3 New Finance Services For Your Financial Planning

Financial planning and financial advisory services were always reserved for the rich or they were too expensive to justify.

With the internet, the web, and mobility this is changing. Some companies have developed technology and business formats that enable the distribution of professional, one-on-one advice at a fraction of the cost of traditional services.

There are different levels of service depending on your needs. You can choose more sophisticated dedicated advice or you can use question and answer databases and then hire a professional if needed.

No matter what your financial planning needs one of these services will have the solution for you:

NerdWallet – Ask An Advisor:

NerdWallet - Ask an Advisor >>>
NerdWallet – Ask an Advisor >>>

When you need a specific answer to a particular financial issue this free service provides the solution. It consists of enabling users to ask specific financial planning questions like “do I need to set up a trust?” or “how do I calculate my retirement cash-flow?”. NerdWallet then uses its directory of Certified Financial Planners and has them answer the questions that are subsequently posted on their site. The company filters and curates the answers for accuracy and relevance. Since they have thousands of answered questions they have created a knowledge center where users can search for questions and answers and maybe find the right ones for them. If users want to actually contact the advisers to continue talking or eventually hire them, NerdWallet provides that service as well.

LearnVest:

LearnVest - Certified Financial Planners >>>
LearnVest – Certified Financial Planners >>>

On this platform you contact a LearnVest Certified Financial Planner directly. Their system is based on programs that solve different aspects of your personal finances like starting and managing an investment portfolio, plans for paying down debt, or income and expense budgeting. Their service is priced for these programs and they all have a amonthly subscription of $19 as well as a set-up fee that ranges from $89 to $399 depending on the type of plan.  This service is perfect if you need to solve specific aspects of your finances and you want personalized advice with a disciplined process to implement it.

Personal Capital:

Personal Capital - Financial Advisers >>>
Personal Capital – Financial Advisers >>>

If your finances have a higher level of complexity and you also need professional, ongoing, investment advice, then Personal Capital is perfect for you. For 0.90% a year they plan and manage your portfolio and you establish a relationship with a Certified Financial Planner that is also available when you need to talk about your money. Their service starts with a dashboard where you can link all your financial accounts so they can be tracked in one place. Then you open an investment account that will be managed by Personal Capital according to your needs. Their technology platform enables you to access your finances whenever you want, move money from anywhere to anywhere, and contact your adviser so you can both work on your dashboard in real time.

Conclusion:

Now there is no reason to go through the difficult task of managing your money on your own. Either for free or for a low cost there are different services available that provide solutions for a wide range of financial planning needs.

These new finance services are providing access to nearly everyone who has a computer or mobile device to a whole new world of sophisticated solutions that were only available to the rich.

Jesse Mecham Helps YNAB Users Learn And Budget With Courses And Support

Jesse Mecham about YNAB >>>
Jesse Mecham about YNAB >>>

It all started in 2003 when Jesse was going to get married and he realized him and his then future wife, Julie, were going to be broke. To solve this he decided to create a budget on a spreadsheet that worked very well to bring discipline to the financial side of his affairs.

Jesse and Julie are happily married today, but also, that original budget on a spreadsheet is now YNAB. Originally called “You Need A Budget”, YNAB is a unique way of providing a service. It not only includes a budgeting app, but also the education, advice, and training necessary to learn how to budget and then use YNAB to its fullest benefit.

In this interview Jesse Mecham, founder and CEO of YNAB, talks about the origins of YNAB and how the service works:

Check out the YNAB Channel on Newfination >>>
or
Ask a question to the community and either me, a new finance company, or any member of Newfination will certainly help you! >>>

 

Demo: How To Build Your Own Motif On Motif Investing By Hardeep Walia

Demo: Build A Motif by Hardeep Walia >>>
Demo: Build A Motif by Hardeep Walia >>>

Motif Investing is a new finance online investment service. The company and its community create portfolios with up to thirty stocks called Motifs that represent specific investment ideas. Investors can buy whole portfolios in one trade for only $9.95.

In this video Hardeep Walia, co-founder and CEO of Motif Investing, explains how the service works and how to build your own Motifs:

Motif Investing Review – What Is Motif Investing?

If investing in ideas is the best strategy then invest with Motif Investing:

Motif Investing >>>
Motif Investing >>>

Motif Investing is an online investment service. The company and its community create portfolios with up to thirty stocks called Motifs that represent specific investment ideas. Investors can buy whole portfolios in one trade for only $9.95. You can open an account by going to MotifInvesting.com

Overview:

Did you ever notice that you always have good investment ideas, but you usually buy the wrong stocks? If this is the case don’t worry because the majority of us are in the same situation!

Fortunately Hardeep Walia co-founder and CEO of Motif Investing is doing something about it. Through Motif Investing he enables investors to buy groups of stocks that will perform according to specific investment ideas like “clean technology”, “internet in china”, or “investing in a rising interest rate environment”.

Like any investment service or online broker, everything starts by registering on their website. First you enter your profile and “know your customer” information, and then fund your account to start investing. Before funding your account you can browse their catalog of Motifs and participate in their community to get a flair of how everything works.

Catalog of Motifs >>>
Catalog of Motifs >>>

Motif Investing is for the “do it yourself” investor in the sense that we have to make our own investment decisions. The difference is we are not alone. Part of the work is done for us since the company and the community create Motifs we can invest in. Also, there is a dynamic social network that shares and comments about the Motifs and investment ideas in general.

This is a description of the different features of the service:

It is a Finra registered broker dealer: The company is a broker dealer that complies with state and national SEC rules and regulations. Finra is the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the self-regulatory body that oversees all broker dealers in the US.

It is a social investment network: Investors, financial advisers, and Motif Investing staff participate in a Facebook-like social network where they comment and share about specific Motifs or idea investing in general. You can decide to invite your friends and in the privacy section filter who can see your investment activity or ideas. There are three levels of sharing; with the entire Motif community, with your friends, or with smaller circles of people you select.

The Motif Catalog: Like I wrote above, Motifs are up to 30 stock portfolios created by the company and the community. The catalog is where you can go to browse motifs, check their performance, see which stocks they have, comment, and decide whether to buy them with the click of a button. There are hundreds of Motifs and the catalog is very well organized and easy to use, with smart filters by idea, stocks, and other useful parameters.

