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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Snake
Guest
Snake

PC has problems updating TreasuryDirect account balances. Overall, the free service is a really great tool.

Mícheál
Guest
Mícheál

Can PC be used to link accounts in banks outside of USA?

Alfred
Guest
Alfred

Does PC make it easy to do the basics, ie set up a recurring paycheck(s) to track FICA and other deductions? Does it allow, unlike, Mint, a cash account ? Thanks

Patrick T
Guest
Patrick T

Ive used PC free for about two years. Very hesitant to pay for their advice since I don’t trust financial advisors by and large due to past experiences. The good: the way PC can collocate all my accounts is awesome. No more spreadsheets. No more analysis and wasted time to total up multiple accounts. It’s a great time saver when a person just wants to know what their investments are worth at any one day and progress you have made. The bad (pershaps): PC claims that effectively, you can save 1.5% because they arrange their recommended investments can beat the… Read more »

Ricki
Guest
Ricki

I have funds at PC, Wealthfront, and Betterment (betterment’s at the .25% rate.) 2017 results are really close between these three, after fees. All 3 are spread the same as far as bond ratios go. The way I look at it, PC pays for itself. My PC account is 11% intl stocks, 8% intl bonds, just an fyi.

Fred Keyes
Guest
Fred Keyes

How easily can my data in Quicken 2014 be migrated to Personal Capital?

Michael
Guest
Michael

It’ can’t. You are on your own.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Id like to add to this string. Full disclosure I own my own RIA. I enjoyed the brief article and have found that Personal Capital is actually a fantastic tool for the everyday person. A lot of their tools are similar to eMoney software which is used by many industry professionals but eMoney is really geared towards the more affluent client and has some additional features for those individuals that can be very valuable. The only issue, if you can all it that, with the article is the statement that Personal Capital’s fees are in pretty much in line with… Read more »

Paul Sullivan
Guest
Paul Sullivan

I’ve been using Personal Capital for about a year. Overall I love the product, but have some questions regarding how income, expenses and investment income are prorated over the year. I noticed something about a month or two prior to my birthday. It appears that investment income is generated for the year and is not prorated as the year passes. Has anyone else seen this?

Does income and expense work the same way? Can I manually adjust income and expense for the current year to mimic reduced income and expense over the course of the year.

Thanks, Paul

Karen
Guest
Karen

Interested, but does it work on a MAC

jc
Guest
jc

Yes, it does.

Spencer
Guest
Spencer

I would like to migrate from Quicken to Personal Capital. Can I import my Quicken data? TIA

Jhawk81
Guest
Jhawk81

Nope. The biggest downside IMHO. (besides the price being steep). And if you thought you could keep up with your investments “in parallel” by importing PC data into Quicken, nope, can’t do that either. Major bummer.

Butch
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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?

Jhawk81
Guest
Jhawk81

I’ve only been with PC a few months now, and I see no way to insert historical account information/values. It’s as if life started the day I created the account.

JPsDad
Guest
JPsDad

Exactly

JPsDad
Guest
JPsDad

When I added new accounts to my PC view, there was NO look back. There was a step change in my account net worth and performance information was impossible. You just ignore it for the rest of the year. List them quick so that you get useful info for CY2018

Donna
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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.

JPsDad
Guest
JPsDad

They gave me 1 iPad Mini 3 when I joined. I too was an Engineer and use Linux mostly, but I love Personal Capital(loser term tracking) and SigFig(short term, pulse of portfolio) apps. Try them both, and if you don’t become attached to them, throw one my way 😉