Betterment vs. Ellevest—Which Robo-Advisor is Best for You?

Betterment vs. Ellevest - women with computer

Ellevest has just relaunched with a huge pricing (lower) and service update. Our review will be updated in the near future. In the meantime, visit the Ellevest Website and have a look at the new platform.

Most robo-advisors are created to benefit a wide range of people. Some robo-advisors, however, are specialists: they tailor their services toward a specific clientele base. Many people wonder, when does it make sense to go with a niche robo-advisor? Will the general robo-advisor meet my unique needs?

Today, we are comparing the for-everyone robo-advisor, Betterment, with the more specialized, female-focused robo-advisor, Ellevest. Both Ellevest and Betterment are excellent robo-advisor financial managers with many planning, saving, investing, and advising features.

This Ellevest vs. Betterment Review will arm you with the needed informatino to decide which investment manager is best for you.

Ellevest vs. Betterment—Overview

Both robo-advisors offer a wealth of services at various price points, making them customizable and accessible to a range of clients. However, these robo-advisors also have several distinctions.

What is Betterment?

Betterment has been in business since 2010, and holds a steady third place for assets under management. This places Betterment above all other independently-owned robo-advisors; only Schwab and Vanguard robo-advisors have more AUM.

Betterment is designed to work for any type of investor. Betterment uses a goals-based model for determining portfolio allocations, so it is customizable for young first-time homebuyers and those approaching retirement alike. In addition to helping clients target their goals, Betterment also employs a host of investment strategies, ranging from more “hands-off,” passive investments and actively managed accounts like smart-beta investing and socially responsible portfolios.

Betterment recently introduced Betterment Everyday with high return cash management features.

What is Ellevest?

Ellevest is a robo-advisor designed for and by women. While people of all gender identities are more than welcome to invest with Ellevest, the robo-advisor is built to “close the gender money gap” that women tend to face. This robo-advisor recognizes the unique financial and career challenges many women encounter: lost time and income due to childbearing and rearing, lower wages than their male counterparts, and an industry that has traditionally been built and maintained for and by men.

In keeping with the idea that women already have enough challenges, Ellevest is designed to make investing simple and thorough. Client goals and risk are assessed along with market forecasting to create diverse and comprehensive portfolios that can be passively or actively managed depending on account type.

Although both Betterment and Ellevest offer financial advisor access, Ellevest also provides career consultants for its clients (in the premium tier).

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Top Features

OverviewGoals-based digital investment manager with access to financial advisors and cash management.Automated investment management robo-advisor that invests specifically with the needs and challenges of women in mind. Offers financial planners and career consultants.
Minimum Investment AmountNo minimum for Betterment Digital. $100,000 minimum for Betterment Premium.No minimum for Ellevest Digital.
$50,000 minimum for Ellevest Premium.
$1 million minimum for Ellevest Private Wealth Management.
Fee StructureDigital-0.25% AUM up to $2 million; 0.15% fee over $2 million
Premium-0.40% AUM up to $2 million; 0.30% fee over $2 million.
Ellevest Digital - 0.25% AUM
Ellevest Premium 0.50% AUM
Top FeaturesDigital and hybrid investment management (with financial advisor access) options. All investors can text with financial advisors. Socially-Responsible Investing, income and smart beta portfolios available. Tax loss harvesting available.Goals based investing, enabling you to invest in portfolios developed for various goals, such as emergency funds, retirement and home downpayment. Tax-minimization strategy. Premium service provides access to CFPs + career coaches
Free ServicesFree portfolio review.Free personalized investment plan and access to financial articles in resource center.
Contact & Investing AdvicePhone and email support 7 days per week.Available by live chat, email or phone, during regular business hours.
Investment FundsLow fee exchange traded funds from diverse asset classes.21 low-cost, commission-free ETFs primarily from Vanguard. Other fund providers include Barclays, Nuveen, iShares, Charles Schwab and Van Eck.
Accounts AvailableSingle and joint taxable brokerage. Roth, traditional, rollover and SEP IRA. Trust.Taxable brokerage accounts, Traditional, Roth, & SEP IRAs
PromotionsFree account management special promotion.N/A

Betterment Top Features

  • Smart Beta investment options
  • Financial advisors available for all plans (text only at digital level)
  • High yield cash account available
  • High yield cash management and banking services

Ellevest Top Features

  • Female-focused platform
  • Financial planners and career consultants at the Premium level
  • Impact investing
  • Claims to offer more realistic future projections, including taxes, down markets and more

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Who Benefits

Investors who want to start off slowly with no minimum balance requirement will benefit from both Betterment and Ellevest. Both robo-advisors offer affordable Digital portfolio options to clients regardless of how much money the clients have to invest. This is great news for users who want to try out robo-advisors or may not have much money available for a large up-front deposit.

