Fintech tool marries personalization, financial wellness

Finotta is a new fintech operating out of Overland Park, Kan. BankBeat spoke with Parker Graham, founder and CEO, and Kelsey Houghton, chief product officer, about their “gamified” approach to financial wellness.

Q: The mobile banking app space has gotten pretty crowded. How does Finotta find a place in the mix?

Parker Graham: As the mobile banking market becomes increasingly saturated, personalization and engagement are now top of mind as a way to differentiate. The problem is that many bank marketers think they’re doing a great job, but consumers disagree. According to a recent study, only 38 percent of consumers say their bank personally understands them, while most financial marketers (95 percent) think they do. Clearly, there is a disconnect. Adding to this is the fact that most Americans do not fully understand personal finance. To meet these needs, banks have leveraged Personal Financial Management tools within their digital banking apps — the keyword being “manage.”

Parker Graham

Banks must reassess this approach, which is where Finotta comes in. We help banks differentiate their mobile banking apps with a personalized financial guidance platform, Personified, that focuses on guiding customers through their individual financial journey, regardless of where they are or where they’ve been. 

Essentially, we are merging the desire for personalization in a digital environment with consumers’ growing interest to make better financial decisions versus simply offering a one-size-fits-all self-management tool. 

Q: How do you define financial wellness and move technology into that space?

Kelsey Houghton: It starts with engagement and a high level of personalization. Currently, banks rely heavily on PFM tools, but those tools do nothing more than provide pie charts that show a customer’s spending. A report on how many Starbucks drinks you bought last month and the total that could have been saved instead is not encouraging. It’s a very negative approach. 

We approach financial wellness like a fitness app, emphasizing positive encouragement. Rather than pointing out bad behaviors like how many cheeseburgers you ate last month, a fitness app offers positive feedback with things like how many steps you took. It should be the same for financial wellness apps.

Banks can do this by embedding our platform into their existing mobile app, helping them deliver the right experience or product at the right time with a gamified Financial Health Level that focuses on improving their financial life. Ultimately, we are combining financial wellness with personalization and gamification. As a result, customers have a fun, interactive, positive and engaging way to improve their financial health.  

Q: How does your tech scale to meet a smaller bank’s needs at a price they can afford?

K.H.: We give banks the ability to create a brand-new stream of revenue in their existing digital channel. With the digital world, banks have an incredible opportunity to change the way they monetize themselves. In our platform, banks can recommend personalized products. It’s a win-win situation for banks and their customers. The customers feel like their bank understands them — thus building a better relationship — and the banks can cross-sell and upsell customers by presenting products they prequalify for, thus generating revenue.

Q: Your relationship with First United Bank & Trust (Durant, Okla.) is interesting. How did that relationship develop and how has it influenced your approach?

P.G.: Finotta and First United share the same vision for the new world of banking, and we are both deeply committed to helping the consumer. Through ongoing collaboration, we created a platform that is built specifically for financial institutions and their customers rather than us creating something and trying to fit it into a bank. It is truly a solution built and tested by bankers that will provide tremendous value for the entire industry. Together, we are making it seamless for any financial institution to deliver the most powerful personalized experiences, increase loyalty and create new revenue, all while elevating the lives of customers. 

Q: What’s the larger tech scene like in Kansas? 

P.G.: Kansas has a very busy fintech scene, especially with bank-fintech partnerships. As examples, NBKC Bank recently partnered with insurtech provider Mylo to revamp the home insurance shopping experience for its customers. Similarly, Lead Bank partnered with LoanMe to improve its platform for small-dollar personal and business loans. Emprise Bank has also partnered with several national fintechs this year. Kinly, a fintech based here in Overland Park, partnered with Central Bank of Kansas City to provide mobile banking services for underserved individuals.

Additionally, several major payments companies have been acquired in Kansas over the last few years. Another Overland Park-based company, TreviPay, acquired Baton Financial Services earlier this year. In 2021, Kansas startup PayLease (now Zego) was acquired by leading worldwide payment technology provider Global Payments. Additionally, two of the top five Registered Investment Advisors in the country, Creative Planning and Mariner Wealth Advisors, are based in Overland Park. These are just a few noteworthy fintech happenings in Kansas.