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Personal Capital is an investment app that offers investment analysis and retirement planning tools. It’s also a full-service financial planning firm that provides premium services to investors with more than $100,000 in assets.
I’ve been using Personal Capital for over nine years, and it’s now my go-to app for investment tracking and retirement planning. It has quite a few planning tools that I like, including a fee analyzer that could be a lifesaver for users paying high fees.
I really like the mobile app, and I use it to keep an eye on my investments and track my net worth. But there are also a few things I’m not a fan of with the wealth management company. Here are my thoughts after nine years with Personal Capital.
The Short Version
- The Personal Capital app is my go-to financial tool
- There are many things to love about the app, such as the Fee Analyzer, Retirement Planner, Savings Planner, Investing Checkup Tool and Net Worth Calculator.
- The company could improve its budgeting features, be more accessible to investors with assets under $100,000 and offer a debit card with its checking account. Still, overall it’s an excellent choice for day-to-day investment management.
My Experience With Personal Capital
In 2013, I signed up for a Personal Capital account and connected my investment accounts to try out the platform. While the features were more limited back then, I was able to play with the retirement planner and fee analyzer to see how my IRA fees compared to the industry benchmark and how a 1% or 2% fee could affect my retirement.
I also connected my bank accounts and credit cards to test the budgeting tools, which I was honestly not impressed with. Unfortunately, these features have not improved much over the years. But the ability to set savings goals was a nice touch, and I liked that I could analyze my past spending.
Once I reached $100,000 in investments, I received a courtesy call from the wealth management team. While I was comfortable managing my own portfolio, I asked about their services. I was pleased to learn that they focus on a more passive investment strategy and offer more than just investment plans: they offer debt management plans, cash flow planning, and more.
Overall, Personal Capital has been my go-to for its investment and retirement planning tools. Over the years, I’ve used these tools to run various scenarios to see if I was on track. I don’t use the app for budgeting at all and will most likely ignore that feature until they decide to upgrade it.
5 Personal Capital Features That I Love
Personal Capital keeps adding features, but here are a few of my favorites:
✔️ Fee Analyzer
My favorite feature of Personal Capital is its Fee Analyzer, which shows you how much you’re paying in fees currently and how much you will pay in total until retirement age.
The analyzer takes inventory of all your connected investment accounts and parses the fee information for each fund you are invested in. It then tallies the total contributions, earnings, and fees over your working career (estimated).
The industry benchmark for fees is around 0.50%, but if you pay more than 1%, you’ll find that a large percentage of your earnings disappear to fees, which is eye-opening. Overall, the fee analyzer is the most valuable tool from Personal Capital and could (literally) save you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
✔️ Retirement Planner
Personal Capital offers a comprehensive retirement planning tool that helps you plan for retirement in broad strokes. The tool takes inventory of your current financial accounts, runs thousands of growth projections, and asks about your retirement spending needs and savings goals along the way.
The retirement planner considers your age, asset allocation, and savings rate and even includes estimates for social security. You can also make several plans and adjust them to view different scenarios.
The planner shows a year-by-year cash flow table that shows your portfolio value each year and your income and withdrawals once you hit retirement age. Overall, the tool gives you a deep look into what retirement could look like.
✔️ Savings Planner
The Savings Planner is a tool that allows you to review your savings plan in three key areas:
This tool is tied to the Retirement Planner, as your savings plan for retirement affects your projections. This tool helps you aim for a “70% chance of reaching your retirement goals” success rate in the retirement planner based on the numbers you input.
The Emergency fund planner tracks your cash accounts and helps you aim for three to six months of savings based on your monthly budget amount. The debt paydown planner is not much of a planner but more of a tracker of your debts.
Overall, the Savings Planner helps you stay on track toward retirement while keeping a solid cash cushion and tracking your progress as you pay off your debt over time.
✔️ Investing Checkup Tool
There are several investment analysis tools within the Personal Capital app. Still, I like the Investment Checkup tool because it allows you to see how your investments perform vs. industry benchmarks. You can quickly set a custom date range and see your total return over that period, and you can filter out individual accounts to see how they are performing.
The tracker also shows your investment cash flow, income, and expenses for the specified period, providing a quick snapshot of your cumulative inflows and outflows. Overall, this is a solid tool that gives an excellent overview of your portfolio’s performance compared to different markets.
✔️ Net Worth Calculator
Personal Capital offers a Net Worth Calculator that lets you see how your net worth has risen (or declined) over time. This tool summarizes the balances of your connected financial accounts and shows an interactive chart.
To see how each performs, you can filter for different accounts, including cash, investment, credit, loan, mortgage, and other account types. I personally like seeing the credit accounts — Personal Capital tracks the credit availability and utilization for my credit cards.
Overall, monitoring your net worth is a great way to stay on track financially, and Personal Capital makes it easy.
3 Areas Where Personal Capital Could Improve
Personal Capital is a great (free) financial app, but there are a few things I don’t like about it:
❌ Personal Capital Is Not a Budgeting App
While you can track your spending, you can only set a monthly budget amount — not budgets for individual categories. This lack of control doesn’t allow you to limit your spending and plan for each category but simply track it along the way.
The pie chart provides a nice visual of where your money is going. However, the budgeting tool is simply a tracker; it’s not a proactive tool like YNAB or Mint.
Read more >>> Mint vs YNAB: Which Budgeting App Is Better?
❌ Wealth Management Requires at Least $100,000 Invested
Personal Capital offers its customers complete financial planning services and access to a team of licensed financial advisors — but only if you have $100,000.
The Personal Capital Wealth Management service is exclusively available to customers who link investment accounts worth $100,000 or more. And once you have that amount, they WILL call your cell phone to set up a consultation and try to win you as a client.
To be fair, this service is one of the better financial advisory services around. The 0.89% fee is lower than most traditional financial planners.
If you’re under the $100,000 threshold, you’ll need to find another financial advisor to work with. But if you’re able to meet the investment minimum, you can check out Personal Capital’s Wealth Management services here.
❌ No Debit Cards in the Personal Capital Cash™ Account
While the app and wealth management get most of the attention, Personal Capital offers a cash account that pays a decent interest rate.
The downside? You can’t get a debit card with the cash account, making it a weak offering as a checking account. Personal Capital says they are “working on it” on the website, but without a debit card, the account is solely for online transactions and savings.
Personal Capital is a great investment app that offers helpful insights into your portfolio. The fee analyzer alone can save you thousands of dollars. Plus, the retirement planners give just enough detail to help you make sure you’re on track without overwhelming you.
To be sure, Personal Capital isn’t without its shortcomings. It only offers wealth management services to users with $100,000 or more and its budgeting tools are subpar. But all things considered, I do truly think that Personal Capital is a solid tool that can help you make smarter investing decisions.
Personal Capital Disclosure – Personal Capital Advisors Corporation (“PCAC”) compensates Webpals Systems S. C LTD for new leads. Webpals Systems S. C LTD is not an investment client of PCAC.