Personal Capital Review 2024


3.3 / 5
Personal Capital is #88 in our broker rankings.

Personal Capital (now Empower) is a great option for investors seeking a flexible way to build an investment portfolio or pension plan. It is a particularly good fit for US traders owing to the SEC oversight.

- Daytrading Review Team

Empower (formerly Personal Capital) is a popular, SEC-regulated US financial advisory and investment platform that offers pensions, ready-made investment plans and do-it-yourself, commission-free investing through a large range of mutual funds, ETFs, individual equities and fixed-income securities. The broker has an impressive 3.4 million clients.

$1 (Cash), $100,000 (Robo Advisor)
Own
Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income
-
USD
Wire Transfer

Stock Trading

Commission-free trading on US stock equities and ETFs as well as access to thousands of mutual funds are available through Empower's DIY investment account. You will also gain exposure to stock markets through the firm's ready-made investment plans and pensions.

Awards

  • Best for Portfolio Management 2020

✓ Pros

  • FDIC-insured cash account with no minimum balance requirement
  • Segregated client funds with a top-tier custodian bank
  • A wealth of free financial analysis and planning tools
  • Easy-to-use platform and financial dashboard
  • Well-known and popular investing platform
  • Strong regulatory oversight from SEC
  • Mobile app

✗ Cons

  • Wealth management services only for customers with $100,000+ in invested assets
  • No forex, futures or cryptocurrencies
  • An annual advisory fee of 0.89%
  • No demo account
  • US residents only

Personal Capital is now Empower. Please go to our review of Empower for our latest findings and expert verdict.

Personal Capital offers free investment tools and wealth management services. The broker-dealer aims to help US individuals transform their financial lives through technology and advisory solutions. This review will cover the products available to retail customers, fees, brokerage accounts, and more. Find out if you should sign up with Personal Capital.

Company Details

Personal Capital is an online financial advisory and personal wealth management company founded in 2009 by Bill Harris, Rob Foregger, Louie Gasparini, and Paul Bergholm. The organization is headquartered in Redwood City, California with additional offices in San Francisco and Denver.

Previously known as SafeCorp Financial Corp, the firm provides a selection of free and paid products for retail investors of all experience levels. The company was also acquired by Empower Retirement in 2020 for $1 billion. It is now referred to as Personal Capital, by Empower.

The company has 3.4 million active users with $20.5 billion in assets under management. It also has accolades from established firms and media groups, including a quote from The New York Times that it is “the tool to beat”.

Personal Capital is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an investment advisor.

Trading Platform

Personal Capital offers an intuitive financial dashboard. It uses state-of-the-art technology to provide investors with a 360 view of their finances. It is available on desktop devices or can be downloaded as a mobile-compatible app for iOS and Android mobiles and tablets.

Users can switch between major groupings on the main navigation bar; Investing, Planning, Banking, and Wealth Management. The dashboard updates in real-time and categorizes your financial information into digestible and visual displays.

Although the platform is suitable for beginners, the terminal also provides enough analytical features and planning tools for experienced traders to dig deep into investment opportunities.

Features include:

Personal Capital savings planner platform

How To Get Started

  1. Register for a Personal Capital account
  2. Verify your identity by SMS or phone call
  3. Link your existing financial accounts by searching bank name or URL, e.g. Bank of America
  4. Enter your credentials for the US bank account or financial institution
  5. Select ‘Continue’
  6. Repeat until all your financial account details have been entered
  7. Once verified you can view all your linked accounts within one dashboard

How to open a Personal Capital account

Products & Assets

Personal Capital investment accounts and trade plans are made up of stocks, mutual funds, fixed-income products, and ETFs. Access to instruments will vary between portfolio suggestions based on your financial goals.

The broker-dealer uses their Smart Weighting indexing technology to create a diverse portfolio. This involves equally weighting an asset’s style, size, and economic sector. The aim is to achieve risk-averse returns while not missing opportunities. Personal Capital creates a sample of 70+ individual US stocks to construct an index. With this comes increased tax management opportunities, the elimination of fund costs, and the avoidance of ‘sector’ bubbles.

When we used Personal Capital, we were particularly pleased to see the option to invest in socially responsible portfolios made up of firms that align with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors.

