What is Ellevest?
Ellevest is a Robo-Advisor investing platform that targets a historically underserved segment of the market with women. While it is not exclusively for women, Ellevest creates customized portfolios that meet the needs of women investors. Founded in 2016 by Wall Street investor Sallie Krawcheck, Ellevest has grown to over $1 billion assets under management.
Ellevest was established on the basis that men dominate the financial services industry, and hence, most plans do not consider the particular needs and goals of women. For example, women have longer average life-spans than men, despite earning less income than men during their lifetime. Also, events such as childbirth and marriage keep women away from work, reducing their earnings further.
This Robo-advisor addresses this gender gap between men and women by creating portfolios that match the financial realities of each gender. When you sign up on Ellevest, you are required to answer a series of questions relating to your preferred investments, financial goals, and income to create a custom portfolio based on your financial needs. The portfolio comprises exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds.
One unique feature that makes Ellevest attractive to beginner investors is that there is no minimum investment required. You can start investing with $1, and add more funds on an ongoing basis. Members also get access to career coaching and Financial Planner professionals at a discount.**
On Ellevest Secure Website
How Does Ellevest Work?
Ellevest is a Robo-advisory service that helps investors achieve their financial goals, with a special focus on women investors. It is an ideal investing platform for investors looking for personalized plans, either for individual investment accounts or retirement accounts.
In June 2020, Ellevest revamped its offerings from an annual fee to a memebership model.
Currently, the platform has three membership plans costing $1, $5, and $9 monthly, and each plan offers access to different types of services. There are no asset-based fees, apart from the expense ratios charged for ETFs added to your portfolio.
Here are the top features you will find in Ellevest:
- No minimum balance
There is no minimum balance requirement on Ellevest.
If you are cash-strapped, you can start investing with just $1, and grow your investments with a periodic deposit.
- Portfolio Customization
Ellevest portfolio has a specific target allocation that is based on the investor’s financial goals and level of risk.
Ellevest portfolios contain a mix of mutual funds, ETFs, and other trading products.
- Automatic Rebalancing
If the investor’s portfolio veers off from the ideal target allocation, Ellevest automatically rebalances the client’s portfolios.
This is done on a need basis instead of rebalancing the portfolio at intervals like other Robo-advisors.
- Spend and Save
All Ellevest members have access to Ellevest Spend & Save account. There are no minimum balance and overdraft fees, and users also benefit from unlimited ATM fee refunds if they set up direct deposits.
You can get a debit card, and any spare change that remains after shopping can be transferred into a Save account or investing account. You can also receive cashback reward on eligible transactions when you use the Ellevest debit card to shop.**
- Education Resources
Ellevest offers digital workshops (free for members, $10 for non-members), in-app training, email courses, videos, and how-to guides that teach them how to save and invest.
At an extra fee, you can also access professional financial help from financial coaches and Certified Financial Professionals. Members get a discount of 20% to 50% depending on their membership plan.
While it services all types of investors, Ellevest focuses on financially empowering women who are often disadvantaged in the choice of investments available in the market.
This app uses factors such as pay gaps, life span, career breaks, and other gender-related issues to create customized portfolios for their members.
Commissions and fee models
Ellevest has a tiered membership structure with a flat monthly fee depending on the level of service you need.
Here are the three membership levels to choose from:
Ellevest allows investors to tweak their portfolios depending on their goals.
For example, if you have a long-term goal, they may suggest a more aggressive portfolio. You always have the option to adjust your risk level up or down 5%.
Once you register on Ellevest, you get unlimited access to email courses, videos, and online workshops, where you learn how to invest.
You can also book one-on-one sessions with career coaches and a financial planners in the coaching store. Non-members can access money and career coaching at full price.
Ellevest investment portfolios include low-cost exchange-traded funds. These ETFs have an expense ratio of 0.05% to 0.1%.
If you are interested in Ellevest’s Impact investing geared towards social issues such as women leadership, the ETFs' annual prices range from 0.13% to 0.19%.
With Ellevest Executive membership, you can create multiple investment accounts for each goal that you want to achieve.
For example, if you want to buy a house and still save for retirement, you can create an investment account for each goal.
Ellevest does not offer tax-loss harvesting, which could be a turnoff for investors in higher tax brackets looking to minimize their capital gains taxes.
However, investors still get tax minimization strategies such as added tax-free bonds in taxable bonds and Tax Impact Alerts that warn you of tax changes when you change your portfolio allocation.
