Personal Capital Review 2017: Automatically Track Net Worth and Portfolio Asset Allocation

pc1

Personal Capital is free financial website and app that links all of your accounts to track your spending, investments, and net worth. You provide your login information, and they pull in the information for you automatically so you don’t have to type in your passwords every day on 7 different websites (similar to Mint). Investment-specific features include tracking portfolio performance, benchmarking, and asset allocation analysis.

Net worth. You can add your home value, mortgage, checking/savings accounts, CDs, credit cards, brokerage, 401(k), and even stock options to build your customized Net Worth chart. You can also add investments manually if you’d prefer. I have a habit of accumulating bank and credit union accounts, so I find account aggregation quite helpful.

pc_networth

Cash flow. The Cash Flow section tracks your income and expenses by pulling in data from your bank accounts and credit cards. This chart compares where you are this month against the same time last month. If you hate budgeting, you may find it easier to view a real-time snapshot of your spending behavior. Their expense categorization tool is not as advanced as Mint.com, as you can’t for example tell them to always classify “Time Warner Cable” as “Utilities” and not “Online Services” or whatever they do by default. The default is usually pretty accurate, but if it isn’t you have to change it manually.

pc_cashflow

Portfolio. This is where Personal Capital is better than many competing services, by analyzing my overall asset allocation, holdings, and performance relative to benchmarks. They also analyze your investment fees to see if you can get them reduced. I first signed up for Personal Capital four years ago, and since then my investments have gotten spread out even further. I now have investments at Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab, TransAmerica (401k), and Merrill Edge. It’s nice to be able to see everything together in one picture.

pc_portfolio2

pc_portfolio3

For comparison, Mint does not allow manual input of investments and it did not break down my asset allocation correctly based on my linked accounts. In fact, all it shows is a big orange pie chart with “99.9% Not Sure” and “0.00 Other”. Not exactly helpful.

Personal Capital considers the major asset classes to be US stocks, International stocks, US Bonds, International Bonds, and Cash. The “Alternatives” classification includes Real Estate, Gold, Energy, and Commodities.

If you have one bank account, one credit card, and a 401(k), you may not need this type of account aggregation service. Life tends to get messy though, and this helps me maintain a high-level “big picture” view of things.

Security. As with most similar services, Personal Capital claims bank-level, military-grade security like AES 256-bit encryption. The background account data retrieval is run by Envestnet/Yodlee, which partners with other major financial institutions like Bank of America, Vanguard, and Morgan Stanley. Before you can access your account on any new device, you’ll receive an automated phone call, email, or SMS asking to confirm your identity.

How is this free? How does Personal Capital make money? Notice the lack of ads. Personal Capital makes money via a optional paid financial advisory service, and they are using this as a way to introduce themselves. (People who sign up for portfolio trackers have money…) Their management fees are 0.89% annually for the first $1 million, which is rather expensive to my DIY sensibilities. They are a legit, SEC-registered RIA fiduciary and currently manage over $3.6 billion. In my opinion, this status improves their credibility as an entity with access to my sensitive information.

Note that if you give them your phone number, they will call you to offer a free financial consultation. If you answer the phone or e-mail them that you don’t want to be contacted anymore, they will honor that request. However, if you simply ignore the phone calls, they will keep calling. Know that you can keep using the portfolio software for free no matter what happens. Therefore, if you aren’t interested, I would recommend simply being upfront with them. A simple “no thank you” and you’re good.

Bottom line. It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep that counts. The free financial dashboard software by Personal Capital helps you track your net worth, cash flow, and investments. I recommend it for tracking stock and mutual fund investments spread across different accounts. I’d link your accounts on the desktop site, but interact daily through their Android/iPhone/iPad apps for optimal convenience (log in with Touch ID or mobile-only PIN).

Comments

  1. Nice review! I still prefer to use Microsoft Money (a FREE, private desktop PC program) for tracking my spending, investments, and net worth. Used in conjunction with Pocketsense (also FREE and runs from your PC), which are a set of Python scripts that perform the same online functions, it pulls in the information from all of your accounts for you automatically from the same OFX servers on a daily basis, and no one else in the cloud sees your passwords or data.

    • Well, I do admire your tenacity in keeping things working with MS Money. Wasn’t that software last updated in 2009 or 2010?

      • Thanks ๐Ÿ˜‰ It still works perfectly!

        • Speaking of — I have an obsolete version of Microsoft Money (1997 edition I believe) that I use on my Windows 7 computer. I have a bad feeling that the next time I upgrade my computer that it will not successfully load. For that reason I have been exploring other options. Offerings from Quicken seem to be a bit pricey, unless you can catch a good sale. I have been intrigued by Personal Capital (hard to beat free) but have been a bit wary of any “hard sell” I might encounter for their services. Your article is reassuring in this regard. So now I have to get over my mental hurdle about connecting all my accounts to one site. I guess I’m a luddite, but I’ve stubbornly stayed with manual entry of data out of security concerns. One question though — can you bring in a spouse’s IRA/workplace retirement accounts to get an entire household picture — or is it strictly on an individual basis?

  2. This post reminded me that I have a Personal Capital account. I think I only ever access my profile though their iOS app. When i went to log in this morning, I had to do a password reset. But there is a bug in their password reset app, and I’ve been told by a few people at Personal Capital to wait 3 days for some kind of “System Reset”.

