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It is the end of the dashboard as we know it...

Illustration of a phone on purple background showing a robot talking

In the past decade, we have seen dashboards become very popular. No wonder. We have so much data, we have the tools to visualize them, and it is easier to understand graphs compared to tables filled with numbers.

One area we have seen this development is in apps that give you an overview of your finances. Such apps are called Personal Financial Management apps or PFM for short. There are hundreds of PFM apps and some banks have followed suit and introduced their own solutions. In essence, most PFM apps take the financial data (salaries, purchases, savings etc.) and visualize it for you. For instance, some PFM apps figure out what you bought and shows you how much you have spent on entertainment, groceries, gas, electricity etc. All this information is shown to the user via graphs and colorful charts in dashboards. 

Dashboards have been a great way of providing an overview of one’s financials. But will it be good enough in a few years? There are two reasons for why dashboards might not survive in their current form. 

  1. Customers wanted to gain an overview of their finances, but it was time-consuming to manually gather all the info, perhaps download it in excel, and get an overview. Hence, dashboards. However, it seems that the customers don’t want to just get an overview. They want to understand and draw insights regarding what they can do to improve their financial situation, when to save, how much to save, how to reduce their costs etc. A dashboard presents you with a lot of information, but it is up to the user to make sense of it, figure out how much they can save, how much they should save, where to save and so on. Furthermore, dashboards show so much data that users drown in them. Thus, dashboards become an obstacle for users who are not financially savvy enough to draw insights from the data. In short, dashboards might not address the customer job of most users who seek actionable advice.
  2. Dashboards are better when you have a larger screen, perhaps even a large monitor. However, we use mobile phones far more now. Squeezing in a dashboard into a mobile screen size is just not optimal. Furthermore, as a user, you have to go the dashboard, view it, and note what has changed. However, we are getting more accustomed to receiving notifications informing us when something has changed and what changes have occurred, i.e., we want to see the info when it is relevant. 

With these changes gradually taking place, one might say that it is the end of dashboards as we know them. So, what is the path forward? PFM solutions of the future will probably have dashboards, but the focus will be on providing insights and actions to customers. The PFM solution of the future will analyze the data to proactively determine when to send what suggestion to which user in order to help them achieve a specific purpose. Think like a notification or like an Instagram story. They will focus on making customers feel that they have a fully dedicated and personal financial coach or advisor in their pockets. If this holds true, what technical challenges will we encounter in delivering such solutions? Will it be mostly UX, scalability, how to technically leverage human knowledge into ML, big data processing, speed, or all the above?

So, what do we generally do at SEB? White label a solution, partner up with a fintech company, invest in a third-party company, or build our own solution? All of the above. It depends on which solution is best for us and our customers. In this specific case of PFM, we do not play catch-up with the many fintech companies that focus on such solutions. Why not? Because we are not imitators, we are innovators and we gain more by using our strengths, such as customer base, data, and developers, to develop a solution that is future-proof. 

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