With an eye toward the future and likely also toward steering the Facebook generation toward its own website, Fidelity Investments launched a new app for Facebook, called FutureTimeline, which allows users to set long-term financial goals and track their savings toward shorter-term goals, like vacations or buying a new car.

The new Fidelity app—which can be used at no cost—plays off Facebook’s Timeline feature, which places pictures and postings related to a Facebook user’s life events—such as graduating school, getting married and having children—in a chronological timeline on the user’s page. Fidelity is the first major financial services firm to utilize Facebook’s Timeline feature in this way, the firm said in a statement.

By using FutureTimeline, Facebook users can set customized goals, such as “saving for retirement” or “buying a new car,” and track their savings toward those goals. Facebook users can also track their progress and share their goals with friends and family on Facebook.

Other features of the app will allow users to:

  • Identify goals that may be of interest, based on their Facebook profile;
  • Personalize their goals with names and photos that inspire them to plan and save;
  • Choose how much to save toward selected goals on a monthly basis; and
  • Create and track joint goals with other Facebook users.

In addition, the app will allow for interaction with Fidelity—mostly through offered tips and links to relevant articles and tools on Fidelity.com—as the company tries to educate Facebook users about far-away financial concepts like saving for retirement and mutual funds. Fidelity said no financial information will be shared on the app, even if the user chooses to share their goals with others on Facebook, and there is no connection between the app and users’ accounts at Fidelity.
Calling FutureTimeline “a fun, interactive and educational way for individuals to take a proactive role in their finances,” Richard Blunck, executive vice president of digital distribution at Fidelity, said the company’s goal in launching the app is to encourage users to think about their future and inspire them to save. “We believe this is an important step in managing the primary economy they have the power to change—their personal economy.”

Not incidentally, of course, the app also allows Fidelity to reach out to those potential savers and investors who are a large part of the attractive younger demographic that uses Facebook and, by helping them think about their future, can suggest how Fidelity could play a part in it.

The way the app would work, in one example, would be that Facebook users who are envisioning a future vacation can enter that goal into FutureTimeline, adding details such as photos of the desired vacation spot, an estimated cost of the trip and planned travel dates. The app will then help the users calculate how much money they should save toward their goal each month and allow users to track their savings progress over time. Also using the app, users can tell their Facebook friends about the planned trip, or set up a group goal to travel and track their savings together.

As the vacation date nears, users will receive alerts to remind and encourage them to keep saving for their vacation each month, and congratulate them after they have reached their savings goal.

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