Ellevest Review: A Low-Fee Advisor Designed for Women

Investing
Updated: 1st Sep 2021
Written by Kim Pinnelli
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If you’ve ever wished an investment platform would cater to women, you’ve found it with Ellevest. While it may seem ‘odd’ at times, it’s 100% focused on women’s financial needs and makes it very apparent throughout its website.

Is Ellevest the right platform for women? Can men use it too?

We answer these questions and more in our Ellevest review.

What Is Ellevest?

Ellevest is a robo-advisor focused on women. Its focus is on helping women have ‘equal rights’ in investing, meaning it tailors to their lower-income and longer life expectancy.

Since the investment industry focuses mostly on men, Ellevest wants to stand out as a leader for women, helping women create the investment portfolios they need separate from the men in their lives.

Ellevest is like your traditional robo-advisor – using a computer to automate investments, making it easy to contribute even small amounts to your investment plan, and know that your portfolio is always on track either by following the plan you set or reallocating your investments because the market shifted.

Although Ellevest is marketed for women, it’s an investment platform that anyone can use, but the algorithms themselves are geared toward women’s needs.

How Does Ellevest Work?

What sets Ellevest apart is its algorithm calculations. Most robo-advisors treat men and women the same. However, when it comes to finances, they can be worlds apart.

Women take time off work, have lower income, and lower lifespans, all of which contribute to much different financial needs than men. Ellevest considers each of these factors when providing your investment plan.

Ellevest looks much like most other robo-advisors, though when it comes to setting up your account and making investment decisions.

When you sign up for an account, you’ll answer some basic questions about your personal information and then your financial goals.

Answer the questions as honestly and thoroughly as possible so you get a portfolio that will meet your financial goals.

Ellevest creates a portfolio from 21 different asset classes, most only including stocks and bonds, but some portfolios have a mix of other assets in it too.

One thing Ellevest does (possibly excessively) is diversify. You’ll find your portfolio as at least 12 different asset classes in it, which may be too much to manage for some people.

Ellevest Membership Plans and Pricing

Ellevest has three membership plans, each with monthly flat-fee pricing. They don’t charge a percentage of your assets under management any longer (but they used to).

Ellevest Executive

Ellevest Executive is the top plan and costs $9/month or $97/year and includes:

  • An investment portfolio made specifically with women’s needs in mind
  • Access to online workshops and on-demand learning
  • Checking and savings accounts with no overdraft fees, automatic roundups,
  • Assistance with retirement planning and managing retirement accounts
  • Ability to open up to 5 investment accounts for individual goals
  • Access to professional financial coaches for 50% off the regular price

Ellevest Plus

Ellevest Plus is the ‘middle plan’ and costs $5/month or $54/year and includes everything except the option to open individual investment accounts for different goals, and the savings on coaching fees is 30%, not 50%.

Ellevest Essential

Ellevest Essential is the basic tier plan and costs just $1/month or $12/year. It includes an investment portfolio, access to educational opportunities, and banking. Essential clients also get 20% off their coaching fees.

Ellevest Features and Benefits

Robust Educational Resources

If there’s only one factor that sets Ellevest apart from other robo-advisors, it’s the educational resources.

They offer an incredible lineup of educational opportunities, including on-demand email courses, video resources created by licensed financial professionals, a regularly updated blog, and personalized reports to showcase your progress.

Portfolio Customization

Ellevest creates a portfolio consisting of stocks, bonds, and some alternative funds, but each portfolio is customized to your financial needs and goals. You can change your goals at any time, and they’ll tweak your portfolio as necessary.

Designed for Women

No other robo-advisor focuses on women’s needs. Whether it’s the need to catch up on retirement funds because of the inability to save as much as men due to a wage gap, or a lack of income during a career break, Ellevest takes all of this into consideration when creating a portfolio made specifically for women.

Access to Certified Financial Planners (CFPs)

Anyone can have access to CFPs at the low rate of $38 per session. Members get a discount on their sessions. Each session is one-on-one and focuses on your individual financial needs.

How Ellevest Invests Your Money

Ellevest diversifies your funds significantly. They focus on stocks and bonds but also invest in alternative funds sometimes.

