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Investing

Review of Boston Private Wealth LLC

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Boston Private Wealth is a fee-only advisory firm serving individuals, high net worth individuals, pension and profit-sharing plans, charitable organizations and other businesses. The firm specializes in working with professionals in law, accounting and medicine, as well as executives and business owners. With headquarters in Boston, the firm has more than 70 investment advisors around the country overseeing the firm’s more than $12.8 billion in assets under management (AUM).

All information included in this profile is accurate as of December 9th, 2019. For more information, please consult Boston Private Wealth’s website.

Assets under management: $12,827,947,779
Minimum investment: $1 million
Fee structure: A percentage of AUM, ranging from 0.70% to 1.25%, depending on account size; fixed fees; hourly fees
Headquarters: One Federal Street
30th Floor
Boston, MA 02110
(617) 223-0200
bostonprivate.com

Overview of Boston Private Wealth

Founded in 1986, Boston Private Wealth is headquartered in Boston, with a number of additional offices throughout Florida, California and New York. Boston Private Wealth entered the Northern California market in 2001, the Southern California market in 2004 and the Florida market in 2014. In fall of 2019, the company announced the integration of KLS Professional Advisors Group in New York City.

The firm is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boston Private Financial Holdings, Inc., a public reporting company, and it is affiliated with Boston Private Bank & Trust Company, a full-service private banking company. Boston Private Wealth has more than 130 employees on staff, including 72 performing investment advisory functions. Fourteen employees are licensed agents of an insurance company, though the company is clear that it earns no commissions for product recommendations. The firm currently manages more than $12.8 billion.

What types of clients does Boston Private Wealth serve?

Boston Private Wealth serves a broad variety of clients, with its largest client group being high net worth individuals. The SEC defines a high net worth individual as someone with at least $750,000 managed by a firm or whose net worth exceeds $1.5 million.

The full range of clients the firm serves includes:

  • Individuals
  • High net worth individuals
  • Trusts, estates and charitable organizations
  • Family offices
  • Corporations or other business entities
  • Banking and trust companies
  • Not-for-profit entities, including foundations
  • Retirement and profit sharing plans, including IRAs and 401(k) accounts
  • State or municipal government entities
  • Other investment advisors

We reached out to Boston Private Wealth and the firm confirmed that its minimum account requirement is $1 million. However, the firm also notes that because it views clients’ financial pictures holistically, it works with some clients who may have less than the $1 million but who are building wealth. In addition, the filing also states that of the firm’s individual clients, about six out of 10 are high net worth, although that leaves about 40% who aren’t.

Among those clients are a large number of business owners who frequently have limited liquidity as they grow their businesses. The company also focuses on professionals in private practice, such as law firms, accounting firms and medical, dental or veterinary practices, as well as executives. It offers these clients help with business financing and the management of personal income.

Although the vast majority of the firm’s assets under management ($11.2 billion of $12.8 billion) are from high net worth individuals, Boston Private Wealth also serves corporations, charitable organizations and pension and profit-sharing plans.

Services offered by Boston Private Wealth

Boston Private Wealth provides a host of services to its clients, from wealth management to trust and estate services. The firm also recently added family office services designed to handle the needs of ultrahigh net worth investors, including helping with personal accounting and net worth reporting, tax and accounting services, bill pay and mail management, and budgeting and cash flow planning.

The firm’s full list of services includes:

  • Wealth and financial planning
    • Vision statement that may include a client’s financial, philanthropic, tax and wealth transfer objectives
    • Income and retirement planning
    • Protection planning
    • Investment management planning
    • Legacy planning
    • Philanthropic planning
    • Business succession planning
    • Executive planning
    • Education analysis
    • Estate plan analysis and review
    • Insurance and risk management review
    • Cash flow and debt management
    • Compensation and benefits
    • Donor advised fund
  • Portfolio management for individuals and/or small businesses
  • Portfolio management for businesses (other than small businesses) or institutional clients
  • Pension consulting
  • Selection of other advisors (including private fund managers)
  • Publication of periodicals or newsletters
  • Educational seminars/workshops
  • Planned giving
  • Family office services
    • Personal accounting and net worth reporting
    • Tax and accounting services
    • Budgeting and cash flow planning
    • Bill pay and mail management
  • Concentrated holdings services
  • Proprietary separate account strategies
  • Investment consulting
    • Diagnostic review
    • Investment policy and governance design
    • Asset allocation services
    • Portfolio construction and implementation
    • Performance measurement, reporting and analysis
    • Custom investment solutions
  • Retirement plan advisory services
  • Wrap-free programs
  • Trust services

How Boston Private Wealth invests your money

Boston Private Wealth engages in active portfolio management, using a client’s goals, time horizon and risk tolerance to create a customized, diversified portfolio. The company prefers to use active strategies because it believes, over time, that it can outperform the market on a risk-adjusted basis.

