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M1 Finance vs Empower (formerly Personal Capital) – Robo-Advisor Comparison

Last Updated on September 28, 2022 by Barbara A. Friedberg, MBA, MS

Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t  believe is valuable

M1 Finance and Empower (formerly Personal Capital): Head-to-Head Comparison

Dig in and find out the similarities and differences between M1 Finance and Empower. Learn which one’s best for you.

In this technologically-driven, always moving world, few things are quite as important to us as flexibility, reliability, and customizability. We need our technology to work for us, and we should expect the same of our investments.

Customizability is one of the biggest draws to a robo-advisor like M1 Finance. While Empower (formerly Personal Capital) Wealth Management offers certified financial planner access to all of its paid users.

Although both are considered fintech robo-advisors, these two investment platforms are more different than they are alike and suitable for distinct types of investors. M1 Finance is a very affordable (read: free!) robo-advisor with 1,000’s of investment options, including crypto. While Empower (formerly Personal Capital) provides comprehensive investment management, for a fee. Additionally, Empower offers a free retirement planner and excellent financial tracking software.


*Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link.

Despite these differences, the two prioritize customizability and strive to give their clients clear visual representations of how their money is working for them.

M1 FinanceEmpower (formerly Personal Capital)
OverviewInvest in stocks, ETFs, crypto and pre-made portfolios. High yield cash and lending.Free investment management tools and full service automated and human financial planning.
Minimum Investment Amount$100Zero - free tools.
$100,000 - paid investment management services.
Fee StructureZero fees for investment management.
$125/ year - M1 Plus with added services.
Zero - Investment management tools.
0.89% - 0.49% AUM for comprehensive wealth management.
Top FeaturesChoose your own investments or pick from pre-made investment portfolios. Access to socially responsible funds. Paid feature includes access to dedicated financial advisor. FREE investment & financial tracking & retirement planner.
Free ServicesNo management fees. Includes free rebalancing + no transaction fee stock and ETF trading.Spending, saving & investment & performance reports. Retirement & 401(k) fee analyzers. Net worth tracker. Asset Allocation report.
Contact & Investing AdvicePhone (M-F) and email, 7 days per week.Phone M-F 6 am-6 pm PT
CFPs for Empower Advisors clients.
Investment Funds6,000+ stocks and ETFs.
Digital crypto coins. 80+ expert portfolios.
Empower Advisors includes ETFs.
Also available - stocks, fixed income, and private equity.
Accounts AvailableSingle and joint taxable brokerage. Roth, traditional, rollover, SEP IRA. Trust. Business accounts.Single and joint taxable brokerage. Roth, traditional, SEP and rollover IRAs. Trusts. 
PromotionsFree investment management.Free financial management tools

M1 Finance vs Empower – Overview

M1 Finance Top Features Overview

M1 Finance applies the concept of pie to investing—and no, not the 3.14 variety or yummy apple pie. Each investment in your portfolio is considered to be a slice of the pie and represents a specific percent of all of your investments. Users can customize up to 100 slices of pie from thousands of investment options. M1 Finance relies on algorithms for automatic rebalancing back to your preferred percentage allocations and does not offer access to human financial planners.

M1 offers self-directed investors the opportunity to create your own investment portfolios, from a choice of thousands of types of investments including stocks, ETFs and Cryptocurrency. If you’re seeking more guidance, choose from an extensive menu of pre-designed investment portfolios:

  • General Investing – perfect for well-balanced investments that match up with your risk level.
  • Plan For Retirement
  • Responsible Investing (Socially Conscious)
  • Income Portfolios
  • Hedge Fund Followers
  • Industries and Sectors
  • Just Stocks and Bonds
  • Other Strategies

Bonus; Betterment vs M1 Finance Comparison

Get up to $500 in your new brokerage account when you sign up and make a deposit within 14 days of opening your new M1 Brokerage Account. Promotional terms and conditions apply.

Empower (formerly Personal Capital) – Top Features Overview

Empower offers greater investment management functionality than M1 Finance. Anyone can access the FREE Empower dashboard which includes retirement, spending, and saving trackers which are secure, high quality, and link to your existing accounts.

