Web-based personal-finance startup companies integrate social features allowing customers to anonymously compare spending habits and investments and improve personal finance decisions.   The personal finance domain is changing tha

nks to the addition of social networking features. The basic idea being adopted by both Mint and Cake Financial is to incorporate transparency into the financial industry and provide customers an alternative to brokerage firms that manage investments.   Mint, for one, is a site that allows its customers to compare their spending habits and, on Wednesday, May 7, introduced a spending tracker that promises to deliver comparisons in the upcoming weeks.   Mint, located in Mountain View, targets the twentysomethings, or recent college graduates, who simply want to track their money without sifting through too much information. "Our view is that young people want in and out of finances in about five minutes or less," said Mint CEO and founder Aaron Patzer. “That's why Mint's site aggregates information automatically, sorting it into categories so that people can easily review their spending habits.”   One thing that's important," Patzer said, "is that this opens Mint up from being a great tool for tracking expenses, to opening it up to people with more-complicated financial situations, where tracking investments is crucial."   San Francisco-based Cake Financial, meanwhile, asserts itself as the Facebook of investing and presently enables customers to create social networks of people who share investment pursuits, track others' progress, and compare the details of their investment decisions. "You want to know how you're doing compared to other people, and how they got there," CEO Steven Carpenter said. "You want to know if you own a bunch of stocks that other people are selling."   Nonetheless, the common aim for both Mint and Cake is to leverage the aggregate data collected on their sites to create well-informed customers that are empowered to make smart financial decisions on their own and, ultimately, to go beyond the old personal financial advisor and client dialogue.   By Kathleen Clark FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editorial@atelier-us.com