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Every financial site we’ve recently tested primarily focuses on personal finance issues. Most
also offer a few tools for tracking investments. Personal Capital is the
opposite. It offers some personal finance features, but not nearly as many as
our two Editors’ Choice winners, Mint and Quicken Deluxe. Instead, it mainly focuses on investments. The site offers numerous views of your holdings and some
personalized advice. Personal Capital also has a paid service for private
clients that provides tax-efficient portfolio customization and private equity
access, in addition to a suite of banking services through partner BNY Mellon. Our review only covers Personal Capital’s free services.

Getting
Started

It doesn’t take long to start getting feedback from
Personal Capital. After you create an account and set up security settings (Multi-Factor Authentication is an option, as is Foreign
Login Alert), you can start adding financial accounts by clicking the plus sign in the upper left corner. Several popular
financial institutions are listed in the window that opens. You can either
choose one or start typing in the name of another in the Search field, and a
drop-down list contains matching banks and brokerages.

Select
one, and then enter your username and password for it, along with any required security information. Personal Capital connects to the institution and downloads the most
recent transactions (usually 90 days’ worth) and then creates an entry for it in
the left vertical pane under the correct type: Cash, Investment, Credit,
Mortgage, or Other Asset (like your home and stock options). Your accounts’
balances appear there, too. The idea is to add all of your assets and
liabilities to arrive at an accurate net worth.

That’s
it for the setup. You’re ready to start learning from Personal Capital.

The
User Experience

Personal
Capital’s user interface and navigation system are excellent. It has a very
polished, professional look. As I mentioned, the left vertical pane contains
all of your accounts and their balances. A simple toolbar runs horizontally
across the top, dividing the site into its functional areas and subsections. These are Overview (Dashboard, Net Worth, Transactions), Banking
(Cash Flow, Budgeting, Bills, Open An Account), Investing (Holding, Balances,
Performance, Allocation, US Sectors), Planning (Retirement Planner, Withdrawal
Planner, Retirement Fee Analyzer, Investment Checkup), and Wealth Management
(Open An Account, Advisor, Daily Capital Blog).

It’s easy to see how investment accounts like IRAs are doing.

There
are additional links in the upper-right corner. You click the small bell to see any new Notifications. In addition, when you click the arrow next to your name, a
drop-down menu gives you access to Settings, Profile, and Support. It’s a good
idea to spend some time completing the information displayed on the Settings
page. Here, you can subscribe to any of Personal Capital’s informational
emails, opt to exclude investment income and dividends from Cash Flow, and set
up any security that you haven’t already. This screen also displays the name of
every device you’ve used to log in to Personal Capital, along with the first
date you signed in and the date and time of your most recent visit. This last bit of information is helpful from a security standpoint and I haven’t
seen anything similar on any other site.

Dashboard,
Transactions

Two
screens that you’re likely to visit more frequently than others are the site’s
Dashboard and Transactions pages. I like the Dashboard. It’s not as
comprehensive as Mint’s, but Mint has more personal finance data to present
(which can get cumbersome). A 90-day graph of your net worth appears at the
top.

Below
that are two boxes. One contains a graph of your budget. Personal Capital’s
budget tools are very simple. You can’t set up monthly budgets in various
categories like you can with Quicken Deluxe. The site calculates an average of
your monthly spending based on historical data; you can override this monthly
budget number with one you determine, if you want. A clock-like graphic shows
where you are in the month (the current date) along with a total of your
spending up to that date.

Personal Capital budgetingYou always know where you stand with your overall monthly budget in Personal Capital.

Below
that is a list of categories with your current spending total; you can click on
any of them to see the underlying transactions. Other charts on the Dashboard
display your current emergency fund total, retirement plan progress, and debt
paydown. You can’t customize this page like you can on so many financial
websites.

To
see your net worth in detail, click that link in the Overview menu. The
final link in that menu takes you to the Transactions page. Transaction
management on the Personal Capital site is not nearly as thorough as it is on
CountAbout, for example. When you click a transaction in the register, the
only details you see are the same ones represented in the register’s columns:
Date, Account, Description, Category (Personal Capital is better at assigning
these correctly than other sites are), Tags, and Amount. The only option you
have is to hide any transactions that are duplicates, which removes them from
reports but continues to display them on the account’s page. If you’ve written
a check, the Description reads “Check #,” which means you’d have to look up the
actual transaction in your check register or on your bank’s website. You can
choose the date range for your register and view it by account types.