Typical client portfolios include 40 to 60 carefully selected individual stocks, alongside a customized bond portfolio with investment-grade taxable or municipal bonds. The firm also offers access to as many as seven additional asset classes, from international large cap stocks to alternatives.

The firm uses both internally managed strategies as well as external money managers to complete clients’ financial plans.

Fees Boston Private Wealth charges for its services

For wealth management services, Boston Private Wealth charges clients a percentage of assets under management based on a tiered fee schedule, which starts at 1.25% for the first $1 million, 1.15% for the next $1.5 million and so on. For fixed-income portfolios — meaning individual fixed income securities, including investment-grade and municipal bonds — Boston Private Wealth negotiates a fee schedule not to exceed 0.75%.

For consulting services, the firm charges a flat rate per engagement, or a fee of $300 per hour, depending on the arrangement with the client, and those services include portfolio review, financial planning, asset allocation and performance reporting, monitoring and analysis. For investment advisory services to retirement plans, the firm charges a maximum fee of 0.50%, with a minimum annual fee of $5,000.

There may be additional fees and expenses beyond the firm’s set fees, including:

  • External separate account manager fees (if Boston Private Wealth uses an external separate account manager as a sub-advisor to manage a client’s assets)
  • Mutual fund and ETF management fees
  • Mutual fund transaction fees
  • Donor advised fund fees
  • Brokerage fees

Boston Private Wealth doesn’t use a wrap fee program, which is when a firm offers a bundle of services for a flat fee, but it does participate in wrap fee accounts when it place investments with other investment managers. It charges a management fee of 0.15% to 0.50% for wrap accounts.

Boston Private Wealth notes that for accounts with a portfolio value of less than $1,000,000, the effective fee may be more than 1.25%.

Boston Private Wealth Fees
Wealth Management
  • 1.25% on the first $1,000,000
  • 1.15% on the next $1,500,000
  • 0.90% on the next $7,500,000
  • 0.70% on higher balances
Fixed Income-Only Portfolios Negotiated fee schedule not to exceed 0.75%
Consulting Services Negotiated flat rate per engagement or $300 per hour
Investment Advisory Services to Retirement Plans Negotiated fee schedule not to exceed 0.50% (Minimum annual fee: $5,000)

Boston Private Wealth’s highlights

  • Services for high net worth individuals. The recent addition of KLS, which is a wealth management firm specializing in law firms, attorneys and other high net worth clients, makes this combined operation one of the more sizable firms focusing on the high net worth set. The firm now manages more than $11 billion in assets from high net worth individuals, and it recently opened a family office arm devoted to ultrahigh net worth families.
  • Diverse leadership. In an industry that’s still fairly male-centric, half of Boston Private Wealth’s leadership team is female, as is 45% of its board members.
  • Locally revered. In 2013, readers of the Boston Business Journal chose Boston Private Wealth as the Most Admired Financial Institution.

Boston Private Wealth’s downsides

  • Fees are higher than average. For the non-high net worth investor, Boston Private Wealth’s rate of 1.25% on the first $1 million in assets is slightly higher than the RIA industry average of 1.17%. Asset-based fees do decrease as the amount of assets under management increases, but Boston Private Wealth notes that for accounts with a portfolio value of less than $1 million the effective fee may be more than 1.25%.
  • Potential conflicts of interest. Boston Private Wealth receives client referrals and other benefits from the Fidelity Wealth Advisor Solutions Program, TD Ameritrade’s AdvisorDirect program and the Schwab Advisor Network. These relationships raise potential conflicts of interest, as Boston Private Wealth may be more likely to suggest client strategies that benefit those companies.

Boston Private Wealth disciplinary disclosures

The firm has only one disclosure listed in its Form ADV, paperwork that firms file with the SEC. The disclosure is in relation to an advisory affiliate who was involved in a rules violation. In 2017, FINRA suspended the individual, who was with Merrill Lynch at the time, for one year for false expense reports. Boston Private Wealth itself has never been the subject of any disciplinary action.