Build your own Motifs:

Build Your Own Motifs >>>
Build Your Own Motifs >>>

Because the community also creates Motifs, in this section you can build your own portfolios. You start by naming your idea, selecting which stocks you want to include in your Motif, and then group them by categories. You can add an image so it is easy to identify and after that you just decide how much you want to invest and press the buy button. Like any Motif, for $9.95 you will buy all the stocks in the portfolio you created. If you want to share your idea you can select for the community to have access to your Motif in the catalog.

Account view and portfolio management: It is great to be able to explore Motifs and very easily invest in ideas, but some flexibility to adjust them to our preferences is also desirable. For this the account view is separated by Motifs and by stocks and you can analyze the asset allocation in your entire portfolio and other measures. This feature then lets you increase or decrease your holdings in specific stocks and even buy or sell stocks independently for $4.95 per trade.

Get paid! Since the Motifs you create can be shared and bought by other investors, why not get paid for it? The company is seeking approval from regulators so they can pay Motif builders each time someone buys their Motifs. This is a great way of moving the investment world into the share economy. Also, the company is going to enable “copy trading” which is the ability to set parts of your portfolio to copy what investors you like do on their own accounts.

Investment advisers: The platform is open for registered investment advisers (RIAs). They can setup client accounts and get compensated for referring new customers and investing their portfolios. In the near future these pros will also be able to promote their Motifs so they will be compensated when the community invests in them as well.

Conclusion:

Motif Investing is an excellent new finance company that can help you invest in ideas rather than the old stock picking strategy that has brought so many headaches to investors for so long. For the ”do it your self” investor Motif Investing is a great place to open an account, talk to other investors, and invest in ideas that are proving to be the smarter investment strategy.

Demo: Hardeep Walia Shows How Motif Investing Works And The “Build Your Own Motif” Service:

The Ripple Network Review – What Is Ripple?

Ripple.com >>>
Ripple.com >>>

The Ripple Network is a global open payments system that works with all currencies. It also contains its own embedded digital currency called ripple identified with the foreign exchange symbol XRP.

Everybody in the world, from individuals, businesses, financial institutions, to central banks, and governments, can connect to the network to send, receive, buy, and sell any currency . You can learn more about the network by going to Ripple.com.

OpenCoin Inc. is a San Francisco based start-up founded by some of the original members of the bitcoin community. Under the same principles of openness and decentralization of bitcoin they decided to build The Ripple Network as an open source software. The company is a private entity that has three functions in the network; to continue development of the source code, to promote the adoption of the network, and to distribute evenly the original ripple currency around the world.

The ripple digital currency (XRP) was issued from the start and there are XRP 100 billion. Of this the company is in the process of distributing 80% so it is in the public domain for normal transactional use. 20% is staying in their possession as compensation and to finance the company’s future growth.

The main distinction between bitcoin and ripple is that bitcoin is a digital currency supported by a network so it can be transacted and stored between participants. In the case of ripple, it is a network that supports all currencies, including bitcoin, that cointains a digital currency to facilitate its operation.

The Ripple Network’s 3 functions:

It is a global payments system: As a multi-currency network it enables the instant transfer of all currencies from anywhere to anywhere for virtually no cost. Individuals, merchants, banks, and any entity connected to ripple can send and receive money from and to anybody directly with no intermediation.

It is a currency exchange: Since the network supports all currencies it has a currency exchange mechanism to enable multi-currency transfers. Among the participants on the exchange there are currency traders and banks that place bids and offers to buy and sell currencies. When a transfer is initiated in one currency to be delivered in another one, the system automatically executes the exchange at the best rate in the network.

It contains a digital currency: To facilitate the flow of money in the system it contains a native currency, XRP, that can be used to transfer money in different denominations within the network. Also, like any other currency, it is a value reserve, a unit of account, and a medium of exchange.

Ripple Live Network Graph >>>
Ripple Live Network Graph >>>

Who is it for?

Individuals: On ripple consumers can have their digital wallets. The wallets support all currencies. Individuals can use their wallets to trade currencies or buy them as an investment. Anyone with a wallet can buy goods and services from merchants enrolled in the system.

Merchants: Since consumers can use their ripple wallets to pay for things, merchants can use the network to sell globally and have the ability to get paid in any currency.

Financial institutions: Ripple can be used by banks as their “back end” technology to move money around the world at virtually no cost. Banks and other entities can also use it to place bids and offers to trade currencies.

And how can I use it?

The whole network is still in “beta” which means it is still being adjusted for bugs and user experience. It will eventually host many services like wallets, payments, trading, lending, money management, etc.

OpenCoin created the Ripple.com website to inform the public and developers about the network, to distribute the XRP currency, and to provide the basic version of the Ripple Wallet.

Newfination's Ripple wallet >>>
Newfination’s Ripple wallet >>>

The Ripple Wallet is like a web based email service, but with the functionality of keeping track of balances and sending and receiving all currencies. This includes the ability to buy and store XRP.

To get a Ripple Wallet you need to go here: https://ripple.com/client/#/register.

It is important to note that for security reasons only users control their passwords and secret keys to manage their wallets and the money in it. If you open a wallet, buy currencies, and then lose your pass phrase and secret key you WILL NOT be able to recover them and WILL LOSE your money.

This last issue is not intrinsic to the network, as new companies enter the scene offering new services, password recovery and secret key management will get much easier and more like regular banking services.

Virtually free or free?

To move money in the network is free in the sense that nobody, even OpenCoin, charges anything to transfer money around the world. But there is a minimal cost to protect the network from denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) which have plagued the bitcoin network since the beginning.

This cost is 100.000th of a ripple every time there is a transfer. This means that when there is a transaction XRP 0.00001 is charged to that transaction to prevent these attacks. But don’t worry, it will take thousands of years for ripples to disappear with this mechanism!

