Personal Capital Review 2018

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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, and retirement planning. All of these services are provided free of charge.

More than 1,800,000 users are now using the free Personal Capital platform to reach their financial goals. In addition to the excellent free financial tools, Personal Capital is a Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) with more than $7 Billion in assets under management.

Here is a brief introduction to Personal Capital:


Your Personal Capital Dashboard

After opening a free account, you link your financial accounts to the online dashboard. 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. Each day, your account information is automatically updated in real time.

The site then aggregates all of your 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 dashboard


The Personal Capital online dashboard provides information about your:

  • Income
  • Expenses
  • Budgeting
  • Net Worth
  • Asset Allocation
  • Retirement Savings
  • Investment Portfolio

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 income


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 on your account dashboard in real time. You can also analyze each expense by date, merchant, and category.

personal capital expenses


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.

These different features all blend seamlessly into an excellent user experience. Because of the robust set of features, I now prefer Personal Capital’s cash flow management and budgeting tools over those provided by Mint.com or Quicken.

Retirement Planner

Personal Capital recently updated 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 plan 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 personal information and expected life events. Using this information, the retirement planning tool estimates the following information for you:

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 to move? Buying a new home? Getting married? Adopting a child? The Retirement Planner will help you evaluate and decide if you can afford these large expenses and still stay on track for retirement.

Retirement Readiness – Using your target retirement date, goals, income, and expenses, Personal Capital will summarize your entire financial situation and explain how prepared you are for retirement.

*New* Scenario Analysis –  Take the guesswork out of important financial decisions by creating multiple retirement scenarios. Perhaps you would like to know if going back to work will improve your ability to retire early. Or, maybe you’re wondering if you can afford a home renovation or large charitable donation without sacrificing your retirement preparedness.

You can now compare all of these scenarios, and more, directly from your Personal Capital dashboard. Best of all, you can save custom scenarios and compare the impact of different financial decisions on your overall retirement readiness over time.


personal capital retirement planner


Investment Checkup Tools

Personal Capital also includes several investment-related features that can help you better manage your investment portfolio. After completing a basic risk questionnaire and a few other questions about your investment goals, Personal Capital presents several charts and graphs displaying your current portfolio, asset allocation, and historical investment performance.


personal capital asset allocation


After summarizing your existing investments, Personal Capital then offers a series of recommendations to help improve your portfolio. You can compare the recommendations to your current investments to observe any differences in asset allocation, performance, and overall risk. 

In addition, Personal Capital’s retirement fee analyzer explains the various fees that accompany your existing investments. This feature is supposed to calculate hidden fees that are often overlooked, as well as management fees and expenses.


personal capital retirement fee analyzer


Personal Capital Fees

All of 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 0.25% annually.

If you are a self-directed investor, consider M1 Finance (see my review), which allows you to trade any stock or ETF for free.

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 all of 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 a few members of the Cash Cow Community are happy with the service. The management fees are comparable to many other 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 2018
Summary
Personal Capital allows you to track and monitor your income, expenses, net worth, 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 and financial planning tools
Weaknesses
Occasional bugs
9.3
Overall

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.

User Generated Content Disclosure: Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Jacob Lumby, PhDSJSJBobJohn Holden Recent comment authors

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GP
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
Bobby

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

MG Bear
Guest
MG Bear

Bobby, what did you decide and how is it working out? In similar circumstances.

MG Bear
Guest
MG Bear

Andrea, can you give us an update on your experience? Trying to decide whether to take the plunge. I have some similar circumstances. Only experience with advisors has been my late wife’s comission based one. Inertia has been my worst enemy or best friend depending on when you ask!!

Mike
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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 Wright
Guest
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!

Jim D
Guest
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…

Gary
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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.

Cat
Guest
Cat

This is a great review. Came across it as I am trying to decide of their services are worth it for me. I do love PC’s dashboard and the way it consolidates all of my accounts into one. I’ve used Betterment as well, but feel that they lack choices, but I guess that’s the point of robo advisors is to keep it simple and automated. It would be nice to have a fiduciary and an expert manage my money to get the best return, but is the fee worth it? I’m still deciding.