Boston Private Wealth onboarding process

To start a relationship with Boston Private Wealth clients must complete an online form with their contact information, the services they’re interested in and the amount they currently have invested. Prospective clients can also call advisors directly to learn more about working with Boston Private Wealth.

The bottom line: Is Boston Private Wealth right for you?

Boston Private Wealth could be a good match for you whether you’re a high net worth individual. The firm’s recent moves — the acquisition of KLS and the opening of a family office group — suggest that they’re doing some gunning for the high net worth space. Additionally, the firm’s tiered fees drop below average RIA rates for assets over $1 million, making it a more attractive option for investors with seven figures to invest. Boston Private Wealth also works specifically with professionals in the areas of law, accounting or medical work, and executives in general, potentially making this firm worthwhile for anyone in these fields.

If your investable nest egg is smaller, however, you’d likely be better served looking elsewhere since the firm has a $1 million minimum. Plus, you can find advisory services for less than the 1.25% — or more — that Boston Private Wealth is charging for portfolios of less than $1 million. That said, if you’re a business owner with a larger net worth but less liquidity, it might be worth a look.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here

Advertiser Disclosure

Investing

Charles Schwab Review 2019

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Charles Schwab has been known as a leading discount broker for decades, and its online brokerage outfit maintains that reputation. Schwab isn’t cutting any corners with its online operation, and clients enjoy a lot more than just inexpensive investing.

In addition to no trading fees and no minimums, you’ll receive great around-the-clock customer service, solid execution, an easy-to-navigate website with a sophisticated trading platform, and a wealth of research and educational tools. It’s really hard to go wrong here.

Charles Schwab
VISIT CHARLES SCHWABSecuredon Charles Schwab’s secure site
The bottom line: With no trading fees and excellent tools, Schwab is a great choice for any level of investor.

  • Trading platforms and tools for both beginner and advanced investors
  • Excellent customer service
  • Wide range of no-fee investment options

Who should consider Charles Schwab

Schwab is a great option for all types of investors. Beginners will enjoy its extensive educational resources and responsive customer service, while advanced investors will love its sophisticated trading platform and screeners. All investors will appreciate fee-free trading with the benefits of a full-service broker.

Cost-conscious investors will also like Schwab for its research and plethora of commission-free exchange traded funds (ETFs) and no-load mutual funds. Anyone looking for a complete experience at a bargain price — free — will feel right at home here.

Charles Schwab fees and features

Current promotions

500 free trades with a qualifying net deposit of $100,000

Stock trading fees
  • $0.00 per trade
Amount minimum to open account
  • $0
Tradable securities
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • Options
  • Futures / commodities
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $50 full account transfer fee
  • $25 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Commission-free ETFs offered
Mutual funds (no transaction fee) offered
Offers automated portfolio/robo-advisor
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • 529 Plan
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account(ESA)
  • Custodial Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)
  • Custodial IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Solo 401(k) (for small businesses)
  • SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees)
  • Trust
  • Guardianship or Conservatorship
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android
Customer supportPhone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 346 branch locations
Research resources
  • SEC filings
  • Mutual fund reports
  • Earnings press releases

Charles Schwab trading platforms and tools

Charles Schwab offers three ways to trade: a web platform, a downloadable software platform, and a mobile platform.

  • Web trading: On Schwab’s website, clients can track investments, watch the market and place trades. Customizable screeners allow you to search for specific trade opportunities. The Strategy Screener lets you search for ideas based on different technical strategies, such as which equities are performing better or worse than other stocks in their sector. News updates give you the latest intel on your holdings, and the Gain/Loss Analyzer offers analysis on your trade history.
  • Software: Schwab’s StreetSmart Edge trading platform offers streaming real-time data, including quotes and news. Customize your screen layout and take advantage of stock and ETF screeners and advanced stock charting to make decisions. View a commercial-free stream of CNBC with the latest news. You can build and place stock, ETF and options trade orders within a single window, and get alerts based on real-time bullish or bearish signals. Clients can access it via downloadable software or online via the cloud.
  • Mobile: The Schwab mobile trading app is available for iOS and Android platforms, plus the Apple Watch. From the app, you can manage your account, place trades and monitor orders and positions, and view market data in real-time. You can also access a live stream of CNBC TV and research opportunities with interactive charts.
  • Alexa: It’s worth mentioning that by enabling Schwab Skills on Amazon’s Alexa, you can use voice commands to request quotes, get market news or get a summary analysis of your favorite securities.