Both Ellevest and Betterment each charge an affordable 0.25% AUM management fee, making them a tie for low minimums and fees at the basic account levels.

Women will, of course, benefit most from using Ellevest. The platform is designed to take their needs into consideration as portfolios are generated and managed. However, anyone who wants to tailor their investments to support women-led businesses and communities will also like Ellevest’s impact investing options.

If you’re seeking a broader array of investment funds, you might lean towards Ellevest, with 21 diverse ETFs vsersus, Betterment’s 14 funds.

Those who want immediate access to human financial planners will benefit from Betterment. While Ellevest’s Premium plan does include financial advice, Betterment steps it up by allowing all users to text with financial advisors.

Betterment vs. Ellevest

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Fees and Minimums

Betterment Fees and Minimums

Betterment offers two portfolio options. At both portfolio levels, Betterment also offers reduced fees for accounts valued over $2 million.  Don’t want a full-blown robo-advisor, Betterment has a la carte one-on-one financial planning sessions available as well. YOu can sign up for a consult on a variety of topics like college planning or whether to buy a home or not.

Betterment Digital:

  • No minimum investment requirement
  • Betterment fee: .25% AUM
  • .15% AUM management fee for accounts valued over $2 million

Betterment Premium:

  • $100,000 minimum investment
  • Betterment Premium fee: .40% AUM
  • .30% AUM management fee for accounts valued over $2 million

Betterment Financial Consultations (available at per session charge for Betterment Digital clients):

  • A la carte financial planning advice
  • One-to-one consultations
  • Starting at $99

Take a look around Betterment now- Betterment promotion for free management available.

Ellevest Fees and Minimums

Ellevest has three plan options, which are designed for people from beginning investors to millionaires.

Ellevest Digital:

Ellevest Premium:

  • $50,000 minimum investment
  • Ellevest Premium fee: .50% AUM

Ellevest Private Wealth Management

  • $1 million minimum investment
  • Fees not disclosed
  • One-on-one work with a wealth advisory team

Take a look around Ellevest now. Funded accounts in January 2020 are eligible for $50 in their accounts. 

Ellevest vs. Betterment—Top Features Deep Dive

Which robo-advisor best fits your needs: Ellevest vs. Betterment? If you are still unclear, this deep dive may help illustrate some more important differences.

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Human Financial Planners

Both robo-advisors offer access to human financial planners, although they do so with varying degrees of access.

Betterment has the most accessible human financial planners, offering clients the ability to text with advisors regardless of account value. This is a very valuable offering, as many robo-advisors charge more than the basic 0.25% AUM fee for investors to communicate human financial professionals. Although, for one-on-one financial planner meetings, clients must either purchase an a la carte session or pay the .40% management fee for unlimited sessions at the Betterment Premium level.

Betterment Premium also requires a $100,000 miniumum investment amount.

Ellevest also offers access to human financial planners but does so only at the Premium and Private Wealth Management levels. Premium clients need to have $50,000 minimum in investments and will pay 0.50% AUM for this service, making the access to human financial professionals somewhat less affordable than Betterment. Although, for financial planner access, you only need $50,000.

Fee conscious investors content to access financial advisors via text or fee-for-service financial planning consulations will benefit from Betterment. At the premium level, with access to financial advisors, the fee is 0.40% AUM while the minimum investment amount at Betterment is $100,000, double the amount at Ellevest.

If you prefer financial advisors and only have $50,000, Ellevest is the clear winner. Plus, women might overweight Ellevest for their specialized focus.

Ellevest App vs. Betterment App

The Ellevest app is only available for Apple products at the iOS store.

An adroid app will be available soon. In the meantime you can visit using Google Chrome on your Android device. You can perform all of the same activities – and more.

The app is useful, but some tasks such as 401(k) roll over or setting up retirement goal can only be completed on the desktop version.

The Betterment app is available for both android and iOS platforms. The Betterment app was recently redesigned and turned into a hub for your financial life, said Caleb Rotach, Betterment’s product manager. Not only does the app help you manage your financial life, but focuses on your life goals as well.

Betterment is the winner if you’re seeking a robo-advisor with the best app.