Disclaimer: the explanation and opinions expressed here are mine and do not represent the opinions of OpenCoin, Patrick Griffin, or any member of the Ripple community. My mission is to inform the public about new-finance services and technologies and I find The Ripple Network worth of exploration and adoption especially for savvy users. I hold a Ripple Wallet with 2500 XRP shown above. My holdings are roughly worth $10.50 at current market prices

Carrie Sloan Keeps LearnVest Community Financially Fit With Knowledge Center And Money Bootcamps

Carrie Sloan, Editor in Chief of LearnVest >>>
Carrie Sloan, Editor in Chief of LearnVest >>>

LearnVest is a great platform for people to plan and manage their money. Their services are divided in a Money Center, where you can link your accounts and use their budgeting tools, a Certified Financial Planner advisory service, where you can hire a LearnVest professional to help you with your finances and investments, and an integrated editorial section with news, education, and advice about money management.

Carrie Sloan is LearnVest’s Editor in Chief and she is in charge of the huge editorial effort that includes managing a community of specialized writers, her own staff, and the users who not only interact with LearnVest on a daily basis, but may also be featured and contribute with their personal experiences and testimonials.

In this interview Carrie talks about the LearnVest platform, the Learning Center, the Life & Money section, and the LearnVest Bootcamps:

Check out the LearnVest Channel on Newfination >>>
or
Ask a question to the community and either me, a new finance company, or any member of Newfination will certainly help you! >>>

 

StockTwits Review – The Twitter Of Stock Investing, Only Better

StockTwits - Just ask what's going on and you'll get an answer in seconds >>>
StockTwits – Just ask what’s going on and you’ll get an answer in seconds >>>

StockTwits is a short messaging social network just like Twitter, but totally adapted to the needs of stock investors and traders to manage the minute by minute flow of stock market information. To use it you need to go to StockTwits.com or download the app on the Apple App Store or the Google Play store for Android devices.

Of stock investors, for stock investor, by stock investors:

I had the opportunity to interview Howard Lindzon, founder and CEO of StockTwits, also, did a video with Chris Corriveau, Chief Technology Officer of the company, and visited their Coronado, California offices to talk to Justin Paterno, Head of Product, and they all share the same passion for the stock market, technology, and the free flow of information to democratize stock trading and investing.

With this expertise and dedication behind it it’s no surprise StockTwits is the go-to platform for anyone who needs to know what is going on in the markets and why a specific stock is moving. Like what happens with Twitter and the news networks, on StockTwits the information is there first because the traders and investors themselves are the ones exchanging messages about individual stocks news, events, and rumors.

Even if you were late to learn about something the StockTwits community is very supportive of the information distribution concept. Several times I have gone to the specific message stream of a stock to ask a question, late after the fact, like “why is $XYZ stock up so much today?” to have a fellow StockTwitter answer in a matter of seconds “RJ upgrade” meaning “the stock is up because the Raymond James analyst upgraded the stock”.

This kind of community engagement and its customized information and sentiment tools are the reasons why the platform now counts with more than 250.000 registered members who interact on the platform globally 24/7/365.

Which are the information and sentiment tools that make StockTwits so attractive?

The core feature of the platform is a non-stop stream of 140 character messages about stocks and on top of it a series of analytic and sentiment screens that help investors and traders understand the “color of the market” like they say on Wall Street. This is the list of tools and their descriptions:

Streams: There is an “ALL” message stream that is the sum of all ideas being shared on the platform. This one can get very active during market hours, but it’s where users can see what’s going on everywhere. Then there is a second level where users can select to see all the messages for a specific stock or for a specific trader or investor they wish to follow.

Cash-Tags: This is the functionality by which it is possible to tag a message to be shown on the stream of a specific stock or to search for all the messages of that stock. It is like the Twitter hash-tag, but instead of using the # symbol the $ symbol is used before any stock ticker: e.g. if Apple’s stock ticker is AAPL then to go to the AAPL stream, or to tag a message to be posted on that stream, a user must type $AAPL.

Follow users and follow stocks: Like on Twitter it is possible to follow other users and to be followed too, but what is very useful for traders and investors is to follow the message streams of specific stocks. If a user selects to follow the stream of $IBM for example, all the messages posted by the whole community about IBM will be shown on his private stream.

Charts and Videos: On Twitter users attach photos of their cats and videos about their vacations, but on StockTwits that functionality is customized to attach charts and technical analysis and the video feature lets users record up to 5 minute videos where they share their screens with stock analysis and opinions. All the message streams have a filter where users can view only messages with charts or only with video making it very easy to find all the analysis shared by amateurs and pros alike.

Trending: Always at the top of every screen there is a bar with all the symbols of stocks organized by the volume in their message streams. This is useful to see what are the stocks with more activity and thus know where the action is.

Signals: This is where the market sentiment can be measured. In this section there is a heat-map that shows all stocks mentioned on the platform on one graph organized by message volume and % price variation like in the image below. The box size indicates the message volume for that stock and the color and the brightness indicate the direction and % variation.

StockTwits Social Stock Heatmap

Also, there is an “Unusual Social Volume” per stock section that shows the increase and decrease in message volume per stock:

Unusual Stock Volume On StockTwits

And, finally, it is possible to see who on the platform is gaining popularity by measuring how many new users are following him or her:

StockTwits Signals Top Trending People

Conclusion:

StockTwits is an up to the second information platform that is even faster than the specialized news services in terms of internal market information, rumors, and opinion. Other platforms like Twitter don’t have the analytics and sentiment tools that make it so attractive making StockTwits the best short messaging social network for the stock market.

Mint.com vs Manilla.com vs Check Review – What Is The Difference?

Millions of people are thinking of using the web or mobile apps of Mint, Manilla, or Check to manage their money, personal finance, or household bills and statements. At the same time, millions are already using them, but the question everybody asks is: What is the difference between Mint, Manilla, and Check?

This is obviously important to know before we start managing our money or organizing our life with these products. But for those who are already using them it’s also key to understand what the others offer that the ones we have don’t. We might be missing out on some great features we need vs some features that are not useful for our style.

How do they compare?

This chart shows which features each service offers. The ones that are highlighted are the unique features of each service.

Mint vs Manilla vs Check - Comparison >>>

And what does this mean for me?