Fees & Costs

The Personal Capital fee schedule is simple. Customers can access all the financial tools and analysis dashboard free of charge. There are no commissions, meaning you can use the tools as often as required to support investment decisions.

An annual fee does apply for advisory services and wealth management support. The firm uses a percentage-based cost method according to your assets under wealth management.

Fees by asset balance:

Leverage

Personal Capital does not provide margin trading opportunities. All investment portfolio suggestions are designed to be executed through cash accounts.

Payment Methods

Deposits

Deposits and withdrawals can be requested directly through your Personal Capital dashboard. You can transfer funds via domestic and international bank wire transfers (USD currency only) or transfer between Personal Capital accounts. This includes setting up automated direct deposits on a daily, weekly, or monthly recurrence. The broker does not charge any fees.

For new accounts, users are required to deposit at least $1 to a cash account. A 60-day waiting period is activated from this deposit, meaning funds can only be withdrawn to the amount of the deposit made via the linked account. Deposits made from newly linked accounts may incur a processing time of five working days.

How To Transfer Funds Through The Personal Capital Mobile App

  1. Log in to the Personal Capital mobile app with your registered credentials
  2. Select your cash account
  3. Click on the three dots found on the top right of the interface
  4. Select ‘Transfer Funds’
  5. Choose the account to transfer funds from
  6. Choose the account to transfer funds to
  7. Add the transfer value
  8. Select the regularity of transfer e.g. one-off, weekly, monthly, etc
  9. Select ‘Next’
  10. Review the transfer and select ‘Confirm Transfer’

The maximum deposit limit is $250,000 per transaction although there is no limit on the number of individual transactions per day.

Withdrawals

Cash is available for withdrawal within a one to three-day settlement period after investment positions are closed. There is a $25,000 withdrawal limit per day unless you are exempt, including if your account was opened before December 1st, 2019. If so, the withdrawal limit is $100,000 per day.

External withdrawal requests from a Personal Capital cash account are typically received within one to two working days. There are no withdrawal fees, but third-party charges may apply.

International wire transfer withdrawals are not permitted. Domestic withdrawal wire transfers over $10,000 are processed Monday to Friday between 9:30 AM and 2:00 PM each day (Pacific Time).

Personal Capital Mobile App

The majority of Personal Capital tools can be accessed via the iOS and Android mobile applications. You can download the apps from the relevant app store.

While using Personal Capital’s mobile application, we could access our investments and real-time financial status 24/7. Customers can also use interactive cash flow tools from portable devices. This includes compatibility with Apple watches. You can set spending and investment targets and check spending status by date.

Personal Capital investment app

The brokerage’s app is highly rated, with a 4.7/5 ranking on the Apple App Store. Additionally, quotes from recognized media outlets, such as CNBC, have called it “the best app for investors”.

Demo Account

The broker-dealer does not provide a demo account service. This is disappointing, particularly given the high minimum investment required to access wealth management services.

Nonetheless, potential users can access a wealth of educational resources and guides. Investors can also use all financial tools free of charge. Additionally, new users can speak to a wealth advisor to understand potential investment plans and portfolio options.

Deals & Promotions

Existing Personal Capital customers can receive bonuses and financial rewards through the broker-dealer’s referral scheme. Rewards vary, but historically, they have included six months of waived advisory fees, free access to live events, and gift cards.

The referred ‘friend’ must link a new investment account with a minimum balance of $1000 within 30 days of receiving the unique link.

Regulation & Licensing

Personal Capital Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Empower Holdings LLC and operates through two subsidiaries;

Client funds are also segregated from Personal Capital’s business funds and held with Pershing Advisor Solutions, one of the USA’s largest custodian banks.

Remember, no investment advisor can guarantee profits. Past performance is not indicative of future returns. Never invest more than you can afford to lose.

Additional Features

Education

Personal Capital offers a variety of educational resources and information suitable for both experienced traders and complete beginners. The brand operates an educational blog named Daily Capital which hosts hundreds of articles, forum-style posts, and guides. Key categories include company news, financial planning, investing & markets, guides & reports, and key-term glossaries.

Personal Strategy

The Personal Strategy® tool combines innovative technology with the brand’s financial advisors to create a personalized investment portfolio. This is available to paying, wealth management customers. The product creates a unique collection created with stocks and ETFs, designed and managed specifically for you.

