Nobody wants to be in the dark about where his money is or how it’s performing in the market.
Every one of today’s leading investing apps is an improvement from the once-a-quarter mailers that brokers used to send out. Every bank app is better than a monthly statement. With that said, some fintech apps are more user-friendly and informative than others.
Which user interface elements make for a great personal finance app? The following are musts for a top-notch user experience:
1. A goal prompt
Whether they’re saving, spending, or investing, your users have financial goals in mind. Although everyone’s priorities and risk preferences are different, offer preset fields for common goals.
Credit and checking account apps should ask for spending limits on overall and categorical expenses. You might want to spend less than $100 per week on groceries, for example. If you approach or exceed that limit, your app should notify you.
Saving and investing apps should work the same way. Round, a newer offering that provides everyday investors with access to active managers on Wall Street, learns about its clients’ goals—like homeownership, travel, and retirement. By learning about how much a client is trying to save—as well as his timeline—Round’s clients receive tailored portfolios based on their goals. Better yet, they get help tracking their progress.
2. Account or asset mix charts
Vanguard’s app may need a fresh coat of paint, but it does well in one key area: Vanguard investors get pie charts that display their ideal and current asset mixes. In visual and percentage terms, they display how much of the user’s portfolio is allocated toward asset types like stocks, bonds, and real estate.
Credit and banking apps should take a similar approach to spending. Use charts to show what percentage of spending over a given time frame went to common categories like retail, restaurants, and services.
Another way credit and banking apps should break down spending is by account and authorized spender. If a user keeps two accounts with a bank—a savings account and a checking account, perhaps—he should be able to easily see how his assets are divided. Credit cardholders should be able to quickly check how much of the total bill each authorized user is responsible for.
3. Credit score
Another thing that every bank and credit card app should contain: a credit score summary. Although users can request their report once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies, annual checks don’t cut it. Consumers need to see how their spending and payment habits affect their ability to get credit, and they need to know if their score suddenly tanks.
A credit score readout isn’t as important for investing apps, and none to our knowledge offers one. Still, it’s a small feature that users would appreciate. The question of whether to pay off debts or invest the funds is made easier when users have the full picture right from their palm.
4. Obvious transfer tools
Most consumers have more than one financial account. When a credit card bill comes due, they want to sink more money into the market, or they’re socking away money in savings, users need an easy way to transfer funds.
Although I won’t name the company because it’s since corrected the issue, I recently spent hours on the phone because of unclear transfer tools. When I went to transfer money into a checking account I’d recently opened, the “to” and “from” text was cut off in the app’s interface. As a result, I tried to pull money from an account that had nothing in it.
5. Click-to-contact functionality
In no industry is strong customer support as important as in finance. Users need to be able to talk to a human being when they spot an error, a transfer fails, or they’re confused by the fee structure.
Give users as many ways as possible to reach out. TD Ameritrade’s app is the one to beat in this category. At any time of day and on any day of the week, users have access to text, phone, and instant messaging support.
This interface feature becomes even more important if you don’t have physical locations. TD Ameritrade has branches around the country, but many online banks and brokers do not.
6. Fee breakdown
Nobody likes to be blindsided by fees. Although you don’t want to rub your fee structure in your user’s face, you should make it clear and accessible.
What does that look like? Don’t stick fee information in a terms-and-conditions document and call it a day. Take a look at Acorns: Users pay $1, $2, or $3 per month, depending on their subscription tier.
Keep fees simple, and explain them at sign-up and in a “Frequently Asked Questions” tab in your app. If your customer support strategy includes a chatbot, plug in a straightforward explanation of your fee structure.
Fees may seem more important than app interface features, but users consider both when choosing a financial provider. Give them another reason to choose you, especially when that reason is as simple as a fresh design.
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