Personal Capital edit account detailsPersonal Capital allows you to track multiple types of financial accounts.

Bills,
Savings, and Investments

As
mentioned earlier, the Dashboard contains abbreviated information about your
cash flow and budget. Links in the Banking menu take you to more detailed sections. The Banking menu also takes you to the Bills page. You can’t
enter information about upcoming bills, track, and pay them like you can in
Quicken Deluxe. What this screen does do is display the last payment, statement
balance, minimum due, and current balance for your linked financial accounts. You
can visit the bank’s website from here and mark the bill as paid. Mint offers
something similar, except that it doesn’t display bills until there’s a date
due and payment amount.

Personal
Capital Cash is a savings account that Personal Capital offers through a
partnership with UMB Bank n.a.(Member FDIC). It offers individual and joint
accounts, no minimum balance, and unlimited monthly transactions. The interest
rate as of March 23, 2020, was 0.05%. Personal Capital Advisory clients (the
company sells fee-based investment management and advice based on a percentage
of assets managed) could earn 0.10%.

The
Personal Capital website’s real strength is in portfolio tracking. Once you’ve
connected your brokerage accounts, you can view their holdings, balances,
performance, allocation, and U.S. sectors. The site uses tables and charts to
provide this information, then offers guidance in its Investment Checkup. This
tool analyzes your investment profile and makes recommendations in several
areas: Target Allocation, Historical Performance, Future Projections, Risk
& Return, and Allocation Comparison.

Personal Capital portfolio allocationPersonal Capital can make recommendations on balancing your portfolio.

All
of the personal financial information you’ve supplied to Personal Capital can
be put to work in the site’s Retirement Planner. This complex tool runs a
series of simulations to help you determine whether you’ll be able to retire
when you want to with the income you’d like to have. Once you’ve retired, the
Retirement Planner turns into the Withdrawal Planner. You can also use a tool
that evaluates the impact fund fees are having on your portfolio. These features
can provide some insight into how prepared you’ll be for retirement and how you
should handle your withdrawals once you’ve retired.

You
may also want to consider Personal Capital’s Advisory Services if you have sufficient
holdings (the service is available to individuals with portfolios of over
$100,000). The company functions as a fiduciary, so it’s required to work in its
clients’ best interests. The professional investment team can provide
personalized advice and recommendations on your portfolio—guidance that
wouldn’t come amiss in today’s turbulent stock market.

Good
Mobile Apps

Personal
Capital has both iOS and Android apps. They work similarly, but have some
differences from the desktop site. There’s no dashboard, for one thing. You’ll
navigate among content areas by clicking a link in the upper left to open a
vertical pane with links to these areas. The Net Worth link displays all of
your account balances (on the desktop, these are always present in the left
vertical pane). You can view deposits or expenses or all transactions, but you
can’t add any on the app. Cash flow and budgeting are also represented by
charts and transaction registers. Investment tools aren’t as strong as they are
on the desktop, but you can view your portfolio’s holdings. The Retirement
Planner is there, too. Both apps offer a great user experience.

Personal Capital portfolio performanceHow’s your investment portfolio performing? Personal Capital can tell you quickly.

Track Your Investments

No
other personal finance site we’ve reviewed offers as much investing support. Still, Personal Capital is light on its other personal finance tools, especially
compared to Mint, our Editors’ Choice for free personal finance websites, and
Quicken Deluxe, which takes the Editors’ Choice for paid personal finance
software. Both include some good investment tracking, but they surpass Personal
Capital in terms of managing day-to-day finances—account management,
transactions, budgeting, credit health, and reports. We recommend you consider
one of them if you want the best personal finance management available today.

While you are thinking about your personal finances, don’t forget to check out our coverage of the best online tax services. You may have already filed your state returns, but the federal tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15.

Personal Capital Specs

Free Version Yes
Free Credit Report/Score No
Web Interface Yes
Income/Expense Tracking Yes
iOS App Yes
Android App Yes

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