Personal Capital Review 2017

September 9, 2017

I write this Personal Capital review as a long-time user. I’ve used Personal Capital for several years to track our income, expenses, and net worth. I hope this review will help readers better understand the service.

Personal Capital is best described as a “financial account aggregator.” After connecting your bank account, credit cards, mortgage or auto loans, investment accounts, and any other financial accounts, the free service will summarize your financial situation and offer personal financial planning guidance.

Personal Capital is similar to Mint’s online budgeting service, but much more comprehensive. Like Mint, Personal Capital provides a comprehensive budgeting solution. Unlike Mint, Personal Capital provides a robust set of tools and resources to help you manage your investment portfolio, asset allocation, taxes, and retirement planning. All of these services are provided free of charge.

More than 1,400,000 users are now using the free Personal Capital platform to track more than $350 Billion in assets. In addition to the excellent free financial tools, Personal Capital is a Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) managing nearly $5 Billion in assets under management.

Here is a brief introduction by the founder, Bill Harris, on the purpose of Personal Capital:

Your Personal Capital Dashboard

After opening a free account, you first link your financial accounts to the online interface. This involves authorizing each account within Personal Capital. I found this to be extremely easy and efficient on the desktop version of the program. You simply click a small plus arrow, specify the type of account, and fill in the online credentials.

After linking your accounts, they remain linked until you unlink them or change any of the account information (password, login info, etc.). Each day, your account information is automatically updated in real time.

The site then aggregates all of your financial information into a colorful series of charts and graphs to help you make sense of your income, expenses, and investments, allowing you to better understand your financial situation.

Personal Capital Review

The online interface provides information about your:

  • Income
  • Spending
  • Net Worth
  • Asset Allocation
  • Investment Fees
  • Investment Returns

Within each category, you can explore all of the nitty, gritty details.

Personal Capital Budgeting

Personal Capital allows you to easily create a budget, set a monthly spending target, and view your progress in real time.

If you select your income profile within the Personal Capital dashboard, you can see all forms of income broken down by date and source. If you have multiple bank accounts, you can see the deposit information for each account, as well as the aggregate total income.

Personal Capital Budget

Similarly, you can track your spending down to the penny. Every credit card swipe. Every debit card swipe. Every bank transaction. All can be viewed in your account dashboard in real time.

You can also analyze each purchase and categorize spending by date, merchant, and category.

Personal Capital Cash Flow Review

Personal Capital also allows you to stay on track of bill payments. You can view previous payments made and upcoming bills that are due, as well as the minimum payment required and the total balance outstanding.

Personal Capital Bill Function

 

These different features all blend seamlessly for an excellent user experience. Because of the robust features, I now prefer the Personal Capital interface to Mint’s online interface.

Retirement Planner and Investment Checkup Tools

Personal Capital recently released their retirement planning tool, which allows you to know exactly where you stand relative to your retirement goals. Now you can build, manage, and forecast your retirement savings in one convenient location. The tool pulls in your actual financial data from the accounts you’ve linked to Personal Capital and lets you add your personal information and expected life events. The tool can help assess the following information for you:

  • Your Retirement Readiness – Using your actual financial data from the accounts you’ve linked to the Personal Capital Dashboard, you’ll see how prepared you are for retirement based on your target retirement date.
  • Expected Income – The Retirement Planner automatically calculates your expected monthly income and projected Social Security benefits. You can easily add in other sources of income such as rental income, pensions, inheritances or other windfalls.
  • Upcoming Goals – Planning for college? Buying a new home? Getting married? Adopting a child? Input these events into the Retirement Planner, and the tool will evaluate if you can afford these large expenses and still stay on track for retirement.

The “Investment Checkup” tool is also worth mentioning. You must complete a basic risk profiling questionnaire, along with a few other basic questions about your investment goals. Upon completion, Personal Capital presents a graph showing their recommended portfolio and asset allocation.

