SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash.-Online members have been quick to size up their spending habits but seem less inclined to pay their bills at Horizon Credit Union's website here.

More than 25% of online members are using Horizon's free personal financial management (PFM) tools, according to Brian Grytdal, VP-marketing. The $400-million CU launched PFM nine months ago, long before most financial institutions even considered it.

PFM adoption has already surpassed the CU's electronic bill payment penetration, said Grytdal. About 20% of online members are actively using bill pay, which was launched more than a decade ago.

Horizon's PFM platform is Personal FinanceWorks, delivered by financial management technology provider Intuit Financial Services of Calabasas, Calif., and accessible via single sign-on under the CU's Internet banking platform.

Leading the way to PFM's colorful graphs and charts is Generation X and Y, Grytdal continued. More than one-third of FinanceWorks users are age 14 to 29, and nearly one-quarter are age 30 to 45. "Our goal is to go after the younger members, so we're pleased with the segment that's taking to FinanceWorks," said Grytdal.

FinanceWorks may turn Horizon into the financial "hub" for members, as it seeks to aggregate data from all of a member's financial relationships, suggested Mark Shulman, senior product manager, Intuit Financial Services, formerly known as Digital Insight.

"Members already trust their online banking provider for security, so online banking is a natural place to extend financial management functionality," Shulman said. "Users can see all their relationships in one place and will spend a longer amount of time at the credit union's website because they're getting more value."

"We wanted to give our members PFM instead of making them look for it somewhere else," such as at Wesabe.com, added Grytdal. FinanceWorks makes it easy for members to categorize their payees-and the software "learns" those categories and applies them appropriately to new transactions, he said.

"In the past, members would have to manually enter their monthly statements and categories into Quicken or Excel," he said. "FinanceWorks gives you a visual viewpoint of your spending that wakes you up, whereas if I see my spending as a number on my monthly statement, it's just one of many numbers."

PFM is attracting the type of Generation X member the CU likes to have: those who use FinanceWorks has one more CU service than those who don't use the tool, said Grytdal.

FinanceWorks users are 53% more likely to stay with a financial institution than people offline who don't use FinanceWorks, according to a recent Intuit Financial Services report.

All of the aggregated spending and investment data could be a goldmine for Horizon's marketing department, Grytdal said. "We have to figure out how to integrate FinanceWorks with our MCIF. We could see where the members' other relationships are and try to get that next great service into the household and build loyalty."

The ill-tempered economy is to blame for the popularity of spending charts, Grytdal suggested. "People are waking up to the fact that they need to get control over their spending, which has perpetuated the need for FinanceWorks."

Credit unions that train their employees to use FinanceWorks and walk through the software with members are seeing the highest rates of adoption of the tools, said Shulman.

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