Ellevest Review 2020 – Robo-Advisor for Women

Ellevest Review logo

Ellevest Membership just launched accessible money management, banking, and financial education, starting at for $1 per month.

You’ll get a personalized investment plan with no minimum investment amount required!

With banking* you can Round up your extra spending to super-charge your investing.

Career and financial coaching sessions available a la carte for reduced fees!

Access to learning resources including on demand email courses, live workshops, and progress reports to keep you on track

*This article contains affiliate links to help pay for this website. That said, our reviews are held to the highest standards of honesty.

If you were on the fence about investing before, there is nothing to stop you now. 

This newly updated Ellevest Review will evaluate the updated Ellevest membership site, so you have to tools to decide if this robo-advisor is for you.

Ellevest Review
ellevest logo

Name: Ellevest Review - Robo-Advisor for Women

Description: Ellevest is designed with women's lifespan, work history and needs in mind.

  • Fees
    (4.75)
  • Investment Choices
    (4.75)
  • Ease of Use
    (5)
  • Tool & Resources
    (5)
4.9

Summary

Best for:

  • Women
  • Fee-conscious investors
  • Investors that might need financial advisors or career consultants

Pros

  • Diversified investments
  • Low subscription pricing
  • Socially responsible investing available

 

Cons

  • No tax-loss harvesting
  • No week-end customer service

What is the Ellevest Robo-Advisor?

Ellevest – Where Women Money. That’s the whole point of Ellevest. It’s a robo advisor investment platform and now money membership designed specifically for women. You might be surprised to find out that, women’s investment returns typically trump those of men!

Investing is scary, and this Ellevest Review will answer the question ‘What is Ellevest?’, discuss Ellevest pricing, explain the Ellevest investments, and arm you with all the information you need to decide if Ellevest is worth it for you.

Among all the Ellevest reviews, we dig into each robo-advisor and cover the features that matter to you. We don’t use a pre-determined review format, because each robo-advisor is distinct, and what matters is if it’s a fit for you.

Ellevest was co-founded by CEO, Sallie Krawcheck, and tech entrepreneur, Charlie Kroll.

Sallie realized the investing industry has been “by men, for men” — and has historically kept women from achieving their financial goals. She’s made it her life’s mission to empower women financially and get them to invest for their biggest goals.

Sallie previously held positions with Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney and Citi Private as CEO, and was called “The Last Honest Analyst” by Fortune Magazine and one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business.”Ellevest was conceived and designed with their clients  in mind, not just for them. They worked with real women on what investment guidance need — and created Ellevest together.

Ellevest Robo Advising Features at a Glance

FeaturesDescription
OverviewAutomated investment management robo-advisor that invests specifically with the needs and challenges of women in mind. Offers financial and career advisors for a fee (and with a 20-50% membership discount).
Minimum Investment AmountThere is no minimum investment amount required for Ellevest.
Fee Structure

Essential - $1 per month

Plus - $5 per month

Executive - $9 per month

Top FeaturesPersonalized digital investment plan. Discounted fees for sessions with financial and career coaches. No-fee debit card with round up feature.**
Free ServicesFree access to Ellevest Magazine with articles and videos tailored for women’s financial concerns, email courses, live workshops with CFP’s and Executive Coaches.
Investment Funds 21 low-cost, commission-free ETFs primarily from Vanguard. Other fund providers include Barclays, Nuveen, iShares, Charles Schwab and Van Eck.
Accounts AvailableTaxable brokerage accounts, Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs. Spend and save cash account with debit card.
Contact & Investing AdviceAvailable by live chat, email, phone, or text, Instagram Direct Message and Facebook Messenger during regular business hours
WebsiteVisit Ellevest
Get your first month free with any plan (no code needed)

How Does Ellevest Work?

What Differentiates Ellevest Robo Investing From Competitors?

Ellevest uses different methodologies than other investment managers. 

If you’ve ever seen those impressive looking investment projections that will turn you into a millionaire in 20 or 30 years, but doubted their reliability, you’ll appreciate how Ellevest calculates these – with a healthy dose of real world cynicism. After all, you’re not likely to earn 10% (or more) on your money each and every year over that time frame when predictable events are cutting into that return.

Ellevest accounts for realities such as taxes and fees, down markets, and other factors, and builds layers of conservatism into their projections.

