Bank of America wades into digital financial planning space

By Imani Moise

(Reuters) - Bank of America Corp said on Monday it is rolling out a digital financial planning tool, wading into a space that has so far been dominated by fintech companies.

Life Plan, a new functionality on Bank of America's website and app, allows customers to set multiple goals like buying a home, improving credit or saving for retirement, and uses its existing trove of client data to serve them recommendations.

Such personalized advice used to be reserved for high-net worth customers who had enough cash to retain a financial advisor to help manage their wealth, but a host of digital budgeting tools, like Intuit Inc's Mint app, have used artificial intelligence to bring planning to the masses.

"Planning is no longer an activity that's born out of how much money you have," said digital planning executive Evelyn Varner.

Bank of America, which operates one of the largest wirehouses catering to America's richest households, has been building out its product set to capture customers lower on the wealth spectrum.

The tool, which launched nationally on Monday, has already helped the bank better target customers, executives said. During the eight-month long pilot period, Life Plan led to over 3,800 referrals for conversations with bankers.

It could also give the megabank more control over its customers' data as they use the bank's tools over third-party applications, executives said. Since Life Plan is linked to customers' bank accounts, the bank can provide a fuller picture of someone's financial situation without requiring multiple sign-ins or verifications.

"We're not necessarily targeting and replacing something that clients may be using or comfortable with," said Teron Douglas, chief digital executive. "But it's certainly something that we feel is going to naturally happen as the clients continue to engage."

(Reporting by Imani Moise; Editing by Nick Zieminski)