Has Personal Capital Become Useless?

It seems so, to me at least.

A few months ago, I reviewed Personal Capital’s 401(K) fee analyzer shortly after the free tool was launched. My first impression of the tool was that the tool could be helpful for people, including myself, who are concerned with the overall cost of their employer sponsored retirement plans. Using the analyzer, I am able to see how much my 401(K) plan is going to cost me over time, which isn’t just given as a percentage, but also a number in dollar amount. But I did have one big complain about the overall usefulness of the tool because it only pulls expense data from standard funds that are available for everyone. If you have mutual funds in your accounts that are specifically made for your employer by the account administrator, then there isn’t much you can do with the tool, even though the expense ratio data can easily be found in the fund’s statement, because the tool doesn’t allow manual inputs of expense.

In the previous post, I also mentioned that Personal Capital is  more than just a tool to analyze 401(K) plan cost. In fact, it’s more like one of those free personal finance management tools (Mint.com for example) that allows its users to link their external financial accounts, such as bank, credit card, and investment accounts, to Personal Capital and make it one place to manage all your personal finance activities  I signed up for a free Personal Capital account in September, but so far I have only used the 401(K) tool. Since in order to perform the analysis, I linked one of my 401(K) accounts at Fidelity to Personal Capital, and I have been receiving weekly update of that particular account since then.

In the first few weeks, things seemed working fine and the weekly report showed the the change of the account value in the past week and how it compared with benchmarks in terms of performance, not that the information, the weekly change of account value, really concerns me.  However, the updates that showed real change only lasted for a limited time. Since early November, all the weekly updated I have received showed no change to the account, which of course isn’t the case. The email still comes every week and every email still showed the total amount in the account, but there has been absolutely no change in account value. The last email I received with an updated account value was more than a month ago on November 3rd. I had no explanation on why it suddenly stopped working and when I logged into my account, the settings seemed to be fine and I haven’t changed the password of the 401(K) account either.

Anyway, since I am not using Personal Capital for any other purpose, it doesn’t really bother me that I can no longer receive “updated” info from it. For tracking my investment accounts, I am actually using Wikinvest instead.

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