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Personal Capital – An All-in-One Financial Platform

2014 December 17
by Kevin

Personal Capital is one of the growing number of investment platforms available. But it may be even better described as an account aggregator since it also connects virtually all of your financial accounts, including your bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards and even your mortgage.

On top of that, they also provide investment advice to help you manage and grow your investments. It’s professional investment management, but without the high fees typically associated with that service.

The Many Benefits of Working With Personal Capital

Personal Capital provides such a wide range of services that you’ll feel like you’re getting a very personal touch – and often you literally are.

Connect to Personal Capital on your smartphone

Connect to Personal Capital on your smartphone

The platform is free to use and can also provide you with a dedicated investment advisor if you have over $100k in your portfolio.

They offer what they refer to as The Big Picture view of your entire financial profile. This is also referred to as the “360 degree View of Your Financial Life”. It includes all of your financial accounts, and considers the impact that each has as a part of your overall financial situation. This is almost unique among web based investment platforms.

Personal Capital also incorporates an Integrated Investment Portfolio feature, where they import all of your investment accounts into the platform to give you a comprehensive look at your asset allocation. This is incredibly valuable if you have your investments spread out over several accounts, with various investment brokers.

The have a unique custom feature referred to as The “You Index”.  This tool specifically monitors the performance of your equity investments, including both funds and individual stocks. However, it does not include cash-type accounts or any holdings of individual bonds, options or alternative investments.

Like most investment platforms now, Personal Capital allows you to incorporate mobile apps. The platform can be downloaded on Apple iPhone, iPad and Adroid apps, and the performance level will be comparable to the desktop version.

Personal Capital offers solid protection on the security front as well. They require you to register each computer you use, and will then send you either an e-mail or text message to your cell phone. They also have a security image that you pick out from a list, preventing scrapped versions on their site from hackers.

Personal Capital Features and Tools

Personal Capital offers the following investment tools on the site:

401(k) Fee Analyzer. The Analyzer shows you how much you’re paying in fees on your retirement plan, a fact which isn’t always obvious. This can then help you to make adjustments toward lowering your fees and improving your long term performance.

Spending chart in Cash Flow Tools

Spending chart in Cash Flow Tools

Cash Flow Tools. One of the best features with Personal Capital is the cash flow tool which gives you a overall view of your expenses and income. It breaks it down into different categories of spending/income. Touch on one of the segments in the pie chart, and you get a more detailed look at all your expenses (or income) in that particular block. This is extremely helpful in putting together your budget and is one of the many free features that comes with signing up with Personal Capital and linking your financial accounts.

Investment Checkup. This gives recommendations for asset allocation, which is the single most important investment strategy. The recommendations are based on your risk profile. You input a basic risk profile, answer when you want to retire, what income sources you predict, and a few other basic questions. It then provides a graph showing their recommended portfolio for you.

Asset Allocation Target. This tool allows you determine if you are over- or under-weight in any major equity category, and to make adjustments if necessary.

Funds Cost tool. This tool breaks down the cost of annual expenses related to investing in any fund that you own.

Tax Optimization. This isn’t a tool, but an overall system strategy to minimize income taxes on your portfolio. The platform uses several strategies to optimize your income tax situation:

  • Avoiding mutual funds, which are tax inefficient.
  • Tax allocation. For individuals with both taxable accounts and retirement accounts, this means placing the right investments in the right accounts. High yielding stocks and fixed income generally go into tax deferred or exempt accounts. REITs pay non-qualified dividends and should also be owned in retirement accounts.
  • Tax loss harvesting. Because they use individual securities, they can realize losses to offset gains or provide a deduction.

It’s always a major plus when your investment advisor “has your back” on the tax front.

How Personal Capital Works

Based in San Francisco, Personal Capital’s co-founder and CEO is Bill Harris, who was formerly the CEO at both PayPal and Intuit (makers of Quicken and TurboTax).

The platform works by customizing your investment portfolio based on your goals, preferences and risk tolerance. Once they learn about your entire financial situation and goals, they then determine how much growth you need to reach your goals. A portfolio will be designed that incorporates an appropriate risk and return profile. They also account for unique circumstances, such as savings goals like buying a house. For the most part, however you want your portfolio customized, they’ll make it happen.

They use baskets of individual securities and exchange traded funds (ETFs) to create your portfolio. They specifically avoid index funds because they have high annual fees, and generally feel that they decrease investment performance.

Investing in individual securities is also more tax efficient since tax harvesting can be used to minimize taxes. They also offer Personal Funds which are created to target specific investment objectives. These are also largely made up of individual securities, and not mutual funds.

personal capital review

Your investments are not held by Personal Capital, but by Pershing Advisor Solutions, a Bank of New York Mellon Company. Pershing is one of the largest US custodians, with over a trillion dollars in global client assets. Personal Capital doesn’t have direct custody of your assets – only you do.

Personal Capital Fees

As we mentioned before, Personal Capital is free to use. However they also offer their fee-based services which will provide you with greater services. But even the fees on these services are a bargain compared to traditional wealth management service fees, which may be in the range of 3-5% of your portfolio for their services.

What’s more, wealth management, trade costs and custody are included in the fee structure. There are no commissions. They also help clients with financial planning and 401k allocations at no charge.

The fee structure is as follows:

  • 0.89% of the first $1 million, OR
  • 0.79% of the first $3 million
  • 0.69% of the next $2 million (up to $5 million)
  • 0.59% of the next $5 million (up to $10 million)
  • 0.49% on balances over $10 million

Should You Choose Personal Capital to Help You Manage Your Investments?

