One thing that I have craved for investors is a tool that allows you to sync all your investment accounts in one place that also gives you more investment related analysis.

Mint does a fantastic job of giving you numbers, but falls short on giving you a greater insight into your overall portfolio.

For my clients, I subscribe to Blueleaf – which is fantastic. The only downside is that you have to be my client (or another advisor that uses it) to get access to it. I realize that everyone will not be my client so the hunt continued for another option. I then discovered Personal Capital.


Personal Capital Review

I was excited to learn more about it that I immediately signed up. I’m currently synching all my investment accounts and giving Personal Capital a try. In the meantime, I had Kevin write a review about them so you can better understand how this awesome (and free) program works. ****** Financial advisors that focus primarily on wealth management can be costly to keep around. Sometimes they charge you as a percentage of assets managed and other times it is a flat hourly rate that can run as high as hundreds of dollars per hour. These wealth advisors aren’t really there to teach you how to put together a budget.

You’re handing them a large chunk of your retirement and investment assets, and they manage it to get you top results. Sadly these advisors — as excellent as they can be — are unreachable unless you have millions of dollars to invest. For the rest of us there is now a great option to consider: Personal Capital. This amazing service is like combining financial advisor extraordinaire Jeff Rose and  budget management tools Mint and Manilla into a handy website and smartphone app.

What is Personal Capital?

Personal Capital is an online tool that will help you:

  • Monitor all of your financial accounts in real-time whether checking account, certificate of deposit, or retirement account
  • Get objective investment advice designed to make you, not the advisor, money
  • Provide investment options that are tailored to your goals

All while letting you manage this from a browser or on a slick smartphone app. I know what you’re thinking. “Okay, great, but why should I trust these new guys?” I’ve got to be honest with you. There were two words I saw on Personal Capital’s website that made my heart skip a beat. Those two words. Are you ready?

Fiduciary Obligation

Here’s a straight copy from their website on what they offer:

Objective Advice The sorry truth is that bankers and brokers are motivated to help themselves, not you. They are salespeople paid to push products, earning commissions and kickbacks when they do. In stark contrast, Personal Capital is an investment advisor. We accept a fiduciary obligation to act in your best interest, and our advice must be aimed at making money for you, not for us. 

This is absolutely key with any financial advisor you talk to whether in person or a company online. Fiduciary duty means the party has a legal obligation to put your interests above their own. Whereas normal brokers get paid commissions by getting you to churn your investments over and over (which costs you thousands of dollars in lost percentages here and there) Personal Capital is putting a requirement on themselves to put your interests above theirs.

This is huge.

And exactly what you should look for in an advisor of any kind. Major points for Personal Capital from me on this one.

Did I Mention It Is Free?

All but one of the services from Personal Capital is absolutely free. Here’s what you get for zero dollars:

  • Real-time financial dashboard
  • Mobile device apps
  • Objective investment advice
  • Investment check-ups

The only thing that will cost you a fee is their personalized portfolio management that starts at 0.95% of managed assets and goes down from there depending on how large the assets you are letting them manage are. (This is inline with the industry, and for the most part below what wealth managers would charge.)

Crash Test Your Portfolio

Investing expenses and taxes are the two things you can absolutely count on within the investing world. You can’t rely on gains every year, but you can guarantee you will be taxed and you will pay expenses. That makes reducing those expenses as one of two ways you can control your investing destiny.

Thankfully, Personal Capital realizes this and offers you a really great tool to analyze the cost of your investments. Where this gets interesting is you can do an analysis on your employer’s 401k plan to discover whether your plan is amazing, just okay, or terrible as it comes to costs. You might be the person to go to HR to reveal just how expensive your plan is, lay out a new plan that would cut costs for everyone, and end up getting a promotion just for running a cost analysis.

Even if you don’t get promoted to head investment advisor for your employer, at the very least you’ll save your own retirement from exorbitant fees. And that’s a huge win we can all settle for. Want to try out the 401k analyzer? Click the crash test dummy above.

Is Personal Capital for Me?

The idea of wealth management means you need to have wealth to manage. If you’re struggling to get out of debt, that’s okay, but Personal Capital probably isn’t the best fit for you.

However, if you are building up your retirement assets and want to be able to maximize your nest egg without gambling on penny stocks then you should definitely sign up for the service. You can use all of the features aside from the personalized portfolio management for absolutely free. There is no reason to not take a look at what they are offering.


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Comments | 10 Responses

  1. Nicole C. says

    I remembered you reviewed Portfolio Monkey earlier. How do you compare these two websites? In my opinion, I think personal capital is more easy to use. In fact, I just did my portfolio review with pc 2 days ago. I will keep using of to review my investment semi-annually to see if rebalancing is needed.

    • says

      @ Nicole I think Personal Capital is a far superior product. The big difference between them and Portfolio Monkey (as of now) is that PC is attempting to lure youf investment advisory business. So they want to make sure there free platform is “legit”. PM is still a completely free program that is currently not trying to make money. It’s a great tool, but my fear is that they’ll eventually shut down shop.

  2. Faz says

    Thanks for sharing! The interface looks great, and it’s nice to have the option to get advice from a financial advisor, albeit for a fee. But the list of accounts that can be added is still quite limited, so I would have to add a lot of holdings manually. I think for now I’m stuck with HelloWallet until expands their account access :(

  3. says

    I’m a big fan of RIAs for their fiduciary obligation to put my interests first. But Personal Capital seems pretty groovy for people who don’t use them for their RIA services (like me for example).

    They seem to shine where other aggregators and personal finance website fall down, which is on the investment side of things. I’ve always ignored the investing component of Mint because it wasn’t useful, but Personal Capital is the opposite. Great investment tools, but poor day-to-day financial management.

    If you or anyone else wants a Personal Capital supplement to the solid info you have here, my write-up might be helpful too:

  4. says

    I started using a UK version of Mint, but found that it didn’t really have the functionality that I needed and the freedom that Excel gives me.

    However, personal capital looks like it has loads more really interesting features. “Crash test your portfolio” looks like a very interesting functionality.

  5. says

    Hi Jeff! Thanks for this review! Do you know if Personal Capital has a way for financial planners to monitor their client’s portfolios alongside the client? And if not, do they plan to allow for that as Balance Financial does?

    • says

      @ Shannon

      The client could give their planner their login credentials so they could monitor it all. I do have one client that did that with me.

      The only downside for advisors is that Personal Capital also has internal advisors that are essentially competition. That’s something I’ve considered but their interface is too slick to not let people take advantage of it.

      I’m not familiar with Balance Financial.

  6. Sadie says

    Recommend Personal Capital identify recommended PC requirements. I signed up only to learn Windows VISTA is not acceptable. Also identified I was using unacceptable Browser though IE9.

  7. says

    I’m so glad that this kind of app can be downloaded on our mobile! We just did a Personal Capital Review too and I wish I would have found it sooner. It’s amazing how they can break everything down and analyze your 401 (k) funds.

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