Personal Capital Investment Checkup

The tool explains the risk and return characteristics associated with your portfolio. You can compare the recommended portfolio to your current investments to see the differences in asset allocation, performance, and overall risk. In addition, Personal Capital includes a fee analyzer that will list the fees that you currently pay on your investments. This feature is supposed to calculate hidden fees that are often overlooked, as well as management fees and expenses.

In addition, Personal Capital includes a fee analyzer that will list the fees that you currently pay on your investments. This feature is supposed to calculate hidden fees that are often overlooked, as well as management fees and expenses.

Personal Capital Fees

The services I’ve just described are completely free, but Personal Capital does offer an optional asset management service.

Personal Capital is a registered investment advisor providing the free services to attract more affluent site users – particularly those with investable assets of at least $100,000. If a user has $100,000 or more, Personal Capital offers professional financial advice and the ability to work with a financial advisor (typically well trained with credentials). Personal Capital makes money by taking a percentage of the assets under management, or AUM.

The annual fees for their investment services are as follows:

  • $0 – $1,000,000: 0.89% of account balance
  • For clients that invest $1 Million or more:
    • First $3 Million: 0.79% of account balance
    • Next $2 Million: 0.69% of account balance
    • Next $5 Million: 0.59% of account balance
    • Over $10 Million: 0.49% of account balance

There is no obligation to pay for this service, and there are quality alternatives on the market providing asset management services for less than 0.25% annually.

Personal Capital Security Review

The security is very good overall, with numerous protections in place to protect your financial accounts.

Personal Capital requires you to register each electronic device that you use. They will send you an email or call your cell phone to register each device. After registering a device, there is another layer of security that is used when linking financial accounts to your Personal Capital account. You must sign in and verify the original online account in addition to your Personal Capital login. Data is encrypted with AES-256 with multi-layer key management, including rotating user-specific keys and salts.

There are also strict internal access controls. The account information you enter within Personal Capital isn’t stored in plain text, and no individual at Personal Capital has access to your credentials. Your bank and brokerage credentials are encrypted and stored at Yodlee (a financial technology veteran), not in Personal Capital’s database. All information is encrypted as read-only, which prevents anyone from accessing your full accounts and initiating any withdrawals or transfers from within Personal Capital’s service.

Personal Capital operates under SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) jurisdiction and is audited for compliance with SEC cybersecurity regulations. Furthermore, Personal Capital’s website encryption is rated “A” by the independent Qualys SSL Labs (a stronger rating than most major banks or brokerages).

The Good

  • Comprehensive Service – Personal Capital allows you easily manage your entire financial life using one secure interface. You can calculate your net worth, set a budget, manage investment accounts, and plan for retirement.
  • Friendly Reminders – Personal Capital includes an automated email feature that summarizes weekly changes in your net worth. You can choose to receive other alerts and bill payments reminders as well.
  • Valuable Tools – At no additional cost, Personal Capital provides numerous tools to help you make better financial decisions. These tools can help reduce your taxable income, improve your asset allocation, lower your investment fees, and track your investment performance over time.
  • Technology  – The interface is very intuitive and Personal Capital can be used on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. The Personal Capital app integrates seamlessly, making it easy to check your accounts on the go.
  • Ease of Use – Getting started and syncing accounts is incredibly easy with Personal Capital. In addition, the graphs and charts provide valuable financial information that is easy to read and understand.

The Bad

  • Investment Management Fees – Their investment management service isn’t horribly priced, but it’s higher than other online competitors. 

The Ugly

  • Bugs and Glitches – Early on, Personal Capital had some technical issues on the site that made the user experience a little bit irritating. However, over the last 2-3 years, they have improved the interface and usability. Since ironing out the early bugs, I have not witnessed technical issues when linking or managing my accounts. Some users still report issues when linking certain financial accounts, but this is becoming increasingly rare with each update.

Personal Capital Review Summary

I love the free services provided by Personal Capital. There is nothing else on the market that offers comparable value for the low price of $0.00.