While members get access to free online workshops and email courses, you will need to pay an extra fee to get one-on-one personal coaching or financial planning sessions. The fee starts at $175 per session, but members receive a discount ranging from 20-50%.
While other Robo-advisors pay interest on savings accounts, the Ellevest’s Save account currently has a 0% interest.
This means you don’t get any benefit for putting your money in Ellevest’s saving account.
Ellevest only supports individual taxable accounts and employer-sponsored retirement plans (requires Ellevest Plus or Executive Membership).
It does not support joint taxable accounts or trust accounts.
Ellevest Application process
Setting up an Ellevest account is an easy process, and it takes less than 10 minutes to complete the sign-up process and start investing.
Here is how to create an Ellevest account:
1. Create an account
Get started on Ellevest by clicking the “become member” button on the homepage to initiate the onboarding process.
2. Provide personal information
You will be required to provide your name, zip code, age, job level, gender, household income, marital status, number of kids, etc.
3. Define your financial goals
Choose the financial goal you want to achieve on Ellevest. Do you want to invest for the future, save for retirement, or pay off debt? Pick a goal and select options that align with your goal. Your answers will determine the kind of portfolio and savings target the app recommends to you.
4. Pick a membership plan
Choose one of the membership plans i.e. Ellevest Essential, Ellevest Plus, or Ellevest Executive. Pick the membership plan that offers the level of service and products you need. Each plan has a different monthly fee that ranges from $1 to $9.
5. Finish setting up your account
Once you've picked a membership plan, Ellevest will require you to verify your identity and link your bank account. The app will then suggest an investment portfolio, and you can start investing.
Ellevest Account Types
Here are the main account types you can find:
Individual Taxable Account
The individual taxable account allows investors to trade in different types of assets offered by Ellevest. Once you’ve created an account and defined your investment goal, Ellevest will recommend an investment mix comprising low-cost ETFs and/or mutual funds, which may include stocks and bonds.
Once you add funds to your account, you can buy into Ellevest's proposed portfolio to create a diversified investment portfolio. As you continue investing, Ellevest will automatically rebalance your portfolio so that it aligns with the right asset allocation and risk tolerance. The individual taxable account is available to investors in the three membership tiers.
You can also use Ellevest to grow your retirement savings. The platform offers personalized management for specific retirement plans such as Roth and SEP IRAs. It does not manage 401(k) plans, but you can rollover your 401(k), 403(b), and IRAs to Ellevest.
The retirement accounts do not attract extra fees apart from the monthly flat fees for the different membership plans. Retirement accounts are only available to Ellevest Plus and Ellevest Executive membership levels.
Private Wealth Management
Ellevest also offers private wealth management to investors with at least $1 million or more to invest. This product targets high-net worth individuals and institutions.
These investors have access to dedicated financial planners and career coaches to help them create an investment strategy, based on their financial goals. Ellevest charges a fee depending on the value of assets under management.
Ellevest investors can access their accounts on either the native iOS &Android apps or website.
- Mobile experience
The Ellevest platform is available to iOS users, and users can review their account information, track their progress, deposit and withdraw funds, and access other services.
- Website experience
You can access all Ellevest products and services on the Ellevest website. The website has a unique design and friendly interface that first-time investors will find easy to use and navigate. The website is accessible from a mobile phone, tablet, or personal computer.
*Ellevest Digital doesn’t require you to maintain a minimum account balance. However, there are portfolio-specific minimums (ranging from $1 to approximately $240). You may not receive the entire recommended portfolio until your account balance meets the respective portfolio minimum.
**Banking products and services are provided by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC. The Ellevest debit card is issued by Coastal Community Bank, pursuant to license by Mastercard International. Domestic ATM transaction fees will be reimbursed if a payroll direct deposit has been received within the prior 30 days of the ATM transaction settlement. International ATM withdrawal fee of $5 will apply. The Ellevest Rewards program is powered by Dosh, an unaffiliated third-party provider, which offers Ellevest banking members cash back on Ellevest debit card purchases from select merchants. Each Ellevest Rewards, Powered by Dosh program offer is available for a limited time only for qualifying purchases at participating merchants (subject to the particular offer and full program terms). Cash back amounts will vary and offers may become unavailable without notice. Additional terms, conditions and exclusions apply and can be found in the Ellevest Membership Terms and Conditions Agreement.