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

GOBankingRates Score

4.8
Quick 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.
  • 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
  • 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 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.
  • Two plans, either $5 or $9 per month, that automatically invest your contributions and manage them for you

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, although portfolio minimums of $1 to $240 apply. All you need to do is choose a membership level and the type of investment you’re comfortable with.

Getting Started

  1. Answer questions about your financial goals and current situation.
  2. Pick an investment plan. Your options are:
    • Ellevest Plus: $5 per month or a 10% discount for paying for one year upfront — features group workshops on budgeting/finance, IRA and retirement planning advice and a coaching discount of 30% off.
    • Ellevest Executive: $9 per month or a 10% discount for paying for one year upfront — includes all the features of the Plus plan and adds five additional investment accounts you can use for specific financial goals. Additionally, 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.

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

As of August 15, 2022, Ellevest began phasing out its Ellevest Save and Spend accounts and debit cards. Its goal is to shift away from banking and devote more energy and resources to its investing service and financial expertise.

As of Sept. 30, 2022, all Ellevest Save and Spend accounts will be automatically closed. However, it’s important to note that these actions do not affect the investing portion — or other aspects — of current or future Ellevest memberships, according to the company.

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 30% to 50%, depending on your subscription level.

Ellevest Fees

There are no additional monthly fees beyond the subscription fee of $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 six 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. Plus, it’s built for women. It’s a first-of-its-kind investing algorithm that accounts for issues specific to women, such as career hiatuses, pay gaps and longer lifespans.

Coaching

Ellevest members get access to free live workshops and discounts on small group workshops or one-on-one, as-needed coaching sessions for help with goals like building a budget or paying off debt.

Members can also invest in and receive discounts on a 12-month, 1:1 coaching package, which features access by phone and email to a certified financial planner who will assist with ongoing financial questions or full financial planning throughout the year.

Where Ellevest Falls Short

Although Ellevest sounds ideal so far, investing with the robo-advisor isn’t for everyone. 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.

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
Ellevest Female-focused
– Expands into personal coaching for career advice and finances
Acorns – Two plans priced at $3 and $5 per month
– A checking account and metal debit card is included with both plans.
Betterment – Charges an annual commission of 0.25% instead of a monthly fee for digital investing
Robinhood – For trading stocks and cryptocurrencies
– No goal-driven, managed investing available
– Offers Robinhood Cash Card — a debit card with weekly rewards
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios – A robust robo-advisor that provides tax-loss harvesting, something Ellevest doesn’t offer
Stash – Two plans, priced at $3 or $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.

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 $5 or $9 per month regardless of your balance.
  • Can men use Ellevest?
    • Yes, the company was created to address what it calls "a gender gap in the financial services industry." However, everyone, no matter what gender, is welcome to join Ellevest.

Daria Uhlig and Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of Sept. 16, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

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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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