As shown on the image above to do this comparison it is important to know which are the key functions to manage our finances on a day to day basis and which ones we will actually perform. This is the list of those functions and their descriptions:

Track our account balances and activity: All three services provide this feature. It is the process of going to our financial providers’ websites or apps and checking the balances of our accounts after income and expenses are deducted. Also, checking and verifying the list of transactions in our accounts sorted by date, payee, and amounts. Nearly everybody needs and does this on a regular basis. These services provide a convenient way to do this all in one place by entering our providers’ id’s and passwords so we can link everything on their platforms.

Budgeting: This is one of the functions that differentiates these services and us as users. The only one that offers it is Mint. It consists of making a list of income and expense categories and calculating how much they will be in the future. This budgeting feature is very useful and it is offered along with other capabilities like financial goal setting, personal financial reports, and the ability to categorize each transaction. This is only valuable if you like to project and plan your finances, if not it might only cause some clutter and confusion in your account management.

Filing: The “Digital File Cabinet”, as I call it, is something we could all use, but not everyone needs or will use for lack of time or dedication. It consists of replacing all our paper bills and statements, including receipts and notices from our providers, with digital copies that are stored and organized by provider and category. Manilla is the master here, but Check also offers a good version, it’s like a DropBox or Google Drive, but for our financial and billing files.

Online bill payment: This is another of the key services that differentiates them. Check is the only one that offers it with great functionality, especially on their mobile apps. It is the ability to view and actually pay your bills on their web or mobile app. It is very well designed and easy to use and it connects your financial accounts with your payments so you can choose what to pay and from which account. In the case of Mint and Manilla you still need to go to your provider’s websites or apps to do this.

Move money: This is the ability to move money and Check is also the only one that offers it. The service is to send money to people you need to pay things to, but they don’t actually send bills. These might be home or local providers like the piano teacher or the rent.

Provider auto-login: This is available on the Check and Manilla “Account Detail Page” for each provider you link with them. It’s the ability to connect with your providers’ websites or mobile apps directly from the Check or Manilla platforms. They provide this link where you don’t need to log in again to your provider’s site or app because you were already looking at your account information on their service.

Provider communication: Finally this is the third feature that differentiates these services and also our styles as users. It is only offered by Manilla and consists of when viewing the account detail page for any provider, you’ll see offers but only those for that provider (e.g., if you’re checking your AT&T account, you will only see AT&T offers for other AT&T products and services). That’s because providers can use that space to communicate custom offers to us. The key benefit here is we are not bombarded with multiple brand and irrelevant offers and providers can communicate privately with us with no clutter or advertising from other sources.

This last feature is important to note because the majority of new finance services want to dis-intermediate the relationship between us and our providers so they can handle our needs instead of them, but up to what point is that better for us? The majority of Manilla users actually say they prefer to keep in touch with their providers and they actually use their websites and download their apps more through Manilla. This is a key finding and a unique feature of Manilla’s service.

[Update – 7/31/2013 – I have spoken with Steve Schultz, COO of Check, and they will provide this service soon on their web and mobile apps too.]

So which one should I use?

– If you need to track your accounts and additionally project for the future and do your financial planning or even with the help of a pro then Mint is clearly the best option for this.

– If you want to track your finances, have a place to digitally store your bills and statements, but also maintain your relationship with your providers to manage your accounts with them then Manilla is the best option for you.

– If your solution is to link all your accounts, digitally store your bills and statements, and also be able to pay your bills then Check is your perfect match.

Demo: How TrustEgg Helps Us Start Trust Funds For Our Kids By Jeff Brice

Jeff Brice, Founder and CEO of TrustEgg >>>
Jeff Brice, Founder and CEO of TrustEgg >>>

There are many new finance services that let us open intelligent savings and checking accounts that help us budget and control our finances, but none actually helps us plan or save for our kids future. This is why Jeff Brice started TrustEgg, a place where we can easily start trust funds for each of our kids.

It all started a few years ago when this “recovering accountant” was trying to start a fund for his newly born niece, but couldn’t find an easy solution. Since then he has been studying state and national rules and regulations and finally started the online service at the beginning of this year.

In this video Jeff demos TrustEgg and explains how it works:

Manilla.com Review – What Is Manilla?

Manilla is a digital bills and statements organizer and online file cabinet. To use it you need to go to Manilla.com or download their mobile app on the Apple App Store or the Google Play store.

Manilla - Add Accounts >>>
Manilla – Add Accounts >>>

It is a very focused service with a unique business model which is why it is so attractive and is actually accelerating its user growth.  Since the company came out of beta in 2012, it has gained 500,000 customers, but they project to grow to 1.000.000 in just the next 6 months.

Manilla’s solution is to organize and actually replace all paper bills and statements we receive on a regular basis. The service has more than 3.500 statement and billing providers in its system including banks, insurance companies, brokers, electric utilities, phone services, rewards systems, and even daily deal services like Groupon and Living Social. With this amount of services it is difficult not to find your providers on their platform!

It all starts by linking all of your accounts on Manilla. You do this by entering the ID and password of all of your providers just like when you use their websites or apps. Once you do this you will have everything in one place on the Manilla dashboard. From then on you will be able to check your account balances and bills on their service using only one password and also your old paper statements will be eliminated and replaced by electronic files that will be stored digitally and organized for ever so you can have them handy and check them whenever you want.

This is Manilla’s introductory video:

The great difference between Manilla and Mint, Check, or any other account tracking and budgeting service is that Manilla is completely focused on organizing your life. It is the best in helping you manage and store all your paper statements, bills, alerts, and notices from all your providers and it doesn’t have a budgeting, goal setting, categorization, reports, or even a bill payment system.

The above is what makes Manilla so easy to use, focused, and satisfies the needs of a growing share of American households who don’t use such features to manage their money.

What they do provide, and this is also what makes them unique, is a full communications channel directly between you and your providers. This is, when you use Manilla to track a specific account you go to a special page where you can link and manage your relationship with that specific provider. This is like a private space where the brands can also send you messages or communicate important things free of clutter or advertising from other brands.

In a world where all new finance services are trying to dis-intermediate our relationships with our providers this is the most powerful feature of their service. It is so valuable that Manilla users are reporting much more engagement with their providers through Manilla and actually use their websites much more than before. So, in this sense, Manilla is really establishing a better connection between us and our providers which seems logical and beneficial for both sides.

