Planwise makes working on personal finance software look fun.
The San Francisco firm's "About Us" page shows photos of the team gazing at one another in the style of "The Brady Bunch's" opening credits, hinting at Planwise's playful sensibilities. "It shows we're a team," says Niall Wells, who helps helm the company.
The design move is also fitting in that this personal finance management (PFM) product aims to emphasize the human side of finance.
"Planwise is less about a budget and how an accountant would talk, and more about how people think on the street about money," says Wells, CFO, COO and business development executive.
The company, which officially launched in late 2012, lets people model their finances - anonymously.
In recent weeks, the early-stage company started its participation in the Yodlee Incubator program to build out its product. By-mid year, Planwise's app will include a feature that lets users link in their banking accounts. [http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/178_30/planwise-participates-in-yodlee-incubator-program-1056697-1.html]
The current Planwise experience works like this: After tapping in a few data points like monthly income, estimated expenses, and financial goals, like "go to Maui," a person will see a visual chart of how he's tracking toward accomplishing his objective as well as receive important alerts and suggestions on how he might do better. ("You will run out of money on 10 June 2013" or "you could earn $35 cashback from Perkstreet over the next seven months" are two examples.) Consumers can choose to save their plans.
"What we're ultimately trying to do is provide technology that helps people take control of their personal economy," says Wells.
Planwise is the brainchild of Vincent Turner, who previously ran a lending startup in Australia. Turner came to America in late 2010, a time when the country was at the bottom of the housing trough, with foreclosures affecting upwards of one million people. "My internal monologue was 'Do you think any of those 1.4 million people [care] what interest rate they got on their home loan now?' writes Turner to BTN. "People needed more help with the transaction of buying a home, rather than the product the bank sells them to make it happen."
Then, in mid-2011, a Planwise prototype was born to help people understand how their purchases impact their longer-term plans. "We figure this is what really matters to people -- making good decisions, being confident in them, being able to live with them," says Turner.
These days, the company of eight, which operates from an office space it shares with a personal fitness startup and a dog, is pursuing partnerships with financial institutions, employers and realtors to help grow its business.
Billy Robins, vice president, personal financial management, product development at Wells Fargo and mentor to Planwise, praises the team for their can-do attitudes and sharp minds. "They are good at understanding the problem but humble enough to incorporate feedback," he says.
Robins also touts the startup for its mission: "The tag line — personal finance decision tool — is spot on." In his view, shared by others, the industry must move beyond the Quicken idea of budgeting and provide people with tools that help them think about their financial futures.
"It's about where you are trying to get," says Robins. "I love that this is what Planwise is all about: how do you make plans and succeed with them."