Many people are leery of having their financial information in the digital space. Whether you are transacting via paper or digital means, gaining a comfort level is all about awareness and controls. After all, a personal check contains a wealth of information — your name and address, your bank account and routing number, your signature and handwriting style, and sometimes other data. Protecting that information in any channel is key to avoiding unauthorized access to your accounts.
For those who embrace technology enthusiastically, says Brian Betterman, Vice President – Private Banker with Wells Fargo Private Bank, digital tools for your finances may offer more benefits than "staying analog" when paired with cybersecurity best practices. "Being able to access your information at any time of day and to initiate transactions from any location fits our busy lifestyles."
But deciding which tools to use can still feel overwhelming. That’s why Betterman says the first thing to do when considering an app or service is to ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish.
A dashboard for your finances
One of the most common financial needs is getting a view of all your financial information in one place. Some third parties such as Intuit, Inc., offer aggregators to help you do just that. Your financial institution may offer that service as well.
If you are considering a third-party aggregator, Betterman recommends paying close attention to security around data flow into and out of the server.
Digital tools for your finances may offer more benefits than "staying analog" when paired with cybersecurity best practices.
"These services work only if they have your financial account credentials, so consult with your relationship manager before setting up aggregation," he recommends. "Wells Fargo Bank has secure data exchange agreements with third-party providers of financial management tools like TurboTax Online, QuickBooks Online, Mint, and Xero. That means our clients can more securely select the Wells Fargo account data imported into these tools without exposing their online banking log-in credentials."
Also, remember that if you’re not paying for the service, the provider may be cashing in another way — probably through advertising or trying to sell you something based on your finances.
Secure data transmission
Another common need is a tool to securely share large digital documents, such as tax records, with a financial advisor. Many of us share files at work using services such as Dropbox. But Betterman says sharing financial documents through those services or via unsecure email could be risky.
"Speed of delivery and preservation of document integrity is paramount," Betterman says. "Again, talk to your financial partners about a secure solution for this transfer. Wells Fargo Private Bank offers our clients a service called Document Manager that allows quick and secure sharing of these documents. This service helps to save clients time and allows their financial advisors to move faster, too."
Actionable investment perspective at the ready
One benefit to digital is the immediacy of access to financial thought leadership. Betterman recommends taking advantage of tools that can help you manage your investments. "Investment strategists and analysts with Wells Fargo Investment Institute offer viewpoints on current market conditions as well as more in-depth commentary."
Resources like these are available online, giving investors and their advisors the opportunity to manage investments in a more timely way, rather than waiting for monthly or quarterly statements.
A more secure environment
No matter what type of digital solution you seek, be mindful of your physical and digital environment and practice security all day, every day. That wireless connection in the local coffee shop may not be the best option when transacting online. Also, stay current with updates and patches for the software on your mobile devices and laptops, and keep your home firewall enabled.
"With cybersecurity and data breaches frequently being in the news, security tools and monitoring services also can be valuable tools in protecting your accounts," Betterman says, so explore your options with your private banker.
One key security feature to implement is two-factor authentication. Also known as "2FA" or "multi-factor authentication," this method combines something you have (a token or one-time code sent to your mobile device) with something you know (a password). Two-factor authentication is more effective in securing account access than a password alone, making it more difficult for criminals to access your accounts.
One last thing — convenience is a primary reason that many people choose digital options, so you will want round-the-clock support. "When it comes down to it, being able to talk to someone about any issues or concerns can be much more satisfying than typing questions in a box," says Betterman. "Look for 24x7 dedicated call centers. As a client of Wells Fargo Private Bank, you can call us toll free any time for assistance with your servicing needs."