Conclusion:

To summarize, on Manilla we link all of our accounts and providers in one place, eliminate all paper bills and statements, digitally file everything, enhance our communications with our providers, and therefore, significantly organize our lives!

In this interview with Newfination, Sarah Kaufman, Manilla’s Marketing Manager, explains how Manilla works:

Check Review – What is Check.me?

Check  >>>
Check >>>

Check is a full service bill payment and account tracking service. It can be used by going to Check.me, but their mobile apps for Apple and Android have the full functionality since the company is focused on their mobile strategy.

After an interview and a demo we did about the product with Steve Schultz, the company’s COO, I am very impressed with their capabilities and functionality. I have written about Mint.com having the potential of being the portal for the financial industry, but I can see how Check is a clear contender in this space too. Or maybe they will share the lead given that they satisfy the needs of two different types of consumers.

What impressed me about the service is not only its simplicity, but also the fact that you can organize your finances and actually do something about it. On Check you can have your financial accounts in one place, link your bills from all your providers, and pay and store your bills and receipts. It is also possible to make payments that are not regular bills like rent, piano teacher, or a donation to the local fire fighters.

This ability to pay and move money coupled with its impeccable user experience is the key of its success. The company will reach 10 million users soon and is already processing payments worth $2 million each day and growing at a 15% monthly rate.

This is Check’s introductory video:

Each of Check’s services are great solutions by themselves, but the way they work together is what makes them so effective. This is a description of each service:

Bill Payments:

It all starts by linking your accounts and bill providers. The way to do this is by entering your id’s and passwords for each service just like you would do when you log in to their websites or apps. This way you can have your checking accounts, credit cards, loans, investment accounts, utilities’ providers, cellphone, and other accounts and bills in one place and with one password.

Because you have your banking and payment accounts linked and also your billers the service is able to show you your bills when they are due, the amounts, the statement details, and then you can select which account you want to pay with.

Check has more than 18.000 financial providers and billers on its platform so it’s practically impossible your providers are not there.

Pay anyone:

This is the service that lets you pay items that are not regular bills. Here you can enter the email of anyone you need to pay to like a local, non recurring provider, your accountant, or the rent, and when they get the email they just click on the link to credit their money into their bank account.

I can see how this service may be extended in the future to make Check your full digital wallet in the future.

Account tracking:

Because you have all your financial accounts linked on their system, Check also provides a space for you to see your account balances and all your transactions by account.

It is interesting how, unlike Mint.com, Check decided not to include transaction categorization, budgeting, and goal setting in this section. This is because the majority of users manage their accounts by tracking their balances and activity, but few actually take the time to budget and set goals and financial objectives. This is quite a pragmatic approach and also makes the Check website and apps very simple to use.

Bills And Statements “File Cabinet”:

This is a digital storage service like DropBox or Google Drive, where you can store all the bills, statements, and receipts you get when you pay and manage your bills. This filing system is neatly organized by account and provider so you can finally get rid of your paper files!

Alerts:

Since you linked your accounts on Check they have the ability to analyze your balances, payment due dates, fees, and your financial behavior so they can alert you about key events and information about your money like when bills are due, if you are overdrawn in a bank account, if your debts are past due, or even if you exceeded a credit card limit. The company strives to produce alerts that are as smart and useful as possible.

“My Offers”:

In this section the service shows you offers from financial providers and other solutions for your finances according to your profile and your needs. The objective of Check is to recommend services that will ultimately save you time and money.

Please watch the demo we did with Check:

Conclusion:

Consumers are embracing cloud services and new finance technology like never before. Our computers and devices are more and more really terminals of the internet. Intelligent services like Check, that do the computing and storage for us, are what is being demanded. Also, since Check enables its users not only to see all of their accounts and bills in one place, but also to actually do things with them like pay and send money to others, it no doubt will be a brand ever more ubiquitous in American households, smartphones, and tablets.

Mint.com Review – What Is Mint?

Mint >>>
Mint >>>

Mint is an online financial account tracking and budgeting service. To use it you can go to Mint.com or download the app to your tablet or smartphone both from the Apple App Store or the Google Play store for android devices. 

It is a fantastic way to finally organize your income and spending and you can just track account by account or mark each transaction with a category to have a better understanding of how your money comes and goes.

It all starts with what is called “account aggregation”. This means that when you are on Mint (the web or the app) you will be able to link your accounts by entering your user id and password for each of your financial providers just like when you use their websites or apps.

For example if you have a Chase checking account, a Discover card, a Schwab investment account, and an IRA with your local bank, you just enter each one on Mint. After you do this you will see all your balances and account history on Mint just like you would see them by going to each provider’s website or app, but in this case everything in one place!

Imagine how powerful this is, now you can check your balances and transactions without logging in and out to multiple services. Additionally you can analyze your financial information using Mint’s tools like categorization, spending reports, income reports, and see the performance of your investments everywhere and not in each account separately.

This is Mint’s official introduction video:

When I say “it all starts by linking all of your accounts” it is because from there, with all that information, you can do all sorts of things to track your money and make better financial decisions. These are the different features of Mint:

Overview page:

On this page you get the first glimpse of your financial situation in a matter of seconds. Mint tells you your account balances separated by Cash, Credit Cards, Loans, Investments, and Properties. Then there is a central “activity stream” where the company posts messages, advice and alerts about your accounts and how to save money. They thought of everything so in the message stream they include alerts, advice, tell you when bills are due, your budget and financial goals messages, investment tips, and also what they call “Ways To Save” where they include a recommendation of a financial product that might benefit you based on your personal profile.

Transactions:

Like I wrote above, on Mint you can see every transaction on each account just like on your provider’s website. In this section you select which account detail you want to see. Also, you can categorize each transaction, for example you may mark a debit on your credit card as “Groceries” or another transaction on your checking account as “Utilities”, etc. Here you manage your transactions as you please, if you don’t want to categorize Mint marks each transaction with a general category system they use by default.

