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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164 Comments on "Personal Capital Review 2017"

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John
John

Is possible to have your investments managed by Betterment, but be able to see those investments in my Personal Capital free account?

Rite
Rite

Yes, they support betterment. I just registered and imported my betterment account.

Richard
Richard

Thanks for the great info Jacob! I am considering using Personal Capital’s advisory services and am looking for comments from others. Your site has the best info and the most comments from readers.

I have always managed our investments and handing them off to an outsider is a huge step for me. I am not sure I am ready. OTOH, I realize there is a lot of stuff I don’t know. PC’s approach and fee structure seems very reasonable.

Thanks again.

Ron
Ron

It’s interesting that some commenters say that PC uses only ETF’s and others say they use individual stocks as well. Either they do a lot of customization or something is odd here.

Richard
Richard

For what I have learned they use ETF’s AND individual stocks. And you do not pay transaction fees when they buy an sell on your behalf.

Sid
Sid
In my account with PC there are about a hundred positions: stocks, bonds, and ETFs. The stock positions are generally very small, in some cases only a few shares. I pay no transaction fees for the stocks and bonds, but I do pay for the ETF positions. There is some churning of positions, but since I don’t pay any transaction cost for that, I am not concerned. The objective is to achieve a very broad diversity with risk appropriate to the client’s choice without the costs of a mutual fund. I continue to manage a large amount of our retirement… Read more »
Bill
Bill
Sid.. this site doesn’t say when your comment was written (it’s 2/6/16 now), but what (if anything) have they done during the recent market downturn? Glad to hear you are happy with their services. I am debating whether to sign up for their paid services. I just moved money out of TIAA-CREF (where I was paying 0.8%+mutual fund fees) to Fidelity, where I invested in index funds using the Boglehead approach (and I got lucky and was out of the market for the first 2 weeks of 2016 during the liquidation and transfer!). Clearly going to PC is opposite everything… Read more »
Glenn
Glenn

Bill, Are you happy after being with PC for a while?

Cody Wheeler
Cody Wheeler

Thanks for the review. I’ve been looking for a site exactly like this. I’ve found Mint to be pretty limiting when it comes to the investing and asset growth side of things, although it’s still good for tracking spending, which does come in handy. I’m going to give it a shot.

PS: Great site as well. I hope we can connect.

Tim F
Tim F
I have been using Personal Capital for about a year — it’s a fantastic tool. I don’t use their advisory services yet and still spend >1% on traditional advisors. Couple of comments. First, i found it linked to all my accounts very easily. As of now, it brings together two money center banks, my 401k, IRA, investment accounts, stock option accounts (my employer), four credit cards, and one of my two mortgages. It even taps into my financial advisors’ system! Coupled with manual entries re home values, etc. it gives me an instantly updated view of my net worth. Perhaps… Read more »
socrates
socrates

The app is pretty cool, I’ve been using it now for a couple of weeks. I like the fact that I can look at all my accounts in one place. I only wish it showed the cost basis on the investments I have.

I find the portfolio checkup tool to be very interesting, but its not useful to me. The information presented seems to do more to advertise their professional management services than really help.

Fermata
Fermata
Excellent review – comprehensive, complete, thoughtful. I signed up for PC about a month ago. Other than an occasional glitch with their account updates, it’s been working fine. The account link procedure was very simple. And the updates work better than Mint, plus the website design is clearer and easier to understand. True, they don’t offer the budgeting features Mint has but I use something separate for that anyway. I took the bait on the money management services, meaning I’ve sat through two short (20 minutes) presentations and then agreed to their longer (1 hour) pitch, which I had today.… Read more »
Aakash
Aakash

Great review. I’ve signed up for free accounts with Future Advisor and Jemstep as well and have found Personal Capital to be superior particularly with regards to the number of accounts/brokerages they allow automatic tracking for, their graphics/visuals, and their detailed portfolio tracking. Another big advantage worth highlighting is their breakdown of what your asset allocation is. I haven’t been able to find such a detailed and accurate breakdown through any other service or website and certainly wouldn’t be able calculate and keep track of it myself with the same accuracy.

Erik
Erik

I have tracked Fidelity 401k, self managed brokerage accounts and 529 with Personal Capital for over a year with no issues.

Marc Pilotte
Marc Pilotte

Great review Jacob. I have been using mint for a few years now but have continually had problems with a couple accounts updating properly. Based on your review, I believe its time for me to try Personal Capital. Nice job on the review. Marc

Alberto
Alberto

Unfortunately at this time they do not operate outside of the US, however if you live in the US now you’ll be able to keep the account if you relocate abroad in the future (I am referring to the assent management part of their services, the aggregation software only works for US based institutions)

Bill
Bill

Great review Jacob.
I signed up a couple weeks ago with PC and really like it so far. Had my financial consultation and considering letting them manage my money. The website is easy to use and functional.. and the advisor I have been speaking with is very professional and helpful…so far so good..

Robert ILC
Robert ILC

I really like Personal Capital’s UI. It is clean and easy to use. Much better than mint.com. I also agree that the way it presents information about assets etc is very valuable.

Jake
Jake

Does anyone have any success stories from Personal Capital’s financial advisers?

Jacki
Jacki

We signed up for the financial advisor in July and have really enjoyed watching the stocks that they’ve chosen. It was a little difficult getting everything set up (just lots of paperwork), but overall we have really liked it!

MD
MD
Jacob and Vanessa, I just love your blog and am a regular reader. I even signed up for the airvoice wireless service by following the link from your website all the way to making the transaction, hoping that you get a small share out of it as encouragement and appreciation for lots of good things you guys post on your blog. I read the “Betterment” review that you posted a while ago and now I read the Personal Capital review. While I understand that the 2 products are slightly different wherein Betterment can do automatic asset allocation based on percentages… Read more »
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