SAN FRANCISCO (11/17/10)--Although the "Great Recession" has caused belting tightening among millions of Americans, millions of others are monitoring their finances less than they did a year ago, says new research from Javelin Strategy & Research. Nearly one in five (19%) of consumers currently do not monitor or manage their personal finances. That's more than double the 8% who didn't manage their finances last year, said the San Francisco-based firm's report, "Personal Finance Management (Part 1): What Consumers Really Want from PFM," which was released Monday. "The prolonged economic downturn has made money tight in millions of American households and caused the rise of a nation of 'cautious consumers,'" said James Van Dyke, president/founder of Javelin. "But contrary to what many may think, millions of consumers are monitoring their finances less
--not more," he said. "What you can't see can
hurt you, and Americans need to pull their heads out of the sand." Personal finance tools "can help consumers regain control and confidence in challenging economic times," said the report. More than half of U.S. households maintain financial accounts at more than one financial institution, making management "a complex and often tedious chore when they seek to assess their current financial status. With increased financial products options and technology channels, personal finance management has never been more complex," the report added. It noted that banks and credit unions are in the best position to give consumers control over their finances by integrating PFM tools on the Web. Other key findings:
* The percentage of consumers who say they sometimes manage their finances by logging on to checking account balances slipped--to 46% in 2010 from 59% in 2009. * Online banking suffered as many consumers switched back to paper and pen to track their finances. * Consumers say their No. 1 need is to be able to see all their account balances and transactions in one place.
"Consumers want to be able to access multiple accounts in one view, in real-time, and on the go," said Mark Schwanhausser, senior analyst, multi-channel financial services. He said financial institutions "must seize this opportunity to redefine online and mobile banking and install PFM at the heart of the user experience so that consumers feel empowered, not overwhelmed, when it comes to managing their finances."