An Overview of Financial Account Aggregation

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Account aggregation is a service that consolidates information from many financial accounts in one convenient place. Quicken and other financial software offer account aggregation with automated transaction downloads and the ability to configure the software to show details for a number of accounts on one screen. However, It's usually used in reference to web-based financial tools that show all credit card, brokerage, savings, loan and other accounts held across many financial institutions on one page.

Financial Snapshots

Chances are that you are already using account aggregation if you use online or desktop financial software that pulls in or downloads data from multiple accounts.

The benefit of account aggregation is that you don't have to log in to several accounts to tally up a financial overview. You just need to access one software program, log into one website, or open one app to see all financial accounts. You get a snapshot of all financial accounts, transactions, and related data in one place.

How to Set Up Account Aggregation

To set up account aggregation, you first need to have online banking relationships with the financial institutions that hold each of your accounts. Then, you can register each of the accounts in an aggregation platform. This is done through a setup routine in which you specify where each financial account is held, along with the username or account number and password for each account, which grants the aggregator access to view the account details.

When you log into your software with your password, the software uses the aggregation service to securely present login information and passwords to all of the individual financial institutions that hold your accounts. Data for your accounts are then downloaded, or "scraped," and presented to you in one place. 

Where to Find Account Aggregation Services

Many bank websites and some online brokerages offer account aggregation for the convenience of their customers. Web-based personal finance offerings such as Mint, Mvelopes, and Yodlee, as well as some online tax software, provide account aggregation. Many iPhone and Android financial apps aggregate accounts, too.

Is Account Aggregation Safe?

Account aggregation services only offer the software access to view account balances and transactions, via direct connections, not to make transactions. In order to do that, you would need to log on to each account's website. Once you provide your secure login information to the software, an automated system collects the information in the same way that you would if you logged on yourself.

Additionally, the software draws on many advanced security features. For example, if you are logging on from an unknown computer or device, additional authentication will likely be necessary.

Many people who take an active role in their own financial management look to aggregation account services for their convenience, ease of use, and security features. These services can save time without adding additional worry to managing your money.