Ellevest Review: Is It the Best Robo-Advisor for You?

GOBankingRates Score

4.8
Our take: Ellevest offers financial products to a largely underserved group of investors — women. However, everyone is welcome to invest with the robo-advisor. Ellevest is ideal for new investors interested in strategically building wealth over time with minimal risk. In addition to hands-off investing, Ellevest offers other financial products, including banking and retirement accounts.
  • Fees
    4.8
  • Breadth of Products
    4.8
  • Digital Experience
    4.9
  • Customer Support
    4.6
How did we calculate this?

    Pros

    • No account minimums
    • Inclusive for all gender identities
    • Managed investment portfolios that are among the most diversified of all robo-advisors
    • Female-focused investing goals
    • No account fees for checking and savings accounts
    • Roundup feature moves spare change from every transaction to your savings or investment account
    • Flat-rate membership fee replaces percentage-based commission

    Cons

    • Doesn't support trading
    • Tax-loss harvesting unavailable
    • Email support only unless you're paying for a higher membership tier

    About Ellevest

    Investing has been traditionally known as a man’s world. According to Ellevest, 99% of investment management firms are owned by white males, with women comprising about 8% of investors. Ellevest hopes to change this by providing financial services “built by women, for women.” Ellevest’s investment algorithm takes into account gender-specific factors such as career and pay gaps, as well as longer than average lifespans.

    Ellevest Features

    Some of the most unique features of Ellevest include the following:

    • Anyone can purchase one-on-one sessions with a career coach or certified financial planner.
    • Three plans, which range in price from $1 to $9 per month, that automatically invest your contributions and manage them for you.
    • FDIC-insured, low-fee banking consists of a spending and savings account plus a debit card.

    How Does Ellevest Work?

    Ellevest wants to make investing possible for everyone. You don’t need experience — Ellevest’s investment platform uses algorithms to automatically invest and manage your money.

    There are no account minimums. All you need to do is choose a membership level and the type of investment you’re comfortable with. Here’s how to get started:

    1. Answer questions about your financial goals and current situation.
    2. Pick an investment plan. Your options are:
      • Ellevest Essential, $1 per month: Features include a 20% discount on coaching, group workshops on budgeting/finance and Ellevest Save and Spend accounts with a cash-back debit card.
      • Ellevest Plus, $5 per month: Adds an IRA, retirement planning advice and bumps up the coaching discount to 30% off.
      • Ellevest Executive, $9 per month: Includes all the features mentioned so far but adds five investment accounts you can use for specific financial goals. One-on-one coaching is 50% off.
    3. Open an account.
    4. Fund the account manually via ACH transfer or set up direct deposit.
    5. Decide how much to contribute toward your investment account.
    6. Turn Roundup on. Each time you make a debit card purchase, it will automatically round up and the spare change will be sent to your investment account.

    Investing Options

    Ellevest invests your funds in one of the most diversified portfolios available. Most robo-advisors use a mix of low-cost ETFs and mutual funds. Ellevest does as well, but it also adds alternative funds, global real estate investment trusts, Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities and other investments to provide 21 different asset classes. Doing so improves the chances that your money is protected against inflation and volatility.

    Goal Setting

    What makes Ellevest unique is its female-focused approach to long-term investing. Once you set an investing goal, Ellevest’s algorithm takes over. Here’s a look at the targets you could choose from to help fine-tune your investment plan:

    Investing Goal Key Details
    Big Splurge
    • Set your own amount and target date
    Start a Business
    • 5-year target
    • Helps you build 24 months of your take-home pay, with inflation accounted for
    A Place to Call Home
    • 6-year target
    • Takes the average price for a home in your target ZIP code, calculates a 20% down payment and adds inflation to set the right strategy
    Kids Are Awesome
    • 6-year target
    • Planning for dependent expenses such as summer camp, weddings or education
    Retirement on My Terms
    • Time span based on retirement age
    • Helps you create enough income for retirement, assuming you’ll need an annual retirement income equal to 90% of your after-tax salary for the year before you retire
    Build Wealth
    • 20-year time span
    • Helps you grow a nest egg you could use for whatever you may need in the future

    Banking

    Once you sign up for Ellevest, you’ll have your own Spend and Save accounts. These accounts feature no minimum balance fees and come with a linked debit card that can help you earn cash back on your purchases at select merchants.

