The recession's hastened vendor consolidation and awakened entire generations of worried consumers who want real-time automated info on their finances. Don't blame Intuit if that confluence has the firm licking its chops.

By offering Intuit's FinanceWorks personal finance management (PFM) software, Metavante's opened up a potential buffet of users filled with financial services clients of Metavante, Digital Insight - which has offered Metavante's bill payment software for years and was bought by Intuit in 2007, and Fidelity National - which is in the midst of buying Metavante. Metavante's not announced any clients that are presently using FinanceWorks, which was launched by Intuit in September and is based on Intuit's widely used Quicken software. But stay tuned. Ron Shevlin, a senior analyst at Aite Group LLC, says the deal gives "incredible distribution" to Intuit's FinanceWorks, adding Fidelity and Metavante's reach to that of Digital Insight.

It should also make FinanceWorks a strong competitor to Wells Fargo- which has developed its own application that's available though the bank's online banking service; and Wesabe and Geezeo, which are pushing online PFM tools independently and through banks.

"The demand we're seeing from the financial institutions is around managing finances," says Jeff Lewis, president of Metavante's ePayment solutions unit. "It is more of a generation that is saying, 'I need to understand basic budgeting. I need to start planning.'" People of all ages want to manage their money online, Lewis says.

"The 20- to 30-year-olds that are beginning to build wealth have been more indoctrinated into saving, making sure you put money aside, those sort of things," and they prefer to use the online channel, he says. Lewis also says "50-and-older" customers may not bank online, but are now using the Internet to keep track of their retirement accounts. These customers are turning to online tools that "give them more of a real-time view of the world than a monthly statement."

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