Contributor, Benzinga
November 13, 2019

Money management and financial planning can be a daunting task even among the most financially-savvy individuals, so why not take advantage of Empower or Quicken? Both can both help you get a better handle on your finances — you just have to figure out which ones offer the best features for you. We’ll help you figure that out.

Empower vs. Quicken: Overview

Empower and Quicken both offer exemplary budgeting programs, but approach budgeting in completely different ways. Let’s explore Empower and Quicken in greater detail and see which one piques your interest.

Who’s Personal Capital for?

If your ultimate objective is to invest for the long term and plan for your retirement, then Empower is ideal. Though it offers excellent budgeting and financial tracking and money management features, the true benefit of using this platform comes from its wealth management and investment advisory services.

Read Benzinga's full Empower Review

Who’s Quicken for?  

Relatively new to the concept of budgeting and money management? Quicken might be a great fit. The company has been around since the early 1980s and offers personal financial planning and management tools.

Quicken also supports strong investment tracking and performance measurement features to help you save money.

Empower vs. Quicken: Platform and Ease-of-Use

Computer and web-savvy users will find both platforms intuitive and easy to use, but at first glance and each look after that, they’re actually quite different.

What Empower Offers

Empower does online financial planning well — including investment and retirement planning. You don’t have to buy access to these tools and provides a host of free tools to its members.

This happens once you create your profile and link your external money/investment accounts. You can also seek paid-for financial advisory and wealth management services from the company’s professional wealth advisors.

The company offers its tools as both web-based and locally-installable apps. Currently, some features, like investment checkup, investment performance review and more are available only through the website.

You also get access to the company’s Windows, iOS, Android and other mobile apps for free.Here are some significant features of Empower's platform:

  • Centralized view of investment and other financial accounts. This includes bank/credit cards, retirement, mortgage and loans
  • Budgeting. They also offer income and expense tracking.
  • No cookie-cutter solutions. Create customized asset allocation and individualized portfolios based on your specific financial situation.
  • Review all your financial assets. This includes taxable and non-taxable, even those not under Empower management, to receive whole picture advice on how to optimize finances.
  • Full range of financial planning and wealth management services. From 529 college plans, 401(k) accounts, home financing, investing and portfolio construction.
  • Individual stocks tax-loss harvesting opportunities. This helps you maximize your after-tax returns.
  • Smart indexing. This approach to portfolio construction ensures you avoid sector bubble risks.

Accessing all your linked accounts is easy through the My Accounts panel. They’re all neatly grouped and organized for your benefit.

Clicking on an account group gets you more details about accounts in that group (cash, investments, credit cards and more). You can then drill down into each individual linked account from there.  

Money management and investment tracking is easier with Empower’s free app for mobile, tablet and desktop users. One cool feature is the ability to track your spending, keep an eye on major indices and get real-time updates and alerts on your Apple Watch.

Other outstanding features include:

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  • The Dashboard View offers you a snapshot of various aspects of your investments and finances, including your net worth, cash flow, portfolio allocation and balances and winners and losers.
  • The Fee Analyzer is a great way to assess the impact of hidden (and disclosed) fees on your investment portfolio over the long-term.
  • The Budgeting Widget keeps you on top of your income and spending at all times and displays the results in easy-to-understand graphical form.
  • Free retirement calculator and planning tools help you create, plan and manage personalized retirement plans that help you conveniently track and reach your retirement goals.

You can also add income events and anticipate special expense scenarios and see their impact on your net wealth and retirement plans. Empower’s Monte Carlo simulation can model projected and desired spending scenarios based on data from all your linked accounts.

What Quicken Offers

Quicken offers a suite of paid software tools to help you manage your money and stay on top of your investments.

Quicken’s new Mobile Companion App is available for a range of mobile devices, including iPhones, iPod Touch and iPads for iOS 9 or higher, as well as for Android tablets and mobile devices supporting 4.1 or later versions of the OS. There is currently no mobile app for the Windows platform.

Bottom Line

Quicken offers better budgeting and tax planning features but Empower gets you access to 2 dedicated financial advisors to help you develop a personalized financial strategy.

Empower vs. Quicken: Pricing

Because of differences in what each platform offers, these price comparisons aren’t apples-to-apples but should give you a better idea of what you’ll get with your money.

Empower’s Pricing

Empower offers managed investment and wealth advisory services on a graduating scale flat-fee basis based on the value of your assets under management (AUM).

Amount InvestedFee
First $1 million0.89%
First $3 million0.79%
Next $2 million0.69%
Next $5 million0.59%
Over $10 million0.49%

The higher your AUM, the lower your fees will be. The fees are all-inclusive and cover wealth management, custody costs and trading fees. Clients also receive a wealth of free services, including financial planning and 401(k) allocation.

