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Personal Capital Review

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What if you have investment accounts, more than one mortgage, banks accounts and credit spending scattered all over the place? Sure, you could probably keep track of it all with Mint.com, but would you be able to more effectively manage it all?

While Mint.com works great for those looking to accomplish basic tracking tasks, such as keeping up with spending, and tracking investment performance, it’s more about budgeting, and looking at your habits. Mint.com won’t actually advise you about your options for the future. If you want a financial application that will help you set a financial course (rather than build a budget using your past spending information), you might turn to Personal Capital.

What is Personal Capital?

Personal Capital is a freemium app that can help you with cash flow management. It will help you track your investments — and provide you with information related to your asset allocation. (It will also analyze the investment fees you pay, and help you find ways to save more.) It will automatically update your spending, and look for trends that can help you adjust your course to meet your financial goals and needs.

Personal Capital is aimed at those who might be considered upper middle class. These are folks who have a variety of investments, might have a second home, and who have a cash flow system that is a little more complex than many of those who use Mint.com. However, even though these folks might be considered “wealthy” by some standards, they may not have the assets or net worth to be seriously considered as clients for some of the top flight money managers and advisers. Personal Capital is being billed as a solution that can help you better manage your cash flow, taking you beyond budgeting. It’s supposed to be about more than looking through your spending habits to spot “problem” areas where you could cut back; it’s supposed to help you manage your cash flow, now and in the future.

On top of that, Personal Capital will also connect you with a financial adviser who can help you manage your investments, and your other money issues. Indeed, Personal Capital is the front-end for a business that aims to make money. So, while the basic tool is free, once you start getting more personalized advice, you have to decide whether it’s worth paying a financial adviser to help keep you on track.

Mint.com is Probably Just Fine for Most People

For most people, Mint.com (or Quicken, which I use) is probably just fine. You can track all of your accounts with Mint, and your information is automatically updated. You can receive bill reminders and spending alerts. For those who want to keep track of things, and recognize their own spending trends and patterns, Mint.com is a great tool. And, of course, with Mint you won’t be receiving a sales call soon after signing up. (Personal Capital tries to send an adviser your way as soon as possible after you sign up — using the phone number that you provide.)

In the end, what tool works best for you depends on your situation. Think about your financial needs, and your situation, and consider whether you might need a little extra help.

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6 Responses to “Personal Capital Review”

  1. Brendan says:

    I signed up for Personal Capital…I like the look of it better than Mint (Mint is too graphic based for me, Personal Capital seems to be somewhere in the middle between Mint and an Excel spreadsheet).

    However, it completely lacks functionality. It is not a “cash flow management” tool, in fact its barely more than (total income)-(total expenses=(cash flow).

    It’s a good idea in theory, however its obviously just a thinly veiled attempt of luring in high net worth individuals with the guise of complimentary advising service, only to turn around and recommend fee or commissioned services at some point in the future.

    Conclusion: I’ll import the rest of my accounts into Personal Capital and wait for their support team to increase the functionality. Until then, it does not compete with Mint (for budgeting or managing cash flow). Although Mint has been slow to progress since the Intuit takeover, they do continuously improve their site, and still seem genuinely interested in the quality of their product. Until this changes, Mint is still the best for the needs of 75% of the population, and Quicken or custom made spreadsheets cover the needs of the other 25%, not Personal Capital (as it exists today).

  2. Avadhut says:

    Miranda,

    That’s a great comparison between Mint and Personal Capital. Thanks for this review.

  3. Andy says:

    I’ve been a user and client of Personal Capital for a few months now and so far it’s been better than I expected. Functionality really is improving quickly, and so far the investment choices they’ve made for me have been smart, well-thought out, and a good way to ride the market without too much risk. Plus I’ve kept an IRA for myself to pick stocks and trade as I see fit. My hope is that an iPad and iPhone app will be released soon. I think they’ll do well with their model.

  4. Chris Dowling says:

    I use both, and I think they both are useful, in different ways: Mint for budgeting and monitoring cash flow, and PC for investment balancing and strategy.

  5. Personal Capital has evolved significantly since this review was written. Their dashboard looks and works totally different, they’ve added new features like a 401(k) fee analyzer and investment “doctor,” and their non-investing facets have improved.

    I think Personal Capital is a great supplement to tools like Mint or Quicken, but not necessarily a replacement (since they still don’t do daily money management well). Their CEO Bill Harris gave me the scoop on the philosophy behind their business model and services and I’ve covered that in what could be a useful supplement to this over at Value of Simple. Perhaps it will help some people with a fresh perspective: http://valueofsimple.com/personal-capital-review/


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