In addition to trading platforms, Schwab has a variety of research tools clients can use:

  • Schwab BondSource: Lets clients review Schwab’s range of fixed income offerings including new issues, bond ETFs, individual corporate and government bonds, and bond mutual funds with no loads or transaction fees.
  • ETF Screener: Schwab’s ETF Screener offers more than 100 criteria, including performance, ratings and technical data, and allows users to compare up to five ETFs at once. Schwab expert picks are available in the ETF Select List.
  • Mutual funds: Compare up to three funds at once or use Schwab’s screener to filter funds by category, fees and ratings, among other things. Expert fund picks can be found in the Schwab Mutual Fund OneSource Select List.
  • Stock screeners: Screen stocks on more than 100 criteria, including earnings, analyst ratings, company and price performance and financial strength. Clients also get access to Schwab Equity Ratings Reports, as well as Morningstar reports.

Charles Schwab investment options

Charles Schwab clients can choose from a healthy selection of investments, including more than 7,200 no-load mutual funds. The platform offers the ability to trade options, futures, bonds and fixed income products.

Although there are no trade fees for stocks, ETFs or Schwab-managed mutual funds, there are some fees associated with other trades:

  • Options: $0.65 per contract
  • Futures: $1.50 per contract
  • Futures options: $1.50 per contract
  • Treasury bonds: $0 per trade
  • CDs: $1 per certificate, $10 minimum
  • Corporate bonds: $1 per bond, $10 minimum
  • Municipal bonds: $1 per bond, $10 minimum

Margin rates at Schwab start at 9.325% for balances under $25,000. While Fidelity’s rate is the same, TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE have higher rates.

When it comes to cryptocurrency, clients with a Charles Schwab Futures account can trade Cboe Bitcoin Futures on Schwab’s StreetSmart Central or StreetSmart Mobile trading platforms. Real-time quotes for Cboe or CME Bitcoin futures prices can be monitored on StreetSmart trading platforms.

Too many options? Schwab also offers a Personalized Portfolio Builder tool that will use Schwab’s asset allocation models to help you build a diversified portfolio based on your fund preferences (mutual funds or ETFs), risk tolerance and initial investment. (There is no minimum, but Schwab recommends at least $5,000 to allow for proper diversification.)

Charles Schwab news and research resources

As a Schwab client, you have access to a wide swath of research tools, from earnings reports and breaking news from Reuters and Briefing.com to customizable options screeners and charting tools. Schwab offers Morningstar Ratings for mutual funds and ETFs, as well as market commentaries from Credit Suisse, Ned Davis, Argus and Market Edge. For stocks, Schwab offers its own proprietary Equity Ratings, Stock Lists and stock screeners, alongside third-party research from Morningstar and others. Schwab also offers ratings on over 4,000 international stocks by Schwab Equity Ratings International.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

If you’d rather not DIY, Schwab offers two robo-advisor options:

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios gives clients access to algorithm-based recommendations and portfolio management with no fees aside from the expenses you’ll pay on the investments themselves. You’ll get a portfolio created from ETFs chosen by experts (from a pool of 53), and your investments will be rebalanced as needed. This option requires a minimum investment of $5,000, which isn’t bad, but other robos require less: Wealthfront and E*TRADE both have account minimums of just $500, and Wealthsimple has no account minimum. (That said, Wealthfront, E*TRADE and Wealthsimple all charge for their services: 0.25% to 0.50%.)

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium™ is less of a slam-dunk unless you’ve got a sizable portfolio. Clients here must bring a minimum investment of $25,000 and get access to both the site’s robo-advisor recommendations, plus one-on-one guidance from a certified financial planner. However, the service requires a one-time planning fee of $300, and a $30/month advisory fee after that. If you’re just investing $25,000, this fee is on the steep side (percentage wise), but the more you invest, the lower this fee becomes in relation to your portfolio. At $100,000, the $360 per year is just 0.36% of your portfolio. Compare that with Vanguard Personal Advisor Services fees, which are 0.30% of your portfolio and require a $50,000 minimum.

