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Empower, Personal Capital Review: Is This Robo-Advisor Right for Your Financial Goals?

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Empower, Formerly Personal Capital is a prominent player in the world of robo-advisors, offering a powerful blend of automated investment services and financial planning tools. This fintech platform has gained recognition for its user-friendly interface and robust features, making it an attractive choice for individuals seeking to simplify and optimize their personal finance and investment strategies. In this review, we'll delve deeper into what Empower (Personal Capital) has to offer and help you determine if it's the right fit for your financial needs.

As we navigate the complex world of financial management, it's essential to make informed decisions. With this in mind, our in-depth review of Empower (Personal Capital) aims to be your compass, guiding you to assess whether this robo-advisor aligns with your unique financial needs. In this article, we will dive deep into Empower (Personal Capital)'s features, pros, cons, investment strategies, and pricing, providing you with the insights you need to make an educated decision about your financial future. Whether you're a seasoned investor or just starting your wealth-building journey, join us on this exploration to determine if Empower is the right partner for your financial goals.

Is Empower (Personal Capital)  Right for Your Financial Goals?

About Empower (Personal Capital)

Empower (formerly known as Personal Capital) is a well-established robo-advisor and personal finance platform that has made its mark in the financial industry. Understanding its background and reputation is crucial to evaluating its suitability for your financial goals.

Personal Capital History:

Empower (Personal Capital) was founded in 2009 by Bill Harris, Rob Foregger, and Louie Gasparini. Initially, the platform was known as Personal Capital and aimed to provide comprehensive wealth management and financial planning services to individuals. Over the years, it has evolved and expanded its offerings.

Empower Reputation:

Empower has gained recognition for its focus on holistic financial planning and its user-friendly digital tools. It has consistently received positive reviews for its ability to combine human advisors with robo-technology, creating a hybrid approach that appeals to a broad spectrum of investors. The platform is also known for its emphasis on data-driven investing and the use of technology to provide personalized advice.

Empower (Personal Capital) has garnered a solid reputation in the personal finance and investing industry, offering a comprehensive suite of services that cater to those seeking to manage and grow their wealth. Its commitment to transparency and fiduciary responsibility further enhances its appeal to users looking for a trustworthy financial partner. As we continue our review, we'll explore in more detail the features and services that have contributed to Empower's prominence in the robo-advisor space.

Empower Features and Services

Empower, Personal Capital stands out in the robo-advisor niche due to its comprehensive range of features and services. Let's delve into what it has to offer:

Personal Capital Investment Options:

Empower provides a diversified range of investment options, allowing you to tailor your portfolio to your specific financial goals and risk tolerance. This includes:

  • Stock and bond portfolios

  • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

  • Alternative investments

  • Individual stocks (for higher-tier clients)

Personal Capital Account Types:

Empower offers various account types to accommodate different financial needs, such as:

  • Individual taxable accounts

  • Joint accounts

  • Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs

  • Trust accounts

  • 401(k) analysis (for tracking retirement savings)

Personal Capital Financial Planning Tools:

Empower's financial planning tools are a standout feature. They include:

  • Retirement planner: To help you visualize your retirement goals and how to achieve them.

  • Investment checkup: An analysis of your current portfolio's performance and potential improvements.

  • Fee analyzer: A tool that examines the fees you're paying for investments.

  • Education planner: To save for your children's education expenses.

  • Cash flow analyzer: An overview of your income, expenses, and savings.

  • Net worth tracker: To monitor your financial progress over time.

Personal Capital User Interface and Experience:

Empower boasts an intuitive and user-friendly interface. Its web and mobile platforms offer a seamless experience, allowing you to:

  • Access your account and investment information at your fingertips.

  • Review your portfolio's performance and allocations.

  • Communicate with Empower's human advisors when necessary.

  • Benefit from personalized financial advice and guidance.

  • Enjoy a visually appealing and informative dashboard that simplifies complex financial data.

The combination of investment flexibility, diverse account options, robust financial planning tools, and a user-friendly interface makes Empower (Personal Capital) a compelling choice for individuals seeking to streamline their financial management and investment activities. In the following sections of this review, we will delve deeper into the platform's strengths and potential areas for consideration.

Pros and Cons of Personal Capital, Empower

As with any financial platform, Empower (Personal Capital) comes with its share of advantages and potential drawbacks. Let's explore both to give you a balanced view of what to expect:

Advantages:

Automated Investing:

Empower's automated investment service takes the hassle out of managing your portfolio. The platform uses advanced algorithms to optimize your investments, rebalance your portfolio, and keep it in line with your financial goals.

