How should financial providers design online sites and Apps to best inform and educate their customers about their personal finances? The growing use of personal finance dashboards to visualise data and the launch of Open Banking in 2018 could be the catalysts to improvements in this space. Open banking enables consumers to see all their money on one screen and access better budgeting tools.

To understand how financial providers could improve their online sites and Apps, we have undertaken qualitative research with consumers to understand their frustrations with the online platforms of their bank, insurance and investment management providers. Here is a summary of the conclusions for improving the customer experience of personal finance dashboards:

Search struggles – on most financial providers’ sites and Apps there is limited search engine capability, unlike Google. Further, the availability of previous years data is mostly for only two years.
Real-time updates are missing – some investment platforms provide real-time information and updates after changes, while others have delays of a day or more. By comparison, most banks update accounts (almost) immediately.
Mis-classified spend or investment data – many sites of credit card providers and banks classify expenditure and present attractive visualisations, but consumers say the allocation of spend is not always correct. Often the visualistion is not useful or requires manual editing.
Reassurance required – although consumers are confident using digital services, there are limits to what can be explained on the page. The need for reassurance from a customer service representative is valuable. A phone number, web-chat, video-chat and immediate answers to email queries are all vital.
A ‘dashboard’ is not a dashboard – The consumers we spoke to had accounts with a variety of providers. But in comparison to car dashboards and controls, they felt there was a lack of standardisation across the online and App industry. This is a barrier to using the platforms.
Once and done, not – too many purchases or transfers require repeat visits to the site or App. For example: for those switching from one unit trust to another, a straight switch cannot be executed.
Opaque investment performance figures – are the annual management fees discounted off the displayed investment performance? Our respondents didn’t know. No sites or Apps discussed offered the ability to see the return on the customer investment over different time periods.
Screen size optimisation – for investments in particular, large screens were preferred. But some providers still haven’t optimised their websites for smartphones – which are used widely by their customers.
Scheduled maintenance is frustrating – Surprisingly, consumers noted that many sites were ‘down’ quite often for ‘scheduled maintenance’. This was very frustrating – “…just when I’d got the time to think about it!”
Security is a poisoned chalice – Security is a priority for customers. However, some banks and investment platforms have more security than others. Although most consumers feel reassured by security processes, the use of two factor identification techniques requires a lot of effort from consumers.

Lastly, ‘received wisdom’ is that consumers need to be updated as frequently as possible ‘to help them learn to manage their money’. However, several consumers say they’d quite often prefer not to be regularly reminded of the balance/performance of their monies!