Jack
Guest
Jack

Have you decided yet? I’m having a hard time making that decision. If you have decided, I would appreciate knowing what conclusion you came to and how you got to it. Thanks in advance.

MG Bear
Guest
MG Bear

Cat, what did you decide and how is it working out? In similar circumstances. Thanks!

Carey
Guest
Carey

Nice review. I just started using Personal Capital and it seems like a useful tool for retirement planning and tracking personal wealth. I am quite enthused about the free services. I found it interesting that you picked up on the cost of their paid investment services as a drawback as that was also something that immediately caught my attention. Interestingly, when I run the 401k fee analyzer, it tells me that my annual fees are .67%, slightly above the Personal Capital benchmark of .50%. The website tells me that this difference will result in 3 years of lost retirement to… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

Carey,

Not to “One Up” you, but I just decided to self manage my retirement funds at Vanguard. I go the expense ratio down to 0.18%. Once when I logged onto Personal Capital it said my fees were too high and my Personal Capital Advisor could help reduce them – for a fee of 0.89%! So it they could drop my expenses to zero, I would still 0.69% more in the hole to them! No wonder financial advisors are so suspect regarding their character. And online versions are not always much better.

Joe B

Michael
Guest
Michael

Joe,
Personal Capital claims that by investing in the direct indexing (personalized basket of stocks) rather than ETFs you get a better performance than that of an ETF portfolio at one of the robo-advisors. If that is true, the combination of better performance and no ETF fees could potentially produce better P&L.

Carey
Guest
Carey

It doesn’t work that way though. You can’t ignore underlying fund performance when determining that fees are “excessive” and then turn around and say “it is ok to pay us higher fees because our products will perform better.” That is the definition of getting suckered.

Don Hilario
Guest
Don Hilario

nice, thanks for sharing. the free account aggregation tool is their strength. their quality of Financial Advisors is low. i reached out to them a year ago to inquire – it was distasteful. after they qualified me they connected me to an FA from CO, meanwhile the initial contact (likely an unregistered cold caller or CSA equivalent) was from SF (I know this because of the area codes, but that’s beside the point). I have no problem with virtual/mobile locations but both the FA and CSA were trying to come off like they were in an office setting together. Strike… Read more »

Paul Mc.
Guest
Paul Mc.

Does Personal Capital have the ability to track rental real estate? I have several rental homes.

melissa
Guest
melissa

i just started using it and yes it does. you can add the property as a Home, and also add the mortgage.

Bruce mesnekoff
Guest
Bruce mesnekoff

Thanks for Information about Personal Capital Review . Your Article is impressive and very informative. I am now regular visitor of your website and bookmarked it.

mtb
Guest
mtb

HI – Great Discussion here!! Do you or does anybody know that if I start to use PC’s Advisory services and place funds under their management, if I would be able to see the details of those funds in QUICKEN. I still use QUICKEN for budgeting and checkbook balancing, etc, and it would sure be nice to see my whole Net Worth tracked there, as it currently is. Anybody know anything about a Pershing/Mellon Hook for Quicken that would capture the PC-managed details? Thanks!

melissa
Guest
melissa

I would love to know, too. I am a power user of Quicken and considering using PC. Please, someone that has started using Adisory, tell us!

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

I have used Quicken since 1992, PC only for about 8 months and only recently to much degree. PC does have many similarities to Quicken – transaction detail, categorization, total net worth and more. Quicken though provides a bit more granularity. For example, I don’t think you can “split” categorization in PC the way you can in Quicken. I’m kind of hoping I can dump Quicken for PC as Quicken is increasing over-featured and costly.

Bill
Guest
Bill

Yes, you get a Pershing login and can use it to access your holdings in Quicken (or using the Pershing app).