Goal Tracking:

One of Empower's standout features is its ability to help you set and track financial goals. Whether you're saving for retirement, a new home, or your child's education, the platform provides a clear overview of your progress.

Portfolio Management:

Empower's portfolio management tools offer a hands-off approach for investors who prefer professional management. The platform's team of experts continually monitors your investments to ensure they align with your objectives.

Human Advisors:

While it's primarily a robo-advisor, Empower also offers access to human advisors. This hybrid approach can be reassuring for those who seek a personal touch in financial planning.

Drawbacks:

Fees:

Empower's fees can be relatively higher compared to some competitors. It's essential to understand and be comfortable with the fee structure, which typically includes management fees based on your account balance.

Minimum Investment:

Empower may require a significant minimum investment, which could be a drawback for individuals with limited funds to invest.

Limited Asset Allocation Customization:

Although Empower offers a range of investment options, some investors may find the platform's asset allocation less customizable compared to DIY approaches.

Access Limited to U.S. Residents:

Empower's services are primarily designed for U.S. residents, which can be a limitation for international users.

It's important to consider these pros and cons in the context of your individual financial goals and preferences. While Empower (Personal Capital) provides a comprehensive suite of features, the fees and minimum investment requirements may influence your decision. In the next sections, we'll dive deeper into key aspects like investment strategies and pricing to provide you with a more informed evaluation of Empower's suitability for your financial needs.

Personal Capital Investment Strategies

Empower (Personal Capital) adopts a strategic approach to investment that revolves around prudent asset allocation, risk management, and personalization to help investors meet their financial objectives.

Asset Allocation:

Empower employs a tried-and-true investment principle, asset allocation, to build diversified portfolios. The platform takes into account your risk tolerance, time horizon, and financial goals to allocate your investments across various asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, and alternative investments. By spreading your investments across multiple asset classes, Empower aims to reduce risk and potentially enhance returns over the long term.

Risk management is a critical component of Empower's investment strategy. The platform assesses your risk tolerance through a series of questions and uses the information to construct a portfolio that aligns with your comfort level. It continually monitors your portfolio to ensure it stays within the defined risk parameters. Periodic rebalancing is employed to maintain the desired asset allocation, especially as market conditions change.

Tailored Strategies:

What sets Empower apart is its focus on personalization. The platform recognizes that each investor's financial goals are unique. Whether you're aiming to retire comfortably, save for a major purchase, or grow your wealth, Empower tailors its investment strategies to suit your specific objectives. This personalized approach means that your portfolio is designed to meet your individual needs and aspirations.

Empower's commitment to asset allocation, risk management, and personalization creates a sound foundation for investors to build their wealth. By diversifying across asset classes and customizing strategies, the platform strives to help users work towards their financial goals with confidence. In the following sections, we will explore other essential aspects of Empower (Personal Capital), including its pricing structure and user reviews.

Personal Capital Fees and Pricing

Understanding the cost of using a robo-advisor like Empower (Personal Capital) is crucial to evaluating its suitability for your financial goals. Let's break down the fee structure and pricing:

Management Fees:

Empower charges a management fee based on a tiered structure. The fee is calculated as a percentage of your assets under management (AUM) and typically ranges from 0.49% to 0.89% of AUM. This means that as your portfolio grows, the management fee will also increase proportionally.

Account Minimums:

Empower generally has a higher account minimum compared to some other robo-advisors. The minimum investment required to use their services can range from $25,000 to $100,000, depending on your account type and the specific services you desire.

Hidden Costs:

While Empower is relatively transparent about its fees, it's essential to be aware of potential costs that can be associated with investing, such as expense ratios of the ETFs used in your portfolio. Empower primarily uses low-cost ETFs, which can help minimize these expenses.

Empower Fee Table

Additional Services:

Depending on your financial needs, you may have the option to access Empower's human advisors. Additional fees may apply for these advisory services, and it's advisable to understand the costs associated with such services if you opt for them.

It's essential to carefully consider the fees and pricing associated with Empower's services, especially in the context of your investment size and financial goals. While the platform offers a robust suite of features, the fee structure can impact your overall investment returns. In the next sections, we will explore user reviews and testimonials, as well as alternative robo-advisors for comparison, to provide you with a more comprehensive view of Empower (Personal Capital).

