Meet your new financial advisor, Google
In March, Google purchased a company that raised plenty of eyebrows in the personal finance industry. BeatThatQuote.com is a price comparison site, but arguably not one of the more visible or well-known among consumers; the website proudly boasts the title of 'The UK's Fastest Growing Price Comparison Site', even though it was crowned as such way back in 2007.
Still, it didn't stop Google purchasing BeatThatQuote for a staggering £37.7 million - a massive amount of money for a price comparison website, of which there are dozens. Beyond the question of why Google bought that particular business, what did Google actually plan to do with it? We now have the answer; Google Advisor is tightly focussed product to offer consumers price comparisons on mortgages, savings and other financial products.
The US version is already live; the UK equivalent currently only offers comparisons for credit cards, but expect that to change in the coming weeks. The next step might be a Mint.com-style tool for household budgets that suggests products that would create efficiencies for consumers. Regardless, once again Google are proving they'll square up to any competitor in any market if there's money in it.
Should MoneySupermarket.com and other financial comparison sites be worried? Yes and no; while Google's reach through search is near-ubiquitous, it has several dozen projects and priorities at any one time, so it can't focus on pushing this one service. Trust probably won't be an issue for many consumers since Google is a household name and it's trading on the the financial brands of others, but while Google may see plenty of potential in financial products, it already sees millions in advertising from other price comparison sites. Google will have to be careful in striking the balance.