Why I Use Yodlee Account Aggregation

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Yodlee LogoAs I’ve mentioned before, I use Yodlee, an account aggregation service, to track all my numerous accounts on a daily basis. You give them all the logins and passwords of your individual financial accounts, and it logs into all the sites for you. In the end you have a real-time view of all your balances and recent transactions, all neatly on one page.

Of course, many people are rightfully afraid that this leads to one point of access. If somehow Yodlee is hacked, they get all your information instead of just that of one bank. This is true, but I look at it a little differently because I have a lot of accounts.

My analogy here is to imagine each bank account as a safe box. Having all your passwords separate means having a bunch of different safes spread around. Now, if someone cracks one of the safes, the rest should be safe. But if it’s a safe I don’t check very often, I may not know about it until my statement comes. By that time, a lot of damage may have been done.

Now if you use Yodlee, it’s like having the contents of those safes all in one big vault. If a thief broke into that vault, then they’d get access to everything. But, since I check Yodlee at least once a day, it’s like having someone check on that vault regularly to see if anyone has tampered with it. The thief would have a lot of passwords, but I can “sound the alarm” and work to limit the damage immediately.

This speed can also save me money, as the law under Regulation E caps my consumer liability at $50 for those who notify banks within two business days. Fraudulent charges on credit cards worry me less, as consumers are pretty well protected and all the companies I’ve dealt with work fast to fix the charges.

Finally, if you use the same login and password for all your accounts (you know who you are), then you might as well be using Yodlee anyways. If I were a hacker and got access to someone’s Citibank.com login and password, you can bet I’d go right over to PayPal.com and see if it worked there too. And then Bank of America. And so on.

Anyways, that’s why I use Yodlee. I’m not trying convert the non-believers, just wanted to share how I rationalized it. If I had less accounts, I probably woudn’t use it at all. But the convenience is just too compelling.

As a side note, I no longer use the Yodlee that is offered directly on their site. Their most recent version is clunky, slow, and well… crap. Various versions of Yodlee are licensed by many financial institutions, including Bank of America, HSBC, and Wachovia. I now use Bank of America’s My Portfolio in single-column mode and I’m happy once again.

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  1. Is your Emigrant account still linked via Yodlee? After Emigrant added more superfluous security measures I’ve had problems with monitoring the account. Thanks for any help.

  2. oh man. the timings! just posted similar deal 😛

    I use My Portfolio over the current version of Yodlee too. The upgrade seems to slow down some interface browsing a bit, quite annoying when you try to navigate 20+ accounts.

  3. Really great post,
    I agree with you completely that I do feel safer being able to check my accounts all at once. I’m using everbank though, instead of Yodlee and it’s my checking account as well that I use to transfer funds and anything else that a checking account can do.

    I have a Wamu account open also, because I like having a local free bank account open here that doesn’t charge you anything. Well I only have a few hundred dollars in there and if it wasn’t for a service like Yodlee or everbank I would probably only check the account every 6 months, because half of the time I forget I even have the account, so imagine if something happened and I didn?t use everbank.
    Besides that I also feel the level of protection is higher than many people believe. If a hacker broke into your main account at least with everbank, they couldn?t do anything except view what accounts I have and the username and password aren?t only encrypted, but add another layer of protection. People have been using quicken and money for years, which they don?t even think about their security, but I would expect most home users to have less protection and if a person can break into a person computer and access quicken or money then it seems like a much higher security risk than using a service such as everbank or yodlee.

  4. Thanks for the info.

    On a different note…
    When you say you have many accounts. what do you mean?

    How many Bank Accounts and Credit Cards are enough?

  5. RisingSunofNihon says

    Hey, I found your blog through a link on someone else’s site. I just wanted to say that Yodlee is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been looking for — I just didn’t know what to call it (an “account aggregation service”). Anyway, thanks a bunch for the link. I’m going to go check it out and sign up right now!

  6. Nice analogy. I use it and it is very helpful.

  7. Yodlee rocks. I agree with you, it is so helpfull especially when you have alot of accounts to juggle.

  8. I use the Yodlee offered directly through Yodlee. I was extermely disappointed with their “new” version. However, it seems to get better every days. Literally. Check it out. Its still a little clunky in some areas…hopefully they continue to improve it.

  9. Version was released recently and is much better than 7.0

  10. Great site. I just used it with my BOA account and it works great. I have about 3 bank accounts and 3 credit card accounts so its definatly helpful as now, I wont have to jump from site to site,choosing different user names and pass codes, closing windows after view, clearing caches and cookies..whew!!….am I paranoid or what!! 🙂

  11. Both Emigrant and ING work fine for me now after I entered all the new security questions into Yodlee.

    Yodlee.com basically has the most recent version of Yodlee for free, whereas the banks mainly buy one version and stick with it. I’m getting kind of tired of all the bell and whistles. I just want a list of my balances and all transactions done within the last week or so, and they already have that.