Retail clients can benefit from a dedicated wealth management advisor, daily portfolio rebalancing, and tax optimization. The suggested strategy utilizes your personal financial goals, risk appetite, and timelines to provide a well-rounded, long-term trading solution.

The automated tool is monitored by Personal Capital’s wealth managers, and auto-adjustments are made by the team based on external market movements. The asset allocations can also be amended as your financial situation or goals change over time.

Financial Roadmap

The Financial Roadmap tool was launched amid the Covid pandemic in 2020. It was developed to boost financial outcomes through personalized and timely guidance. Based on your personal data, the product suggests major topics to focus such as mortgage/real estate, education, or retirement cash flow. It can recommend an allocation of funds to invest, save or create an emergency fund.

The ‘timeline’ can be found running alongside the bottom of the dashboard interface. It uses a checklist-based roadmap so you can understand which topics you have visited and what needs attention.

Account Types

Once you have registered for a Personal Capital account and synced your existing investment and banking accounts, users gain access to the free financial tools offered by the firm.

Accounts are available to US residents only.

Cash Management Services

The Personal Capital Cash account is a high-interest savings account that can be used alongside investment tools and financial planning services. The account is available for no fee, with no minimum account balance requirement, unlike the wealth management profiles. Customers benefit from a 3.35% APY interest rate (3.45% APY for customers with a wealth management profile).

Features include:

Personal Capital cash management app

Wealth Management Services

Retail clients must have a minimum of $100,000 in investments to qualify for Personal Capital investment management profiles. There are different wealth management tiers:

Investment Services Account

Wealth Management Account

Private Client Account

New Account Requirements

To get started with Personal Capital, you will need to register for an account.

Select the ‘Get Started’ logo found on the top right of the website’s navigation bar. You will need to provide detailed financial information if you are looking for a managed profile. Here is how it works:

  1. Complete the financial evaluation questions
  2. Personal Capital’s wealth management team will develop a personalized money strategy
  3. A Pershing account (Personal Capital’s third-party custodian) will be opened once you are happy with the trade plan
  4. Fund your account with cash or transfer securities
  5. The financial strategy is implemented

Customer Service

Personal Capital does not offer a live chat function.

Our experts were impressed with the FAQ section, however, more detail can be found within the online Support Center. The link can be found on the ‘Contact Us’ webpage. Topics include how to deposit/withdraw to an investment account, login queries, and brokerage fees.

Additionally, there are plenty of guides, blog posts, and articles so you can resolve issues or find answers yourself.

Security & Safety

When using the Personal Capital platform and financial tools, you can be assured of top-tier security protocols and safety standards. Client login details are encrypted and unavailable to company employees. Other features include:

Personal Capital Verdict

Personal Capital is a good solution for high-net-worth individuals seeking wealth management support and dedicated financial planning. The range of free tools creates a one-stop platform for financial and investment analysis. Although the high advisory fees and minimum account balances may be unsuitable for many, the free Personal Money Cash Account with high-yield interest rates is a good starting point.

FAQs

Is Personal Capital Really Free?

Personal Capital offers free tools to all customers and the Personal Capital Cash savings account can be opened with no minimum balance requirement. There is, however, an annual advisory fee for wealth management services, which is based on your assets under management. There are no confusing commission charges or hidden fees. You must have at least $100,000 in investable assets to be eligible.

Is Personal Capital Safe And Legitimate?

Yes, our Personal Capital review confirms that the company is a safe and secure financial services provider. The firm operates with top-tier security protocols, SEC regulations, and segregated client funds.

Does Personal Capital Sell Your Data?

No, Personal Capital does not sell or permit customers’ personal information to be shared with any third-party institutions.

Is Personal Capital A Good Company?

Personal Capital is a legitimate financial services provider. The Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The firm provides a range of free financial tools, investment guidance, and support for both experienced and novice traders looking for planning advice.

Is Personal Capital A Broker Dealer?

Personal Capital is an online financial advisor and personal wealth management firm. It offers brokerage accounts via its personalized wealth management solution. Investors can trade through managed or flexible asset portfolios.

Yes, you can link third-party brokerage profiles to your Personal Capital dashboard. This includes profiles from Interactive Brokers and eTrade, for example. Additionally, Personal Capital integrates with Zillow to retrieve the value of your home so you can include this within your financial reporting.

