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A Moment of Change in Investing
CircleUpFebruary.09.20152 min read

A Moment of Change in Investing


This article comes to us from Bill Harris, Founder and CEO of Personal Capital. Personal Capital develops tools to help investors make smarter financial decisions. Learn more at

The investing world has been slow to change – from branches and offices to online access – from once-a-quarter paper statements to real-time information – from brokers to advisors – from unreasonable cost to reasonable cost.

But the moment of change has arrived. It’s been prompted by the dramatic shift in consumer expectations in our mobile information age. Now, we anticipate that businesses are designed around our needs, transparency, convenience and access are the price of entry for a successful company.

CircleUp is a leader in this moment of change. They’re pioneering investment crowdfunding – giving individual investors access to a new asset class (small, private retail companies) while simultaneously giving small business owners access to a new pool of capital.

Another place you can find change is at my company, Personal Capital. We help you take a new approach to managing your money to radically simplify money management. Here’s how.

  • Online Access. Who wants to get in the car and drive down to your broker’s office? We live on our phones and computers. Everything from travel to fitness to buying things to paying for things – there’s an app for that. I saw this offline-to-online shift first-hand more than a decade ago as a founder at Paypal. At Paypal we built our business on taking an antiquated and inefficient process, peer-to-peer payments, and moving it online. We’re now doing the same with investments at Personal Capital.
  • Real-time Information. Why can’t we see all our money in one place? The typical affluent family has 15-20 financial accounts—and a confusion of mailing addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, log-ins and passwords. After twenty years in the financial technology business, I finally realized what the single biggest problem actually is: simply, chaos. Too many disorganized things to keep track of—and no ability to see the forest for the trees. We’re solving that with our software as we centralize the accounts of more than 700,000 people, enabling them to track over $100 billion in assets.
  • Advisors versus Brokers. Brokers are salespeople – they push whatever products they make the most money on. Advisors – true advisors – are paid to do what’s best for you. We’re heavily regulated by the SEC, and have a legal obligation to put your interest first, not our own. This is called the “fiduciary standard” – don’t invest your money without it.
  • Reasonable Cost. The all-in cost of old-school brokers selling traditional mutual funds is often over 2%. The cost of our investment service on the other hand is less than 1%. Moreover, we manage the tax impact of your investments, which can save you up to another half-percent per year ( equivalent to nearly one percent of pre-tax earnings). The less you pay; the more you keep.

At Paypal we won online payments by delivering a fundamentally better experience to consumers. We’re now doing the same at Personal Capital. We recently surpassed an important milestone: we now manage one billion dollars of investments for our clients, triple the amount we managed at the start of 2014.

It’s proof of what American families want: a new and fundamentally better way to manage their money.


Bill Harris, CEO Personal Capital