I don’t pay for their investment advice, but I know many readers are happy with the service. The management fees are comparable to many financial advisors, so I’ll leave that decision up to you.

Bottom line – grab a free account today and get started. You won’t be sorry.

Personal Capital Review 2017
Summary
Personal Capital allows you to track and monitor your income, expenses, and investment accounts, all for free. Highly Recommended.
Pricing10
Features9.7
Ease of Use9.5
Customer Support7.8
Strengths
Easy-to-use interface
Full-featured mobile app
Excellent budgeting tools
Weaknesses
Occasional bugs
9.3
Overall
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155 Comments on "Personal Capital Review 2017"

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Butch
Butch

PC is having trouble calculating my balance. My 401(k) plan utilizes plan-specific (institutional) funds, so that their ticker is either not listed or the prices don’t match the exchanges. So on PC the “Prior Balance” is correct, but the current “Balance” is way off since it is trying to calculate it using wrong prices. This throws my total Net Worth, etc. way off.

Just wondering if anybody else ran into this or knows a workaround.

Minh
Minh

Hi,
Thanks to your review, I try to register a new account for several times but cannot enter since the alert message :”Please enter a valid 10 digit phone number.” keeps pop up even though I enter my mobile phone in a normal international format. Does this happen because I am not from America?

Bruno
Bruno

Does anyone if PC will charge their fee on accounts that are “unmanaged”, such as HSAs and 401ks? I am using Vanguard PA and they can see and does provide high level advice on my “unmanaged” accounts but only charge their 0.30% fee from these “managed” accounts, which are the brokerage and IRAs.

Because of his my total portfolio fees are only 0.14%, therefor making the jump to PC’s 0.89% fee is difficult.

Elia
Elia

Thank you for the wonderful review. I’m considering switching over to PC from mint and have a few questions I was hoping somebody could answer.

1. I have a mortgage with homestreet bank. Will PC sync with this? It’s been broken with mint for over two years.
2. When computing investment performance, will PC account for transactions in the past? Or will it be based on the date I sync my accounts?

Donna
Donna
I stumbled across this blog while trying to learn more about PC, and have found it very informative, thank you all, for your comments. I was unaware of robo and the various investment options available and basically always left the investing to the so called pros and assumed they were getting me the best returns. However, apparantly, based on some of the comments, I have been overpaying for financial planning for the past 40 years, as I pay a minimum of 1.2% on top of trade costs and fund fees, and sometimes more with a private advisor. I am more… Read more »
Steveark
Steveark
I have used Personal Capital’s free site for about three years and have given them a portion of my investment portfolio to manage for a year and a half. I pay .79% since I put enough in to get the first price break. I’m pretty satisfied with their net of fees performance and the phone calls with my assigned advisers. They’d love to get the rest of my portfolio but I’m comparing them to Vanguard and Betterment and plan to ride through one market correction and recovery to determine which portfolio is overall more robust. They did give me and… Read more »
Jay
Jay

Hi Steveark,

Great advise. I am almost in the same boat as yours but I do not have enough idea on how I can make myself retire early with barely $1m investment.

GP
GP

Hi
Day 2 of using PC. I have 2 questions:
1. Does the retirement planner project 401K contributions automatically or do I need to add it as a recurring Income Event? What about other assets like ?
2. Does it consider the mortgage and auto loan repayments while calculating retirement spending goals automatically or do I need to include it while putting in the spending goal number?

Thanks in advance

Andrea
Andrea
I have officially moved some assets to PC and was just looking around for any reviews (better late than never?) because I was worried all night that I’d made a bad decision. Anyway, there’s alot of info here and I appreciate everyones input. While PCs fees are higher than some, they’re lower than where I’ve been for the past 7 years or so and that is one my bigger reasons for giving them a try. I will have a meeting with a dedicated advisor next week and have a better idea of my decision then, but as of now –… Read more »
Bobby
Bobby

How was your experience? I’m considering the same transition and was a little wary because I’m not familiar with them. Thanks.

