Ellevest Review [2021]: An Investing Platform Designed with Women in Mind

Designed specifically for women investors, Ellevest offers customized portfolios of exchange-traded funds.
Last updated May 17, 2021 | By Kat Tretina
Female investor

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Ellevest is a first-of-its-kind robo-advisor platform that was started by women to support the unique needs of women investors. While it’s available to everyone, its investment algorithm accounts for common issues that women face with regards to investing and financial management, including gender pay gaps and career breaks. Its suite of learning tools also aims to educate and empower women who are interested in investing.

In this Ellevest review, learn about the site’s fees and investment options, and see how it stacks up against the competition.

In this Ellevest review:

What is Ellevest?

Sallie Krawcheck, the former president of the Global Wealth & Management division of Bank of America, founded Ellevest in 2014. Ellevest’s mission is to close gender gaps in the investment industry by accounting for issues that primarily impact women like pay gaps, career breaks, and longer lifespans.

According to Ellevest, investment companies default to men’s career trajectories, preferences, and lifespans, which can be vastly different from a woman’s. Ellevest aims to address this issue by offering personalized investment options to help you reach your individual financial goals.

How does Ellevest work?

As a robo-advisor, Ellevest makes investing simple even if you’re a new investor. When you sign up, the company will ask you a few questions about your financial goals, risk tolerance, and desired timeline. Based on your answers, its algorithms will design a customized investment portfolio for you.

Available plans

Ellevest has three plans and pricing varies based on the option you choose:

  • Essential: Costing just $1 per month or $12 if you pay annually, the Essential plan allows you to open a taxable investment account to save for future goals, like buying a home or saving for retirement. You’ll also get access to an Ellevest Spend and Save account and debit cards with an Ellevest Essential plan.
  • Plus: The Plus membership is $5 per month or $36 if you pay annually. You have all of the services of the Essential membership plan, plus you have the option to open retirement accounts — such as Traditional or Roth IRAs — with an Ellevest Plus plan.
  • Executive: Ellevest Executive membership plans cost $9 per month or $72 if you pay annually. This plan includes all of the benefits of the Essential and the Plus plans, and also allows you to create up to six customized investment accounts for your different goals.

For all of its plans, Ellevest does not charge any management fees on top of the monthly membership fee. However, your investment options may have their own expense ratios or other fees to consider.

Ellevest Essential Ellevest Plus Ellevest Executive
Monthly fee $1 (or $12 per year) $5 (or $36 per year) $9 (or $72 per year)
Minimum investment required $0 $0 $0
Management fees $0 $0 $0
Expense ratios 0.05% to 0.19% 0.05% to 0.19% 0.05% to 0.19%
Account types available
  • Individual taxable
  • Spend and Save account
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Spend and Save account
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Spend and Save account
Asset classes ETFs ETFs ETFs
Features
  • 20% off career and financial coaching services
  • Personalized investment portfolio
  • Automatic rebalancing
  • 30% off career and financial coaching services
  • Personalized investment plan that includes external accounts
  • Concierge team for retirement rollovers
  • Automatic rebalancing
  • Customized investment accounts for different goals
  • 50% off career and financial coaching services
  • Includes all features of Ellevest Plus

For those who have at least $1 million in assets and are seeking customized financial advice, Ellevest also offers a Private Wealth Management plan that gives you access to a team of certified financial planners (CFPs) and a personalized investment plan.

Previously, Ellevest offered other plans, including Ellevest Digital and Ellevest Premium. As of June 2020, Ellevest Digital and Ellevest Premium are no longer available to new members. The company encourages existing members to enroll in one of its new money membership plans to gain access to its latest features and services.

Investment options

Ellevest’s focus is on diversification, reducing overall risk, and offering tools designed to weather market fluctuations. While Ellevest’s tools and services might be helpful, it’s important to remember that all investments come with the risk of loss.

The platform has 21 different asset classes in a range of goal-based investment portfolios. Most portfolios are composed of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Typically, when you invest in an ETF, you often invest in hundreds of companies at once, which may help you build a diversified portfolio.

Because Ellevest focuses on diversification with its portfolios, users cannot invest in individual stocks.

For investors who want to give back to the community and help other women, Ellevest offers impact investing. With its impact portfolio option, you can choose to invest in companies with more women leaders and policies that help women in the workplace. Impact investing may also focus on investing in companies focused on community development and sustainable business practices.

