Personal Capital is one of the most popular personal finance management apps available. That’s for good reason – it provides users with comprehensive tools to track and manage not only their investments, but their everyday spending as well.
In fact, there are two main components to Personal Capital. First, there’s a free app that gives you a holistic view of your money and includes features that help with financial tasks such as budgeting and analyzing account fees.
Then there’s an investment management service that charges a fee. Unlike many robo-advisors, it includes access to support from live financial advisors.
In this Personal Capital review, we’ll take a detailed look at the app and its features – both free and paid – to help you decide if it’s a good fit for your portfolio.
Product Name: Personal Capital
Product Description: Personal Capital offers two main products: a free financial tracking and planning app and a paid wealth management service. The wealth management service uses computer algorithms just like any robo-advisor, but it also includes input from human advisors. Although the fees for a managed portfolio are higher than you'll find with many robo-investing platforms, they're still lower than what you'd pay a traditional advisor.
- Commissions & Fees
- Account Options
- Investment Options & Asset Allocation
- Tools & Resources
- Website / App / Ease of Use
- Customer Service
When it comes to Commissions & Fees, Personal Capital shines in offering a wealth of free financial tools. However, if you want individualized wealth management, you’ll have to pay a fee. While this fee will be higher than what you’ll pay most robo-advisors, it’s still less than what traditional advisors charge. There are plenty of Account Options with Personal Capital to meet your investing needs. As for Investment Options & Asset Allocation, Personal Capital uses its proprietary Smart Weighting system to pick individual securities across all sectors. Millions of people love Personal Capital’s free Tools & Resources, and its Website / App / Ease of Use makes personal finance understandable. Managed portfolio clients can reach Customer Service by phone 24/7.
Personal Capital Features
|Minimum Investment||- Personal Capital Software is Free to Use|
- $100,000 (for Wealth Management Services)
|Commissions & Fees||$0 for Most Financial Tools; 0.49-0.89% for Wealth Management|
|Types of Investments||Stocks, ETFs, Bonds|
|Types of Accounts||Individual, Joint, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Rollover IRA, SEP IRA, Trusts|
|Asset Allocation||Managed Portfolios|
|Automatic Portfolio Rebalancing||Yes, as Needed|
|Human Advisor Availability||Yes|
|Banking Services||Savings Accounts|
|App Availability||iOS, Android, Mobile Optimized Website|
|Customer Service||Email, Phone|
|FINRA CRD Number||#155172|
|SEC Registration Number||#801-72613|
- Free Financial Tools. Personal Capital offers a full suite of financial calculators and features that you can use for free. All you need to do is sign up for an account. See below for more information.
- Personal Capital Cash. This online cash account pays a modicum of interest but doesn’t charge any fees or require a minimum balance.
- 24/7 Customer Support. As an account holder, you can contact Personal Capital’s customer service team by phone at any time.
- Tax-loss Harvesting. Personal Capital will conduct tax-loss harvesting on stock and ETF portfolios.
- Dedicated Financial Advisors. If you have a balance of $200,000 or more in your account, Personal Capital will assign you two dedicated financial advisors.
What Is Personal Capital?
Founded in 2009, Personal Capital is a leader in the financial technology (fintech) space. More than 2.4 million people have signed up to use its free suite of financial tools. And more than 22,000 clients pay Personal Capital for wealth management services. All told, the company as more than $12.3 billion in assets under management.
Since practically the beginning, there’s been speculation that Personal Capital will hold an initial public offering (IPO). That has yet to happen. But in the meantime, the company has certainly packed in plenty of value, with an impressive suite of services at both the free and paid levels.
Most people will use the free tools alone; to get started with Personal Capital’s robo-advisor service you need at least $100,000.
How Does Personal Capital Work?
Personal Capital is a two-in-one product: It offers free financial-planning tools, along with a paid comprehensive wealth management service.
Here, we’ll take a look at both options.
Free Financial Tools
It’s easy to sign up for Personal Capital’s free financial tools. You simply sign up for an account, link your bank, investment, and other financial accounts, and are good to go.
Here are some of the tools you can use for free:
Retirement Planner. The Personal Capital Retirement Planner will help you to determine whether or not you have enough money saved for your projected retirement. This tool helps you set and determine spending goals, income events and projected future portfolio value. You can also create “what if” scenarios to test different situations and potential outcomes.
