Eric Dunn of Quicken About Today’s Consumer Financial Challenges and How Personal Finance Software is Helping Overcome Them

Eric Dunn is the CEO of Quicken, and has been responsible for the Quicken business initially as the general manager at Intuit and then, after the 2016 divestiture, as the CEO of Quicken Inc., the standalone private company. We had a chance to talk with Eric about how personal finance software is addressing the fiscal issues facing households today.

Since you worked for the company who owned Quicken from 1986-2000 and again from 2010 until today, could you tell us why you chose to return to the company after a ten-year absence?

During my time away from Intuit, I focused on technology investing both as an angel investor and then as a general partner at Cardinal Venture Capital. I was a board member at PayCycle when the company was acquired by Intuit in 2009. At that time, I got to know some of the new leaders at Intuit, including the CEO, and I was pleased to see Intuit’s renewed focus on innovation. I rejoined Intuit in 2010 to lead the company’s strategy in the payments arena.

How have Americans’ financial challenges and priorities changed between the time you joined the company 30 years ago and today?

Compared to 30 years ago, I believe that it is now more important than ever for consumers to play an active role in managing their finances. It has become easier for consumers to spend and borrow money, whether it’s shopping online, using multiple credit cards, etc. As a result, it’s critical that today’s consumers know exactly where their money is going so they can make good financial decisions. In addition, consumers are much more skeptical about Social Security now than they were 30 years ago, which means that Americans must take on personal responsibility for their retirement

Finish this sentence: “The biggest myth I hear today about a personal finance-related topic is…”

… you need to work with a professional financial advisor in order to manage your finances. In some circumstances, working with a professional financial advisor is essential. But most people, with a modest amount of effort (and the right software!), can manage their own finances quite effectively.

What type of fiscal applications should people be using personal finance software for – but aren’t usually doing so?

Investment analysis tools make up a very important feature of Quicken that we encourage our customers to take advantage of. Quicken can compute an individual’s end-to-end investment performance, net of fees, vs. any index s/he chooses, giving customers completely clarity into what’s working and what’s not.

What are some costs or expenses that Americans commonly overlook when trying to establish a household budget and/or plan for their financial future?

Consumers tend to overlook insurance expenses since they are often annual, as well as out-of-plan medical expenses. These are important to include in any household budget or financial plan.

Do you think that today’s teenagers and young adults are more or less money-savvy than their peers from a generation ago?

Technology has dramatically changed the types of financial knowledge and competencies that today’s teenagers and young adults have relative to prior generations. On the one hand, today’s teenagers and young adults don’t always have the strong awareness of available funds. They also tend to lack the financial discipline that is required to only buy something when they have enough cash or balance a checkbook and ensure they have enough money in their bank account before writing a check. On the other hand, today’s teenagers and young adults are much more sophisticated in the tools they use for how they manage finances; for instance, they use mobile banking apps to make payments or Venmo to split payments with friends.

How would you go about explaining the value of using personal finance software to an older, non-tech savvy adult?

Personal finance software gives you one place where you can see all your finances. If they are simple enough that you can keep them all in your head, you might not need PFM. But if not, it’s a huge simplification to have everything in one place.

What do you foresee in the future of the personal finance software industry?

I anticipate that personal finance software companies like Quicken will continue to expand what customers can do with their software to make it even easier for consumers to manage their finances.

For instance, Quicken will continue to enable customers to complete tasks from right within Quicken so that they don’t have to go to multiple sites to manage their full financial picture. In other words, they’ll be able to rebalance portfolios, take out a loan, or move money around from within Quicken. In addition, we’ll make it increasingly easy for consumers to manage their finances from any platform that they choose (or even multiple platforms) – be they desktop, mobile, or web.