For example, Ellevest:

  • Includes more poor market scenarios that are consistent with prior investment market performance. Ellevest portfolios recognize the major market reversals that began in 1987, 2000 and 2007. Recognizing poor market situations can lead to more realistic performance projections.
  • Accounts for real world realities such as taxes, fees, and inflation. Typical investment projections seldom account for these realities, making projections overly optimistic.
  • Accounts for the sequence and magnitude of investment returns, known as compounding (averages published in the press aren’t usually compounded.)

All of these acknowledgements can lead to more accurate investment results than is frequently presented by other investment funds.

And as is the case with most investment platforms today, Ellevest does rely on Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT). MPT is the theory that it’s possible to maximize expected returns for a given level of risk in a portfolio by selecting the right mix of investment assets.

Ellevest uses a goals-based investment approach:

The goals based approach considers your timeline, savings and risk tolerance to help you understand what it takes to achieve your dreams.

Sample goals include:

  • Retirement
  • Emergencies
  • Build Wealth
  • Home Down Payment (using Zillow data)
  • My Business
  • Kids

Essential Members can invest in one build wealth goal. Plus members get a build wealth goal in addition to retirement.

Executive Members can invest in up to six goals. 

Ellevest Review – Who Benefits from the Women-Focused Advisor Robo?

In a word – women!

According to a recent study by Strategy Marketing, 85% of advisors are men.

Ellevest is specifically designed with you in mind. That means that the apparently “gender-neutral” investment industry is tailored primarily to men’s salaries, career paths, preferences, and lifespans.

“By age 41, college-educated women see their salaries peak at about $61,000. Meanwhile, men continue seeing increases up until age 53, at which point they’re earning about $95,000,” Payscale survey, reported at CNBC.com

Clearly, women’s lifetime income is lower than that of their male counterparts. 

What’s more, a woman can expect to live to age 81, according to womenshealth.gov. up to five years longer than a man on average. That means that a woman must provide for a longer retirement, but do so with less money.

Ellevest is looking to balance the scales.

Ellevest is committed to:

  • Getting you to your financial goals.
  • Helping you understand life’s financial tradeoffs.
  • Prioritizing your investment goals with you.
  • Planning the best life possible for “future you”.
  • Giving you tools to take control.

Ellevest Review Features – Drill Down

  1. Customized portfolios — Ellevest has hundreds of unique portfolios, that are tailored to women’s specific goals and timelines.
  1. Holistic investing — When you first sign up with Ellevest they ask you to provide information on other investment accounts that you have. This enables Ellevest to build your portfolios while being fully aware of your entire investment situation. (We love this feature!)
  1. Compatibility with Mint.com — eSign in on the Ellevest Dashboard and you can view your account on Mint.com.
  1. Guidance and advice  – Ellevest offers fee-for service access to Certified Financial Planners and Career Coaches. This is available to non members at retail price or members at a 20-50% discount.The pricing ties vary per plan. We like this because you only pay for the amount of guidance that you need. Perfect for life events planning too!
  2. Ongoing management and alerts — Ellevest monitors your portfolio daily, and rebalances if needed. If you fall off track, they email you and give you a “heads-up” to let you know what to do to get back on course.
  1. Account custodian – Folio Investing is the broker/dealer and custodian for your Ellevest account. Folio is an SEC-registered broker/dealer and custodian. As the custodian, Folio safeguards the securities and cash in your account.
  1. Email, text and Phone Support — Available during regular business hours.
  1. Account protection — Your account is protected from broker failure though Folio, which is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). That means that up to $500,000 in cash and securities, including up to $250,000 in cash, are protected. Wondering if Ellevest is FDIC insured?  The cash in your spend and save accountsemergency fund areis Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC insured up to $250,000***.
  1. Automatic deposits – You can set these up by connecting your bank account to your Ellevest account.
  1. Ellevest Magazine – We like the wealth of educational resources to help with money, life, and career planning.

Ellevest Investing

Ellevest’s computer algorithms are designed with a carefully considered mix of stock, bond and alternative funds. The highly diversified portfolios are designed to help reduce your portfolio’s risk.

Here are the steps Ellevest takes to construct your personalized investment portfolio:

  • Design an asset mix or allocation that fits with your risk level, goals, and timeline
  • Choose investments
  • Forecast likelihood of reaching goals – with Monte Carlo simulations
  • Ongoing portfolio management

Unlike many competitors, Ellevest uses up to 21 different asset classes across the goal-based portfolios. Their widely diversified portfolios include global real estate funds, inflation protected securities and other unique asset classes.

ellevest asset classes list

For investors interested in an in depth explanation of the Ellevest investment methodology, check out the this white paper which is written by Sylvia S. Kwan, Phd, CFA, chief investment officer. 