Quicken's Pricing

Quicken recently switched to a subscription model, which makes its software features available to members that have valid paid-up accounts for 1 or 2-year subscriptions.

Home and Business (Windows only)$89.99$139.99

The software is available as a desktop offering but is also available for cloud-based access via the Quicken Mobile App or Quicken on the web.

Bottom Line

Quicken offers a paid suite of tools only. Empower offers its tools for free but you pay for its optional advisory and investment management services.

Empower vs. Quicken: Educational Offerings

It’s important to educate yourself about your money management and financial planning tools and services.

What Empower Offers

From saving for education and retirement to advice about managing and withdrawing from your 401(k) or IRA, you’ll find lots of informational and educational content (blogs, videos, and articles) on Empower’s website. Its support site is also filled with content for beginners so newcomers can feel at ease.

What Quicken Offers

Because Quicken has been around for so long, it has a well-stocked online library of high-quality educational content. From getting started on a particular platform or version to step-by-step instructional videos, Quicken has it all.

Quicken’s YouTube channel also holds a wealth of educational content. You can also find a vast network of third-party trainers online that offer educational courses on Quicken and related products.

Bottom Line

Education does play a part in deciding which product or service you prefer. Both solutions offer great online content and Personal Capital also makes its advisors available for scheduled (educational) consultations if needed.

Empower vs. Quicken: Security

With so many hacking incidents making headlines today, you need to know that your personal data is safe and secure online.

What Empower Offers

Empower uses AES-256 encryption protocols that are more advanced compared to other similar companies. Its servers use the TLS v1.2 protocol, which is more robust than the older TLS and SSL versions still used by some banks and financial institutions.

Multi-factor authentication means that each mobile device requires an initial authentication by secure message (SMS), text or phone call before granting access to your Empower account.

Additional mobile security protocols include Touch ID authentication and mobile-only PINs.

Your browsers never see your credentials. The use of industry-trusted partners like Yodlee and Verisign to store your data and credentials grants an added layer of protection against unauthorized data access. A robust bug bounty program ensures continuous scans for ways to further enhance and upgrade the company’s security protocols.

To protect your data against “insider attacks,” the company has a strong set of internal controls that restrict access to its servers only to individuals with the highest levels of clearance.

What Quicken Offers

Quicken also offers multi-level security to protect your data. You’ll get 256-bit encryption, using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to safeguard all data transmitted from your banks/financial institutions into Quicken.

You also have message-level integrity checking, firewall-protected servers and file-level and transaction password protection.  

Quicken also offers its Password Vault for storing multiple passwords and securely managing them using a single password. The vault secures all passwords using banking industry-standard encryption.

Quicken also integrates with the Mac Keychain, which allows Mac users similar password management options. Mobile users never have their passwords or Quicken Cloud IDs saved on the physical device. Additional security features like Face ID and Touch ID are also available to mobile users.

Bottom Line

Both platforms have robust security protocols in place to ensure your personal data stays protected. Empower’s additional insider-attack precautions are also a confidence booster.

Empower vs. Quicken: Customer Support  

Getting help when you need it is vital, especially during tax time or when time-sensitive money matters need to be resolved.

What Empower Offers

You can access everything you need to know through a single support portal, from known issues, troubleshooting and “how-to” questions, to retirement planning and investment checkup.

If you need access to experts, you can reach your advisory team by phone, email, chat or web conferencing.

What Quicken Offers

Quicken offers 24/7 support to its customers through a variety of channels, including live chat and phone. You’ll also get a support community, error reporting and file conversion support.

Registered users have free access to these services, while higher-end version users receive priority support as part of their membership. Quicken’s online site also has resources, tools and tips that help customers with common support requirements.

Bottom Line

Both platforms offer multiple support options. However, Empower only makes its advisors available through scheduled chat or phone appointments.

Final Thoughts

In case you’re wondering who controls your wealth, neither Quicken nor Empower has access to your money. Quicken functions as an aggregator of financial data, so the question of controlling your money doesn’t arise.

In Empower’s case, Pershing Advisor Solutions, a Bank of New York Mellon Company, acts as custodian, though it never directly handles your assets. You always own and control your wealth.

Both companies offer great budgeting apps, but if you’re looking for a solution to manage your bill payments, including reminders and payment tracking, Quicken might be what you need. Personal Capital does not currently support bill payments except for credit card, loan and mortgage payments.  

Quicken does not offer personalized investment or wealth management but you get access to fiduciary services with Empower. This means there is a legal obligation that any advice and guidance offered is in your best interest.

Want the management of the personal finances from Quicken, but not convinced it's the right one? Check out Benzinga's top picks for the best alternatives to Quicken.