in Management & Leadership, Technology & Life

I’ve been using Personal Capital‘s personal-finance account aggregator and dashboard. It’s a lot like Mint, but for grownups who invest, and it’s awesome.

Personal Capital helps me keep track of financial accounts, including savings, checking, brokerage, mortgage, loans and other assets. It keeps track of every transaction, and has useful reporting, trends and analytics, like investment planning, modeling and fund-cost calculators.

Not surprising, I received recently a promotional email from Personal Capital describing its growth:

Thank you for being part of Personal Capital’s incredible growth story. We are now managing over $500 million for our clients, have over 500,000 registered users, and are tracking over $70 billion in assets on our free dashboard. And we keep growing 10% month-over-month. With this growth, we’ll be able to do even more to improve your Personal Capital experience.

Personal Capital doesn’t cost anything, but it’s not quite free, either. Users exchange their finance data, which the company uses to qualify prospects and sell them financial advisory and brokerage services. I am one such qualified prospect and have received a few cordial calls from one of their sales guys in the past six months.

I’ve researched the brokerage service and it looks like a great alternative to traditional brokers — lower cost, more efficient, more effective and transparent — with the benefit of the Personal Capital reporting dashboard. But it’s not for me.

That said, I absolutely would pay for the Personal Capital dashboard, and I told that to the sales rep who calls me. He said I’m not the first person who’s said this. Then he asked, “Why would you want to pay for the dashboard if you can simply get it for free?”

First, it’s fair to pay for products I value. Second, if I were to pay for the dashboard, then Personal Capital would be incentivized to innovate faster, and make the dashboard the best self-serve finance tool in the world, for that reason alone. Despite amazing capabilities, the dashboard now sustains based on its effectiveness on generating sales leads and engagement for other  paid services.

Personal Capital: Thank you for your amazing software. Now consider this an open offer for a relationship based on licensed technology.