    If they start offering some sort of free next-day money transfer service between any two accounts, let me know 🙂

  12. Can you just sign up for Yodlee directly or only through other companies? If they offer the service on their website, its not easy to find where you register.

  13. I use Fidelity’s “Full View” which is powered by Yodlee. Very handy indeed

  14. To sign up with Yodlee directly, go to the bottom of the front page where it says “Log in to: the new Yodlee services”, go to the login area, and register. I don’t think they really promote it all that much.

  15. I use Fidelity’s Full view too and it is indeed handy.The only problem is I can’t link it up to my MBTrading account which I started using after reading you write about it here.I understand you had problems with it but so far I haven’t had any except that they don’t link up with Yodlee.

  16. Is it possible you could put a screenshot just for curiosity. I’m wondering how it compares to everbank

    “I just want a list of my balances and all transactions done within the last week or so, and they already have that.”

    This is how everbank is setup. When you loggin you, you see all your balances, your assets, your liablities and your networth on the bottom. You can enter in even accounts that are offline to keep track of your networth. You can then click on an indidual item and see the last few weeks tranactions and go back even farther if you want by selecting some options. I’ll send you a screen shot if you’d like

  17. I never heard of this site before. It could prove to be useful and save some serious time. I don’t think I have enough accounts to warrant using the service but I will keep it in mind for the future. Thanks for the info.

  18. Jonathan,
    Setup ‘My Portfolio’ with BofA. Thanks. Very handy. Since you said BofA licences this from Yodlee, do you know if this is just BofA on the surface and the repository of this information resides with Yodlee or it resides with BofA? Not sure who would be more secure.

  19. The first version of “MoneyCenter” was a little clunky, but it’s gotten faster over the last month. I figure I better keep using it there and giving suggestions in the forums. Eventually all their customers are going to upgrade.

  20. I really like the clean layout and easyness

  21. Hi,

    I loved your article on Yodlee. I would love to hear your thoughts on Wesabe. Om Malik has his opinions here:



  22. Can anyone tell me whether Yodlee automatically updates account balances on its own or only when you initiate it?

    This morning I logged in and saw that some of my accounts were updated 3, 4 & 5 hours ago when I was not online so I’m worried that someone may have “hacked” into my account, especially because I’m on a wireless network at home.

    There hasn’t been transactions that I was not aware of and I have contacted Yodlee to ask the same question but have not yet heard back.

    I’m really hoping that someone will tell me that accounts do update on their own overnight and I’ve just never noticed it before.

  23. Yodlee got back to me and told me that acount balances do auto-update so I should be fine. Doesn’t seem like there is a pattern or way to know that its an auto-update which would be nice but at least I’m out of panic mode.

  24. So it looks like BoA’s My portfolio feature is still not compatible with ING Direct’s new security feature that translates your pin into random letters each time at login.

    I just spent the last hr being ping-ponged between ING Direct Customer Service and Bank of America Customer service and it doesn’t look like this will be fixed any time soon.

    Has anyone experienced the same issue recently? (Even with Yodlee?) I guess I’ll have to be content with checking my ING account separately for now….

  25. To Nimzter,

    I am facing the same problem since yesterday. Were you able to get anywhere since you posted your comment?

  26. Yeah so it turns out that it works and the problem was that I answered a couple of the verification questions wrong. It should work once you address those…

  27. I would worry about giving a single website all my passwords to all my accounts and all my account numbers etc….

    I know you mentioned above but still, not sure I like putting that info onto a single website. I use different passwords for each site I have accounts for and think Yodlee is a bit risky personally.

  28. Plus it’s free. Wonder how they make their money?

  29. “Various versions of Yodlee are licensed by many financial institutions, including Bank of America, HSBC, and Wachovia.”

    They make money off the banks. The Yodlee native version is kind of their final beta test area before releasing features to the big banks.