I would say, why not? Personal Capital is totally free to use and helps you see the “big picture” with your finances – plus, offering you a more comprehensive and detailed look at how your investments are performing. If you wish to get more one-on-one, personal counsel, you can do so with a minimum balance of $100k in your portfolio.

If you’re looking for professional investment management – without having to pay the high fees charged by personal investment advisors – then Personal Capital is a platform well worth considering.

Create your FREE Personal Capital investment account today!

This article was brought to you by the fine folks at Personal Capital. All opinions expressed are our own. We may receive a commission if you sign-up for an account – at no cost to you.

Thrifty Things You Can Do to Feel Better

2014 December 15
by Aaron

As I found out, sometimes feeling better doesn’t take a whole lot of effort or money. For me, just changing my diet was one of the best things I’ve done and helped improve my health tremendously.

I’ve been thinking about other – sometimes overlooked – little things we can do to make our lives healthier and better. Here’s a few that I’ve come across that I hope benefit you. Please let me know if there are other thrifty things you employ that don’t cost anything (or very little) but improve your way of life.  read more…

Tips for Investing in Silver

2014 December 12
by Charlie

This blog post was written as part of my collaboration with eBay. All opinions expressed are our own.

charlie_imageIf you haven’t been living in a cave the last few years, then you may have noticed all the advertisements about investing in silver. Companies that are willing to buy or sell silver, because the demand has been there based on the economics of both our country and the world. People have a genuine concern for where to put their money and they don’t know where to start.

As I started my collection in 2007, I looked online a lot and read a lot of books on tips and tricks to start my collection. In doing so I learned through trial and error on what tips worked and what tricks didn’t. Here are my top tips on how to get started investing in silver. Read the rest of the article on ebay

Try These Tips to Save an Extra 10% or More on Purchases

2014 December 10
by Aaron

open-boxIf you’ve ever seen an episode of Pawn Stars, you can learn a lot about how the owner of the pawn shop (Rick Harrison) negotiates with folks who are wanting to sell him stuff.

One of his most used tactic is to find something wrong with the item. This could be anywhere from “it will sit in my store a long time” to “there’s a lot of scratches on this and it will cost me some money to restore it“.  read more…

When Does It Makes Sense to Stop Paying Off Debt?

2014 December 8

charlie_imageThroughout the last five years our family has aggressively sought to pay off all our debt. Currently all we have left is our home mortgage, and we have hope that the finish line is soon approaching.

However, we have to take a pause (or slow down) on our road to financial freedom. You see we have some expenses that are coming up that require us to save up a large chunk of cash. Here are things we need to save up for in the coming year or two, and avoid any loans.  read more…

How You Can Start a Coin Collection

2014 December 5
by Charlie

This blog post was written as part of my collaboration with eBay. All opinions expressed are our own.

charlie_image

About seven years ago I started collecting rare coins after reading Robert Kiyosaki’s recommendation to buy silver. Without knowing where to start at, I decided to buy coins that I saw my dad collect while he was growing up.

During my youth, my dad always had this old black vinyl box with red satin lining that he kept all his old coins, wedding rings, and other valuable trinkets (it always had a distinct musty smell in it too). Every so often I’d sift through his coins, not really knowing what I was looking, but admiring the heavy silver coins he collected. Primarily, he collected Morgan Dollars (1878-1921) and a few of the Peace Silver Dollars (1921-1935).  Read more at ebay

Comparison of Ooma vs Land Lines

2014 December 3
by Charlie

charlie_imageIn 2012 I made the decision to ditch my traditional land line services and opted to go with the Ooma home phone service. After having some previous bad experiences with another VOIP provider we were “once bitten, twice shy.” I laid out for our family all the cost benefits analysis of staying with Qwest, switching to another land line provider, or going with Ooma.

My initial analysis was done back in February 2012, and recently I’ve been wondering if it is still beneficial for me to stay with Ooma or switch to another land line provider. The following are providers in my neighborhood vs. my costs with Ooma.  read more…

Why Qdoba is Better Than Chipotle

2014 December 1
by Aaron

I remember when the first Chipotle opened up in my neighborhood. It was quite a novelty. Burritos so large you could stand them up on end. The restaurants were unique and you could make your burrito however you liked.

For years, I was a Chipotle-frequenter. read more…

Is Now a Good Time to Buy Gold Bullion?

2014 November 28

This blog post was written as part of my collaboration with eBay. All opinions expressed are our own.

charlie_imageAs 2014 comes to a close our American financial house in disarray with $17.956 trillion debt, and each tax payer owing $153,000 it’s no wonder why people are starting to look at investing in gold! Hit shows like Gold Rush are attracting tons of viewers. It makes you wonder…do other people know something that I don’t? It’s kind of like when you are on a sinking ship (but don’t know it) and you see all the rats running one way, but don’t yet know why they are running.  Read more

read more…

8 Christmas Gift Ideas for the Thrifty Guy

2014 November 24
by Aaron


thrifty-christmas-gift-ideasIf you have a thrifty guy or guys on your Christmas list this year – allow us to offer a few suggestions for your review. Having been a guy for over 40 years now and a thrifty one for more than a quarter of those years – we might be able to lend some expertise. A few things to keep in mind when shopping for the thrifty guy: read more…