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Consumer Financial Decisions and MacroMonitor History

Strategic Business Insights' (SBI's) Consumer Financial Decisions (CFD) was founded in 1978; SBI was part of the business-consulting group of SRI International (Menlo Park, California). A consortium of clients charged CFD—founded at a time when changes in government regulations permitted financial-industry convergence—to create an independent, comprehensive measure of consumer retail financial-services use and financial attitudes. DataTrack—now MacroMonitor—was the result of the survey effort.

Among the first innovations that CFD has provided to the financial-services industry are Merrill Lynch's CMA and First Deposit's algorithms for identifying credit-card prospecting. Among the concepts CFD introduced—and that subsequently gained widespread acceptance—are Life Stages (1992), Child-Free households (1998), Redefining Retirement (2001), Revolving Retirement (2002), Post Retirement Life Stages (2003), Product and Account Consolidation (2004), Financial Disengagement (2004), Paying Down Debt (2006), Extended Adolescence (2006), the Shift from Conspicuous Consumption to Conspicuous Conservation (2006), and the New Normal (2008).

Conducted biennially, the MacroMonitor is the longest, continuous survey of US economic households available. The MacroMonitor is a macroeconomic survey of financial-product ownership and use and financial attitudes. Today's MacroMonitor interviews over 4,000 household financial decision makers using a questionnaire that covers all areas of financial need: transactions, credit, protection, savings and investments, and information and advice. It also measures an extensive list of demographics, institution use, channel preference, and over 130 financial attitudes. It compares more than 90% of survey questions against prior data waves. The survey oversamples higher-income and higher-asset households to provide sufficient respondents for analysis.

CFD integrates with other SBI services such as SBI Consulting, VALS™, Scan™, and Explorer. In addition to providing MacroMonitor deliverables and access to financial-consumer experts, CFD provides subscribers with entrée to cross-disciplined teams of senior-level statisticians, seasoned survey designers, technology analysts, consumer-psychology experts, and adept process professionals.