  30. This is what you give up (including limited power of attorney) according to BofA
    1)You authorized Bank of America and its providers to access the third party web sites and accounts you designate to retrieve account information on your behalf, and you appoint us as your agent for this limited purpose. In addition, you hereby grant Bank of America and its providers as your true and lawful attorney-in-fact, with full power of substitution and resubstitution, for you and in your name, place and stead, in any and all capacities, to access third party web sites, retrieve account information, and use your information, for the purpose of accessing your accounts and operating My Portfolio, with full power and authority to do and perform each and every act and thing requisite and necessary to be done in connection with such activities, as fully to all intents and purposes as you might or could do in person.
    These are some of the cool thing Yodlee advertises to its participating bankd like Bof A
    For example:

    * Target customers for HELOC and mortgage offers based on the size and rates of their current mortgages
    * Market credit cards based on the rates and balances of their current cards
    * Upsell clients for wealth management services based on their entire portfolio-both held and held away

    So you give them (BofA) the power of attorney to fill any need they build into their website, and free access to use personal financial information to analyze and market their products to you.

  31. how do you guys compare yoodle to microsoft money. I have money setup with all my bank accnts, CC & brokerage. it tracks all of them with saved pwds. I dont know what benefits are there with yoodle compared to microsoft money to make me switch. If someone who used both can tell me it might be useful not just for me but others who use microsoft money.

  32. Dave – that is definitely a concern, I wonder if that limited power of attorney part is new.

    raaj – I believe Money actually uses Yodlee in the background to aggregate your information. Money just adds in more features on top.

  33. I use yodlee only for checking my email and news. For fiancial matters I stick to Money 2996.

  34. I just signed up with Yodlee today and added a few of my accounts and I’m pretty impressed. I’m coming from Quicken and I’m glad to be rid of the bloat and never really got a hang of it. I really just want to track my expenses and be able to get a snapshot of my current situation.

    I’m a web developer, not really a security expert, and to me the risk of giving Yodlee account information is minimal, especially if the same software is being run by the big banks. I’m excited this will save me a good amount of time.

  35. Has anyone had sucess adding their chase credit cards? For some reason no matter what I do I get the ‘402’ error. But i know my password is correct.

  36. I just called T. Rowe Price for help with this Yodlee-like web interface on their site and we struggled to find it. Then.. finally… we found it under Portfolio >>>”Account Minder!” Just in case anyone is T. Rowe customer.

  37. Next time you open Microsoft Money (have 2005 OEM), check the last line on “Account List” page under Banking section – you will be enlightened to see that MM uses Yodlee for getting your data. Why pay the middle man when the original source is free. However, if you like the budgeting/ reports/ export/ charts options then paying the money is worth it.

  38. How would you choose a yodlee provider to go with for this service? I have the Fidelity Full View. Has anyone seen both Fidelity Full View and Bank of America? Which is better (cleaner interface, speed, ease of signing up accounts etc)? Does one offer some yodlee features that the other doesn’t? I read the features on yodlee.com; I don’t remember seeing the networth info on Fidelity.

    Also I wonder.. what if I enter all that info and then I cancel the account through which I’m getting the yodlee service? Does yodlee keep the info and could I go to their site directly to see my aggregate financial info?


  39. mint.com is also good for this, with a better interface than yodlee.

  40. I found Mint cannot handle as many accounts as Yodlee. Mint does not handle email and news at all.
    Over all Yodlee is far superior.

  41. Has anybody tried http://www.quizzle.com yet?

  42. I think overall that this is a great service and I do think you make a strong case about the security risk.
    I would, however, like to point out that hackers are not always the biggest problem. An employee and Countrywide (the bank holding my mortgage) recently sold all of my information to a third party company. To Countrywide’s credit I was given 2 years access to triple advantage and was guided through the process of adding fraud alerts, getting setup with the three major credit bureaus to track my credit daily, and filing a police report to prevent any damage by this action. The same thing, however, happened to my friend who banks with Wells Fargo.
    My bigges worry, therefore, isn’t hackers, it’s employees of Yodlee. I wonder where I could find out what type of systems they have in place to prevent employees from getting and selling customer information. Because as well all know, fraud prevention security systems don’t really stop bad people from committing fraud, they prevent good people doing bad things. I wouldn’t want that temptation to be out there for everyone employed at Yodlee!

  43. Be cautious. Many financial institutions explicitly warn their users in the T&Cs that they should not, under any circumstances, reveal their user names and passwords to third parties. Doing so absolves the bank of any liability.

  44. I am tempted to sign up with MyPortfolio just to be able to track things in one place, but I am concerned about privacy. It’s an awful lot of information for BoA to have, and I wonder what they are going to do with it.

  45. I’ve been on Yodlee almost a year now & I LOVE IT!!! I love the financial calender, which I don’t see on the B of A site? Am I missing it?

    If the calendar is on B of A I will switch there ONLY because I am afraid when they switch Yodlee to the new beta I don’t like that as much as the way Yodlee is now…maybe they’re still working out kinks, but I don’t find it as useful.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated! Thanks!

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