Consumers call for more and better PFM tools

Consumers throughout Europe are crying out for their banks to do more to help them manage their increasingly complex financial landscapes. So says ING – and the Dutch bank backs up its claim with some hard stats, writes Douglas Blakey

Consumers throughout Europe are crying out for their banks to do more to help them manage their increasingly complex financial landscapes. So says ING – and the Dutch bank backs up its claim with some hard stats, writes Douglas Blakey

It has released the findings of a survey – poll size 12,000 across multiple markets so a pretty decent sample as such surveys go – showing one blinding stat.

Fewer than one in 10 bank customers have access to budgeting tools, despite more than 50% wanting them.

50% really? So says the survey. I have yet to learn of any bank that has managed to sign up more than 6% – yes 6% – of its online customers to using their PFM facility.

That either says something about the current PFM tools on offer or the accuracy of the survey -or even the candour of those being surveyed.

The majority of consumers (67%) said that managing money has become much more difficult over the last decade.

No surprise there – I would expect to see such a figure for that question; indeed I might have guessed the figure would be a tad higher.

The gist of the survey findings is that the public wants their bank to help them to not make mistakes and mis-spends, through alerting them when they might go overdrawn, if they’re overspending or if they’re not paying off debt at a fast enough pace.

The research was released just days after ING CEO Ralph Hamers set out a new approach for the bank and commented that all banks would now need to ‘Think Forward’ in a rapidly changing banking landscape and better cater to modern consumers.

Several bank regulators, including the FCA in Britain have also called on financial companies to take a more ethical approach to dealing with customers.

The study also identified the typical consumer mindset when it comes to finances, outlining what the bank called the ‘Me Generation’ – a consumer that takes responsibility for his or her own financial decisions and sees better outcomes as a result.

Such consumers (making up 73% of those surveyed) who ultimately make their own financial decisions are more likely to avoid debt (20% overdrawn vs. 30%), and less likely to argue about money (16% vs. 25%).

Findings included:

– 42% of consumers wanted to receive an alert if not paying off debt as quickly as planned (compared with 5% of customers who have access to such a service);

– 41% want a tool to set specific savings goals (against 5% who have access);

– 40% want graphics to show progress towards specific savings goals (again only 5% have access meantime to this facility);

– 39% want graphics to show how quickly debit is being paid back (again 5% have this currently);

– 35% want to receive tips, e-mails and videos about managing money (5%….again);

– 34% want automatic categorising of spend on clothes, meals out and other costs (against 8% who have this facility at present), and

– 25% want comparisons to show how their spending compares to similar types of people (whatever that means – apparently 3% of those surveyed already have this offering).

So there we have it. Customers want more and better PFM tools.

With perfect timing the next Digital Banking Club webinar is entitled:

Personal Financial Management (PFM): a key weapon in banking loyalty wars?

We have a stellar cast of speakers for the webinar on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 2:00pm BST of:

– Anne Boden, CEO, SocialFinTech, formerly COO, AIB

– David Dymond, Senior Manager of Digital Strategy, Royal Bank of Canada

– Gavin Littlejohn, Founder and CEO, Money Dashboard

– Simon Cadbury, Head of Strategy & Innovation, Intelligent Environments

It is a safe bet that that little line-up will provoke a lively discussion.