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Tax-Loss Harvesting

Like many robo-advisors on the market, Betterment offers tax-loss harvesting on their portfolios. This is quickly becoming standard for many robos, though not all have followed suit yet.

While Ellevest does not specifically offer tax-loss harvesting, they do boast a tax-minimization strategy that functions in a similar way. This includes diversifying taxable and non-taxable accounts within your portfolio and, whenever possible, minimizing taxable gains while maximizing taxable losses.

If you must have tax-loss harvesting in your robo-advisor, then Betterment is your best pick.

ellevest vs betterment investments

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Investments

As this Betterment Review vs. Ellevest Review demonstrates, both are committed to providing clients with good investment options. While Betterment’s are certainly well-rounded, Ellevest offers a more diverse pool of stocks, bonds, and other investment funds.

If you’re seeking cash management and access to a high yield money market fund or an income portfolio, Betterment is a good choice.

Betterment Investments

  • US Small-cap stocks
  • US Mid-cap stocks
  • US Large-cap stocks
  • International Emerging Market stocks and bonds
  • International Developed Market stocks and bonds
  • High Quality bonds
  • Municipal bonds
  • Inflation-Protected bonds
  • High-yield corporate bonds
  • Short-term treasury bonds
  • Short-term investment-grade bonds

Betterment also offers smart beta portfolios, income portfolios and socially responsible options, for investors seeking broader investment styles.

Ellevest Investments

  • US Large Cap Value
  • US Mid Cap
  • US Small Cap
  • US Small Cap Value
  • International Developed markets
  • International Emerging Markets
  • International Total Bond
  • US Dollar Emerging Market Bond
  • Local Currency Emerging Markets Bonds
  • US Total Bond
  • US Short Term Bond
  • US Mid Cap Value
  • High Yield Bond
  • US TIPS (treasury inflation protected) Bond
  • US High Yield Municipal Bond
  • US Short Term Municipal Bond
  • US Municipal Bond
  • FDIC Cash
  • US REIT – Real Estate Fund
  • International REIT – Real Estate Fund

Ellevest investing has hundreds of unique portfolios, that are tailored to women’s specific goals and timelines. Like Betterment, the Ellvest Impact Portfolios are good for those seeking to invest with their values.

In the Ellevest Investments vs Betterment Investments competition, the best choice depends upon your personal preferences. We believe both platforms offer sufficient funds for adequate diversificaton.

While if you need cash management from your robo-advisor, then Betterment is the best alternative.

Both Betterment and Ellevest have promotions now. 

Ellevest vs. Betterment – Account Types

Ellevest account types:

  • Individual and joint taxable investment accounts.
  • Traditional and Roth IRAs
  • SEP IRAs for business owners

Betterment account types:

  • Individual and joint taxable investment accounts.
  • Traditional, Roth, and rollover IRAs
  • SEP IRAs for business owners
  • Trust accounts

If you need a trust account, then choose Betterment, otherwise, both Ellevest and Betterment are a tie.

Ellevest vs. Betterment—Which is Best? Takeaway

Deciding who wins in the Betterment vs. Ellevest faceoff is harder than it looks.

Both robo-advisors try to minimize clients’ taxable losses through tax-loss harvesting or tax-minimization strategies. They also seek to provide affordable account management, offering their basic Digital accounts at 0.25% AUM with no minimum balance requirements. For that reason, both robo-advisors are strong contenders for any investor, regardless of income level or experience with investing.

Bonus: Best Robo-Advisors for Women

However, the two robo-advisors start to diverge substantially when it comes to other key features, notably their access to human financial planners and their second-tier account offerings.

Betterment has much more to offer in terms of access to human financial planners with its ability to text financial advisors at the Betterment Digital level and a la carte financial planning packages. But don’t write off Ellevest.

While Ellevest does have a higher AUM fee for their Premium account level (0.50% to Betterment’s 0.40%), they also have a lower initial investment amount – Ellevest’s $50,000 minimum requirement is exactly half of Betterment’s $100,000, meaning that clients can get access to Premium services a bit faster.

Additionally, Ellevest’s Premium account attempts to help investors overcome the gender pay gap.

While Ellevest Private Wealth Management clients can expect the royal treatment in terms of human account management, the account requires a minimum of $1 million in investments and does not disclose its account management fees.

For banking services and cash management under one roof, Betterment is a sound choice.

Ultimately, determine which features are most important to you and invest accordingly. We believe that both Betterment and Ellevest are sound robo-advisors.

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