Empower, formerly Personal Capital, is a personal finance app that helps you manage all your financial accounts for free. There are fees if you want to add brokerage services or retirement accounts, but you have all your financial accounts in one place.
This Empower review will help you determine if it’s the right personal finance for you.
Empower is a powerful personal financial app meant to help you in many areas of your financial life. You get financial planning, money management, and investment advice in one app, most of which is free!
You can connect all finance accounts, including bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts, to your Empower Personal Dashboard™ to have a holistic view of your financial situation.
Empower offers a powerful and free personal finance dashboard. You aren’t required to become a member or pay anything for its robust features.
However, if you want wealth management advice, there is a fee based on your invested amount. Empower has three wealth management tiers.
Members in the investment services and wealth management tiers pay 0.89% of assets under management, and private clients pay based on their assets under management as follows:
- First $3 million – 0.79%
- Next $2 million – 0.69%
- Next $5 million – 0.59%
- Over $10 million – 0.49%
Members with $100,000 to $250,000 invested can access an advisory team providing financial and retirement advice. This tier includes a professionally managed ETF portfolio and modern digital tools.
Members with $250,000 to $1 million invested get two dedicated professionals providing financial and retirement advice, including more robust topics like real estate and stock option investing. You also get a customized portfolio and a focus on tax optimization.
Members with over $1 million in assets also have access to two dedicated financial professionals and priority access to the Investment Committee. You’ll have access to private equity investments and more in-depth wealth and retirement planning services.
Empower is multi-faceted, touching upon every aspect of personal finance that could affect your life. Here’s what to expect in the Empower Personal Dashboard™.
The online net worth calculator tells you your current net worth in seconds. If you link all of your accounts to Empower’s dashboard, you’ll know where you stand financially in real time. Using this tool, you can tell where to make changes, such as paying down debt or increasing your savings to achieve your net worth goals.
Empower’s free budget planner helps you track your spending in real time while monitoring your personal finance goals. You can easily categorize, sort, and set monthly spending targets to keep yourself on track.
The budget planner helps you:
- Know how much you spend
- Create a detailed budget that helps you stay on track
- Adjust your goals, spending, or savings as needed
Empower’s retirement planner helps you set and achieve your retirement goals. In the retirement planner, you can check out different situations affecting your retirement savings, such as changing jobs, saving less, or retiring early.
The planner can also help you forecast large expenditures, such as sending a kid to college or how much you can spend in retirement. The planner can even help you see how negative market events would affect your retirement savings.
A set-it-and-forget-it investment strategy may feel good, but what happens when your portfolio doesn’t perform how you expected? The investment checkup tool keeps you updated so you always know if and when changes are necessary.
The investment checkup tool checks:
- Asset allocation – The checkup asks you pointed questions to determine if you still have the optimal asset allocation.
- Stocks – Check your stock diversification and determine if you should change your portfolio’s current stock weights.
- Costs – Fees can quickly eat your profits, and the investment checkup helps you determine if your fund fees are too high.
Empower also includes various financial calculators to make it easy to make tough financial decisions. The calculators include:
- Monthly budget calculator – Enter your monthly expenses and income and see what you have left based on your current spending and lifestyle
- Emergency fund – See how much you should have in an emergency fund and how much you must save monthly to reach that goal
- College savings – See how much your current college savings will buy and how much more you must save to pay for your child’s college education
- Life insurance – Check on your life insurance amounts to determine if your dependents will be well covered upon your passing
Empower Personal Cash is a high-interest cash program with aggregate FDIC insurance of up to $5 million. It pays 4.7% APY, with no daily minimum balance requirement. The account has no deposit or withdrawal limits; however, it doesn’t come with a debit card. To make deposits and withdrawals, you must link an external bank account.
Empower offers two IRAs depending on how you prefer to invest.
The Premier IRA is a managed account with over 130 mutual funds. It offers low-cost investing with powerful investment tools and personal advice as needed. You can also have a completely hands-off investment strategy and let the advisors do it for you.
The account doesn’t charge administration fees, and its annual assets under management fees vary from 0.2% – 0.5% depending on how much you have invested.
If you prefer a more hands-on approach to investing and have some experience, you can open a brokerage IRA and manage the investments yourself. It has many options for stocks and mutual funds to help you reach your financial goals.
The brokerage IRA doesn’t have annual account maintenance fees if you maintain a balance of at least $100,000 and offers commission-free online trading.
Empower also has taxable investment account options to help you reach your financial goals outside retirement.
The Empower Premier Investment account is for any type of investor, whether you want to DIY your portfolio or have it done for you. It includes many mutual funds to choose from and provides access to a professional whenever you need assistance. The account has no minimum investment requirement and mutual funds trade commission-free.
The Empower Investment Account may be a good fit if you’re a seasoned investor. It offers thousands of mutual funds, ETFs, and individual equities. There is no professional guidance or minimum account balance required. The first 1,000 trades made annually are fee-free. Any additional trades are $6.95 each.
Empower has many advantages to consider when deciding whether it’s the right personal finance app.
Empower connects all your financial accounts in one place. You don’t have to memorize tons of passwords or juggle multiple apps. You can have everything in one place to help you make more robust financial decisions.
Most of the Empower features are free unless you want to invest. You don’t have to become a member, sign up for trials, or do anything else to avoid costs. The best features are free and are the ones that help you get control of your finances.
If you want help managing your wealth, reaching your financial goals, and choosing the right investments, you can pay for those services, too. This helps you keep everything in one place and have the reassurance of having professional guidance to help you reach your goals.
Like any personal finance app, there are downsides to consider.
The standard 0.89% of assets under management fee is somewhat high for basic wealth management services. The fees can quickly eat up your profits and make it more challenging to reach your financial goals, especially if you have up to $1 million in assets.
You need a balance of at least $100,000 to use the Empower wealth management services. This is on the higher end, making it more challenging for beginners to start with this service.
While not many apps provide the same level of robust services Empower offers, where competitors really give them a run for their money is the brokerage services. Here’s how they compare to other brokers.
|$0 commission on stocks, ETFs, and options
|$0 for stocks and options
|$0 for stocks and ETFs
|Great for young investors just getting started or beginners who want free trades and basic features.
|Investors look to save on costs. Robinhood is one of the lowest cost brokers on the internet.
|Great for any investor, whether beginners or advanced, who wants commission-free trades and robust features.
Empower’s personal finance tools are some of the best in the industry, and they are free. You aren’t required to use their brokerage services or open a retirement account to use them.
However, Empower’s higher wealth management fees may make it tougher for new or savvy investors to reach their financial goals. But free services can help you understand your net worth, reach your financial goals, and make important budgeting decisions.
Empower should be the first app you reach for when trying to get a handle on your personal finances. They put everything in one place and help you understand your budget, savings goals, net worth, and investments.
If you’re looking for wealth management services or a retirement account, you may want to look elsewhere, as the fees can get high. Empower’s free features are robust, but the fees on their investment services can quickly eat into your profits and make it more challenging to reach your financial goals.