User Reviews and Testimonials

To gain a deeper understanding of what users have to say about Empower (Personal Capital), it's valuable to explore a variety of reviews and testimonials. Here, we present both positive and negative feedback to offer a balanced perspective:

Positive Reviews:

  • Many users appreciate the convenience and user-friendly interface of Empower. They find it easy to navigate and access their financial information, which is crucial for effective financial management.

  • The financial planning tools, particularly the goal tracking features, have received praise. Users have noted that these tools help them stay on top of their financial objectives and make informed decisions.

  • The combination of robo-advisory services with the option to consult human advisors when needed has been a significant advantage for some users. It provides a sense of security and personalized guidance.

Negative Reviews:

  • Some users have expressed concerns about the management fees, particularly for smaller account balances. They find the fee structure less competitive compared to other robo-advisors.

  • The relatively high account minimums have been a drawback for individuals with smaller investment amounts, making it less accessible to a broader range of investors.

  • Like any financial platform, Empower is not immune to technical issues and occasional user experience challenges. A few users have reported difficulties with account access and app performance.

It's important to remember that user experiences can vary, and what works for one individual may not work for another. The best approach is to consider your personal financial situation, preferences, and goals when evaluating Empower (Personal Capital) based on these user reviews. In the following sections, we will explore alternative robo-advisors for comparison and offer a conclusion and recommendation for your consideration.

Alternatives to Empower

As a savvy investor, you have a range of robo-advisors and financial platforms to choose from. Let's explore some of the notable alternatives and compare them with Empower (Personal Capital) in key aspects:

  • Features: Wealthfront is known for its robust automated investment platform, tax-loss harvesting, and high-yield cash account. It offers features like automatic rebalancing, goal planning, and an easy-to-use interface.

  • Fees: Wealthfront charges a management fee of 0.25% of AUM, making it competitive in terms of cost.

  • Performance: Wealthfront has a strong track record in delivering consistent returns while maintaining a diversified portfolio.

  • Features: Betterment is a pioneer in the robo-advisory space, offering automated investing, goal-based planning, and access to human advisors. Its user-friendly platform is popular among investors.

  • Fees: Betterment's fee structure varies, with a 0.25% to 0.40% management fee, depending on the service level. It's competitive for smaller accounts.

  • Performance: Betterment's investment strategies are known for their balanced approach and consistent performance.

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services:

  • Features: Vanguard combines automated investing with access to human advisors. It's recognized for its low-cost ETFs and long-term investment approach.

  • Fees: The management fee is 0.30% of AUM, which is competitive in the industry.

  • Performance: Vanguard's emphasis on low-cost index investing has historically provided reliable long-term performance.

When comparing Empower (Personal Capital) with these alternatives, it's essential to consider factors such as your investment goals, account size, and personal preferences. Each robo-advisor has its unique strengths, fees, and performance history, so your choice should align with your specific needs.

Conclusion and Recommendation

In our in-depth review of Empower (Personal Capital), we've covered essential aspects of this robo-advisor, from its history and reputation to its features, pricing, and user feedback. Let's summarize the key points and offer a clear recommendation based on our findings:

Empower (Personal Capital) stands as a well-established robo-advisor in the personal finance and investing niche. Its reputation for combining automated investing with comprehensive financial planning tools is notable. The platform excels in asset allocation, risk management, and personalized strategies, making it an appealing choice for those who seek to streamline their financial management.

However, it's essential to weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Empower's fees, especially for larger account balances, may be a consideration, and its minimum investment requirements might limit accessibility for some. Users have praised its user-friendly interface, goal tracking features, and the option to consult human advisors when needed.

Our Verdict

Empower (Personal Capital) is well-suited for investors who value holistic financial planning, appreciate user-friendly tools, and have larger account balances to invest. Its strengths lie in goal tracking and personalized strategies, making it an attractive option for those with diverse financial objectives.

If you have a substantial investment portfolio and prioritize comprehensive financial planning, Empower may be an excellent fit for you. The platform's emphasis on tailored investment strategies and the availability of human advisors can provide peace of mind and support in reaching your financial goals.


If Empower (Personal Capital) aligns with your financial needs and goals, taking action today can set you on the path to better financial management. Visit Empower's official website to learn more and consider signing up to experience the benefits of this robo-advisor firsthand. Remember, informed financial decisions are a significant step toward securing your financial future. Don't hesitate to explore and take advantage of the tools and services that suit your unique journey. Your financial goals are within reach, and Empower is here to help you achieve them.

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