    Personalized Investment Advice

    Ellevest coaches can give you one-on-one advice on money and career topics such as job hunting, budgeting, career planning, retirement and investing. Coaching comes with a fee to anyone interested, but Ellevest subscribers qualify for a discount of 20% to 50%, depending on your subscription level.

    Ellevest Fees

    There are no additional monthly fees beyond the subscription fee of $1, $5 or $9 per month.

    What Ellevest Is Best For

    Ellevest has some unique features that could be ideal for newer investors who want to get started building wealth.

    Goal Setting

    A good financial plan starts with goals. You may need multiple goals for various important life milestones such as college, buying a home and retirement. Ellevest provides preset goals and allows up to five investment accounts in the highest-tier subscription plan to support saving for several goals at the same time.

    Automated Investing

    Ellevest’s investment algorithm makes investing a hands-off experience. Once you set it, you can forget it. Ellevest’s portfolios are among the most diversified around, with 21 different asset classes to lower your risk and hedge against inflation.

    Low-Cost Banking

    Ellevest ties it all together by offering banking with no monthly maintenance or overdraft fees. Your funds are FDIC-insured and it’s easy to move money around from your Spend, Save and investment accounts.

    Where Ellevest Falls Short

    Although Ellevest sounds ideal so far, investing with the robo-advisor isn’t for everyone. Some things to consider include the following:

    • You won’t be able to buy and sell stocks or your own funds of choice. If you’d like to do some trading, you’ll need to open an account with a brokerage.
    • You may be able to earn a higher interest rate on your savings elsewhere.
    • There is no integrated budgeting or expense tracking.

    Ellevest vs. Competitors

    Ellevest isn’t the only personal investment app available. There are several worth considering. Here’s a look at how Ellevest and its competitors compare.

    Investment App Key Details
    Acorns
    • Two plans priced at $3 and $5 per month
    • The $3 basic plan includes retirement investing, which is not available with Ellevest’s basic, $1 per month plan
    Betterment
    • Charges an annual commission of 0.25% instead of a monthly fee
    Ellevest
    • Female-focused
    • Expands into personal coaching for career advice and finances
    Robinhood
    • For trading stocks and crypto
    • No goal-driven, managed investing available
    Schwab Intelligent Portfolios
    • A robust robo-advisor that provides tax-loss harvesting, something Ellevest doesn’t offer
    Stash
    • Three plans priced at $1, $3 and $9 per month
    • Offers life insurance

    Is Ellevest Right for You?

    Ellevest is best for investors who are just getting started and don’t have a lot of knowledge about investing. You can set up automated investing for a variety of goals, such as building an emergency fund, saving for a house or setting up a retirement plan. Plus, you can take advantage of its banking accounts without worrying about minimum balance fees.

    Advice

    The best time to start investing is today. Even if you can only set $5 per month aside, the funds can compound into something significant as long as you commit to regularly contributing to your investment account.

    Ellevest FAQ

    Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about Ellevest.
    • Can you trade on Ellevest?
      • Ellevest doesn't allow you to actively trade stocks, mutual funds or crypto. It's a robo-advisor that uses algorithms to automate investing on your behalf.
    • Ellevest vs. Betterment — which is better?
      • Betterment may be better for automated investment when you have more money to invest. However, you'll pay a commission of 0.25% of your balance instead of a monthly fee. Ellevest shines at investing for beginners, offering plans for $1, $5 or $9 per month regardless of your balance.

    About the Author

    Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.

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