The Rise of the Connected Financial Ecosystem

It’s time.

This is the conclusion that I came to long ago and have now confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt. Let me back up and explain. 

Most of my accounts need me to manually move money around to where it needs to be. Beyond basic bookkeeping and simple repeat transfers, there is little to no automation or true intelligence helping me manage the movement of my money between checking and savings accounts, credit cards, investments, etc.

I finally reached the point where I was genuinely curious enough to ask the question: “Are others just as frustrated as I am?” 

 

Along with a team of product strategists and UX researchers, I surveyed a random sample representative of the general population of the United States, asking them about the intricacies of how they manage their money. How many different products do they use? What is their level of happiness with each product? Are they happy with how well the products are working together to achieve the ultimate mission of helping consumers make better decisions when it comes to their dollars?

I can’t say I’m surprised, but I now have the answer beyond a reasonable doubt: Everyone is just as frustrated as I am. 

Consumers are no longer satisfied stitching together disjointed accounts from multiple brands just to keep their financial lives in order. They crave better, and they want simplicity and connections across their accounts. They want their money to move around between the right accounts at the right time, without so much pressure being put on them to make all of the decisions.

This is the sentiment lurking in the financial services world: a general dissatisfaction with the status quo. If we’re doing the research, it’s reasonable to assume that virtually every other big (and small) player in the space is as well. If everyone knows this to be the case, it’s only a matter of time before the first movers do something about it, and then the fast followers will try to play catch up. 

Here’s the bottom line: It’s time for brands to offer a truly holistic financial experience across products and business units. 

As a brand, we appreciate that moving beyond offering siloed products isn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. There are three strategies that we have identified for financial services firms to evolve to offer a reimagined, holistic financial experience for customers. You can Build It, Buy It, or Serve It.

BUILD IT: This strategy means offering a suite of interconnected financial products in-house, so that you can enable your customers' money to move around seamlessly in the background for them. 

BUY IT: This entails partnering with other financial institutions who will white-label their financial products, so that you can offer the complete suite of products to your customers without having to build it all from scratch.

SERVE IT: This strategy is best aligned with the most digitally transformed financial services firms — the firms who have invested in cloud-architecture and can offer their partners white-labeled financial products.

Which startups and major financial players have jumped on the interconnected bandwagon? How are others getting it wrong?

The full results of the primary research study can be found below. 

What do you think? Shoot me a note at jjohnson@solstice.com