Accounting and Banking: design issues

I am no designer, nor a marketing specialist but as a bank customer (with different banking relationships) I can tell you I think my banking experience is pretty bad. Because I switched to a more corporate finance job, I finally realised what could be the root cause of this issue : accounting.

Accounting to be honest is not the most sexy topic, though it serves its use. It allows keeping track of a corporation financial situation by embedding control in the way it is done (double entries) as well as allowing a common language for several people working on the same topic or transitioning. Also in pre-computer era, it was built in relation with its support : books. Accounting on paper makes sense.

Good design (at the time)

But since I am not a corporation / nor an accountant by trade / nor doing my personal finance on paper, why are banks sending me banks statements in the format of accounting statement?

This makes no sense. Accountants must represent 0.01% of the population of bank customers.

Mint is a good example of design applied to financial information (while not the first and the best one). This makes much more sense than the previous statement.

Other startups, such as Simple [Note: Anthemis is an investor] are trying to redefine how financial information should be presented to customers. The first difficulty is to bring understandable information to each spending transaction. A better identification of the vendor and its category is key, notably for searching past transactions (also keeping more than 2 months of transactions helps).

Additionally, presenting not only an historical account of financial transaction, but also a forward looking view of a customer financial situation is moving from an accounting statement to a personal finance overview. This is not new as startups such as Rudder (http://mashable.com/2008/10/13/rudder/), have tried to show forward looking information. The concept of Safe to Spend balance used by Simple is in the same concept.

Fast Company has an interesting review of Simple design decisions: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1665303/first-look-banksimples-iphone-app-aims-to-reimagine-your-money

Other interesting design choices used by financial services that could be added to this post?

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