Americans prefer to access personal finance management (PFM) tools through banking Web sites, with security concerns trumping the advantages, such as account aggregation, offered by third party providers, according to a survey from Fiserv.
The poll of 3000 online banking users shows strong interest in PFM tools for tracking and analysing spending, with nearly 40% of respondents saying they would help manage finances.
However, only 15% of respondents had used a PFM service in the previous 90 days. Of those, 68% did so from online banking sites, more than double the percentage that reported using the "top named" traditional PFM software or the "top-ranked" third party Web site.
The PFM space, earmarked as a growth area by VC-backed start-ups, has not provided easy pickings for third party independent operators, with pioneering firms like Wesabe in the US and Kublax in the UK both shutting up shop after failing to attract sufficient user interest.
Indeed, only five per cent of those quizzed by Fiserv have used a PFM service to track multiple accounts, suggesting security and reliability concerns may outweigh the perceived benefits.
Of the PFM service users who tap aggregation to track accounts from multiple financial institutions, 48% have had trouble accessing some of their information.
While there is interest in tracking multiple accounts in one location, the survey shows 44% of these same PFM service users would not have been comfortable if they had known that their IDs and passwords were stored by a third party. This percentage nearly doubles among non-users.
George Tubin, senior research director, delivery channels, TowerGroup, says: "Financial institutions are in a unique position to provide the combination of online personal financial management tools with the financial institution's transaction, product and security capabilities to deliver a compelling combination unmatched in the industry."