Budgets:

This is one of the best features of Mint for the more dedicated users. On this section you can create a budget to monitor your income and spending according to your plans. You can create lines just like you would on a piece of paper or on a spreadsheet. Budgeting is about the future so you can have income categories like “Salary”, “Reimbursements”, and “Consulting Fees”, and you can project month by month how much you think your income will be in each line. In the same way you can create spending lines like “Rent”, “Mortgage”, and “Entertainment”, and project your expenses.

Once you create your budget it is easy to compare on Mint how your real income and spending is doing relative to your budget over time.

Goals:

Similar to budgeting your financial goals are about the future. On this section of Mint you can easily select specific types of goals and establish amounts you wish to reach. The goals you can set range from paying down credit card debt or loans to establishing savings objectives like for an emergency fund, college, or a trip.

Once your financial goals are set Mint keeps you updated on the Overview page on how you are doing, if you are ahead or behind on the objectives you established.

Trends:

This section is all about visualizing your financials. Mint shows you your transactions organized by categories in donut charts (pie charts, but with a hole in the middle). This way you can monitor, for different time periods, your income and spending patterns. This is how it looks like:

Investments:

The investments section is a whole self contained part of your finances. Here you link all of your investment accounts including brokerage, mutual fund, online investment services, and retirement accounts. You can visualize and analyze everything in a consolidated manner. From realized and unrealized gains, tax impact, to dividends and capital gains, everything can be managed here.

“Ways To Save”:

This is what I call Mint’s financial supermarket. In this section Mint promotes offers from financial providers that match your banking, tax, credit, and investment profile. They categorize these services by Credit Cards, Savings Accounts, Checking Accounts, CD’s, Home Loans, Brokerage, Rollover 401k’s, IRA’s, Auto Insurance, Life Insurance, and even Credit Score services. If Mint identifies that you are missing a financial product on you profile or you could do better with a different provider you would find it here.

 

Conclusion:

As you can see Mint is a full service and integrated account tracking and budgeting service. They not only help you organize and visualize your finances so you can make better financial decisions, but they also identify opportunities for you to save money by using better suited products for your profile and by alerting you of your day to day and month to month financial events like paying your bills and reaching your financial goals.

In terms of privacy and security Mint is clear in their Terms of Service and Privacy Statement that they use top bank level security and encryption and they gather your financial information from your providers with your permission and it’s “one way” in the sense that through their application you or they can’t actually move money or pay bills, for that you would still use your providers’ websites and apps as usual.

Check out the Mint Channel on Newfination >>>
or
Ask Me Anything! >>>
or
Ask a question to the community and either me, a new finance company, or any member of Newfination will certainly help you! >>>

 

Kevin Pohmer Talks About Professional Asset Allocation For Every Investor With Financial Guard

Kevin Pohmer of Financial Guard >>>
Kevin Pohmer of Financial Guard >>>

There are more than $5 trillion in 401k and similar retirement accounts in America and according to Financial Guard 70% of that money is self-managed by future retirees. This is a problem since professionally managed accounts return 2 times what self-managed accounts do according to the information on their website FinancialGuard.com.

Kevin Pohmer, President of Financial Guard, tells me that the problem is financial advisers have a bias to only manage bigger accounts of wealthier clients since the fees they charge are usually a percentage of the assets they manage. This is why their service charges a flat fee of only $15.95 per month or $149.95 per year, it doesn’t matter what the account size is.

In this interview Kevin explains how Financial Guard is delivering professional money management advice to investors of all sizes and how the service works:

Check out the Financial Guard Channel on Newfination >>>
or
Ask Me Anything! >>>
or
Ask a question to the community and either me, a new finance company, or any member of Newfination will certainly help you! >>>

 

Ryan Schaffer Talks About Expenses, Bitcoin, And Invoices On Expensify

Ryan Schaffer, CMO of Expensify >>>
Ryan Schaffer, CMO of Expensify >>>

Like I have said before Expensify is one of the most innovative companies in the new finance space. Since I first discovered the service they have evolved significantly. At the beginning they were an expense app for people to mark their business expenses, upload receipts, and then send the reports to their employers so they would be reimbursed.

Now they provide this functionality plus users can enter their itineraries so the expenses of their business trips are managed automatically, expenses can be reimbursed in bitcoins, they included an invoicing module to charge clients for specific items, and they have a huge training center for employers and employees alike to learn how to use the platform.

In this interview Ryan Schaffer, Expensify’s CMO, talks about the company and its services:

Check out the Expensify Channel on Newfination >>>
or
Ask Me Anything! >>>
or
Ask a question to the community and either me, a new finance company, or any member of Newfination will certainly help you! >>>

 

Demo: Pay Bills And Track Your Finances On Check By Steve Schultz

Check - Demo  By Steve Schultz
Check – Demo By Steve Schultz

After this demo I can see how Check has the potential to be the portal to everything related to our money. Last week Steve Schultz, COO of Check Inc., and I had spoken about the app and its different features, but it is very different when you see it in action.

When using the iPhone app or the Android version you can:

1) Link and track all your financial accounts in one place.
2) Link and receive the bills of all of your providers (banking, credit cards, utilities, magazines, etc.).
3) Pay the bills.
4) Before you pay you can select from which account you want to pay.
5) Also, you can check the balance of all of your accounts before you pay so you can decide better which account to use.
6) You can pay people you owe money to that are not billers (like the rent or your piano teacher!).
7) If you don’t have a standard biller set up or you forgot the ID or password you can just enter the account number and pay.
8) Everything gets stored in the “file cabinet” which is a cloud service so no memory in your smartphone is used.
9) The file cabinet is completely organized by account, provider, statements, bills, original PDF files, and receipts.
10) Everything is in real time so when you pay you instantly see the debit in your account and the credit on your provider’s account balance.

Please watch the demo below and see for yourself:

Check out the Check Channel on Newfination >>>
or
Ask Me Anything! >>>
or
Ask a question to the community and either me, a new finance company, or any member of Newfination will certainly help you! >>>

 

The Argentine Bitcoin Foundation Is Promoting The Digital Currency In Latin America

Fundación Bitcoin Argentina >>>
Fundación Bitcoin Argentina >>>

In a tough political and monetary environment the Argentine tech community and entrepreneurs are not falling behind in the adoption and general advancement of Bitcoin. In fact the Fundación Bitcoin Argentina is gathering more participants in their bi-weekly meetup than the Bitcoin meetups in Silicon Valley!