They have over 20 asset classes that they diversify your funds in to give you the greatest chance at reaching your financial goals.

Ellevest Spend and Savings Account

Ellevest includes a spend and save account with every membership. The accounts are free, and there aren’t any hidden fees, including:

  • Unlimited ATM reimbursements
  • No overdraft fees
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Free roundups to put into your savings account
  • Earn up to 5% cashback on certain purchases

Ellevest Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • No minimum account balance required
  • The platform is easy to use
  • Ellevest manages your portfolio
  • Focuses on women’s financial needs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach
  • Manage multiple goals in one account with the two higher-tiered memberships

Cons:

  • Only single accounts are an option
  • You must have the higher-tier accounts to get retirement account support
  • Changes to your portfolio are only allowed by changing the risk level

How Does Ellevest Compare to Other Robo-Advisors?

#1. Ellevest vs. Betterment

Betterment is a popular Ellevest competitor and not because it caters to women, because it doesn’t, but rather for its low account minimum requirements and ease of use. Both Betterment and Ellevest focus on goal planning, which is important for any investor.

Betterment offers more retirement support, including linking your outside retirement accounts to Betterment so you can get a full view of where you stand.

Betterment offers more account options, including joint accounts and retirement accounts. Betterment also offers more personal financial planning tools than Ellevest, making it a great platform for men or women.

>> Learn More: Full Betterment Review

#2. Acorns vs. Ellevest

Acorns is a robo-advisor geared toward young investors – or people who have little to nothing saved and aren’t sure how to start.

Like Ellevest, Acorns charges a flat monthly fee ranging from $1 to $5/month. Acorns offers a simpler platform, though.

They don’t have access to financial professionals, and like Ellevest, they don’t offer retirement support in basic packages.

Despite its simplicity, Acorns is a great platform for beginners. It offers round-ups to your investment account, similar to how Ellevest does. If you sign up for the middle plan or higher, you’ll get an Acorns Spend account with an Acorns debit card.

>> Learn More: Full Acorns Review

#3. SoFi vs. Ellevest

SoFi is another great platform for beginners. There’s no minimum investment required, and they offer free access to Certified Financial Planners to get you going.

You can choose automated or active investing depending on how much control of your portfolio you want.

The best thing about SoFi is they don’t charge any fees unless you invest in mutual funds, which have expense ratios, but you can keep them to a minimum.

With SoFi Invest, you can choose to have an automated portfolio like Ellevest or manage your own portfolio without any account minimums required. You can also invest in fractional shares.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Ellevest a Good Investment?

Like any robo-advisor, Ellevest is as good as the market performs. There are times you’ll do good and times your portfolio may not do so good.

Ellevest focuses mostly on women-focused investments or in companies that honor women. Like any robo-advisor, you can set your risk tolerance, and goals and Ellevest will help you reach your goals.

>> More: Best Robo-Advisors

Is Ellevest Good for Beginners?

Yes, Ellevest offers a wide selection of educational opportunities and even the chance to talk to financial advisors if you prefer human interaction and advice. While it’s a robo-advisor with automated investing, they give it that personal touch that beginning investors often need.

Does Ellevest Charge Any Fees?

Yes, Ellevest charges a flat-rate monthly fee of $1 – $9 per month. They don’t charge a percentage of your assets under management like most robo-advisors.

Is My Money Safe in Ellevest?

Yes, your funds are safe with Ellevest. If you have a cash balance, the bank accounts are FDIC insured up to $250,000. As far as your invested funds, they are as safe in Ellevest as they are at any other broker, it just depends on how the market performs.

Bottom Line: Ellevest Review

If you’re looking for a broker that considers women’s needs and focuses on women-based investments, you’ve found it with Ellevest.

If you aren’t focused on women’s needs or aren’t a woman, you may want to look elsewhere, but it’s refreshing to see a broker that focuses on the needs of women who may have different income and financial needs than men.

Kim Pinnelli
Kim Pinnelli
Kim is a personal finance expert with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been freelance writing for 13 years for a number of large publications. Kim thoroughly enjoys helping people take charge of their personal finances.