Just back from a 36 hours trip back from Perth, few hours in Brussels and today in London (kind of a tradition now spelling from where I write)
PFM is a very interesting space.
Roughly, in Europe, at least one startup per country (in some cases more than one) is a PFM tool.
What is it exactly?
Personal Finance Management
It s the modern version of Microsoft Money, obviously way more connected, social, big data aggregator, and profiled (in fact, almost no point in common with Money, but I need a point of reference for the few dummies who never heard about PFM).
Often mobile-only, most times web and mobile, almost never web only.
These tool take a snapshot of your finances, account, invoices to pay, loans to reimburse, forecasted expenses, and they are able to tell you things like:
– hey John, you spent more for coffee this month than the previous one
– if you want to buy that 1000 USD bicycle, you better start saving for the next three months otherwise you won’t have enough money
– you might need a small loan otherwise you won’t see the end of the month due to some unplanned expenses cumulated with your actuals
– you could save have saved 300 USD in the last 6 month, why don’t you try …
and so forth..
Some of the, are connected with an e-invoicing platform, so you can pay your bills directly, some with a investment (trading) platform, some other directly with your bank so they can cross-sell you other financial products.
Some others they are embedded in a payment system (typically a branchless bank, mobile only, like Moven or Simple).
All this to say, it s big data mashed up with financial information most of the time free for the users and paid by your bank or by a commission on the services they can sell through that screen that you are suppose to consult A LOT.
This generates more data, etc etc. wrapped up in a usually beautifully designed user interface
This is my point.
Not sure about pure, standalone PFM platforms.
Let s face it (and this is the part where common sense apply and would love to read your opinion): if I am rich enough (not a millionaire, these guys don’t even know what to pay an invoice is like, not anymore, and not really worried on planning) do I really care about few hundred dollars well forecasted? Or if I spent 75 or 95 dollars at Starbucks last month?
And if I am really on a tight budget, do I really care about a fancy way to remind me I am broken, or close to be?
Another pair of shoes is an aggregator for payments or statements for me personally or for my business, @as I talked about in my previous post.
Also, these platforms are scalable on a country basis. In other words, probably my Starbucks in UK or France would not be counted in my precious coffee budget forecast 2014/2015…
I see PFM as a component of something bigger. With payments, loyalty, semantics, e-invoicing, and – why not – a nice expresso.