In this interview Diego Gutiérrez Zaldivar and Rodolfo Andragnes, members of the foundation’s leadership team, talk about the digital currency in Argentina and their surrounding nations:

Rachel Fox: 16 Years Old, Hollywood Celebrity, Stock Trader, And StockTwits Member!

Rachel Fox - Fox On Stocks >>>
Rachel Fox – Fox On Stocks >>>

When I first saw Rachel Fox on a Yahoo! Finance video being interviewed by Jeff Macke I was obviously impressed by the fact that she was an actress, a stock trader, and only 16 years old, but what stroke me more was her knowledge of the market and stock trading jargon.

Not only does she have a career as an artist (acting and music) and a stock trader, but she also produces the Fox On Stocks YouTube channel with stock investment and trading education videos and the Fox On Stocks blog where she writes about her investment and trading perspectives.

I decided to invite her to the Newfination Live show to talk about her career as an actress, her stock trading strategies, the blog and the YouTube channel, but when we spoke about new finance services I was pleasantly surprised that she discovered StockTwits thanks to Newfination and is now a member of this fantastic stock market micro-blogging platform!

Please watch the video below:

This is the first video of an 8 episode series where Rachel explains stock investing and trading basics:

Visit Rachel’s Fox On Stocks blog >>>

Steve Schultz: Check Has Close To 9.000.000 Users And Is Processing $2.000.000 In Bill Payments Each Day

Check's COO Steve Schultz >>>
Check’s COO Steve Schultz >>>

When I started Newfination several months ago there were two 800 pound gorillas in the new finance sector: Yahoo! Finance and Mint.com. But slowly I started to discover other players that had very unique value propositions and also boasted interesting metrics in terms of users, downloads, and traffic. One of those services was Check, at that time called Pageonce, that claimed 5 million users and was promoting its relatively new bill payment system.

I use Check because of its accuracy in alerts and simplicity of use, but to my surprise Steve Schultz, COO of the company, told me today that I am one of nearly 9.000.000 users now and it is processing $2.000.000 a day in bill payments and growing at a 15% monthly rate. This is $60.000.000 in payments this month and I calculate $138.000.000 in monthly user bill payments by the end of 2013. Not bad!

In this video Steve talks about his background, the company’s history, growth, and explains how the service works:

Please visit the Check Channel on Newfination >>>

Jennifer Openshaw Explains How Finect Is Connecting Advisers, Investors, And Financial Providers

Jennifer Openshaw talks about Finect >>>
Jennifer Openshaw talks about Finect >>>

Jennifer Openshaw is an innovator and personality in the financial services industry. She has a long career in helping the public understand the industry and manage their money, she is a columnist for Marketwatch, she founded and sold the Women’s Financial Network, wrote two books, and now is President of Finect, a social networking platform for the financial advisory sector.

Finect is a social network that connects financial advisers, investors, mutual fund companies, and professionals related to customers’ finances like CPA’s, trustees, and lawyers, all in one place. But the advantage of the platform is not only its focus on these relationships, but also that it is totally compliant with rules and regulations that govern this sensitive segment of finance.

In this video Jennifer talks about the Finect platform, how it enhances adviser practices and customer relationships, and she explains how it is compliant with industry standards:

Sara Kaufman About Manilla’s 1 Million User Projection And New Email Integration Feature

Manilla's Sara Kaufman >>>
Manilla’s Sara Kaufman >>>

In the last few weeks Manilla has been communicating to the world several key aspects about the service and its users:

1) Manilla has now 500.000 users and they are experiencing a ramp up in user growth so their projections for the end of 2013 are 1.000.000 users.

2) Users are much more engaged with their providers when they organize and store their bills and statements on Manilla. Providers like banks, utilities, and subscription services report more visits from these clients and they are even downloading and using their mobile apps much more than before.

3) They are launching new features requested by their customers and in this case they launched an email integration service that makes it much easier for users to identify and link their accounts on the service.

These are huge advancements and innovations by a new finance service that is essentially changing the way people manage their bills and statements, a task that was entirely paper based and sometimes overwhelming now is turning digital and extremely simple on Manilla.

In this video Sara Kaufman, Editor In Chief of the Manilla Blog and Marketing Manager of Manilla, talks about these milestones and demos the new email integration service:

Sam Hodges Makes Business Loans Faster And Affordable With Endurance Lending Network

Sam Hodges of Endurance Lending Network >>>
Sam Hodges of Endurance Lending Network >>>

Many new finance companies are creating services that are 1000 times better than traditional financial services and at a fraction of the cost. Some examples are the budgeting services like Mint.com and Check or the technology based investment services like Motif Investing or Betterment.

But in the lending space not all of them have a value proposition that includes both dimensions of quality and cost. In fact some lending platforms are making it very easy and fast to get a loan, and this is 1000 times better than traditional players, but the cost to the borrower is not that significantly lower than traditional providers. It’s like the proposal is “instead of getting skimmed at the banks, let us skim you, but you will suffer less”.

But Sam Hodges is building a lending marketplace that brings all benefits of technology in financial services to investors and borrowers, in this case small business borrowers. The Endurance Lending Network is connecting investors and business borrowers and both are already getting much better rates than using the banks or even some of his new finance colleagues!

In this video Sam talks about Endurance Lending Network and how it works:

Mati Greenspan Explains How eToro Extended Stock Trading On The Social Trading Platform

Mati Greenspan Explains Stock Trading on eToro >>>
Mati Greenspan Explains Stock Trading on eToro >>>

eToro knows about social trading and even with more than 3 million users on their platform they are still very careful when rolling out new asset classes and securities. This time they have extended global stock trading from 6 companies to 40. The list of securities that can now be traded includes names like Google (GOOG), eBay (EBAY), Apple (AAPL), American Express (AXP), and earnings bellwether Alcoa (AA). They selected the companies based on requests from users of the social trading platform.

