In front of the trend in which banks are offering more online personal financial management services to customers, EverBank, a $10 billion, Jacksonville, Fla.-based bank, has been quietly rebuilding its EverOne financial site for customers and relaunched it in May. You can peruse a demo of the new site here.
In addition to the traditional online banking, online bill payment, funds transfers, and balance lookups that most online banking sites offer, the redesigned site provides complete account aggregation, so that customers will be able to access every financial account they use — whether or not it's held by EverBank — in one place using a single sign-on.
"We're trying not to push customers into multiple logins to accomplish what they want to accomplish," says Frank Trotter, president of EverBank Direct. "We'd love to be the single source of all of a customer's financial information, but realistically, people bank at multiple sources. We do want to be the place where they have everything at their fingertips."
The account aggregation aspect of this is not brand-new — EverBank was actually the first bank to sign up with account aggregator Yodlee in 2000 (about 40% of the bank's customer base use it) — but single sign-on and ease of navigation are new components. In addition to Yodlee, EverBank partnered with core banking platform provider FIS/Metavante and clearing services provider Penson Financial Services to create the new PFM site.
The update was necessary, says Jane Dulle, senior vice president, banking management group, because the prior online financial center had been designed mostly in 2003. "The technology continues to change so fast and the usage and adoption of online banking, as well as user experience expectations, continue to change," she says.
When a customer logs in, he or she sees a "personal balance sheet" — a summary of all assets at EverBank and other financial institutions (at least, for all products and accounts the customer has linked to the account), including credit cards, 401(k) plans, loans and even airline reward programs. All banking, bill payment, foreign currency denominated accounts (one of the bank's specialty products) and brokerage activities can be accessed from here.
The site automatically categorizes purchases and other financial activities for budget purposes. The customer can also modify categories and create subcategories.
Although some of the features of the revamped site are available through the vendors, one critical new tool developed by in-house programmers lets customers open a new account in about 20 seconds. "We wanted to leverage the vendors where building was less to our advantage," Dulle says. The account opening process is integrated with the bank's back office for straight-through processing. (In the future, the bank would like to build similar straight-through processes for wire transfers.)
"At any bank, opening an account is the hardest and most expensive thing," Trotter says. "In an online bank, the nature of self-service multiplies that issue. So to the extent that we can make it really easy for customers, it's worth a lot to us."
The project took a year to a year and a half from start to finish, Dulle says. About 20 IT staff were involved in some way, developing account opening pages, developing forms, changing marketing terms and conditions. "The number grows because of the waterfall of things that are impacted beyond just the site," she says.
Asked about security concerns of hosting all this customer data and providing it over the internet, Trotter says, "We do understand the security issues and we've satisfied ourselves that [our partners] are in a position to protect our customer data." In fact, he believes online services in some respects increase security, particularly for small businesses that tend to have lax financial management processes. "With an electronic interface, you see what happens and you immediately know where a transaction takes place," he notes.
Over the next year or so, the bank plans to incorporate more wealth management services into its offering. "We already have a strong position in global investing, we'll be adding more advice and wealth management components into it," Trotter says. "Some of those will include viewing multiple portfolios of advice and providing more planning tools. Many institutions take the approach of, just give me your money, we'll manage it. Our focus will be more on, let's assess where you are, what your goals are in life, your resources, then look at your investment portfolio and provide an opportunity to update that in small increments and progressively build a new financial picture."
The bank is working on a social media plan and a related web redesign that should be launched by the end of the year.
EverBank also provides mobile banking, including mobile access to the personal balance sheet and action and security alerts. In this area, "we like to be very much in front of the technology curve but we don't typically go bleeding edge," Trotter notes. "We like to have customers want the service. We're probably half a generation away from a pure mobile banking approach [for complete personal financial management]. The ipod/iphone/android starts us down the road, but it's a little behind where we need to be maybe two years from now. We look at that all the time strategically and try to understand usability, what's the right platform."
Over the next three to six months, EverBank will be gradually modifying the look and feel of its overall everbank.com site. "We'll look at how people use mobile services — despite the fact that this is on a PC, people are more and more taking a truncated view of life based on their mobile phone usage. So we're reacting and leading in that area."