Is Personal Capital Online Only?

Personal Capital is a web and mobile-based platform. Customers can access financial tools, planning, and investment portfolios online and on portable devices. Alternatively, retail traders can use services on Apple watches.

Top 3 Alternatives to Personal Capital

Compare Personal Capital with the top 3 similar brokers that accept traders from your location.

  1. Interactive Brokers – Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a premier brokerage, providing access to 150 markets in 33 countries, along with a suite of comprehensive investment services. With over 40 years of experience, this Nasdaq-listed firm adheres to stringent regulations by the SEC, FCA, CIRO, and SFC, amongst others, and is one of the most trusted brokers for trading around the globe.
    Go to Interactive Brokers
  2. IG – Founded in 1974, IG is part of IG Group Holdings Plc, a publicly traded (LSE: IGG) brokerage. The brand offers spread betting, CFD and forex trading across an almost unrivalled selection of 17,000+ markets, with a range of user-friendly platforms and investing apps. For 50 years, IG has maintained its position as an industry leader, excelling in all key areas for traders.
    Go to IG
  3. Swissquote – Swissquote is a Switzerland-based bank and broker that offers online trading and investing. The company has a high safety score and is listed on the Swiss stock exchange. The firm offers a huge range of products, from stocks, ETFs, bonds and futures to 400+ forex and CFD assets. Hundreds of thousands of traders have opened an account with the multi-regulated brokerage. Clients can get started in three easy steps while 24/7 customer support is available to assist new users.
    Go to Swissquote

Personal Capital Comparison Table

Compare Personal Capital With Similar Brokers
Personal Capital Interactive Brokers IG Swissquote
Rating 3.3 4.3 4.4 4
Markets Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income Stocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Funds, Bonds, ETFs, Mutual Funds, CFDs, Cryptocurrencies CFDs, Forex, Stocks, Indices, Commodities, ETFs, Futures, Options, Crypto, Spread Betting Forex, CFDs, Indices, Stocks, ETFs, Bonds, Options, Futures, Cryptos (location dependent)
Demo Account No Yes Yes Yes
Minimum Deposit $1 (Cash), $100,000 (Robo Advisor) $0 $0 $1000
Minimum Trade Variable $100 0.01 Lots 0.01 Lots
Regulators SEC FCA, SEC, FINRA, CFTC, CBI, CIRO, SFC, MAS, MNB, FINMA FCA, ASIC, NFA, CFTC, DFSA, BaFin, MAS, FSCA, FINMA FCA, FINMA, DFSA, SFC
Bonus
Education No Yes Yes No
Platforms Own Trader Workstation (TWS), IBKR Desktop, GlobalTrader, Mobile, Client Portal, AlgoTrader, OmniTrader, eSignal, TradingCentral Web, ProRealTime, L2 Dealer, MT4, AutoChartist, TradingCentral MT4, MT5, AutoChartist, TradingCentral
Leverage 1:50 1:30 (Retail), 1:250 (Pro) 1:30
Payment Methods 1 6 6 5
Visit Visit Visit Visit Visit
Review Interactive Brokers
Review
IG
Review
Swissquote
Review

Compare Trading Instruments

Compare the markets and instruments offered by Personal Capital and its competitors. Please note, some markets may only be available via CFDs or other derivatives.

Compare Personal Capital Trading Instruments
Personal Capital Interactive Brokers IG Swissquote
CFD No Yes Yes Yes
Forex No Yes Yes Yes
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes
Commodities No Yes Yes Yes
Oil No No Yes Yes
Gold No Yes Yes Yes
Copper No No Yes No
Silver No No Yes Yes
Corn No No No No
Crypto No Yes Yes Yes
Futures No Yes Yes Yes
Options No Yes Yes Yes
ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds No Yes Yes Yes
Warrants No Yes Yes No
Spreadbetting No No Yes No
Volatility Index No No Yes No

Personal Capital vs Other Brokers

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Empower (formerly Personal Capital) is a popular, SEC-regulated US financial advisory and investment platform that offers pensions, ready-made investment plans and do-it-yourself, commission-free investing through a large range of mutual funds, ETFs, individual equities and fixed-income securities. The broker has an impressive 3.4 million clients.