Once youve added all your accounts Personal Capital offers the usual graphs, charts and reports for tracking your financial data. Youll receive automated messages when you have bills due and updates on the current status of your investments, including information about the stocks held within mutual funds or your 401k plan. The information offered about your accounts is detailed and, in some cases, broad investment guidance is offered. So, for example, if your 401k is over allocated in a certain area, youll see a message stating that your portfolio doesnt meet Personal Capitals baseline allocation expectations for your investments. But, no specific advice is given on how you should change those allocations.
Personal Capital is free, so you might expect that, much like Mint, every page you visit within the Personal Capital site will be filled with ads. But Personal Capital has no ads for interest free credit cards, banks that offer higher interest rates than your bank, or free checking when yours charges a fee. What you will see is offers to make a few bucks if you refer friends to Personal Capital. Thats it.
So, whats the hook? Personal Capital is a registered investment advisor and the hope is that youll like what youre getting for free enough that youll hire Personal Capital to manage your finances. In order to be a a potential customer you must have assets that exceed $100,000. If you do, youre assigned an investment advisor who will make some initial contact with you. Interestingly, once that contact is made, there is no hard sell for these services. If you want more guidance you are welcome to contact the advisor with basic questions about your finances, but the onus is on you to pursue Personal Capital if you want them to mangage your assets.
Macworlds buying advice
Having used Personal Capital to track my income and investments for several months now, I can say that this is by far the best personal financial tool that Ive had the pleasure to use, on my Mac or on the web. Minimal account connections hassles, detailed financial information, and the options to speak directly with a financial advisor make Personal Capital, hands down, the best free finance tracking app available.
Jeffery Battersby is an Apple Certified Trainer, (very) smalltime actor, and regular contributor to Macworld. He writes about Macs and more at his blog. jeffbattersby.com.