With an investment of just $150 per month, here’s how your investment dollars might grow, when compared with simply leaving the money in a low interest rate bank account. (This is for reference only and was created based on specific inputs. Your returns may differ, depending upon future returns and assets.)

ellevest investing graph

Investment Mix

Ellevest uses low cost index-based exchange traded funds (ETFs) in the construction of portfolios. They invest in 21 different asset classes, with one ETF for each class. 

Following are the 21 asset classes, and their representative ETFs.

Funds

Stock FundsBond FundsOther Investment Funds
US Large Cap Value (VTW)US Total Bond (BND)FDIC Cash (FDIC CASH)
US Mid Cap (VO)US Short Term Bond (BSV)US REIT - Real Estate Fund (VNQ)
US Mid Cap Value (VOE)High Yield Bond (JNK)International REIT - Real Estate Fund (VNQI)
US Small Cap (VB)US Municipal Bond (VTEB)
US Small Cap Value (VBR)US Short Term Municpal Bond (SHM)
International Developed markets (VEA)US High Yield Municipal Bond (HYD)
International Emerging Markets (VWO)US TIPS (treasury inflation protected) Bond (SCHP)
International Total Bond (BNDX)
US Dollar Emerging Market Bond (EMB)
Local Currency Emerging Markets Bonds (EMLC)

Impact Investing

Today’s investor strives to invest with their values while earning competitive investment returns.

The Ellevest impact investing impact portfolios invest in:

  • Companies with women in leadership
  • Companies with higher standards for sustainability and ethical practices.
  • Companies that provide loans to support community services, women-owned businesses, and those in need.

Fees and Membership Levels

FeaturesEssential - $1 per monthPlus - $5 per monthExecutive - $9 per month

Investing

X

X

X

Learning

X

X

X

Banking

X

X

X

Coaching Access

X - 20% off

X - 30% off

X - 50% off

Retirement

X

X

Multi-Goal Investing

X

What Does Ellevest Pricing Include?

All members have access to Investing, Learning, Banking and Career Coaching and Financial Planners. 

Investing

  • Ellevest creates and manages a personalized investment portfolio for you. You can change it at any time.
  • The computerized algorithm takes into account women’s financial realities such as pay gaps, career breaks, and longer lifespans. 

Learning

  • This is another place where Ellevest shines.
  • Your membership entitles you to unlimited access to online workshops, email courses and videos from financial planners and career coaches. 
  • Learning topics include career, money, and investing choices. 

Banking

  • Ellevest debit card
  • All members can choose to participate in round-ups** when spending with the Ellevest debit card. This automatically transfers the difference between the purchase price and whole dollar amount into your “save” account.
  • Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements**** within the U.S.
  • No minimum balance or overdraft fees

Coaching and Financial Planning Access

  • All members have access to discounted sessions with career coaches and certified financial planners.
  • The sessions start at $125 (and members get 20-50% off that).

Retirement Planning

Plus and Executive members have access to retirement planning.

  • Advice about how much to save to meet your retirement goals. 
  • Receive a personalized investment plan that includes all of your accounts, not just those managed by Ellevest. 

Multi-Goal Investing

Executive members have access to multi-goal investing.

  • You get up to six customized investment accounts for each of your money goals. 
  • With each goal you get a forecast and information about how changes affect the achievement of all your goals.

What is the Investment Minimum?

There is no minimum to become a member.

Although there may be a small minimum amount before your funds will be invested in a diversified portfolio. These amounts will range from $1 to $240.

Private Wealth Management

For wealthier clients, Ellevest offers private wealth management and a dedicated financial advisor. The services are designed for wealthier investors with more complex financial needs.

Women with stock options or high tax bills profit from targeted private wealth management.

Fees vary depending upon which services are selected.

Ellevest App

The Ellevest app is well regarded with an average 4.7 score on the iOS store. The app is currently available for iOS 10 and above users. 

It’s easy to get started with the app and every step is explained in easy-to-understand language. You can use it to help with goal setting, saving and investing. 

Sign up

ellevest mobile image

The Ellevest sign-up is easy with a simple online process:

1. Answer a few questions about your money, life and career.

2. Link your bank and pick your membership tier.

3. You’re on your way and can choose to activate banking and investing or come back to them.

Investing Set Up

  1. Answer a few questions about your goals. 
  2. Get your financial plan – you can adjust your time horizon, one time deposits, recurring deposits, risk level or choose to invest for impact.S
  3. Set up the financial transfer.
  4. Start Investing.