    You review is great, but unfortunately, their customer service is lacking.

  3. I don’t trust them with my account log in credentials. Keep in mind that PC is just basically a small RIA with a fancy website and app. The interface is very nice but I trust Intuit/Mint more. Intuit has substantially more financial resources dedicated to keeping account information secure. Intuit makes money through advertising as opposed to this RIA that wants to sell me investment management services that I can get thru a Robo advisor at a fraction of the cost.

    • Intuit and Yodlee are probably the two biggest account aggregation services. Vanguard manages over $3 trillion and just recently inked a new deal with Yodlee. Since Yodlee is what is storing your login credentials, I’m equally okay with Mint and Personal Capital. “Your bank and brokerage credentials are only stored at Yodlee, not in Personal Capital’s database.” Mint is better at expenses, Personal Capital is better at investments. Mint can’t figure out my investments, here’s what they show me:

      http://www.mymoneyblog.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/pc_mintaa.gif

      Haha, Mint was also just a “fancy website” that sold to Intuit for $170 million. Even if you think a RIA managing $3.6 billion is “small”, Personal Capital still takes on a fiduciary duty to their clients. Before Intuit bought them, guess what Mint used for account aggregation? Yodlee.

      You don’t have to click on the ads on Mint, and you don’t have to pay for the advisory services on Personal Capital. One requires ignoring their “recommendations” every time you log in, and the other requires you to say “No Thanks” once on the phone or via e-mail. I use both.

      • Good explanation. I tend to agree with you re Yodlee as they were handling all the credentials for Money when the servers were active. I’ve got every single purchase I’ve made since 1995 in my data file, so I can pull up details on a micro level, and Money assigns the categories correctly.

        If I were just starting out, I might consider Personal Capital having read your review, but I’m a Money diehard.

    • Rubin,

      Maybe you should look more into what Personal Capital does and offers, they are not just another RoboAdvisor and they aren’t a one size all kind of service. They customize to how you want things because of personal/religious beliefs. They, also, will review your 401k options and let you know the best way to allocate them to coordinate with the money that they manage for you.

      • I never stated that Personal Capital is a Robo Advisor. My total (and I mean total expenses) on my current Robo advisor account with another firm is 19bps and was up 11% last year. I don’t need any more customization than what my Robo provides and don’t need any other advisory services. So for me, my Robo and Mint setup works fine. There is nothing that PC offers that is worth paying an extra 60bps for IMHO.

    • being a cybersecurity professional, I too am skeptical about logging into my accounts through personal capital

      there is a workaround though — after creating a support ticket with them you can bypass the initial account linking screen by navigating straight to where you can manually add in your accounts

  4. I really like what Personal Capital does, even if their fee is a little on the high side. Though I do wish their budgeting side of things was stronger.

    For anyone interested in having Personal Capital managed their money know that if you get referred by an existing client you both get 3 months of fee-free service. (I would post my referral link here for interested parties to use but I don’t know what Jonathan’s policy on that is.)

  5. Good review. I don’t understand “manual entry.” Do you still have to give the program sign-on info for all your accounts? From their enrollment page, there is no other alternative. So, what makes manual entry special if the program can access your accounts anyway?

    • No, you don’t have to give the program your sign-on info if you don’t want to. For example, you can tell them you have 200 shares of Apple stock if you want, and they will just track that. (You can also provide cost basis if you want them to track gains/losses.) Mint doesn’t allow this that I could find.

      • I didn’t know we can enter our investments manually. Can you please explain how ?

        • Log into your account, then click on the + button on the top left, then look at the bottom for a button that says “Add Portfolio”. Enter a name for your manual portfolio and then starting adding your positions. That’s it ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Manual entry is also good if you have investments at a company that Personal Capital/Yodlee doesn’t currently have setup for automated account aggregation so that they can be included in your net worth and investment allocation reporting.

  6. I use both Personal Capital and Mint + Mojito Chrome Extension. The Mojito extension gets rid of all the ‘recommendations’ and adds some other nice stuff like transaction search by dates or even a loan calc. You should check it out!

  7. Are there any recommendations for good free desktop personal finance software? I do not want to connect to cloud with my financial data. I downloaded and reviewing Money Sunset deluxe lately.

  8. Andrea Deyrup says:

    I feel a little anxious about giving all my account numbers and information to this company to monitor my holdings. I have included outside accounts in my Vanguard overview and have Total View with Ameriprise, but they are big, well-established companies. Am I just being paranoid here? Can this company use my information to, you know, empty my accounts?!? Thank you!

    • When I shared this article with my wife, that was her exact concern as well! We’re still doing quarterly updates using pencil and paper. We’re pretty conservative with our investments and ONLY have our retirement money in indexed stock and bond funds. Most of the rest is in bank accounts and a little in real estate.

  9. Another great post on asset allocation and spending tracking. I recently blogged about Asset Allocation and our points were actually aligned.

    The only thing we would see different is giving out account data to a company just so they can monitor our holdings.

  10. David Ann Arbor says:

    Wow 2.5 million dollars. That’s impressive.

    Personal Capital isn’t able to upload treasurydirect.gov data

Speak Your Mind

*