Other services

When you sign up for an Ellevest membership, you can also get access to the following services:

  • Ellevest banking: You have the option to open a savings and checking account with Ellevest, and get the Ellevest debit card. The debit card gives you 5% cash back at select brands, and the account has no overdraft, minimum balance, or transfer fees.
  • Career coaches: As an Ellevest member, you also get access to one-to-one career and financial coaching sessions, which could help you polish your resume and plan for your future.
  • Educational tools: Ellevest has a wide range of educational tools, including digital workshops, email courses, videos, and articles. These tools could help you learn how to manage your finances, invest wisely, and build towards specific goals like retirement planning.

Who can use Ellevest?

Designed for women, Ellevest could also be a useful investment option for men. The platform indicates that it welcomes members of all gender identities and expressions. It uses gender-specific statistics regarding salaries and longevity to help design investing recommendations and financial forecasts.

As a robo-advisor, Ellevest might be a better choice for beginner to intermediate investors who want a more hands-off investment option. Its algorithms can help design your portfolio for you and invest your contributions according to your preferences and needs. It could also be a great choice for women who feel that traditional investing platforms aren’t addressing their needs and unique financial challenges, such as career breaks and gender pay gaps. Those who are interested in making a gender-specific impact with their investment choices might appreciate Ellevest’s investment options as well.

Ellevest also automatically rebalances your portfolio as needed to keep it in line with your target asset allocations, and reinvests dividends, which may help grow your portfolio more quickly over time. For investors who want to set and forget their investments, Ellevest could be a good option.

How much can you earn with Ellevest?

According to Ellevest, the expected return for global equities is 3% to 5% over the long-term. By investing money, you could potentially grow your nest egg faster than you would with a traditional savings account. Though, as mentioned before, all investing comes with the risk of loss.

For example, let’s say you saved $150 per month in an FDIC-savings account. After 40 years of consistent saving, you could potentially have over $100,000.

By contrast, let’s say you invested your $150 per month in an Ellevest Build Wealth investment portfolio. After 40 years, your account could potentially be worth over $250,000, according to Ellevest forecasts. In this example, your money could potentially grow by over $150,000 if you chose to invest rather than put it into a savings account.

However, expected returns are not guaranteed, and investing money always comes with risk. As the market fluctuates, you could lose money, so it’s a good idea to invest your money thoughtfully.

Maximizing your earnings with Ellevest

To maximize your earnings when investing with Ellevest, use these tips:

  • Consider contributing money consistently: Contributing regularly to an investment account could potentially result in greater returns over time, though there are no guarantees. For example, you might consider contributing $50 every week or every pay period.
  • Give thought to your timeline: Your portfolio allocations are somewhat dependent on your desired timeline, so think carefully about how long you’ll need to meet your goals.
  • Consider leaving your accounts on auto-pilot: As your account fluctuates along with market conditions, you may be tempted to take money out. However, if you’re investing for the long-term, it could be a wise choice to resist that urge and leave your accounts alone.
  • Think about reinvesting dividends: Rather than withdrawing investment dividends, allowing Ellevest to reinvest dividends could potentially help your money grow more rapidly over time.

How to stay safe investing with Ellevest

As you’re investing money with Ellevest, the company will design personalized portfolios based on your goals. It could invest more cautiously if you have short-term goals, while long-term investments — like retirement funds — might contain more aggressive investment options, depending on your age and other factors.

When investing with Ellevest or any investment platform, it could be a good idea to invest money you don’t need for several years. That’s because your investments might lose money due to market changes. Over time, market fluctuations typically even out, though past performance is not an indicator of future success.

If you think you’ll need that money within the next one to three years, it could be a better option to leave your money in a traditional savings account to protect yourself from potential market fluctuations.

FAQs about Ellevest

Is Ellevest a good investment?

Ellevest is a legitimate company and is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The company does have a monthly membership fee. However, it doesn’t charge management fees like some other platforms, which could make it a low-cost investment option.

Ellevest uses ETFs rather than individual stocks to invest your money, a common choice for robo-advisors because ETFs offer portfolio diversification. However, Ellevest has limited account options. If you want to have a joint investment account or save for your child’s education, another platform could potentially be a better choice.

How safe is Ellevest?

Ellevest’s algorithms may help you build a diversified portfolio, which could potentially offer a measure of protection against market fluctuations. However, all investments carry some level of risk, and there are no guaranteed returns.

