Top Financial Management Apps Have These 5 Things in Common
If there is one thing we have become accustomed to, it's doing things on the go. Need to buy flowers? There is an app for that. Order Thai? There is an app for that, too. Pay rent or mortgage? Ditto!
It seems there is almost nothing the right app can't do, although finding the right app might often seem like a challenge. Fear not – choosing an app is easier than you might think.
All top financial management apps have five things in common:
- They save you time
- They provide a smooth user experience
- They are multifunctional
- They strive to save you money
- They safeguard your information
Using an app to manage your finances might sound more complicated than ordering lunch, but despite the initial learning curve, it can save you some serious time.
A great app combines info from multiple financial accounts – your checking, saving and credit card accounts – in one place. The most time-consuming task you'll likely face is the initial steps to link your accounts and tweak your settings. After that is completed, you are able to let the app cruise on autopilot. No more logging onto a bunch of different websites to track your payments or check your balances. A good app conveniently puts the information you need at your fingertips, all in one place, with an easy-to-use interface that saves you time.
Smooth User Experience (UX)
David Oyadomari, Bank of Hawaii's senior executive vice president of mobile banking, believes that nothing is more crucial in a financial management app than user experience, or UX.
“In all apps," says Oyadomari, “UX is the most important, because as you can see with the sea of apps that more-or-less do the same function, UX is the differentiator in stickiness, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, adoption and engagement."
A great financial management app shouldn't draw attention to itself. It's empowering, not overwhelming, and it helps you complete your task with the least effort. You want your app to be simple, friendly, consistent, and devoid of unnecessary distractions, so you can do what needs to be done with as few clicks as possible.
That's not to say that a good app will inherently be boring. On the contrary, a little creativity can add to user experience if it doesn't distract from the task at hand. Clarity Money, for example, offers a clever financial quote in its daily feed to keep users in good spirits.
Developers are always trying to differentiate their apps from those of their competitors. While some apps focus on general money management, others are made for a more specific purpose – for example, paying off debts and investing or saving money.
However, developers understand that most people don't want to use several different apps for their financial needs. This is why good financial apps are designed to organize and facilitate everything from spending to paying bills online, with convenient reminders and alerts. They can be tremendously handy tools that help keep track of everything you do or plan to do with your money.
A good financial management app can help you save money. While an app can't turn anyone into a savvy budgeter or smart investor, it can simplify and automate your tasks. Bill-payment reminders help you avoid late fees. Budget-reminders allow you to avoid overspending.
While providing a smooth user experience is a number one priority for financial management app developers, Oyadomari believes that security should be a “close second, if not a tie."
“Given that these apps display highly sensitive information and a potential gateway into fraud," says Oyadomari, “financial management apps should comply with government guidelines and beyond, to protect the customer's information and company integrity."
One security feature you might want to look for in a financial management app is two-factor, or multi-factor, authentication capability. That means you must provide at least two pieces of information to log in, such as a password and a text code. This feature may be slightly more time-consuming, but it does provide more peace of mind.
So, which apps might deserve valuable space in your smartphone? There are many good lists, but this Business Insider list is short and sweet.
Do you need a banker?
An app can do volumes, but there are times when you need to shake someone's hand and ask for professional advice. Even the most advanced artificial intelligence can't give you the kind of personalized help and advice that an experienced and knowledgeable professional can offer.
“Providing calculated financial advice will be automated in the near future," believes Oyadomari, “so what bankers need to do is go beyond the calculations. Today, bankers have the advantage over apps in building a strong relationship beyond finance."
These relationship-building tasks, Oyadomari believes, must include missions that might not be currently associated with a traditional financial institution, like a bank.
“Connecting customers with other individuals within the organization, remembering momentous occasions, or understanding financial situations across the customer's family cannot easily be replaced by an app," says Oyadomari.
For example, finance tracking apps can't tell you how to handle the needs and costs of aging parents, or estimate upcoming preschool costs for new parents.
Apps help with daily money-management, but when it comes to more in-depth financial considerations, getting personal, tailored advice remains invaluable. Savvy financial planning is best supported by interfacing both mobile and personal banking.