This is a powerful, and free, tool. Here is more information on the Personal Capital Retirement Planner tool.
Net Worth Calculator. By itself, net worth isn’t the most important aspect of your financial situation. However, tracking your net worth over time can be a powerful way to visualize your financial progress.
I like being able to see this snapshot, as I can track both major and minor changes without much work. And you know your information is always up-to-date since Personal Capital syncs with your financial accounts.
Budgeting. The Personal Capital budgeting tool can help you visualize how much you have coming in and going out each month. You can give descriptions to each transaction, and the system will remember them the next time they are entered — saving you time and helping you accurately track your savings money in and out.
I find this tool to be fairly accurate out of the box, and you can make quick tweaks to your line items to quickly view your spending patterns. This actionable data can help you find ways to cut spending and use your money in ways you find to be more meaningful.
Fee Analyzer. The Personal Capital Fee Analyzer is very valuable for people who have mutual fund, investing, and retirement accounts. This tool examines all of your investment holdings and shows you how hidden fees can take a chunk out of your retirement savings. It also will give you projections for how much these fees can cost you in the long run, unless you make smarter money moves now.
Personal Capital Wealth Management
In addition to taking advantage of the free tools, you can hire Personal Capital to manage all or a portion of your money for you. To qualify for these services, you must deposit at least $100,000 in a Personal Capital account.
Personal Capital is a registered investment advisor (RIA). That means the company has a fiduciary duty to give you the best financial advice for your situation, not the advice that nets a bigger commission. One of my biggest gripes about the financial planning industry is that brokers don’t always have a fiduciary duty to their clients. Some of them are more concerned about their interests instead of their clients. That is not the case with Personal Capital.
Personal Capital Portfolios
Personal Capital’s wealth management service combines computer algorithms with input from human financial advisors. It selects portfolio investments with a process it refers to as Smart Weighting. This allocates your portfolio equally in individual securities across all sectors, rather than trying to copy an index such as the S&P 500.
Because Personal Capital portfolios are comprised of individual stocks and ETFs, it’s easier to take advantage of tax tools such as tax-loss harvesting, which looks to make up for investment losses at tax time.
Investors with up to $200,000 in their Personal Capital account will be invested in a portfolio of tax-efficient ETFs. Clients with $200,000 to $1 million can customize a portfolio with both ETFs and individual stocks. And those with $1 million or more in assets also invest in bonds.
As with many robo-advisors, you can also choose to give a socially responsible slant to your portfolio makeup.
If you’re a wealth management client, you’ll have a team of human advisors who will be keeping tabs on your portfolio. However, if you have a balance of at least $200,000, you’ll also have access to two dedicated advisors who can help you with matters such as retirement and estate planning.
Personal Capital Fees
Most of the tools you can sign up to use from Personal Capital are free. However, to receive wealth management services, you’ll need to pay a fee. Although fees are a bit on the steep side (especially when compared to more mainstream robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront, it’s still far cheaper than the cost of hiring a traditional personal financial advisor or planner.
Here’s how the fees break down:
Personal Capital Pros & Cons
Personal Capital Pros
- Lots of Free Tools. Most people who use Personal Capital won’t even dip their toes in the paid management services. That’s because there are plenty of free tools and features to help anyone’s financial journey.
- Tax Optimization. If you invest your money with Personal Capital, you’ll have an arsenal of tools to maximize your tax strategy, including tax-loss harvesting.
- Human Advisors. Wealth management clients have access to a team of human financial advisors. And if you invest more than $200,000, you’ll have two dedicated professionals to contact.
- 24/7 Customer Service. You can always get help for your Personal Capital account.
Personal Capital Cons
- High Minimum. In order to have managed portfolios with Personal Capital, you’ll need to deposit at least $100,000.
- High Fees. Personal Capital’s management fees are high when compared to most robo-advisors. However, when compared to traditional human advisors, they’re pretty low.
I’m a self-admitted financial geek. I read and write about personal finance on a daily basis, and I try out as many tools as I can. In my opinion, this is the biggest game-changer in the financial industry since Mint.com launched. And that is high praise. (you can compare Mint and Personal Capital here).
I’m comfortable recommending Personal Capital’s free tools to family and friends, and I think they can change how many people manage their investments. I’m all-in on Personal Capital.