I was on Twitter asking our readers about Mint.com (for our Mint Review). The most common response I received was to check out Cashflow INSITE. I thought the best way to know more about the service was to ask the co-founder, David Kuik. Below is our interview with David.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself:
David Kuik is CEO of Norima Consulting Inc., a 40+ person technology consulting company based in Winnipeg and San Diego, and co-founder of Cashflow INSITE. An innovative leader in developing Web-based financial software solutions in Canada and the United States, David has a proven track record in being the ‘bridge’ between business and technology teams. Before starting his own companies, David was director of software architecture responsible for mission critical Web applications at LPL Financial in San Diego.
2. Tell us about CashFlow:
Cashflow INSITE™ is a personal financial manager that learns and adapts so that tracking spending is effortless. Consumers can upload your bank and credit card transactions, categorize them, and get a breakdown of where their money is going. Consumers can share their spending patterns and trends with their Financial Advisors via the site to assist with financial planning. The site employs artificial intelligence techniques to recognize patterns and groupings and suggests assignment to appropriate cash flow categories. Since it learns and adapts to consumer interaction and corrections, the task of assigning and tracking future transactions grows easier over time. This greatly reduces a consumer’s investment of time and upkeep, a major roadblock in traditional budgeting applications.
3. What makes your service different than services like Mint.ca?
The main distinction is the advisor/client collaboration. We enable Financial Advisors to view client spending information summaries so they can gain a better understanding of their clients’ financial situation, income, and spending. The benefits are many:
• Improved advisor/client relationship
• For clients in accumulation stage of life it helps advisors identify ways to save money so that necessary retirement investments can be made.
• For clients in retirement, it helps advisors ensure that their clients will not outlive their savings.
4. Can CashFlow be used by consumers or is it strictly only for financial advisors?
We really encourage consumers to use it with an advisor to gain the full benefit of their expertise but consumers can subscribe without an advisor for a monthly fee. The consumer fee allows us to provide an ad free experience.
5. If I was a financial advisor why should I use CashFlow?
We have long believed that Financial Advisors should offer expertise on expenses and spending in addition to investments. Historically, advisors have shied away from getting involved in their clients’ spending analysis because it has been so time-consuming and the ROI simply isn’t there for an advisor. Cashflow INSITE takes away most of the time requirement and allows advisors to truly act as a personal CFO. We believe it gives advisors a way to distinguish themselves from the competition, know their clients better, build loyalty, and most importantly assist clients in saving money to invest.
6. Where do you see CashFlow in the future?
We have a product roadmap which we don’t share in detail for competitive reasons. Our next release will provide ‘white-label’ support so that advisors can offer the service under their own brand as part of their own websites. We have a late Q2 target for that release.
7. Why do you think the Government is getting upset over consumers sharing bank data and do you see this as an opportunity that CashFlow can capitalize on?
I share some of the concerns being expressed about sharing usernames and password with aggregators. From our interpretation of the fine print of some of the banks’ Terms of Service, it might be a violation of the terms and consumers who suffer losses via electronic theft may not have any recourse with their bank. It is an issue of security, which is something that should always be carefully considered. When you share your credentials to access your bank account with a third party, you need to be certain they are trustworthy, that they won’t allow those credentials to fall into the wrong hands, or that transaction information won’t be transmitted insecurely, such as in email. Also, consumers should be aware of where data aggregators are housing the data. If it’s in the US, it might mean they are subject to the Patriot Act, which allows the US government to demand access to any of the data.
Having said all of that, it often comes down to a trade-off between convenience and security. Our system requires that consumers upload their transactions from their bank which means we do not have their bank usernames and passwords and thus are not a target of the security scrutiny. The good news about that is the security is excellent but it requires the user to log into their bank and download their transactions. In a perfect world, the banks would expose more of their data to value-add partners using the OFX standard so that the consumer is protected but can still enjoy the additional services that sites like Cashflow INSITE provide.
8. You seem to have a loyal following of Financial Advisors constantly promoting your service (for free we assume), why do you think they love your service so much?
I think they love it because it works. It’s not for every client but for the ones who are having trouble attaining savings goals, this service really helps. It’s meaningful and actionable and takes very little time for the advisor. We have advisors who have shared their ROI on the tool and it’s staggering how much value they achieve.
9. CashFlow is a business how much does it cost to get? Is there a subscription fee, lump sum…
It’s a monthly fee of $45 USD for US customers, and $45CAD for Canadian customers.
10. Where do you think most Financial Advisors go wrong?
I think the biggest challenge facing advisors is getting their clients to meet the necessary savings required for financial plans. Too often a financial plan will show a client that they must save hundreds (or thousands) more per month than they currently are saving. Faced with that situation, the advisor has basically three choices (1) ignore the problem and hope the client saves more, (2) use scare tactics to convince the client to save more, or (3) help the client adjust their spending so they can meet the savings goals. We think the third option is the best one and our tool helps advisors do that quickly and effectively.
11. What makes the ultimate (best) Financial Advisor?
One that knows my goals and my complete financial situation so that he or she can properly advise and work with me to achieve them, not just suggest an investment portfolio based on a risk tolerance assessment. I believe advisors who offer detailed financial planning are leaders in that regard. The challenge with many financial plans is that they go on the shelf and adherence is difficult to monitor. Those advisors who have a good, systematic approach to monitor progress and adherence to the plan are going to be the ‘best’ in my opinion.
If you have any questions about Cashflow INSITE. Send them our way and we will get them to David.