The Empower free features, include reports, an investment dashboard and calculators:

  • Net Worth and Account Balances.
  • Budgeting.
  • Cash Flow Analysis.
  • Income Report.
  • Spending Report
  • Investment Returns.
  • Asset Allocation View.
  • Retirement Planner.
  • Fee Analyzer.
  • Investment Check-up.

Empower also offers premium features for investors, including access to human financial planners, a comprehensive financial plan, tax-loss harvesting, college savings planning and help with all financial decision-making.

Go directly to the website to sign up for the free investment dashboard, tools and reports.

Empower vs M1 Finance: Who Benefits From Each Robo-Advisor?

Both of these investment management robo-advisors have a lot to offer to a wide range of investors and Empower’s free investment dashboard is great for anyone that owns stocks, bonds or funds. However, each platform has crucial selling points and drawbacks.

Personal Capital vs M1 Finance – Fees and Minimums

There’s tremendous differentiation in this category.

M1 Finance is accessible to all levels of investors due to the free account management and accessible $100 minimum investment requirement. Plus, there are no trading fees. The only fees that you pay are low management expense ratios, levied by the exchange traded fund – ETF – company and cryptocurrency trading fees.

For just $125 per year (fees waived for the first three months), investors can access M1 Plus, a premium service. With M1 Plus, users get a second daily trading window, additional ATM withdrawals, low margin rates and more.

The Free Empower financial management tools are a draw for anyone seeking to track their finances. Retirees will certainly benefit from free retirement planning tools but why wait? Anyone at any life stage can link up their retirement accounts to the Empower Dashboard and anticipate future roadblocks to saving.

Any investor seeking a free financial management dashboard would be well served to sign up for the free Empower dashboard. You can click here and go straight to the Empower site to link your accounts. It only takes a few minutes.  After linking your accounts you have access to investing, budgeting and retirement tools – for free.

Wealthier investors seeking comprehensive financial management for fees lower than a typical human financial advisor, benefit from using the Empower Advisors. With a $100,000 minimum and 0.89% management fee the paid service targets the mass affluent and wealthier client. As assets under management grow, the investment management fees shrink to 0.49% for accounts worth more than $10 million.

Although the Empower managed account management fees are higher than many robo-advisors, they are on the low-end of traditional financial advisor services.

Currently, I have an account with M1 Finance and also the use the Empower free investment management tools.

Empower vs M1 Finance – Access to Human Financial Planners

This one goes to Personal Capital. While M1 Finance’s algorithms rebalance clients’ portfolios, there is no access to a human certified financial planner through this robo-advisor. M1 Finance is designed for the do-it-yourself investor who doesn’t need advice from a financial planner.

Personal Capital customers who pay for premium services have unlimited access to Certified Financial Planners for a range of investment and financial questions.

Wealthier investors with tax, college planning, estate planning and more sophisticated money issues will be better served by the full-service Empower robo-advisor.

Empower vs M1 Finance – Account Types

Both M1 Finance and Empower offer trusts, traditional, Roth, and rollover IRAs, and individual and joint taxable accounts. In addition to these, Empower also offers SEP IRAs.

However, M1 Finance has a bit more diversity: the robo-advisor also offers LLC and partnership business accounts.

Empower account types include:

  • Individual and joint investment accounts.
  • Roth, traditional, SEP & rollover IRAs.
  • Trust accounts.

M1 Finance account types include:

  • Individual and joint taxable accounts.
  • Traditional, Roth, SEP and rollover IRAs.
  • Trust accounts.
  • Corporate, LLC, and partnership business accounts.

Ultimately, if you’re seeking a basic investment, retirement, or trust account, either M1 Finance or Empower will suffice. But, for investors who want an investment account for their business M1 Finance is your solution.

M1 Finance

Empower vs M1 Finance – Customization and Investment Portfolios

M1 Finance just might offer the most customization of any robo-advisor on the market. Although, Wealthfront is a close second with the ability to add diversified ETFs, crypto and stocks to their portfolios. Clients of M1 Finance are able to choose from thousands of stock and ETF investment options and customize up to 100 “slices” of pie within their portfolios. M1 also offers cryptocurrency for its users. This gives users flexibility and personalization that is lacking in many other robo-advisors.

