are in Gen Y, 28% in Gen X, 16% are Baby Boomers and 15% are seniors.
The results are based on surveys of 1,115 American consumers in the second quarter of 2012, the think firm said.
The sample of 1,115 consumers was recruited to represent the overall age, income, geographic, and gender distribution of the United States. The data have a margin of error of 3 points at the 95% level of confidence, Aite Group said.