Though he argued he could brew up some vague definition like "a collection of digital tools that provide users with ongoing and predictive access to financial position and state," he says those words are fairly empty because the definition depends on who is using the technology.
For the wealthy, the tool might mean tracking investments in annuities until they cough up enough to pay for a yacht, while for a college student living out of a Crock-Pot, it might mean ways that save him from a $30-something overdraft fee, he illustrated.
"It's up to the user to define," Jegher says.
I whole-heartedly agree and would add that the user might not even consciously define the category either and that's just fine, too.
Sure, PFM evokes images of account aggregation, automatic categorization, spending pie charts for many a financier; but this banktress has come to believe the category to also include reduce-fee suggestions, account alerts, and any financial insights delivered to me as all pieces of PFM.
So on my quest to find meaning in PFM, this is what I'm deciding: like love, PFM is up to the consumer to decide. For one person, it will be a "you are out of control" alert to a mobile phone. To another, the service will mean "let me tag my transactions while at the point of sale." To a third, it will suggest, "I know what my spouse is up to." Each of those interpretations is right. And that's a good thing. Suddenly, adoption rates don't look so pathetic or my journey to define the term, meaningless.
As the category of PFM matures, and it will, expect more customization — and definitions — to come. Even the government is working out ways to help deliver the goods.