Mike
Mike

Hi Jacob,
Terrific review, thank you. Our company uses ADP payroll services. Do you know if PC can download from any payroll companies to include deductions for healthcare, etc?
Thanks,
Mike

Aj
Aj
Great article and PC review Jacob. I have been using PC free service from beginning the started. Pretty happy and last week I had initial meeting to consider moving some asset under PC RIA. I”m just planning to move some asset but I was told that PC advisor will review /recommend investment 401K/IRA even not under. I have 2nd meeting next week where they will show me why I should use them and what they can offer. All my investment is in vanguard index funds which is supper low (avg .10). I ‘m wondering if moving partial invest under PC… Read more »
Ash
Ash

I use their free service and I like it – Prior to using this service, I was tracking all of my accounts on a spreadsheet but that meant having to login to 20-25 different sites.

Also, their notifications are pretty good – Just received one that said “You’ve saved 92% of the average tax-deferred investments (like IRA & 401K) for your age group among Personal Capital users”

Dave Sander
Dave Sander
I just signed up for PC’s paid services this evening…before I read these comments! I happened to get on the dashboard and it said my mutual fund fees were too high at .39%. I’ve just emailed my advisor to ask how that statement gels with their fee being well higher than the fees I already pay. We’ll see what he has to say. Overall, I do like the idea of someone managing the investments for me. I’ve been doing it myself for a while and I haven’t done poorly, but I’m not very diversified. I’ve tried in vane to get… Read more »
Jim D
Jim D
Hey Dave. PC’s fees are yearly. So that would be $4,450 on an investment of $500K. If you mutual fund fees are monthly ($23,400) or quarterly ($7,800) that could be the difference. I’ve got $1.5M in my IRA that I’ve been managing by myself for quite a while. My annual fees would be around $11,800, or just a little less that $1k/mo. So the equation is, can they make more than what we would do self-directed + the fee? They claim to be able to, but would love to hear from anyone who’s used them for a while…
Jim Wright
Jim Wright

To get some good ideas about diversification, do a search for “Ultimate Buy and Hold Strategy”. Paul Merriman’s information will come up including diversified allocations for taxable and non-taxable accounts using Vanguard Funds, Fidelity Funds etc. Based on portfolio theory of (semi) non-correlated asset classes. Good luck!

Gary
Gary

I really value the information posted here by new and long time users. Particularly Jacob’s comments. I have dozens of accounts scattered across across Vanguard, Fidelity, Wells Fargo, American Express, etc, etc. PC looks good, but I see no way to download data. Downloaded data has saved my bacon on many occasions when Quicken failed, Cloud storage files went away, or software “upgrades” left my earlier data unreachable.
Can PC allow me be save data to my computer.

JR
JR

You can download transaction data if you go to the transactions tab. From there you can select the “CSV” icon a the top and download. I generally use Firefox when doing this download – I believe in the past this functionality was not available with internet explorer and other browsers although they may have fixed that.

Terry
Terry

Just came across your site here Jacob and could be me writing so many of the questions/comments here. I am considering PC and this has sure answered some of the questions i had as well as coming up with some questions i should have had !! Thanks for the site and i will certainly be following it. Terry

Don
Don
Nice site and your explanations are clear and concise. I am amazed by the interest in Personal Capital. I had to give it a try, I had looked at Mint and many others over the years. Nothing seemed to work quite right or give me what I was looking for, an aggregating view (Personal Capital does very well) and some personal accounting for taxes (neh, not sure it’s there). I did just have a 2nd or 3rd conversation with the paid side and I don’t think it’s for me. But I can see that it could be really valuable for… Read more »
JsH
JsH

No. There is no bill paying and that’s a good thing. There is nothing you can accomplish from the PC site other than view and manipulate the data into information.

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