The Best Finance App for 2024: SoFi (Social Finance)
REVIEWED ON JAN 12, 2024
As we welcome 2024, the financial world continues to buzz with noteworthy developments. Last year was marked by significant events and trends that reshaped the landscape of finance, setting the stage for an exciting year ahead.
One of the major stories of 2023 was the increasing adoption of AI in finance. Trade credit insurers leveraged AI for better underwriting and risk assessment, a trend that has crossed all business and geographical boundaries. Despite the advancement in AI, the year also saw the collapse of several major technology-driven trade platforms such as the Marco Polo Network and Contour, due to various challenges including insufficient funding (rapidly rising interest rates did not help). This led to a broader understanding in the industry that technology should be focused on solving meaningful problems with reliable solutions.
In addition to technological shifts, 2023 witnessed significant policy developments in the U.S., particularly concerning labor and wages. The labor market showed signs of recovery from the COVID-19 shock, with the unemployment rate stabilizing despite slowing job growth and rising interest rates. However, challenges remained, such as the large portion of the population still out of the labor force and workers' strikes demanding higher wages and improved working conditions. The situation of real pay for workers was mixed, with some improvements but also concerns, especially for those at the bottom of the pay distribution.
These events and trends provide a rich backdrop as we explore the best finance apps of 2024, where technology, policy and market dynamics intersect to shape user experiences and financial decision-making. In this landscape, SoFi stands out as an app that potentially harnesses these developments to offer robust and innovative financial solutions.
Personal budgeting and expense tracking apps
SoFi's remarkable journey in 2023 sets it apart as the deserving winner of Best of Apps' Finance App of the Year for 2024. The app's impressive growth trajectory is not just in numbers but in the value it offers to its users, making it a frontrunner in the world of finance apps.
A key aspect of SoFi's success has been its significant growth in both member count and deposits. In 2023, SoFi's deposits swelled by 23% (Q3 vs Q2 '23), reaching a staggering $15.7 billion (at the end of the third quarter 2023). This growth isn't just a testament to the app's popularity; it reflects a deepening trust that users place in SoFi as a financial partner. The surge in deposits can be attributed to the attractive interest rates offered by SoFi, with APY rates reaching as high as 4.6%. Such rates are not just numbers on a screen; they represent tangible value for users looking to maximize their savings and financial gains.
The revival of the student loan market presents another area where SoFi shines. With the Supreme Court striking down attempts at extending loan forgiveness, SoFi has seized this opportunity to offer competitive refinancing options. This move is particularly significant as it directly addresses a major financial concern for millions of Americans, offering them a viable path to manage and reduce their student debt more effectively.
Traditionally, SoFi's main business model revolved around student loan refinancing, which experienced a significant pause due to the government's payment pause on federal student loans. This pause, initiated as a response to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, temporarily shifted the landscape of the student loan industry, impacting companies like SoFi that specialized in this area. However, with the recent developments and the Supreme Court's decision, SoFi has adeptly pivoted back to its foundational services. The company's ability to navigate these changes and re-engage with its core business of student loan refinancing demonstrates its resilience and adaptability in the face of sector-wide challenges. This return to its roots not only marks a revival for SoFi but also provides a much-needed service for borrowers seeking to manage their student debts more efficiently in the post-pandemic era.
Additionally, SoFi's continuous improvement in its user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), particularly in SoFi Invest, demonstrates its commitment to staying ahead of the curve. The app's swift incorporation of Bitcoin ETFs and efforts to provide users with early access to IPOs is a clear indication of its proactive approach. Such features not only enhance the user experience but also empower users with more investment options and opportunities.
In conclusion, SoFi's remarkable growth in membership and deposits, its competitive APY rates, the revival of its student loan business and its continuous improvements in UI/UX collectively earn it the title of Best of Apps' Finance App of the Year 2024. This accolade is a recognition of SoFi's commitment to innovation, user empowerment and financial inclusivity, making it a go-to app for a diverse range of financial needs and goals.
Finance App Runner-Ups 2024
- YNAB (You Need A Budget): For those who are keen on getting their finances under strict control, YNAB offers a robust platform. It stands out with its zero-based budgeting approach, which is more hands-on compared to many other budgeting apps. YNAB’s philosophy is to give every dollar a job, whether it's for clearing debt, growing savings or managing daily expenses. It's particularly suited for individuals who are ready to be actively involved in managing their finances.
- Robinhood: This app has made a name for itself as a go-to platform for beginner investors. Robinhood simplifies the stock trading experience with its intuitive interface and zero-commission trades, making it accessible for newcomers to the world of investing. It offers an array of investment options, including stocks, ETFs and cryptocurrency, and is particularly notable for allowing the purchase of fractional shares, making it easier for users to start investing with smaller amounts.
- Acorns: Acorns is ideal for those new to investing who prefer a more automated approach. The app rounds up your daily purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the spare change. Over time, these small amounts can add up, providing a simple and effortless way to start building an investment portfolio. Acorns also offers educational resources, making it a great starting point for those looking to learn more about investing.
- Empower Personal Dashboard: For users who need a comprehensive view of their financial situation, Empower Personal Dashboard offers a great solution. This tool aggregates all your financial accounts – including bank, credit, investment and retirement accounts – in one place. It offers features like net worth tracking and budgeting, making it an all-in-one tool for financial management.
In closing, this exploration of the top finance apps for 2024, spearheaded by SoFi as our Finance App of the Year, reveals a vibrant and innovative financial tech landscape. SoFi's ascension is marked by its substantial growth, attractive interest rates and its strategic pivot back to its core of student loan refinancing, all underpinned by a steadfast commitment to improving user experience. This reflects a broader trend in the financial app sector, where the focus is increasingly on empowering users with tools that are not only functional but also educational and intuitive.
The runner-ups, each with their unique offerings, further enrich this landscape. From YNAB's rigorous budgeting system to Robinhood's truly incredible investment platform, Acorns' innovative micro-investing approach and Empower's all-encompassing financial dashboard, these apps demonstrate the diverse ways technology can cater to various financial needs and goals. As we step into 2024, it's evident that the world of finance apps is not just about managing money; it's about fostering financial empowerment and literacy, ensuring that the path to financial well-being is accessible and navigable for everyone. This year promises to be a defining one for personal finance management, a journey made easier and more rewarding with these innovative financial tools.