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How startup Personal Capital is changing the personal wealth management market

1 week ago by Jon Marino in Big Tech, Consumer

There are startups out to upend the staid Wall Street businesses of payment processing, and mortgage applications, and savings. 

But asset management is a cherished business in New York (and everywhere else) and portfolio managers have long gotten fat and happy at steak dinners recruiting clients to believe in their 'proprietary deal flow' and 'relationships' when in reality all they're doing is dumping investor dollars into ETFs and index funds and collecting a (rather generous!) fee for their 'services.' 

Those services are increasingly being provided by apps, and increasingly, companies like Personal Capital ($PERSONALCAPITAL), the multi-billion dollar California-based virtual registered investment advisor, are chipping into Wall Street's top line. And, short of cutting staff and lowering fees, which most are already doing, there's little legacy Wall Street players can do about it. 

Part of Wall Street banks' challenge in an increasingly digital marketplace is the fact that they're nowhere near the pool of programming talent Silicon Valley startups can access - and it's often reflected in the quality of consumer-facing products. Personal Capital continues to draw reviews - a signal of growth - in the Apple ($NASDAQ:AAPL) Store. And, it's rating is 4.5; so things are going well with users. 

Just recently Personal Capital's LinkedIn ($NASDAQ:MSFT) Employee Headcount crossed the 1,000 mark; the company's headcount has increased about 19% over the course of '19. Traditional venture investors like Venrock and Institutional Venture Partners have joined industry firms like Blackrock and USAA in pumping more than $260 million into Personal Capital, including a $50 million round to begin this year. 

At a time when other Silicon Valley startups are paring down on job postings and staff as the supply of jumbo capital appears to be drying up, Personal Capital looks like a startup that has still grown conservatively, even to the 1,000 headcount mark. But, even this long-held advantage for west coast techies could be shifting; firms like Bank of America are getting kudos from market watchers for digital developments. In the back half of 2019, Personal Capital job postings have been flat - but after a leadership transition to Personal Capital veteran and new CEO Jay Shah, the startup's multi-tiered service approach could bring in new business, that warrants new hires, too. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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