Your portfolio set up is complete  and Ellevest manages it and will send you monthly progress reports. The banking set up is even simpler.

FAQ

What goes into your Ellevest goals?

Ellevest is focused on creating an investment portfolio for you with a high likelihood of helping you reach your goals. They consider your goal, time horizon, risk capacity – or the amount of risk you can afford to take.

To calculate your best portfolio Ellevest asks about your age, salary, education, current account balances and what goals you wish to accomplish, and when.

Which bank is Ellevest affiliated with?

Ellevest banking products are provided by Coastal Community Bank, which is a member of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). So, your Spend and Save deposits will be insured with the FDIC***, up to the amount allowed by law.

Is Ellevest a good company?

Ellevest can be a good company to invest with if you’re seeking a low fee investment manager with cash management and access to reasonably priced financial and career coaches. It’s great for women and men can benefit as well.
 
Ellevest has received funding from Melinda Gates, Elaine Wynn (Co-founder of Wynn Resorts), Eric Schmidt (former executive chairman of Google, Valerie Jarrett, Mastercard and other. There are many smart and successful people backing Ellevest.

Can I put a 401k into Ellevest?

You can roll over your 401k into an IRA retirement account at Ellevest. They have a concierge team to help with the transfer, including calling your provider together.

Ellevest Review – Pros and Cons

Advantages

  • Women-centric investing, specifically taking into account the unique investment needs and challenges of women.
  • New subscription pricing is reasonable at all levels.
  • The discounted financial advisor access is affordably priced.
  • Ellevest looks at all of your financial accounts, not just the ones that they manage. This creates more accurate investment management.
  • No minimum account balance. This is perfect for new and small investors. Once your account is opened, you can fund it with automatic deposits.
  • In addition to stocks and bonds, Ellevest also invests your money in FDIC-insured cash as well as both US and International real estate. That provides a higher level of diversification than most investment platforms offer.
  • Unique opportunity to view your Ellevest account through Mint.com.
  • Eduicational resources go above and beyond.

Disadvantages

  • Customer service is available only during regular business hours. No weekend or after-hours availability.
  • Their tax minimization methodology is not a strict tax-loss harvesting feature. For investors seeking specific tax-loss harvesting, this could be a negative feature.

Ellevest Robo-Advisor Review Wrap Up

If you’re wondering if Ellevest is worth it? Our answer is yes.

The new lower subscription pricing model is very competitive. We hope that they keep it at this level! If you have greater assets, the fee as a percentage of your assets can be very low.

Ellevest raised $77.6 million in venture capital, ensuring that it’ll be around for awhile. Included among the Ellevest investors are the prestigious Morningstar investment research company along with former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s PSP Capital,  Rethink Impact and others.

Finally, there aren’t many investment platforms available that are designed specifically for women. Ellevest does this by recognizing the gender pay gap, longer lifespans and specific goals that female investors have. 

This will make it easier for women to establish and fund investment portfolios for specific needs.

Since Ellevest has no required minimum initial investment or account balance, it favors new and small investors. Since this describes the investment profile of many women, who may be totally new to investing, the lack of a minimum balance requirement is a major plus.

But, women with greater assets will also be well served by Ellevest. They also have a private wealth offering for those looking to invest $1 million or more 

The fact that Ellevest is conservative with their investment projections makes them more realistic, and therefore more valuable for planning purposes.

Though Ellevest has been designed specifically for women, it’s a platform that men might want to take a look at as well, for all of the same reasons that will appeal to women. And with the low membership fee structure, it’s a solid competitor to Betterment and Wealthfront.

Sign up now and get your first month free (no code needed)

Related

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.

*Banking products and services are provided by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Mastercard International.

**If you opt in to the Roundup Program for debit card purchases, each settled (i.e. fully completed) purchase transaction made with your Ellevest Debit Card will be rounded up to the nearest whole U.S. dollar. The Roundup amount will be transferred from your Spend account to your Save account. Foreign purchases are rounded up to the nearest whole dollar after the purchase is converted to U.S. dollars. ATM withdrawals and transactions in whole US dollars, e.g. $20.00 are excluded from the Roundup program. If, at the time of settlement of a purchase, your Ellevest Spend Account has insufficient available funds to cover the full amount of the Roundup transfer, the Roundup Transfer will not be made.

If a purchase is canceled or reversed for any reason (including disputes), the corresponding Roundup Transfer will not be reversed.  You can opt out of the Roundup Program at any time.

*** The Ellevest Spend and Save accounts are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per depositor through Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC.

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