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A Financial Dashboard That Puts You in the Driver’s Seat

The glitch: Consumers have dozens of apps and tools at their fingertips today to help them manage their money without ever getting close to the front door of a bank. There’s Mint and iReconcile for budgeting; Pageonce and Manilla for bill pay; Expensify for expenses. While those services tend to focus on managing relatively simple cash accounts and bills, few tools out there offer the same sort of transparency and utility when it comes to investment and portfolio accounts — which, arguably, require more serious attention in their financial lives than anything else.

For instance: You’ve got your employer’s 401(k) account with Fidelity, your kids’ 529 college funds somewhere else, an IRA through another provider, maybe more at several other institutions. How do all those puzzle pieces fit together strategically in terms of your financial goals? Are you doing well, quarter to quarter, on the whole? Are you overweighted in one asset class vs. another? Do your investments match the right level of risk tolerance? Despite the importance of those questions, unless you’ve hired a financial advisor, you don’t have a clue. Like most people, you recycle the monthly statements without opening them, or you gave up trying to stay on top of seven financial accounts with seven logins.

The fix:

Personal Capital’s financial-management platform (on the Web, iPhone, and iPad) offers not just the handy cash-management and budgeting tools consumers have come to expect, but a legitimate breakthrough — a sophisticated “dashboard” view of their entire portfolios, made up of any accounts from any institution. While Mint and other players have similar base offerings, Personal Capital’s dashboard brings significant advisor-level features into the mix.

Such as: Investors can view their whole portfolios by asset class, showing where they’re light, overweighted, or in between. (Is your 401(k) tied up in the same crappy mutual fund you have in your IRA? Are you carrying too much cash?). Users can also tap into a portfolio “checkup” tool that put all investments on an algorithmic treadmill and gives investors an objective “grade” for asset allocation on how well those investments align to basic goals. And of course, the dashboard also tracks performance — in aggregate (which is difficult if not impossible to calculate on your own), or on individual accounts or holdings.

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