Strengths of Charles Schwab

  • Extensive research and educational tools: Schwab offers a lot of research. From market commentary to stock screeners, advanced charting to Schwab stock lists, the broker offers plenty of resources that allow you to dig for interesting stock ideas. All of that is bolstered by stock pages with news, press releases and SEC filings to help you with your primary research. There’s also free research available from Morningstar, Ned Davis, Credit Suisse, CFRA and others. It’s a wide selection of well-regarded reports. Schwab also offers an online Learning Center with on-demand educational content and virtual workshops for those looking to boost their know-how.
  • Great customer service: Need someone on the phone at 3 a.m.? Schwab can handle that. The company offers phone service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you don’t need that kind of reachability, Schwab also offers web chat and email. Plus, even though Charles Schwab is known for its discount online service, the company also has more than 300 branches around the U.S., so you can stop by for a full consultation.
  • Low-cost funds: Schwab has done a lot over the years to make investing low-cost, and its current selection of ETFs and mutual funds follows that tradition. The broker offers all of their more than 2,000 ETFs commission-free. Schwab also offers more than 7,200 no-load mutual funds. These funds are sold without a sales charge (otherwise known as 12b-1 fees), and Schwab offers more than 4,200 with no transaction fee.
  • Comprehensive trading platform: Schwab’s basic online trading platform is completely serviceable, offering smooth, no-frills order entry that works if you’re entering a one-off order or not trading frequently. But for advanced traders who need efficiency, Schwab’s more robust StreetSmart Edge has a lot to offer.

Drawbacks of Charles Schwab

  • Low interest paid on cash: If there’s uninvested cash in your brokerage or retirement accounts, Schwab pays just 0.06% to 0.30% APY. Schwab’s High Yield Investor Savings account pays 0.18% APY, and the High Yield Investor Checking pays 0.15% APY.
  • Fees on mutual funds: If you want to invest in a fund that isn’t one of Schwab’s no transaction-fee funds (and there’s a long list of those), you’ll pay $49.95 per transaction.

Is Charles Schwab safe?

Charles Schwab & Co. is a member of the SIPC and carries insurance of securities up to $500,000, plus excess insurance on securities and cash up to an aggregate claim amount of $600 million. Your cash deposits at Charles Schwab-affiliated banks are FDIC-protected up to the legal limit. Schwab also guarantees 100% loss coverage if you lose any assets due to unauthorized activity.

In terms of site and account technology, Schwab uses multiple layers of controls and technologies, including advanced encryption, to protect client data. They use pattern analysis and other analytics to sniff out suspicious activity, and the platform alerts you when sensitive transactions occur in your account. They also limit the number of employees who have access to your info.

Final thoughts

With no fees and no minimums, Charles Schwab investors can access thousands of low-cost funds, along with stocks and other investments. They can access a full gamut of research, 24/7 customer service and trading platforms with advanced features if needed. It’s hard to beat the total package that Schwab offers investors here. With all these perks, Schwab ranks among the best of the full-service brokers.

Open a Charles Schwab accountSecured
on Charles Schwab’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here

Advertiser Disclosure

Investing

Personal Capital Review 2019

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Personal Capital is a hybrid of a traditional brokerage and a robo-advisor. It offers portfolio design via algorithm—like many competing robo-advisors—and also lets you buy individual stocks, design portfolios and access human financial advisors. In fact, the company dislikes the term robo-advisor, and prefers to call itself a “digital wealth manager.”

Be advised that the minimum balance requirement is $100,000, meaning that Personal Capital is only a viable choice for investors who have already accumulated a sizable nest egg. It’s not a product for beginners, although it is a great choice for people who have sufficient funds.

Founded in 2009 by a former CEO of PayPal and Intuit, the company claims that it offers “full financial planning at no additional cost.” It charges an asset management fee of 0.89%, which is on the low side for personal financial planning, but it’s on the high side for robo-advisors, most of whom charge less than 0.50% per year. The fee drops as low as 0.49% for high-balance investors, but need a balance of more than $10 million to qualify for the lower rate.

Personal Capital
Visit Personal CapitalSecuredon Personal Capital’s secure site
The Bottom Line: Personal Capital offers automated and active investing features, as well as in-depth financial planning advice, all of which should appeal to users who can swing the minimum balance requirement of $100,000.

  • Access to financial advisors at all asset levels
  • Individual stock investing and customized portfolios
  • Useful financial dashboard tools

Who should consider Personal Capital

Personal Capital is best suited to high-balance investors looking for a less expensive and more hands-off strategy than working with a full-service investment firm. The initial phone consultation with an advisor can help users evaluate their financial position and what they need to do to hit their goals.

