At present, a confusing multitude of very similar portal types defines Germany’s personal financial portal market, according to a recent Report by FORIT Internet Research, the Research Center Deutschland of Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR).

At present, German and Swiss banks and financial services firms are trying to compete by offering an increasingly wide choice of information and tools. In most cases, the financial products and services on offer are exclusively restricted to a firm’s own products. However, in the near future, Open Finance portals will provide a wide range of online financial services, FORIT predicts.

“By using Open Finance portals, financial services customers will no longer need to access many different Web sites in order to manage their personal finances and investments,” commented FORIT analyst Nastasja Senn. “Instead, consumers will be able to compare and choose financial services offered by a wide range of providers, accessing them from just one platform customized to their needs and preferences — the Open Finance portal.”

According to FORIT, the development of financial portals in Germany will be a four-stage process. In the first phase — which has already begun — online financial services providers will expand their product range and begin to sell financial products, such as insurance, which do not compete with their own established products. In the second stage, the Open Finance idea will begin to proliferate. Firms will start to offer their competitors’ products in order to retain customers under the pressure of competition from emerging Open Finance portals. The third stage will be characterized by a consolidation of the products and services on offer: winning incumbents will be those firms that can offer products and services from a combination of high-quality providers. And driven by increased pricing pressures, the fourth stage will be marked by a consolidation in the way financial products themselves are manufactured.

“Suppliers of financial services will have to decide whether they want to concentrate on creating products or on interacting with customers,” Senn continued. “Their success will not depend on the expansion of their own product line but on their ability to present their own range successfully in combination with those of others.

“A single portal supplier cannot cover all areas such as information, advice, transactions, and forums at the same time. The choice of products, focus, and the right strategic partnerships will therefore be essential for success. This is the only way suppliers can succeed in creating a portal that can beat competitors by offering quality, clarity and choice,” she concluded.

For the Report “Financial Portals for Private Customers — Focus Or Co-operate,” FORIT interviewed the 15 leading portal operators in Germany and Switzerland.

FORIT, GmbH was founded in 1998 by Steffen Binder and Christian Nolterieke, former Monitor Group consultants. FORIT delivers insight on the rapidly growing German eCommerce marketplace through a stream of written research, consumer data, and expert advisory. With a client roster that includes leading companies across a range of industry sectors in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, FORIT has established itself as a trusted advisor to senior executives crafting Internet strategy. The company is headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany and employs 23 people.