Steve Shaw's line, "While Fiserv does have integrated PFM solutions, I will not be showing pie charts in this demo today," was greeted by hearty laughs by the audience of the Finovate conference in New York in September.

Shaw, director of strategic marketing for Fiserv, was poking fun at the endless stream of seemingly requisite pie charts presented by so many of the personal financial management applications touted by his fellow presenters. (Finovate gives each online financial service vendor seven minutes to demo their product from the stage.) He was right: there sure were plenty of pie charts that day, some from a couple of interesting new PFM plays, including SmartyPig, BackBase, TILE Financial, MoneyStrands, and SimpliFi.

The pink pachyderm in the room, unacknowledged by either company's presenter, was Intuit's elephantine $170 million deal to acquire Mint.com. With Intuit's Quicken base, the combined company will cover nearly 80 percent of the online PFM market, says Jim Van Dyke of Javelin Strategy & Research. The attraction is obvious: 60 percent of GenY consumers told Javelin, "The most important feature of their current money management system is the ability to see all their accounts and transactions in one place."

Some questioned what Intuit sees in Mint, opining that it's a reincarnation of the dot-com bloat. However, the beauty of Mint is its 360-degree presentation of a consumer's financial picture, aggregating information from myriad sources. Combined with Intuit's 2007 acquisition of Digital Insight, which brings transactional online banking to thousands of middle-market client banks, the potential is intriguing. Intuit's ownership of both could allow it to drive innovative transactional PFM tools into the online banking world. As a partner and competitor to banks, Intuit is now uniquely positioned to "hav[e] both the carrot and the stick," Van Dyke says.

And Intuit's not the only bank vendor that thinks PFM is hot. Bloomberg anonymously reported recently that Microsoft and Citi have invested $5 million so far in a PFM venture to be called "Bundle," in an effort to compete with Mint. And then there's the iPhone, with more than 1,000 PFM apps available for download, early adopters have access to a dizzying array of new tools for managing their finances.

The newly created Mintuit, and a Citisoft partnership, forecast transactional PFM tools as the hotbed of innovation in the retail banking space for the next year or so. A handful of banks, including Wells Fargo and PNC, have made investments in what's being called "PFM Lite," but they're the minority. If your bank doesn't have a plan to integrate a PFM tool into online banking, it's time to get on the bandwagon. Your customers are clamoring for all those pie charts.

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