The minimum balance required to begin investing with Personal Capital is $100,000, and you need at least $200,000 in investable assets to unlock the ability to customize a portfolio with individual stocks. This level also earns you recommendations and support from two dedicated financial advisors.

Note that anyone can take advantage of the site’s free account aggregation and monitoring tools, which let you test retirement and savings assumptions and make sure your plan will help you achieve your goals.

If you are a socially conscious investor, Personal Capital offers an investment strategy that restricts certain businesses or industries based on their ESG rankings.

Personal Capital fees and features

Amount minimum to open account
  • $100,000
Management fees
  • 0.89% for accounts of $100k - $1M
  • 0.79% for accounts of $1M - $3M
  • 0.69% for accounts between $3M and $5M; lower fees for accounts over $5M
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 full account transfer fee
  • $0 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Trust
Portfolio
  • Personal Capital offers 6 high-level asset classes.
Automatic rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Tax loss harvesting detailPersonal Capital's tax optimization process focuses on three key areas: tax allocation, tax loss harvesting and tax efficiency.
Offers fractional shares
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android
Customer supportPhone, 24/7 live support, Email, 5 branch locations

Fee tiers and wealth management options

Personal Capital charges variable annual management fees depending on your total account balance:

  • Up to $1 million: 0.89%
  • First $3 million: 0.79%
  • Next $2 million: 0.69%
  • Next $5 million: 0.59%
  • Over $10 million: 0.49%

It offers three levels of wealth management services, depending on your total account balance:

  • Investment Service: Balances of $100,000 to $200,000 get access to a team of financial advisors and an actively managed portfolio of ETFs.
  • Wealth Management: Account balances of $200,000 to $1 million unlock access to two dedicated financial advisors, specialists in real estate and stock options and a customized portfolio with regular reviews, as well as enhanced tax optimization.
  • Private Client: When your account balance includes more than $1 million, you get two dedicated financial advisors; priority access to specialists and the firm’s investment committee; in-depth support for retirement, wealth and estate planning; and private equity investment options.

If your balance is below $200,000, you can invest in ETFs but you cannot customize your portfolio. Personal Capital will recommend a target allocation that’s based on the profile questions you answered during the sign-up process, plus other financial information you’ve provided. While you can choose from among different target allocations, you won’t be able to create a custom allocation.

That said, Personal Capital does offer an ESG-optimized portfolio for users interested in socially responsible investing. In addition to limiting exposure to fossil fuels, the company’s ESG basket filters out companies with material exposure to things like adult entertainment, gambling, tobacco, military contracting and guns.

Tax optimization is available at all portfolio levels. Personal Capital “tax optimizes” by making sure people put the right investments in the right accounts (i.e. taxable accounts versus retirement accounts) and by tax loss harvesting, which means realizing losses to offset gains. All levels of service also offer portfolio rebalancing. Accounts are reviewed daily for tax-efficient rebalancing opportunities.

All accounts above $200,000 can invest in individual stocks and customize portfolios. Certain accounts with assets over $1 million may be able to invest in individual bonds. With assets over $5 million invested with Personal Capital, users may gain access to private equity investments.

Personal Capital Cash

Personal Capital recently launched a cash management account, Personal Capital Cash. The account earns 1.55% APY for people without a Personal Capital advisory account, and 1.60% APY for customers with an advisory account. Personal Capital Cash pays slightly less than other similar high-yield savings accounts, but there’s also no minimum balance and there are no fees associated with it.

Personal Capital partners with UMB Bank, which holds Personal Capital Cash deposits in a network of different banks. The account offers up to $1,500,000 in FDIC insurance coverage, well above the standard limit of $250,000 per deposit account. That’s because Personal Capital works with UMB bank to distribute your money among accounts at different partner banks. When one account reaches the FDIC limit, another account with a different bank will be opened for you. This is done up to six times, providing a FDIC deposit insurance total of up to $1,500,000.

