Friday, December 21, 2007

So Long Yodlee

After being a long-time user of Yodlee's Account Aggregation service, I have decided to give up trying to make it work with my finances. In the past, I have used MSN Money (which uses Yodlee) to track my finances online. But, I have several reasons why I'm about to abandon Yodlee:

1) Not all banks participate in Yodlee. This is annoying because it constantly leaves a hole in my financial picture. Most notably, I have significant holdings at Countrywide Bank, and at a credit union that are not participants in Yodlee's services.

2) Ongoing concerns about security and "Secure Sign On" problems make Yodlee potentially less secure than before. For reference, secure sign on is a multi-screen login feature that an increasing number of banks are now using. Typically you are shown a previously chosen picture and personal phrase during login. In addition to typing your password, the bank will then ask you to answer one or more confirmation questions for added security. These are personal questions that the user previously provided answers for.

In order to get Yodlee to work with these new security measures, you would have to store the answers to each one of these questions with Yodlee. Some examples of these questions are "What is your father's middle name?" and "What is the name of your first school?" If Yodlee's security was ever compromised, fixing the problem might not be as straightforward as changing your login name or password. An attacker could potentially build a database of information based on how you answered these questions for different banks, and more easily assume your identity.

3) Duplicate accounts are not handled well. At TD Ameritrade, my wife and I each have a login which allows us to access our individual accounts and the one joint account that we share. This account is double counted by Yodlee. To add to this confusion, the two "different" accounts may each show a different account value, depending on when the data for each login was updated. Yodlee has not provided a way to eliminate this double counting.

4) Extraneous accounts are an annoyance. I have a couple of accounts that I closed years ago, but are still associated with an existing bank login. These accounts shows up as extraneous zero balance accounts. I cannot delete a single account from Yodlee without deleting all of my accounts at the same bank. This extraneous information is definitely annoying.

5) In a previous post about account aggregation, I mentioned issues with Yodlee double counting the cash balances in my TD Ameritrade accounts. That post attracted the attention of Yodlee's senior VP Peter Hazlehurst who personally contacted me about these issues. Interestingly, immediately after I posted that article, I received a large number of visitors from a Yodlee domain located in India. I presume that Yodlee's customer service folks are based there. To make a long story short, some of my issues were indeed corrected. But as you can see by this post, several other problems are still not fully resolved. If Yodlee approached me again about helping them to resolve their issues, I think that I would decline the invitation. I don't intend to become a beta test site for Yodlee's software.

In one of the comments on my last post about Yodlee, Moneymonk said that "there is no perfect software [when] it comes to personal finance." She is correct there. I'm going back to the only way I know how to get a complete picture of our finances. I am again using an Excel spreadsheet to manually enter and track my financial balances.



Moneymonk said...

The best way to track your expenses in when you write it down.

A lot of software are out there. You are the only one responsible for you and your finances.

I do the good 'ol bank online bank statements to check my balance. This means checking different accounts separately

It's not that convient, but it's worth the time

Jordan said...

Sorry to lose you. Everyone's need for financial management is different and we at Yodlee do a good job helping the vast majority of users manage their finances in a way that works for them. There are people who find the way that works best for them is the good old fashioned spreadsheet. It certainly gives you the most control of how you get your data--you are manually entering it--but we find most people would rather give up a little of that control in exchange for not having to work so hard.
Yodlee has a lot of different products and a lot of different versions in the market, so if you’re still not quite sure that you want to handle it all in a spreadsheet, it might make sense to take a look at around at our partners that might have a different flavor of a Yodlee product that is better suited to your needs. We do a couple major revisions a year, so most partners don’t have the latest and greatest up and running yet.

I'll address the points you made in this post.
1) Yodlee doesn’t have 100% coverage of all banks, but Yodlee does cover that vast majority. When there is a bank that Yodlee doesn’t cover you’re encouraged to put a site request in at the Yodlee forums ( Until we build support you would need to create a custom account in the Yodlee system and manually enter the balance of the accounts. It’s obviously not ideal, but it’s as easy as manually entering it in a spreadsheet.
2) Yodlee has a few solutions for the new multi-factor authentication that banks are adding. Through Yodlee partnerships with banks and MFA software companies we work to support strong authentication without having you required to enter your additional security questions at Yodlee to get a view into your data. Most people find the risk of having a single location for credentials is outweighed by the safety it provides. By storing all your credentials somewhere, you can have strong credentials everywhere since you are not required to remember them in your head. Additionally, if you’re getting e-mail alerts from Yodlee and checking your accounts on Yodlee, you are proactively monitoring all of your accounts for fraud on a regular basis. If you do have a security problem on any of your accounts for any reason, you are more likely to catch it quickly using an aggregation service.
3) Joint accounts are handled well in the Yodlee 8.0 platform released this year. There is an account sharing feature so that you are able to share any external account between two separate Yodlee accounts so that it is always in sync.
4) Extraneous accounts can be disabled in the Yodlee 8.0 platform released this year. Yodlee doesn’t delete the old account because it’s valuable to have in transaction search or networth history, but there is the ability to disable the account so that it will stop showing up across the application.
5) The Yodlee intranet has a page that shows recent stories about Yodlee from a Google search. Your web posts are showing up on that feed; that’s how I noticed it. When that happens, you’re likely to see Yodlee traffic from all our offices including the Yodlee office in India which has a cross-discipline staff. It’s not just customer care in India. We do our best to keep our users happy, so when someone reports a bug we take time to investigate and correct problems. We encourage our users to tell us works well and what doesn’t so we can continue to improve the products.

Yodlee, Inc.

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