Ease of Use
Hello women investors everywhere, this one’s for you! Ellevest is an automated investment platform specifically made for women. With a variety of features and being designed for career focused women, Ellevest may be right for you. Read our thorough review to learn more.
Ellevest is an automated investment platform designed by women, for women. The platform was founded in 2014 by CEO Sallie Krawcheck, previously the manager of Merrill Edge’s Wealth Management division. Five years later, Ellevest boasts more than $100 million in assets under management and has attracted the attention of venture capital for additional funding. However, the company doesn’t disclose how many users it currently has.
How Ellevest Works
Ellevest’s founder believed that traditional retirement investment strategies – including those used by other automated investing platforms – are skewed towards men. Whereas men’s incomes peak in their mid-50s, women’s incomes peak in their early 40s. That, combined with the gender pay gap, means that women need to approach investing for retirement with a fundamentally different mindset and asset allocation.
That said, Ellevest on its face works similarly to robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront. Users start out by answering a series of questions about their savings goals, assets, and risk tolerance, and Ellevest automatically invests in a portfolio of low-cost ETFs based on that information.
Ellevest offers 21 different asset classes, which is more than many competing robo-advisors. The additional asset classes largely cover varying types of bonds, as well as US and international real estate. Importantly, Ellevest isn’t shy about letting you know what ETFs you are investing in, so it’s easy to take a closer look at the exact companies that your money is going towards. Many women will also be happy to find that five of Ellevest’s ETFs are focused around promoting women and the companies that support them.
Keep in mind that while Ellevest allows you to set goals and manage recurring deposits, you don’t have much control over your asset allocation based on risk – Ellevest takes care of that in the background without much input. This is one of the ways in which Ellevest tailors its platform to women, but it does take away some degree of control. Furthermore, while you can see the ETFs you’re invested in, you do not have the option to opt out of specific ETFs or asset classes.
Ellevest has three account tiers based on the amount of money you invest using the platform. Ellevest Digital users do not have any account minimum and get most essential investment management features, including automatic rebalancing, tax harvesting, and unlimited financial advice from the company’s customer support team.
Investors with more than $50,000 invested are eligible for Ellevest Premium, which gives one-on-one access to a certified financial planner and to an executive coach who can help with things like career planning. Ellevest also offers personal, tailored investing solutions for users with more than $1 million in assets.
Pricing and Fees
Ellevest charges a 0.25% annual management fee for Digital users, which is in line with competing automated investment platforms like Betterment and Wealthfront. Premium users are charged a 0.50% annual management fee. There are no additional fees for deposits or other basic management tools on Ellevest.
Exchange fees on the ETFs that Ellevest invests in are relatively low, ranging from 0.06% to 0.16%. Again, this is in line with other low-cost automated investment platforms.
Ellevest Platform and Tools
Ellevest’s platform is relatively stripped down, which is made possible by the fact that there is no way to customize your investments through the platform.
The web platform and mobile app make it easy to see your financial goals and your projected savings based on your recurring contributions and investments. One nice feature is that the projections show a range of growth, essentially acknowledging the uncertainty that many investing platforms sweep under the rug. You can also view how your portfolio is balanced among asset classes at any given time, which at least allows you to see what you are invested in even if you cannot change it.
Setting up goals is relatively simple, and Ellevest makes it easy to set recurring deposits for each individual goal. You can also edit your goals and contributions at any time, making the platform relatively flexible under changing circumstances.
Ellevest doesn’t publish information about its investments’ historical performance, although it’s possible to investigate the performance of any of the individual ETFs the platform invests in. Based on its average asset balance for users, Ellevest is among the more aggressive automated investing platforms along with Betterment and Wealthfront. In addition, some users have found that Ellevest outperforms these competitors during periods when the market drops.
Ultimately, though, Ellevest is more conservative than investing in an index that tracks the S&P 500. Therefore, it is almost certain to have seen lower returns than the broader market, which has gained consistently, at least since its founding.
Much of what separates Ellevest from other automated investing platforms is actually invisible to users. The models of women-focused investing that Ellevest users aren’t accessible to investors, since Ellevest automatically invests money without much user input or the ability to customize portfolios. Given that Ellevest has only been around a few years, during which time the stock market has been highly bullish, it’s hard to say whether Ellevest truly outperforms other automated investing platforms when it comes to career-focused women.
That said, Ellevest clearly cares about promoting women – which may be enough for many female investors to choose this platform over highly similar offerings from Betterment and M1 Finance. Premium investors get access not only to a certified financial planner, but also to an executive coach whose role is specifically to advise women on their careers and things like salary negotiations. Plus, Ellevest publishes a magazine/blog that is entirely devoted to women and finance.
Ellevest is a relatively young platform, even among automated investing companies, but it is headed by a CEO with a strong reputation in the financial community and has won financial support from venture capital firms. In addition, withdrawals from an Ellevest account are free, so investors should have no problem trusting their money with Ellevest.
Who is Ellevest Best For?
Ellevest is specifically designed for career-focused women who want to save for retirement as well as other large, long-term financial goals. Ellevest’s investing model is specifically tailored to address the gender pay gap and the longer expected lifespans of women.
However, that doesn’t mean Ellevest can’t be used by men as well. It remains to be seen whether Ellevest’s female-centric investing model generates better returns over the long run for its investors as compared to gender-neutral automated investing services, although it has already proven effective during short-term dips in the market. Ellevest’s fees are on par with other popular robo-advisors, including Betterment and Wealthfront, so there is very little for users to lose by opting for Ellevest over these better-known platforms.
Ellevest is also notable because it offers ETFs that invest in women-driven companies and companies that support gender equality, which can appeal to socially responsible investors.
- Specialized investing models tailored for women
- 21 different asset classes for greater portfolio diversification
- Socially conscious ETFs that invest in women-run and progressive companies
- Straightforward to setup goals and recurring deposits
- Competitive annual management fee and low ETF exchange fees
- Very little information about long-term performance
- No ability to customize investments or asset allocation