Financial dashboard tools

One of Personal Capital’s strengths is that it offers financial tools to help you understand and track your entire financial life. These tools are free and available to anyone who downloads the app. You may register and link all your financial accounts to Personal Capital, such as bank accounts, brokerage accounts, loans and credit cards. Once they are linked to the app, your personalized financial dashboard gives you a view of your:

  • Net worth: You can see your current net worth for the past 30 days, including the change in this measure over the last 30 days and today’s change.
  • Cash flow: The dashboard offers a graphic representation of your cash inflows and outflows for the past 30 days, arranged by category (paychecks and deposits on the inflow side, mortgage and other expenses on the outflow side). Click on any category to dive into the detailed transactions there, or click the whole category to compare this month’s spending to last month’s spending and see transactions by category.
  • Portfolio balances: You’ll see the value of your investment accounts for the past 30 days, along with change values over the past month and today’s value.
  • Portfolio allocation: This is a top-down view of your investments across all asset classes—although only if your assets are invested with Personal Capital. If you’ve linked outside investment accounts, their value will be included in your portfolio balance, but the site doesn’t include those assets among your allocation.
  • Gainers and losers: If you’ve got individual stocks in your portfolio — which would make you a higher-level investor—you’ll see how they’re performing versus the S&P 500.
  • Retirement savings: The dashboard recommends how much you should be saving toward retirement each year and how much you’ve saved to date this year. It can also predict whether your retirement portfolio will support your retirement spending.
  • Emergency fund: You’ll see how much cash you’ve got stashed away. If the dashboard feels you could be investing part of that for greater return, it will recommend moving some money around.

Strengths of Personal Capital

  • Access to financial advisors. At all levels of investing, users have access to financial planners who can answer questions and offer advice on saving and investing. In fact, the company requires you to schedule a (free) chat with a financial advisor in order to set up your financial dashboard.
  • Big picture planning. Because Personal Capital advisors will professionally review your whole financial picture, you’ll receive recommendations based not only on your answers to questions about risk and goals, or what you have invested at Personal Capital, but also what you have in your 401(k) and other retirement accounts. They’ll also offer advice on college savings plans and estate planning strategies, although estate planning is only available with investable assets of $1 million or more.
  • Free financial tools. Even if you don’t invest with Personal Capital, you can still access a wealth of free financial tools that will analyze your net worth, cash flow, retirement and savings situation and make recommendations. You also get one free phone call with a Personal Capital advisor.

Drawbacks of Personal Capital

  • High minimum balance. To open an account with Personal Capital, you’ll need at least $100,000 in invested assets, which is the highest of most robo-advisors on the market. Compare this to Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, which requires a $50,000 account minimum, and to Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium, which requires a $25,000 buy-in. And some robo-advisors, such as Wealthfront, require as little as $500.
  • High management fees. Personal Capital charges an asset management fee of 0.89% for portfolios between $100,000 and $1 million, which is also among the highest fees charged by robo-advisors. By comparison, Vanguard charges just 0.30% and Wealthfront charges 0.25%. When you top $1 million in assets, the management fee goes down, but just to 0.79% for $1 million to $3 million, and 0.69% for $3 million to $5 million, and so on. Once you get over $10 million, you’ll pay 0.49% in asset management fees, which is still higher than most competitors.
  • Non-customizable portfolios for beginners. Until you reach an asset level of $200,000 and up, you can’t alter your investment mix, and you’re limited to ETF investing only.

Is Personal Capital safe?

Most fintech users are comfortable linking their financial accounts to an investment platform, and Personal Capital’s safeguards are in line with standards. They partner with financial tech industry veteran Yodlee to facilitate account aggregation, and user bank and brokerage credentials are only stored at Yodlee.

The site uses two-factor authentication when you sign in and encrypts your credentials and personal data with military-grade encryption algorithms. The company protects its data centers with various systems designed to prevent hacking and monitor for suspicious activity, and the data centers follow stringent financial and international security standards protocol.

Personal Capital also helps you keep an eye on things by sending an (optional) daily email with every transaction that occurred during the previous 24 hours in all your linked accounts, including your bank, broker and credit cards. Keep an eye on the activity and make sure you recognize all the transactions.

As far as insurance, all investment securities are held by an SIPC member broker custodian, protecting your securities up to $500,000, and Personal Capital Cash is FDIC insured up to $1,500,000.

Final thoughts on Personal Capital

Personal Capital is worth considering if you have $100,000 or more to invest on this platform. Though lower-level users can’t customize their portfolios, asset allocation models seem to outperform comparative benchmarks much of the time.

Investors should carefully consider whether they’d like more control over their investments or whether they’re willing to pay higher-than-average fees for the services Personal Capital offers. In the meantime, the financial planning tools and initial consultation will give the average investor some insight into how they’re doing and where they’d like to go.

Open a Personal Capital accountSecured
on Personal Capital’s secure website

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Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here