Personal Capital’s website, www.personalcapital.com, provides individuals with money management and analytical services. Personal Capital is an investment adviser that combines all of a user’s financial information in one place, analyzes it, and provides free investment advice based on the user’s investment strategy. Personal Capital also offers a paid service in which they build and manage a personalized investment portfolio for less than 1% in management fees. There is no obligation to enroll in this service.
After registering with Personal Capital for free, users are asked to provide some information regarding their investment strategy, such as how many years they have until they expect to retire and the aggressiveness of their allocation strategy. Finally, users are asked to enter as much or as little of their financial information as they desire, whether it be brokerage accounts, 401(k) plans, credit cards, or even a phone bill.
After entering this information, users can find almost everything they need on the Dashboard. Here, users will see the accounts they entered along with snapshots of their spending, investment allocation, portfolio gainers and losers, net worth, bill reminders, options to contact their financial adviser, and the next steps that can be taken to achieve their desired financial positions.
The Spending snapshot shows cash flow for the last 30 days, which shows how much of total spending for that period went to specific categories such as mortgages and ATM withdraws. Gainers and Losers shows a user’s one-day portfolio return and breaks down the investments into those that gained and those that lost on the particular day, while Investment Allocation shows how much of a user’s investments are in categories such as cash, U.S. bonds and international stocks. The Your Advisor window provides an advisor’s name, picture, and variety of contact options. A user can call, email, and even chat online with their adviser. One particularly interesting feature is Universal Checkbook, which is an iPhone application that allows users to deposit checks by taking a picture of them. Many large banks offer this feature, but what makes Universal Checkbook different is that users can deposit checks into any of their accounts, rather than just those banks that offer the feature.
Personal Capital is a great tool for those who find themselves with more accounts than they can keep track of and who would like some advice on improving their financial position while keeping their investing strategies and needs in mind. Users should keep in mind that the service does not provide in-depth investment analysis, data, market news or performance charts. Personal Capital’s free core service merely makes it easy to keep track of multiple financial accounts and helps users diversify their investments.