In the past two decades, technology has changed countless aspects of our lives, including our financial lives. Apps have made it easier to manage bank accounts, debts, budgeting and bills. For many people, especially millennials and younger, these apps have not only given them a better way to get a handle on their day-to-day finances, they’ve opened new avenues for investment, providing access to a world that might otherwise seem too complex and time consuming.
However, banking and finance apps are basically disconnected dots in the ecosystem of services people need to manage life and money. Back in the 1990s, large enterprises, like the major consumer banks, began to pull the dots together and today offer online portals and single sign-on for different product areas like checking accounts, lending, saving and investing.
These bundled strategies were a first step in what was called financial convergence, offering greater convenience and accessibility, along with new relationship models and pricing concessions. But this initial wave focused primarily at the slick presentation layer, and individual entities, unfortunately, remained siloed at the root data level. With deeper integration, financial firms have an opportunity to go further, to create more meaningful impact in their customers’ lives.
Today, convergence has made some important advances, with signs of more to come. Tech-savvy providers are using digital technology to make the siloed products more interoperable, creating intuitive and ergonomic customer experiences.
For example, a person’s checking account may have excess cash that can be automatically swept to an investment account; your paycheck can be divided between accounts; or you can easily automate routine bill paying. The customer must set up the rules, but it’s helpful and convenient.
But what happens when you don’t know exactly what to do? How can we use technology to deliver advice for the day-to-day financial decisions consumers make, creating better choices and actions that improve people’s financial health? This is the next phase of financial convergence – connected, fluid data overlaid with machine learning to help us move from transactional support (driven by the consumer) to advice (suggested or automated via technology).
This article was originally featured in Iris XYZ, here.