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Financial management

Can a financial aggregator bring clarity to your money?

Financial aggregators display info from a variety of accounts in one place. Here's what they are and how they can help you make better money decisions.
8 min read
  •  
June 02, 2023
Financial management
Prioritizing goals
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Investment tools
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As your financial life gets more complex, you'll probably have bank accounts, investments, and loans at a bunch of different companies. But how can you figure out your money situation when you can't see everything all together? Technology offers a solution that can make you more confident and empowered—financial aggregators.

What's a financial aggregator?

A financial aggregator (also known as a financial data aggregator or account aggregator) is an app or other online experience that brings together information from a variety of financial accounts into a single dashboard-like view, allowing you to get a more complete picture of your financial situation.

For example, depending on the aggregator, it could display information on these types of accounts you might have:

  •  Bank accounts.
  •  Brokerage accounts.
  •  Retirement accounts (IRAs or 401(k)s).
  •  Mortgages.
  •  Student loans.
  •  Car loans.
  •  Credit cards.

You simply add your online account credentials (ID and password) for each account when you're getting set up with the aggregator. In the future, when you log in to the aggregator site, you'll see it has retrieved all your updated information.

How does a financial aggregator simplify your life?

Having just one place to look for your financial info saves you time—and knowing exactly what's going on with your money helps you reach the goals that are important to you.

Aggregators are usually just one piece of an app or service that aims to help you make more informed decisions about your financial life. In addition to showing you where you currently are financially, they can give you insights to help you identify things you'd like to do differently in the future.

Depending on what you're trying to accomplish, there are products with different focuses:

  • Budgeting apps and services help you manage the day-to-day flow of your money by linking bank and billing accounts. You can use these apps to see where your money is going, make sure payments are made on time, decide what you have available to spend at a given moment, and start building your savings.
  • Investing and financial advice apps and services help you meet bigger, long-term financial goals by linking your investment and debt accounts (for example, mortgage and student loans). You can use these apps to set and track financial goals, make a plan to pay off debt, and maximize the money you have coming in.

For example, Vanguard Digital Advisor® manages your investments for you to help you meet your financial goals. As part of the service, an aggregator pulls in your outside investment and loan accounts so we can offer guidance on priorities like building your emergency savings and paying off debt*—then we can tell you whether you're on track to meet the goals you've set.

What should you look for in a financial aggregator?

While account aggregation basically works the same way everywhere, the apps and services that incorporate it can vary quite a bit. You'll want to consider questions like these as you find the right one for you:

  • What are you trying to do? Do you want to know how much you spend on coffee every month or whether you can buy a house in 5 years without sacrificing your retirement savings? Look for a service that has all the features you need to accomplish your goals.
  • Is it secure? You'll need to provide login information for your accounts, so look for a trusted company that has a good reputation for security.
  • What does it cost? Some aggregators are free but support themselves through advertising or trying to upsell you on paid products. Some have fees. Make sure you clearly understand any costs and whether the company is allowed to share or sell your personal information.
  • Does it have a good reputation? As tech becomes more advanced, the number of aggregators has exploded. Look for one that comes highly recommended by friends and industry experts.

Get more power for your financial future

Making a solid plan is only possible when you have full clarity about your current financial situation, where you want to be, and what you can do to get there. Aggregators can empower you to make confident, informed decisions and see the results for yourself.

Digital Advisor can give you a full view of your finances—and it's now a 3x NerdWallet Best-Of winner

Awarded January 2023, based on data as of October 2022.**

See what our award-winning robo-advisor can do for you

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*Vanguard Digital Advisor's debt payoff calculator helps you project the impact of different fixed-rate debt payments over time. To analyze your debt payments, you'll use a third-party aggregation service. There are limitations to the aggregated information, including the inability to carve out any escrow payments. There also could be missing or inaccurate information, such as taxes and insurance, which you'll need to closely review when using the calculator.

**Vanguard Digital Advisor received the top rating for "Best Robo-Advisor for Low-Cost Investing" for 2023 among 16 robo-advisors selected by NerdWallet. NerdWallet evaluated each provider across the following weighted criteria as of October 1, 2022, to determine the winner for low costs: management fees (50%), expense ratios on investments (40%), and account fees (10%). NerdWallet also selected Vanguard Digital Advisor for the 2021 award based on November 16, 2020, data and the 2022 award based on October 1, 2021, data. Additional details about NerdWallet's methodology are available on their website. Current fees may vary for Digital Advisor and the other robo-advisors considered. Although Vanguard compensates NerdWallet for marketing services, NerdWallet's opinions and evaluations are independent and unrelated to the selection of Digital Advisor for this award. ©2017-2023 and TM, NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

Vanguard's advice services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc. ("VAI"), a registered investment advisor, or by Vanguard National Trust Company ("VNTC"), a federally chartered, limited-purpose trust company.

The services provided to clients will vary based upon the service selected, including management, fees, eligibility, and access to an advisor. Find VAI's Form CRS and each program's advisory brochure here for an overview.

VAI and VNTC are subsidiaries of The Vanguard Group, Inc., and affiliates of Vanguard Marketing Corporation. Neither VAI, VNTC, nor its affiliates guarantee profits or protection from losses.