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Expert panel explores challenges, opportunities of personal online financial management tools

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For immediate release: September 27, 2012
Contact: Carol McKay, NCL Communications (412) 945-3242, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Washington, DC – Consumers’ use of personal financial management tools (PFMs), such as Web- and smart phone-based applications, to manage their money is on the rise, according to research from Deloitte Consulting. To examine this trend, advocates at the National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, hosted a live expert chat today to discuss whether the increasing use of PFMs is helping consumers get a better grip on their financial lives while managing potential concerns about privacy and security.

Estimates are that more than one in three online households (34 percent) will use PFMs by 2014. Still, nearly 20 percent of consumers are not regularly monitoring or managing their personal finances. Advocates are rightfully concerned about consumers’ financial futures and are looking at PFMs as a one part of the solution.

The live online chat, sponsored by Chase Blueprint®, included participation by a panel of consumer advocates, analysts, PFM industry leaders, and government representatives, who examined topics such as how PFM tool use is improving consumers’ financial management habits, what can be done to address consumer concerns about privacy, and the impact of mobile PFM tools.

“PFM tools give consumers a powerful way to keep track of multiple credit cards, bank and retirement accounts,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “However, with the amount of sensitive personal financial data that consumers are sharing with these tools, we wanted to examine what value they are getting in return. We are pleased that we were able to bring together such an all-star group of experts to examine the issues these tools create.”

“Consumers are emerging from the recession with a better handle on their daily expenses and a need to have greater control, simplicity and predictability in managing their finances,” said Phil Christian, general manager, Chase. “Our experience with Chase Blueprint has shown that when given the right personal financial management tool, consumers are more likely to pay down their balances faster, pay their bills on time and save money on interest.”

"Free personal financial management tools and apps from banks or other financial Web sites are a great way to set financial goals, track spending and measure progress," said Linda Sherry of Consumer Action. "PFMs have the potential to change consumer behavior by giving consumers aggregated, real-time information to better control of their finances."

Additional panelists at the event included John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud, National Consumers League; Sophie Raseman, Director of Smart Disclosure, U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Consumer Policy; Mark Schwanhausser, Director of Multichannel Financial Services, Javelin Strategy & Research; Ron Shevlin, Senior Analyst, Aite Group; and Ken Sun, Group Product Manager, Mint.com.

The full event has been recorded and can be viewed on NCL’s YouTube channel.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.