The art of rolling out new securities for trading on a social platform like eToro is all about maintaining social liquidity. Just like a stock or any security needs market liquidity – that is people willing to buy and sell at different prices at any time so there is a fluid market – on a social trading network it also needs social liquidity and that is people willing to chat about the security at all times so the conversation and the rhythm of the community is maintained.

In this video Mati Greenspan, Senior Financial Consultant at eToro, explains how stock trading works on their platform:

Check out the eToro Channel on Newfination >>>

Mitch Fox And Benny Joseph Explain How GoodApril Will Reduce Tax Season Anxiety

GoodApril's Benny Joseph and Mitch Fox with Newfination's Donald McIntyre >>>
GoodApril’s Benny Joseph and Mitch Fox with Newfination’s Donald McIntyre >>>

What we always do is to wait until April of each year to worry about our tax returns. Because of this, normally we don’t have a clue if we owe money to the government or if Uncle Sam owes money to us. This brings two types of anxiety, 1) we know we have to get our papers together and go through the tedious process of doing our taxes, and 2) we don’t know if we overpaid the government or, if we actually owe money, how much!

Benny Joseph was one of the millions of American’s who had this problem every April so he teamed up with Mitch Fox and they decided to turn “the April experience” into a GoodApril experience.

In this interview Benny and Mitch talk about what is GoodApril and how it will help people have more certainty of what April will look like every year:

Check out the GoodApril Channel on Newfination here >>>

Nick Hungerford Talks About Goal Oriented Investment “Pots” On Nutmeg

Nutmeg's Nick Hungerford >>>
Nutmeg’s Nick Hungerford >>>

All investment services provide some kind of advice and usually talk to their customers about setting goals and saving and investing towards them. The problem is that after that they open an account for their clients to implement those goal oriented strategies and put all the money in one bucket where it is impossible to tell which investment is for what objective.

With this problem in mind Nick Hungerford, co-founder and CEO of Nutmeg, decided to start his discretionary investment advice service where users can now set goals and have them separated in their accounts so they can manage and control them much more effectively.

In this interview Nick talks about his background, how he started Nutmeg, and how the service works:

Mitchel Harad, Lending Club’s VP Of Marketing, Talks About Peer Lending

Lending Club's Mitchel Harad
Lending Club’s Mitchel Harad >>>

Lending Club is one of the “800 pound gorillas” in new finance. They have been in business for 6 years, recently raised $125 million in equity from investors like Google, and since inception have funded loans for nearly $2.000.000.000.-

Last month alone they funded $158 million underscoring their accelerated growth. This is good news for new finance as it shows increased adoption from users, borrowers and investors alike, and also indicates there is a trend of customers moving from traditional players to new, more customer centric, technology based businesses.

In this interview Mitchel talks about the service, its growth, and how it’s helping investors and borrowers access better rates:

Check out the lending Club Channel on Newfination here >>>

Adam Cohen Talks About Small Business Lending On QuarterSpot

QuarterSpot CEO Adam Cohen >>>
QuarterSpot CEO Adam Cohen >>>

In a world where small businesses have difficult access to bank loans they need to work with specialized lending companies like factoring companies or merchant lenders. The problem with these services is that they can take a long time to approve a loan and the costs are extremely high.

Adam Cohen, co-founder and CEO of QuarterSpot, says that with their technology and business strategy they can approve a small business loan in minutes, if not seconds, and cut the cost by half.

In this video Adam talks about his technology background and how he is building the infrastructure to change this market:

Check out the QuarterSpot channel here >>>

Sasha Orloff Talks About Getting Instant Loans On LendUp

It has always been difficult and slow to get any kind of loan. Especially if you are new to the work force, have a bad credit history, or just came to the country. A company that lends its own money to control the process, uses technology to approve you instantly, and helps you create or fix your credit would be a great solution. This company is LendUp.

Sasha Orloff, co-founder and CEO of LendUp, created the service to solve many problems of the lending process. By building the technology to approve you in minutes, connecting your bank account, and providing a scoring and debt education service, LendUp is the perfect place to get a small loan, manage it, and build your new credit history.

In this video Sasha explains how the service works:

Check out the LendUp Channel >>>

LendUp - Create you custom loan >>>
LendUp – Create you custom loan >>>

Motif Investing’s Hardeep Walia Demos Their Catalog Of Investment Ideas

When we talk about a motif in art we may be talking about a pattern, design, or tone of color. When we talk about the color of the market we may mean sentiment, direction, or trend. But when it’s about the art of investing and we talk about investing in ideas we can now call them Motifs.

This is because Motif Investing has made theme investing the center of their business so now investors can stop stressing about picking stocks and start doing what they do best, identify the trends and make money with their ideas.

In this interview Hardeep Walia, Motif Investing’s co-founder and CEO, explains how investors can use their catalog of Motifs and how they are created:

 

Motif Catalog >>>
Motif Catalog >>>

Vincent Turner Talks About Planwise’s Speed And Simplicity

All digital services strive for users to stay on their apps or websites as long as possible and collect their information as they explore and use their tools. In the case of Planwise it seems the strategy is the opposite, they want to give you a solution as easy and fast as possible and for you to take action by going wherever your destination in cyberspace was in the first place.

PlanWise is a tool for users to calculate their financial situation in minutes. Its anonymous, and they want to be in the places where people make their financial decisions instead of having everybody come to them.

For the majority of people who see money as a means and not an end Planwise is a good solution for making the decisions that matter with a good financial sense.

In this interview Vincent Turner, founder and CEO of Planwise, talks about the new interface and explains how they are helping people around the world:

PlanWise >>>
Planwise >>>

Adam Nash Talks About Wealthfront’s Growth And Leadership

Wealthfront >>>
Wealthfront >>>

As I follow my network’s activity stream on my LinkedIn last week I saw Adam Nash’s message announcing Wealthfront surpassed $250 million in assets under management.

This is a significant event not only for the company, but also for new finance in general. People are turning to new finance services to manage their money and find personal finance solutions. Everybody seems to be realizing how much better it is to manage their money this way and how much lower the costs are.

In this interview Adam talked to me about Wealthfront’s growth and the company’s roll as a market leader:

Check out Wealthfront’s channel>>>