What Should We Ask The Personal Finance Toolmakers At Finovate 2008?

I’ll be reporting from the Finovate 2008 personal finance tool conference on October 14. There’s 24 presenters from places like Mint, Yodlee, Quicken and Wesabe. Here’s the complete list. Some of these services you’ve heard about or may use yourself. What questions would you have me ask them? What improvements can be made? What would you love to see in a personal finance tool? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to do your requests justice.


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  1. Hawkins says:

    OK, I have a question that I really want an answer to:

    Dear Finance Tool:

    Please explain why it’s a good idea to give you my banking userID and password, with which anybody can quickly drain my checking and savings accounts, cash out my CDs, and write large checks to the to Nigerian royal family.

    Your sites say things about security that are silly on their face. Like Mint: “We ask for your online banking user name and passwords, but we do not see or store that information.” (If you don’t “see” it, then how do you give it to the bank?)

    Please explain what you are doing, in detail. We’re not stupid. We can understand concepts like encryption.

    Also please explain how you’re making money. You know the old saying: “On the Internet, if you’re not paying for it, you’re not the client.” Who is your client?

    • usa_gatekeeper says:

      @Hawkins: Well said!

      I signed up for Mint but after realizing that it required my online banking ID & P’word, I stopped there. No way. When they reach the online credibility level of, e.g., ING Direct, then maybe I’ll complete the registration. Not a minute before.

    • generalassembly says:

      @Hawkins: Places like Mint do that very detailed explanations online. There is a whole security overview posted, as well as a description of who their clients are — the banks that show you “offers” of where you can save.

      • johnva says:

        @generalassembly: Not that I can see. I read their whole “Safe and Secure” page and it doesn’t give a satisfactory answer to the question he’s asking. It looks like, though, that your login credentials are stored with a different company (“our online financial service providers”). So I’m guessing they are using your Mint login to access another site that has your actual bank login. That doesn’t really make me feel any better about it, especially since they don’t appear to disclose who they use. That’s just shifting the responsibility to someone else.

    • @Hawkins: Seconded!!

    • Richardsonke says:

      @Hawkins: Mint uses Yodlee for their username/password storage and information retrieval. Pretty much everyone ([yodlee.com]) that pulls information from other sites uses them. They’ve been around for a long time (I used them directly since probably 5 years ago) and I’ve never heard of a security breach.

  2. bohemian says:

    I want to know why there is not a decent checkbook solution that you can use via your web browser on your phone. Online tools like clearcheckbook get blocked by Verizon so you can’t update your online check register via the web feature on your phone. It is all, all I want.

  3. TheCheez says:

    What obstacles are there to overcome before you can do business in Canada and when can we expect you to achieve that?

  4. agnamus says:

    Ask Quicken about the impossible to get back $500 Quicken Loans “good faith deposit.” It’s a real doozy.

  5. nosoen says:

    Take all your money out the bank, our economy is about to hit rock bottom!

  6. ordendelfai says:

    My question is directed to Quicken since I am a long time user.

    The ability to download data from my financial institutions using a single tool has become a necessity (with over 14 accounts, it’s too time consuming to manually download individually from different sites).

    Will we ever see the same capability for other “bills”? For example, could an account with register ever be made for Southern California Edison that can directly download from SCE’s website? Gas Company? Time Warner Cable? Etc, Etc. Ya, I can setup bills manually and put an average amount with reminders, but that’s not been very helpful in determining my month to month actual bill amounts that are not static.

    I find myself logging into too many sites to check amounts due on bills (I eliminated paper statements to save the dolphins). Seems if Quicken and the like can get a system working with thousands of financial institutions it shouldn’t be too hard to plugin to major services for other bills and utilities.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @ordendelfai: a lot of companies (especially utilities) already offer e-bills (you can read more about them here – [www.ebillplace.com]). the question is whether your bank’s bill payer supports their use. if not, consider a 3rd party bill payer that does (for example, i believe quicken bill payer [quicken.intuit.com] supports e-bills, but they also charge $10/mo.).

      there was a company out there called checkfree that had an awesome interface & was a leader in the development of e-bills. sadly, they were bought by fiserv & now….well, check out their site –> [mycheckfree.com]

      not exactly the type of place i’d feel comfortable entering my bank info…

    • ordendelfai says:

      @mac-phisto: Very nice, thanks for the info mac.

      Now if we could only link in to the e-bills direct from quicken and have quicken plug in direct to a banks bill pay instead of using their own pay bill pay service.

      I will try this ebill service though, there are few of my bills available on it.

  7. fluiddruid says:

    At what point are you going to reach out to smaller banks and credit unions? I’ve tried two different checking accounts for two different banks – in one case, a bank with dozens of locations in Iowa, and present in most local Hy-Vee grocery stores – with both Yodlee and Mint, to no success. For those of us who are savvy enough not to want to deal with a giant bank conglomerate, there seems to be no option for personal finance tools. After all, it’s all pretty pointless without looking at what’s going in and out of checking.

    While I realize this is a difficult problem, can’t there be some collaboration in creating standards to offer to banks in order to work with your systems? This would make it a lot simpler for us as customers to pressure our banks to offer support.

  8. generalassembly says:

    Mint is in desperate need of an annual budgeting tool. Maybe just a complete overhaul of the budget side of the program. The site is incredibly powerful and well-managed, but budgeting is one place that could use some improvement.

  9. Mfalconieri says:


    I would like to know when Mint.com will have credit scores(real and accurate)! That is the only thing that is missing from Mint.

  10. ajgray says:

    What’s the current thinking and plans around data interoperability (especially targeted to Intuit)? Since Intuit dropped support for QIF from Quicken, and doesn’t support OFX (only a proprietary extension called QFX that requires licensing), then it becomes difficult to write software/services that interoperate with Quicken without paying a substantial “Intuit tax.”

  11. Ben,

    Please ask Intuit for the following feature in Quickbooks.

    As we move more and more into downloading our statements/bills we have to create a vendor account for every new vendor.

    For example, these are all vendors that show up in a Credit card Statement

    Texaco #69
    Texaco #173
    Texaco 24 Morris Rd.

    Etc, which means you have to keep creating vendor accounts which slow up the system.

    Can Intuit create some sort of word seach to find near matches and offer that so that all of the above would simply go under Texaco?

  12. ReverseCarpetbagging says:

    Could Quicken find a way to become more customizable and user friendly? There are times where I want to create subcategories within my Debt or Liability sections. I don’t want to have to choose between just three. And they could learn a thing or two from Mint. Whether it is the charts or the budgets, Quicken’s methodology takes way too long and you can hit certain deadends that just make you want to scream.

  13. ReverseCarpetbagging says:

    If Mint would allow you to incorporate your credit score information from a monitoring service, that would be a neat feature, too.

  14. ReverseCarpetbagging says:

    Ok, I promise this is my last one, but what about some integration between Quicken and Quicken online. If I buy Quicken (or even Quicken plutonium), I would love to have the availability to check my stuff remotely a la Mint.