With Intuit's pending acquisition of Mint, the combination of Mint and Quicken Online will give the software giant control of 80% of the market for online personal finance management Web sites. With banks and so-called PFM sites fighting to gain supremacy, this move challenges banks to make a move — and fast. The grace period for banks to roll out a successful online PFM tool is closing. Intuit's aggressive move in the PFM space creates a sense of urgency for financial institutions to establish themselves in the marketplace.

Javelin finds that, though banks have powerful advantages over software and online PFM sites, they will lose ground unless they capitalize on their strengths soon. Mint's success is a direct threat to banks as they seek to attract Gen Y customers — customers banks must target members of this segment while they are forming their financial habits. Gen Y members have a propensity to use PFM tools, so it is imperative that banks develop a comprehensive, solid relationship with them before they mature financially. While Bank of America and Quicken Online are the front-runners in PFM use — touting equally large user bases, according to a Javelin survey of more than 2,000 consumers in August — Mint has the Gen Y support to dominate the future PFM market.

Banks still have two clear advantages over their nonbank rivals.

Advantage No. 1: Consumers trust banks more — way more. When it comes to securing banking secrets, consumers trust banks more than PFM Web sites by a whopping 2-to-1 margin. However, as more people use PFM Web sites and have positive, successful experiences with Web site security, the perception that banks offer superior security practices will weaken — and it's unlikely this trust advantage could ever be rebuilt. Banks must capitalize on this loyalty while consumers still see the value and difference in bank security.

Advantage No. 2: Banks are where customers go to manage their money. With the majority of consumers logging online to monitor their accounts weekly — and one out of three do so daily — it is easier for consumers to manage their finances as they conduct their traditional online banking. Banks are in the unique position to provide a portal where customers can monitor and manage their money. They must leverage their stronghold and give consumers a viable PFM option before they seek one out elsewhere.

Today most banks and online banking vendors are offering up PFM Lite. They must quickly evolve to PFM Deluxe built on the foundation of aggregating the customers' accounts from all institutions so they can see their entire financial picture. This is a major hurdle for most banks. PFM Web sites and PFM software already offer this service. If banks fail to accommodate consumers' need to view their accounts in one place, consumers will look elsewhere.

More than six out of 10 consumers say the most important feature of their current money management system is the ability to see all their accounts and transactions in one place. Above all else, consumers want PFM tools that will let them see their accounts in one place, with real-time balances so they know how much spending money they have available.

One truth keeps surfacing during Javelin's years of research: Consumers want fewer financial relationships and to simplify their financial chores. Banks must capitalize on this desire.

It is to banks' benefit to be their customers' go-to site. Aggregation can help banks build assets and deposits by identifying and attracting accounts and loans held elsewhere. PFM could serve as a killer app that spurs interest in mobile banking. And PFM tools can drive usage and cement customer relationships. Almost half of consumers say they would be more likely to remain customers if their bank offered PFM tools. This impulse is even stronger with Gen Y.

Global recession has heightened the consumers' desire for greater control of their finances — and that's driving a need for PFM tools. One out of four consumers prefers to use some sort of personal financial management tool, whether that be software or PFM tools from banks or nonbank Web sites.

Banks must integrate PFM into the online experience — giving customers a complete dashboard view right from the login, rather than relegating it to a Web site tab.