Will women really benefit from a female-focused robo-advisor? We’ll weigh the pros and cons in our Ellevest review.
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Every time I turn around, it seems like there’s another robo-advisor popping up on the market. Most recently, though, I learned about a company called Ellevest. This growing company has a unique focus that differentiates it from the big names out there today: they’re seeking to close the financial gap caused by gender-neutral investing and get more money in the hands of women. They also recently expanded beyond just investing, and now offer banking, coaching and learning as part of their money membership.
That’s right, Ellevest is geared towards women and the specific financial needs that their income, the gender pay gap, and even their life expectancy require. Ellevest’s mission is to get more money into the hands of women, and have built a product created by women, for women. And now, with brand new memberships from only $1/month, Ellevest makes it easy to “level up” your money and investment strategy.
As part of your membership, you will get access to investing, coaching, banking and learning – but we are focussing on the investment offering.
So, just how different is Ellevest from other robo-advisors, and do women really need investment advice tailored to them?
“What the Elle?”
We’ve been hearing about the gender pay gap for decades, but Ellevest takes things a step further. When it comes to their investing product, they tailor customers’ investment strategies to their unique earning curves and even their lifespans, making it easier than ever for women to invest in their lives.
Why Gender-Neutral Investing Is An Issue
A differentiated earning curve means that typical, gender-neutral investing is an issue because it does two things.
First, it diminishes a woman’s overall earning potential across the course of her career. She may start at the same point, get the same education, and retire at the same time as her male counterpart, but with hundreds of thousands of dollars less to work with. This can have a serious impact on her retirement plans, and even her ability to retire when she wants.
Second, it means that the woman may very well run out of money during retirement when she does finally quit her career.
All of these factors combined mean that she may need to tailor her investment strategy to correlate with the path that her earnings take. This is where Ellevest comes into play.
What Ellevest Offers
Let’s take a look at what Ellevest offers to investors and why they’re one of the most competitive (if not the most unique) robo-advisors to hit the market.
Set Real-World Goals
When you are setting aside money each month, you are likely thinking about your future. Your retirement is in mind, ensuring that you set a large enough goal to meet all of your needs later in life.
Ellevest helps investors not only determine how much they need to save in order to adequately provide for their own retirement plans, but how they can get there. This might mean readjusting target savings goals, rebalancing a portfolio, and considering your risk capacity according to your goals… not some standard chart that all customers follow.
Ellevest considers the types of goals for which you’re saving, how long you plan to invest, and even your projected lifespan. That way, the company can help you tailor your investment plan according to your individual goals.
Then, with all of these individual factors in mind, Ellevest will create a portfolio that is tailored to you. They will choose from 21 different asset classes, developing a risk-balanced plan that is focused on maximizing returns and beating the market in 70% of market scenarios.
Depending on where you are in life and your plans, you may be saving for a new car, the down payment for a house, or even your children’s education. Ellevest can help you with these smaller goals, too, with their short-term planning layer. They will provide you with savings plans and goals that, as with your retirement goals, have at least a 70% of likelihood in the market.
Ellevest was designed with all women (and even men) in mind, regardless of the size of your portfolio. Whether you’re just starting out, approaching the later years of your career, or have no idea where you stand, you can absolutely benefit from Ellevest’s services.
It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, either. In fact, regardless of how much you have to invest, you’ll pay one low monthly membership fee for Ellevest’s services and investment resources. Unlike many of the other robo-advisor platforms out there, you won’t pay more for services just because you’re investing more.
Ellevest has three brand new membership tiers, each with its own benefits and pricing. No matter which tier you choose, you’ll enjoy:
- A personalized investment portfolio that is tailored specifically to you
- Free email courses and live online workshops
- No minimum deposit to get started
- Automatic rebalancing
- Ellevests Tax Minimization Methodology (TMM)
- On-demand learning opportunities with career coaches or financial planners
- No account fees--including those for opening, closing, or transferring your account
- Automatic deposits
- Banking with access to spend & save accounts, and an Ellevest debit card*
- Robust support from Ellevests Concierge Team
- Free emergency fund
Depending on the level of service you desire beyond that, though, your monthly price will vary. Here’s a look at pricing and Ellevest’s additional curated features:
|Ellevest Essential||Ellevest Plus||Ellevest Executive|
|Monthly membership fee||$1||$5||$9|
|Discount on sessions with financial planner or career coach||20%||30%||50%|
|Minimum deposit to get started||$0||$0||$0|
|Free on-demand email courses and live online workshops||Included||Included||Included|
|Personalized retirement planning with access to support from the Ellevest concierge team||--||Included||Included|
|Support with 401(k)/403(b) rollovers||--||Included||Included|
|Personalized, goal-specific portfolios (investing to buy a home, start a business, etc.)||--||--||Included|
|1:1 review of your investment plan with a professional||--||--||Included|
Moving up from Ellevest Essential to Plus gives you access to personalized retirement planning services that are exclusive to the higher tiers, in addition, to helping with complex situations such as IRA transfers and 401(k) or 403(b) rollovers. This insight can be incredibly valuable, saving you time, energy, and money in the process.
Bump up to Ellevest Executive, however, and you can really take advantage of the platform’s expertise. With this highest tier–at only $9 a month–you’ll enjoy a one-on-one review of your investment plan, in addition to personalized, goal-specific portfolios. Whether you plan to buy a home, start a business, or take a dream vacation, Ellevest’s experts will help you create a specific investment plan to get there.
Pros and Cons of Ellevest
If you’re thinking about using Ellevest to manage your investments, there are a few key things to consider.
Female-focused approach — Investing has a female-focused approach, allowing you to meet the goals that are specific to your salary, career path, and earning potential, as well as your expected lifespan. Typical robo-advisors don’t take all of this into account.
Valuable premium services for purchase — The platform offers services including salary negotiation and career coaching, helping you to not only make the most of what you earn, but even allowing you to earn more.
No fees — There are no fees for opening, closing, or transferring your account, and there’s a $0 minimum to start.
Financial planning — You can plan for and work toward smaller savings goals, seeing how they impact the bigger picture. Want to buy a house in 5 years? Ellevest can not only help you save for the down payment, but also show you how it can affect your retirement plans.
Diversified portfolios — Your investments will be comprised of a mix from 21 different asset classes--this is more than the number offered by both Wealthfront and Betterment! The wide selection allows for not only a healthy, goal-reaching mix but also low expense ratios.
No tax loss harvesting — Ellevest doesn’t offer automatic tax loss harvesting for accounts. This could mean more work for you, and even the utilization of a separate tax advisor to optimize your losses.
No support for some taxable accounts — You can track and manage your taxable accounts (401k and IRA), but those such as trusts, college funds (529 plans), and other savings aren’t supported.
Can be pricey for small investors — If you don’t have much invested yet, Ellevest’s monthly membership fees could wind up costing you a higher percentage in fees than you’d spend with an AUM-based robo-advisor (at as low as $12/year, though, you may not find Ellevest’s cost to be worth leaving).
Is Ellevest Right for You?
If you’re a woman who is concerned about making retirement planning a success–based on your own unique career, earning, and life factors–Ellevest probably piques your interest. Even if you’re a man, though, Ellevest can still help you make your retirement strategy as personalized as possible.
By considering everything from your salary and earning potential to your lifespan, Ellevest helps clients create the portfolio that is most likely to meet their goals. Plus, it does so for a relatively low fee and excellent account “extras.” While Ellevest isn’t for everyone, it’s probably worth a look if you want a personalized robo-advisor and industry-leading asset class options.
*Banking products and services are provided by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Mastercard International.