If you’re seeking more portfolio set up help than the M1 Finance self-directed stock, ETF and crypto assets offer, M1 also has 80+ pre-created investment portfolios., M1 Finance also offers many types of premade choices as outlined above in the “Top Features Overview” section. I have two expert portfolios: “Just Stocks and Bonds” and a globally diversified “Income Portfolio.”

M1 Borrow also offers loans to their clients, as long as they have a minimum of $5,000 invested in a taxable brokerage account. M1 Plus users benefit from among the lowest margin rates in the industry.

M1 Finance also includes cash management services such as direct deposit, high yield checking, as well as a debit card. M1 Plus users have access to more free ATM withdrawals and cash back on the debit card.

M1 High Yield Interest Rate – 5.0% APY*

For paid users, consider Empower as a full service financial advisor, with lower fees, integrated computerized investment management and unique add on services.

In addition to a financial plan, Empower investors receive a customizable portfolio of stocks and ETFs. Their investment strategy equal weights all sectors, as opposed to other robo’s which market-weight their investments. Empower’s research realized approximately 1 percent higher returns with this strategy.

Empower also provides access to a wide variety of investments including individual stocks, U.S. and international stock funds, various bond funds, and alternative investments spanning real estate, gold, energy and more.

Although, like M1 Finance, Empower Personal Cash also offers customers the opportunity to a higher interest rate on your cash. Another bonus of Empower Cash is that your money is insured by the FDIC, through partner banks, up to an aggregate of $2,000,000, significantly more than the typical $250,000 offered by most banks.

The current Empower Personal Cash interest rate is 4.10% APY

In sum, the customization and investment portfolios of M1 Finance and Personal Capital are unique. For investors with a small amount of money or those seeking zero account management fees, M1 Finance is the best solution. While investors seeking full service financial planning and investment management are best served by Empower.

Empower FREE Portfolio Review

If you sign up for the free Empower investment management tools, and your aggregate linked accounts are worth more than $100,000, you’re eligible for a free portfolio review, by a financial planner.

Click on the button below, sign up and get your investment portfolio reviewed by a Certified Financial Planner (no strings attached):

Just sign up with the link, connect your accounts and wait for a call from the Empower representative!

M1 Finance vs Empower (formerly Personal Capital) Robo-Advisors Takeaway

Despite both focusing on customizability, the M1 Finance vs Empower robo-advisor comparison shows more differences than similarities. While both robo-advisors offer benefits to the general public—especially where Empower’s free services are concerned—they are still geared toward very different investor profiles. M1 Finance is easily accessible to most investors with its $100 minimum investment and zero account management fees, while Empower charges higher account management fees in exchange for human financial planners and a hands-on approach to investing.

What investors need to decide when choosing between these two is: What type of investment management platform do you need? Typically, older more affluent investors with more complex financial situations will gravitate towards Empower. Younger and self-directed investors can go-it-alone, without financial planners. If M1 Finance clients need added advice, of choose the SoFi Invest Automated Investing, which provides free half hour financial planning sessions.

Regardless of which robo-advisor you choose, sign up for the free financial dashboard, investment tracking, budgeting, retirement planning, and other tools from Personal Capital.

Read the Complete M1 Finance Review

Read the Complete Empower Review

Beterment vs. SoFi Invest 

M1 Finance vs. Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

M1 Finance vs Betterment

Best Robo-Advisor For Retirees

Wealthfront vs Fidelity Go

Still undecided about which robo-advisor to choose?

Visit the Robo-Advisor Selection Wizard, take a quick quiz, and find out which robo-advisor is the right one for you.

Disclosures: I have an account with M1 Finance and I have a free account with Personal Capital, where I use the free financial management tools.

I am invested with M1 Finance and use the free financial tools at Personal Capital, and like both platforms – a lot.

Empower compensates Stocktrades Ltd (“Company”) for new leads. Stocktrades Ltd is not an investment client of Empower.

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Barbara A. Friedberg, MBA, MS

Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS brings decades of finance and investing experience to Robo-advisor Pros. She is a former investment portfolio manager and taught Finance and Investments at several universities. Barbara Friedberg's published work includes Personal Finance; An Encyclopedia of Modern Money Management (Greenwood Press), Invest and Beat the Pros-Create and Manage a Successful Investment Portfolio and How to Get Rich; Without Winning the Lottery. Follow her on twitter