I’ve changed as an investor. I’m far more knowledgeable about investing strategies and investing platforms. I still have an investment account at Capital One, but I’m no longer such a fan. Capital One Investing does a lot of things well, but it is far from perfect.One reason I love Capital One is their clear fee structure. All stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds and Options cost $6.95 per trade (buy or sell). Options cost another $.75 per contract. Recently, Capital One Investing introduced their “PortfolioBuilder” tool. The tool creates a recommended basket of up to 8 low-cost, broadly diversified ETFs based on your investment goals, your time horizon and your risk tolerance. You can buy all 8 ETFs in the recommended proportions for a single cost of $18.95- which is about a 50% savings based off of their existing fee structures.An even more compelling offering is the ShareBuilder investing plan pricing. With this tool, you can create an automatic deposit and investment schedule. You can decide whether to invest every week, or once a month. When you enroll in the Sharebuilder plan, you can place buy trades on Tuesdays only for $3.95 per security. Changes to your investment plan need be made by 5:00PM on Monday to be effective for the following day.Despite the clear fee structures, Capital One’s fees are somewhat higher than the broader marketplace for discount brokerage firms. For example, Ally Invest offer $4.95 trades, and major brokerages like Fidelity and Charles Schwab both offer no-fee mutual funds and ETFs.Capital One recently revamped their portfolio analysis tools. You can easily see your asset allocation, your sector allocation and even your true global allocation. It’s great that Capital One gives you insights into your portfolio allocation. They even offer beautiful images.
However, Capital One falls short in one key area. You cannot easily measure your annualized portfolio performance, and it’s difficult to compare your portfolio’s performance to a benchmark. If you end up with an investment at Capital One, then you should consider using a tool like Personal Capital or DIY.Fund to track your performance over time.Compared to other brokerages, Capital One Investing has run of the mill research tools. Capital One’s focus is clearly on the beginning investor. Their fund analysis tool gives all the necessary information, and nothing more. They focus on the type of fund, the five year returns, and the current expense ratio.They also link out to the prospectus and other commentary (other commentary is mainly for stocks rather than ETFs and Mutual Funds).On top of the Research tools, Capital One has a top-notch education platform. They create filters for their articles based on topic or investment experience level. While the articles aren’t comprehensive, they give investors a place to start researching.As I mentioned in my intro, Capital One Investing is user friendly, especially for beginners. Too many brokerages make placing a trade confusing. Not Capital One. They make it easy to buy and sell one position or multiple. I’m especially impressed by the automated nature of the ShareBuilder Plan.On top of the usability within the platform, Capital One Investing makes it easy to open new accounts, and fund them from Capital One 360 (or other bank) accounts. Transfers from Capital One 360 are instantaneous.When I first started investing through Capital One, they were the clear winners for beginning investors. These days, I’m not so sure that’s the case. Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and Vanguard all offer no-load ETFs (and mutual funds). Robinhood makes it easy to buy and sell stocks for free. M1 Finance makes it easy to manage a portfolio that contains both individual stocks and funds. Plenty of companies offer better research and portfolio analysis tools.Still, Capital One has a few things going for it. The Sharebuilder Plan is a really great option for people who struggle to stay disciplined with their investing. The instantaneous movement of cash from Capital One 360 accounts to Capital One Investing accounts makes it easy for current customers to start investing today.Seven years ago, Capital One Investing made it easy for me to start investing, and I believe they still offer that intangible comfort today. I certainly cannot recommend Capital One on the basis of their fee structure or their portfolio analysis tools. However, if you’re struggling to get started with investing, Capital One Investing might be the right option for you.