Personal Finance 

Betterment Review [Reviewed 2010]

BettermentBetterment was named one of the Finovate Fall 2010 Best in Shows and they’re looking to make investing as simple as possible. The basic idea is that you open an account at Betterment (they are a registered broker-dealer), deposit funds, pick an allocation, and then go about your day. They offer a taxable investment account (no IRA’s yet) and two investing options.

This is a review of Betterment when it was first introduced at Finovate 2010, the service has added many new features and changed quite a bit so please check out our updated Betterment review for 2012.

With Betterment, you just pick how much of your investment you want in equities (Stock Market) and how much you want in Treasury bonds (TIPs). Within each category, they divide it up into a variety of ETFs so that you get diversification in that category. For Treasury bonds, you get iShares Barclasy TIPS Bond Fund (TIP). For the Stock Market, you get a mix of IWS, IWD, VTI, IVE, DIA and IWN.

If this sounds like a Lazy Portfolio, you’re right.
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 Personal Finance 

PageOnce Review: Mobile Money Management

PageOnce LogoPageOnce is a personal finance management tool and one of the companies I met at Finovate Fall 2010. I think one of the reasons why I hadn’t heard of them before is because I don’t have a “smart” phone. Unfortunately, the Palm Centro just doesn’t stack up against iPhones, Android and other brilliant cellular devices.

That said, the features offered by PageOnce’s mobile application outshines a lot of what others are currently doing. Here’s a shot of their latest version on a Windows Mobile phone:
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Seeking Alpha Investing Apps Review

Seeking AlphaWhen you go to a stock ticker site, whether it’s something like Google Finance or, the pages are pretty much static. The ticker page for Apple (AAPL) on Google Finance is pretty dull. You have basic information at the top, news on the left, some advertisements, important events, related companies, etc. It’s good information but you have little by way of customization and there’s little outside information, unless you count the news.

That’s what makes the investing apps at Seeking Alpha, launching next week (Oct 11th), so cool. I spoke with them at Finovate and they showed me their new offering. The basic idea is that they want to give you the ability to modify the standard ticker pages and add investing apps, built by third party partners, that improve the quality of the information you see.

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 Personal Finance 

Finovate Fall 2010 Recap

As many of you know, I spent the first two days of the week attending Finovate Fall 2010. It’s billed as a demo of the cutting edge in personal finance technology and it certainly delivered the cutting edge, it’s just that the cutting edge in finance just doesn’t appear to be as sexy as the likes of other areas (pesky security issues and whatnot). Larry Chiang, someone I had a chance to hang out with (he’s been mentioned in the past on Bargaineering), said it best (and I paraphrase) – “Banking 2.0 is like Web 0.9.”

Sounds a little harsh but there is one caveat – I think there’s a lot of stuff in fraud detection and other financial technologies that is cutting edge and certainly not web 0.9. The problem is that these technologies are also invisible to folks like you and me, it excited me but it’s really relevant to bank technologists. Since they were outside the scope of Bargaineering, I won’t be covering them, but as a former software engineer some of that stuff was interesting to listen to.

I’m penning this post on the train ride home to Baltimore so much of this is fresh in my mind. I’ll do more in depth looks at some of the companies I had a chance to talk with but these were just some of my thoughts about the companies I saw.

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 Your Take 

Your Take: Who Should I Talk To At Finovate Fall 2010?

On Monday I’ll be attending Finovate Fall 2010 to see the latest and greatest in financial technology in the great city of New York. There are a ton of presenters there, many I’ve heard of and many I’ve not. Some of the companies I’ve heard of before include Billshrink, Bundle, Smarty Pig, Credit Sesame, and Yodlee. There are, however, plenty I haven’t like Hidden Levers, Matchfund, oFlows, and Wonga (I’m just looking at the logos of demoing companies and pulling the names I do and don’t recognize).

I’ll probably check out many of the consumer direct demos (for example, Jack Henry Banking seems like a B2B solution, so I probably won’t be talking to them) but I wanted you to tell me who I should talk to and what you want me to ask them! I’ll probably stop by the companies I’m very familiar with just to see the new stuff they’re doing and then branch out from there, but let me know what interests you so I know what I should cover!

Also, if you’re going to be there, let me know and we can meet up at the conference.

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