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Technology > Investment Platforms > Turnkey Asset Management

Personal Capital Has a New CEO

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Personal Capital, a digital wealth management company with over $4 billion in assets, has a new CEO. He’s Jay Shah, who until recently was the firm’s COO. Shah replaces Bill Harris, who founded the company in September 2011 following two years of development, but remains chairman.

“I’m taking this post at an exciting time,” said Shah, in a statement. “The company’s assets under management have doubled in the last year and just crossed $4.2 billion.”

“Jay has been the person who brings the technology and people together,” said Harris in a separate statement on the firm’s web site. “His new role will mean even greater innovation in the services we offer to users and clients.”

(Related: Personal Capital CEO’s Mission to Save Fiduciary Rule, Dodd-Frank)

Harris told ThinkAdvisor that he’ll now be focusing on strategy for the firm, developing new product areas and expanding the business. He didn’t provide any details.

The firm he founded after having served as CEO at Intuit, PayPal and PassMark Security uses a hybrid wealth management model, which incorporates both digital and personal wealth management services, and is growing in popularity.

(Related: Betterment Now Offers Human Advice, Restructures Fees)

Betterment, which started out as strictly a robo-advisor, now offers services from human advisors, as do more traditional financial firms like Merrill Lynch, Fidelity, Schwab, BlackRock and Vanguard.

(Related: With FutureAdvisor, BlackRock Seeks to Compete With Schwab, Vanguard)

“We have believed in this model since day one,” said Harris.

“We’re delighted to see so many firms moving in this direction,” he said, adding that the hybrid model is “the best way to handle finances of mainstream customers.”

“Personal Capital was a visionary in recognizing the power of the hybrid model, in which front-end tech complements rather than replaces the advisor,” says Will Trout, head of wealth management research at Celent, “but Vanguard took a lot of wind out of the firm’s sails by launching a similar model at a third the price.”

Personal Capital serves affluent and high-net-worth clients with assets of $100,000 or more. Its average account balance is “well over $300,000,” and 38% of account assets top $1 million, said Harris.

Fees at Personal Capital range from 49 basis points (0.49%) for accounts over $10 million to 89 basis points for accounts up to $1 million, with gradations in between.

“We can be more expensive than strictly automated financial services but are less expensive than many traditional advisory services,” said Harris.

Last month the firm, an RIA that supports the DOL fiduciary rule, raised its minimum account size back up to $100,000, from $25,000. It had previously reduced its minimum from $100,000 in November 2015.

Trout said the change in leadership at Personal Capital is happening at the right time. “Harris has been winding down his involvement in various ventures — as chairman of MyVest (sold to TIAA in June 2016) and Yodlee, on whose board he served (sold to Envestnet in November 2015) — and probably felt that after seven years, it was time for transition. … Harris has steered his firm through a tumultuous decade that saw an explosion of digital advice solutions …. now he’s ready to move on. And as Harris has noted, nobody knows the firm’s business like Jay Shah.”

Shah has worked at Personal Capital since 2009, first as chief information office, then as chief operating office. Shah told ThinkAdvisor that he’ll be keeping an eye on the competition from digital and traditional financial services firms while setting a vision for Personal Capital for the next two or three years. His “singular focus” will be to maintain an “independent durable company” that continues to innovate, to do things better and more efficiently, getting stronger as it grows.

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