June 2014: Bank-centric Spending and Savings Tools

This Bank Monitor Report covers spending analysis and savings tools offered by banks within our coverage group. Additionally, to help banks benchmark their tools and understand their position in the marketplace, we included one personal finance app – Level – and an account aggregation and one budgeting website – Mint – in our research. We noted whether banks provide a mobile version of their tools, if clients can input outside accounts to track overall spending, whether tools provide guidelines for spending based on income and expenses, and what tracking and follow-up options are included in tools. Specifically, this report focuses on the following:

  • What types of tools are provided?
  • Are they available as mobile apps?
  • How do they compare to Level and Mint?

Six banks in our coverage group provide savings and spending tools for their deposit account clients. All six offer some form of spending goal tracker, with two offering account aggregation, spending analysis and budgeting capabilities. Another two banks take an alternate, forward-looking approach and forecast upcoming spending to indicate how much free cash clients have (and will have). Finally, one bank’s analyzer offering is limited to a savings tracker, albeit a very good one.

 

We included Level and Mint in our analysis, as they both excel at their specific functions. (Level is a spending tracking app that provides users with real-time updates on how much cash they can spend, and Mint is an analysis and budget tool with account aggregation functionality.) Both Level and Mint are expertly designed and banks should take note of how easy they are to use. In addition, Level and Mint offer great mobile platforms. With a host of other personal finance apps available for both iOS and Android, banks risk losing a chance to provide customers with a lot of added value for their banking relationship.

Unfortunately, not a single firm in this report combines all of the functionality covered into a single platform. The ideal bank-provided personal finance tool would automatically categorize client spending, so that clients do not need to take extra steps to keep up with their budgets. It would send alerts when clients are close to or exceeding monthly budgets. It would tie savings goals to automatic transfers to savings. Finally, it would allow clients to check on their savings goals and spendable cash on their smartphone. In terms of mobile capabilities, only two bank tools are accessible from a mobile app.

 


Additional Key Findings:

  • Three tools provide graphs of users’ spending.
  • Four tools allow users to create budgets.