To decide if Ellevest is right for you, consider reviewing its investment advisory brochure. It contains Ellevest’s fees, investment strategy, code of ethics, and brokerage practices.

Is Ellevest FDIC-insured?

Ellevest banking accounts are FDIC insured up to $250,000.

The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) protects Ellevest accounts up to $500,000 against any losses that occur due to mistakes by the broker. However, the SIPC insurance does not cover investment losses due to market changes.

Can you lose money with Ellevest?

As with any of the best brokerage accounts, it’s possible to lose money when you invest with Ellevest. Your account can increase and decrease in value as the market changes.

Is Ellevest better than Betterment?

Ellevest could be a good match for beginner and intermediate investors who want a values-driven robo-advisor to help them save for retirement or in a taxable account. However, it has limited account options.

If you’re looking for a wider range of account types, Betterment might be a better choice for you.

Betterment offers the same account types as Ellevest with the addition of the following:

  • Inherited IRA
  • Joint taxable accounts with rights of survivorship
  • Trust accounts
  • High-yield savings accounts

How to sign up for Ellevest

You can start investing with Ellevest in just a few steps:

  1. Click ‘Get Started’: Whether you’re on the mobile app or using the Ellevest website, you can begin investing by clicking the “Get Started” button in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Enter your information: The site will prompt you to enter your email address, create a password, and agree to its terms and conditions.
  3. Confirm your email: Ellevest will send you a confirmation email. You must click the link in the email before you can proceed with setting up your account.
  4. Answer questions: Ellevest will ask you questions about your location, age, income, and household. It will then ask you what your financial goals are, such as paying off debt, saving for retirement, or buying a home.
  5. Pick your plan: Next, you’ll pick your membership plan. Once you do so, Ellevest will ask you to enter your bank information so it can sync your bank account and confirm your billing information.
  6. Set up contributions: Once your account is created, you can make your first contributions and begin investing with your personalized portfolio.

Other investment apps to consider

While Ellevest could be a useful investment option, it may not be the right choice for you. If you’re looking for another investment app, consider these alternatives:

Stash

While Ellevest doesn’t allow you to invest in individual stocks, Stash does.2 Plus, it allows you to invest in fractional shares of stock or ETFs.3 With fractional shares, you have the option to invest small amounts of money, which might make investing more accessible.

With Stash, you can start investing with as little as $1, which could make it a good choice if you’re new to investing. Stash also offers custodial accounts1 and a round-up feature. With round-ups, when you spend with a linked bank account, your purchases are rounded up to the next full dollar amount, and your spare change is automatically invested for you.

Unlike Ellevest and other robo-advisors, Stash allows you to choose your own investments, which could make it a good option for more hands-on investors.

View our detailed review of Stash

Stash Benefits

  • Get $10 to make your first investment
  • Invest in stocks, bonds, and ETFs
  • Fractional shares available
  • Start investing with just $1

Acorns

Acorns is a micro-investing robo-advisor app. You can invest as little as $5 in an individual taxable account or a retirement account. Unlike Ellevest, Acorns also allows you to set up custodial accounts to save for a child’s college education.

Acorns also has a round-up feature. It will track your purchases and round up your total to the next full dollar, depositing the change into your investment account.

Like Ellevest, Acorns invests in ETFs rather than individual stocks, which could make it a good choice for passive investors who don’t want to actively manage their accounts.

View our detailed review of Acorns

For more investment options, check out our picks for the best investment apps.

Acorns Benefits

  • Bonus $5 after your first investment
  • No surprise fees
  • Get started for just $1 per month
  • Protected by bank level security

A Slam-Dunk Welcome Offer!

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Intro Offer

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Annual Fee

$99

Rewards Rate

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Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits

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  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers
  • Inflight savings options
  • No foreign transaction fees

Drawbacks

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  • Best for American Airlines travelers
Card Details
  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you make your first purchase in the first 90 days and pay the annual fee
  • 2X miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1X mile per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Intro balance transfer 0% offer: 0% for 15 billing cycles (on balance transfers that post within 45 days of account opening) then 15.99% to 24.99% (variable)

Author Details

Kat Tretina Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, Florida. Her work has been published by publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch, and more. She specializes in producing content around paying down debt, increasing income, and maximizing credit cards. You can view her work at www.KTretina.com, or contact her on Twitter @KatTretina.