Geezeo Personal Finance Manager (PFM)

The Concept

An online banking application that is both more engaging than anything else on the market, while still being approachable by the average customer.

The Plot

Geezeo had already taken a stab at a PFM application before I arrived and had implemented it with hundreds of banks and financial institutions across the country. It was marketed as — and functionally delivered — a white-labeled alternative to Mint.com. With that being said, while it mimicked much of what Mint could do, it fell short at delivering the vision that Geezeo’s founders had desired…a truly captivating banking platform. The was the idea from which the application was born: a banking experience that would tell its users the kind of things they couldn’t find themselves.

The Prose

PFM 1.0 had provided a foundation for what the platform could be. And Geezeo, much to their credit, had invested in studying the science behind all of the data to which they had access. It was just a matter of merging that data with really good UX and development teams to create a truly enriching product. There were some areas where we knew we could deliver a fresh look at personal finances.

First and foremost, there were no shortage of PFMs on the market where you could set up a budget or a goal. But goals and budgets, for the most part, lived in two separate universes. In reality, personal finances are way more nuanced. Spending too much on dining out this month might just have an impact on that vacation you’ve been saving up for, but unless the system is smart enough to tie the two together, you’re left to draw your own conclusions. We wanted to make a smarter PFM; one that knows overspending on something short term might very well affect something else long term. And we wanted our users to see the bigger, broader benefits of doing something small today. A perfect example: Buy coffee two fewer times per week and buy that new car two months sooner than expected.

Conversely, most PFMs could aggregate your expenses and tell you your spending for a month, but, aside from giving the user a heart attack, there’s not a ton a value in that. We wanted to form a narrative…the story of your finances. And part of that is who spends what, where and when. We called this “contextual PFM.” Transactions, if tagged correctly, can begin to tell a story…not only a breakdown of how you spend your money, but when and where and who. We found most users aggregate accounts for multiple family members, so by linking certain cards to certain people, we could start to carve out spending patterns for Mom, Dad or the kids. Who wouldn’t want to settle the age-old debate amongst couples of who spends more money on frivolous things?

The Story

I worked directly with executive leadership to rapidly iterate on the wireframes and visual design. Ultimately, the concept went through several versions, eventually becoming the foundation onto which their next generation application was built. User research became instrumental in shaping the journey and ultimately validated the viability of the application. We presented the concept to clients at the annual company meeting, to great fanfare.

My Role

I was responsible for journey mapping, wireframing, visual design, prototyping and presenting this application.