Personal financial management solutions: There’s a massive chasm between what financial instutions offer, what their customers need and what their customers want. Catch up on the latest VB Live event to learn how to effortlessly bridge that gap with AI and machine learning.

Access this VB Event on demand right here.

It used to be that the shiniest personal financial management solution (PFM) was the one that gave consumers basic budgeting, spending, and tracking tools. And sure, those are useful tools — but what most PFM users want and need are hands-off, personalized, and predictive solutions.

“Personalization is a big part of what is going to eventually lead to success,” says Katy Gibson, VP of product management at Yodlee.

Back in the black-and-white olden days of bank tellers and managers, customers had personal, personalized resources that understood what their needs were, and then tailored their solutions to the user.

“That is eventually what is going to have to happen with the online channel,” Gibson warns. “The quickest way is going to be through data analytics and data intelligence.”

“To date a lot of those PFM applications have done an incredible job at telling you where your money went, but not such a good job at telling you where your money is going to go,” says Keith Armstrong, co-founder and chief operating officer at “A lot of people either want to be hands off with their finances or kind of mentally strapped, in the sense that their attention is going elsewhere.”

And financial institutions need to close the gap by establishing themselves as a source of truth and guidance that’s nudging their customers toward healthier financial positions.

“These are people that just don’t want to be bogged down worrying about their money,” says Colin Walsh, CEO and co-founder of Varo Money. “A lot of them just want their trusted financial institution to tell them what they need to do, when they need to do it.”

More and more consumers are willing to consider alternatives as they emerge — particularly younger consumers.

“They are less entrenched in their relationship with established institutions and they’re looking for something that banks aren’t really offering in terms of simple, intuitive, mobile-first solutions that are actually helping them achieve better financial outcomes,” Walsh adds.

An entrenched “disdain and distrust” toward larger banks and financial institutions these days means there’s an opportunity for more nimble, design-oriented fintechs to step in and fill that gap, Armstrong adds.

“For faster-moving innovators, it actually represents quite an opportunity,” Walsh agrees. “From the banking perspective, they’ll need to spend a lot of time understanding how to bridge that gap. Because whether it’s a combination of legacy technologies or slow-moving innovation or misaligned financial incentives, there’s a number of things that banks need to address to get at that trust gap.”

But fintech companies aren’t off the hook. Less established financial services companies make some consumers concerned about the safety of their money and their data.

There are two very simple ways to assuage any concern potential users might have about security if you’re a young fintech, Armstrong says, and the first is just to address it up front. Be very clear and explicit in terms of how you are making money.

“Traditionally a lot of the PFM apps not offered through banks have relied on extracting value from the user base through simply ads or pushing products,” he explains. “But addressing how your business makes money up front is one way to do that.”

The other is using very simple and plain-English terms and conditions. “Make it simple for me to understand how you’re using my data, and not make it cryptic, because when it’s cryptic, I feel like you’re trying to hide something, and that could potentially cause me to be less inclined to adopt your product or services,” he says.

Even with those two bases covered, there can be a differentiation problem now that a user can create essentially their own financial hub on a mobile phone.

It’s as natural to younger customers as breathing: store your money at a bank, manage your wealth on a third-party application, look at your credit at a third, and manage your mortgage on a fourth, and so on.

“So a user is now empowered to pick and choose what functionality they want to purchase through apps that are layered on top of the money being stored at the bank,” Gibson says. “Fundamentally, then, the problem for the financial institution becomes that one institution is perceived to be very much as another. Differentiation needs to come through more outcome-based tools that a bank can build through their digital channels.”

And it’s critical to call out that a somewhat wealthy GenXer is going to have fundamentally different needs than a young millennial who is bogged down with student loans and is considering diving into home ownership.

Being able to discern a customer profile and then deliver the right type of tools to the right person is a critical next step for financial institutions.

To find out how you can deliver differentiated, meaningful, and productive financial wellness solutions that deliver engagement and longevity, don’t miss out on this interactive VB Live event!

Access this VB Live event on demand right here.

In this VB Live event, the panelists will discuss:

  • Pivoting the drivers of change and the evolution of PFM in banking
  • How to improve customer interaction with financial wellness solutions
  • Using predictive analytics and AI to deliver more personalized and engaging financial wellness applications
  • Driving customer loyalty and engagement with the next wave of financial wellness solutions


  • Katy Gibson, VP Product Management, V
  • Keith Armstrong, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer,
  • Colin Walsh, CEO and Co-founder, Varo Money
  • Evan Schuman, Moderator, VentureBeat