Ellevest is a financial services company whose goal is to get more money into the hands of women. They offer private wealth management, digital investing, and money and career coaching that’s designed for the unique financial situations that women face, although it is open to all.
Is Elleevest the right financial planning partner for you? We’ll talk about all the banking products and services it offers so you can decide in this Ellevest review.
What is Ellevest?
Ellevest is a robo advisor that focuses on addressing the unique challenges that women face with earning, saving, and investing. They offer personalized, gender-aware financial solutions that help women with everything from banking to investing.
Some of the unique financial difficulties that women specifically face include slower salary growth and increased lifespans. Ellevest also claims that women are more hesitant to invest, which is the primary reason they fall behind in retirement planning.
Ellevest wants to narrow that gender investment gap by focusing on the emotional side of investing. Its aim is to make women more comfortable about investing and provide effective investment strategies.
Coastal Community Bank
Banking products and services that Ellevest offers are actually provided by Coastal Community Bank. Started in 1997, the bank is headquartered in Everett, Washington. It is considered a medium-size bank with assets totaling $806 million.
What does Ellevest offer?
Robo Advising Ellevest Account
Ellevest has three robot advisor tiers that you can choose from. Later we will go into detail about the details of the financial products or services they offer. Below is a look at the pricing and what’s included with each tier:
This tier is $1 per month or $12 per year. You get access to investing (individual taxable accounts only), learning, banking (checking and savings account with a cashback debit card, and a 20% discount on coaching services (financial planner or career coach).
The Ellevest Plus tier is $5 a month or $54 per year. Ellevest is currently offering a 10% discount for its annual membership. You get access to everything included in the Essential tier. It also provides access to an IRA account, personalized retirement planning that includes access to retirement specialists and guidance on topics like how to invest in a 401(k) and IRA transfers or 401(k)/403(b) rollovers, and a 30% discount on coaching services.
The Ellevest Executive is its highest tier offering. It costs $9 a month or $97 per year. Ellevest is currently offering a 10% discount for its annual plan. You get everything that’s included from the Essential and Plus tiers. Financial advisors and career coaching services are available at a 50% discount. You also gain multi-goal investing with up to six customized investment accounts to assist with your money goals.
On all three membership tiers, you can open an individual taxable account. The Plus and Executive tiers are required to be eligible for a retirement account.
There’s no minimum account balance requirement to start investing. Ellevest creates and manages a personalized investment portfolio on your behalf. You’re still able to make changes to your plan at any time.
One thing that’s different about Ellevest from other robo advisors, like M1 Finance or Betterment, is that the company says it uses the only investment algorithm that takes into account the unique situation of women. Longer lifespans, career breaks, and pay gaps are among these factors.
Having a solid understanding of personal finance topics helps you reach your financial goals. Ellevest provides access to online workshops, email courses, and video content to help expand your personal finance knowledge.
Its personal finance content is created by its team of financial planners and career coaches. Get help with decisions related to money, your career, and investing with on-demand learning resources.
Keep your financial goals on track with Ellevest’s personalized progress reports. If you download the Ellevgest app, you can learn on the go with access to videos, articles, and tips.
Ellevest offers banking services with its cash management account. Ellevest is not a financial institution. Coastal Community Bank is Ellevest’s banking partner that provides these services to its members.
This account is actually two – a checking and savings account. With your Ellevest spend account, you get an Ellevest debit card with rewards, no monthly fees, overdraft fees, or account minimum.
If you need cash, you can get money at any ATM. There’s no limit to the number of withdrawals you can make either. Ellevest will reimburse your domestic ATM transaction fees.
You will be charged an international ATM withdrawal fee if you use this service outside the U.S.
The Ellevest Save and Spend account deposits are insured for up to $250,000. It is able to offer this protection because of its partnership with Coastal Community Bank.
Ellevest allows you to easily lock your card and reset your PIN using its app if you ever lose your card. 256-bit encryption is used to keep your account safe and secure.
Debit card purchases can earn an average of 5% cashback when you use it to make purchases at certain local and national brands. The Mastercard international World Debit card includes features like:
- ID theft resolution services
- Extended warranty
- Contactless tap
- Unique debit card based on your level of membership
You are not required to use both the Spend and Savings accounts, though you have access to both. The Ellevest Spend account has a Roundup setting that you can turn on or off. If you turn it on, each transaction that you make will get rounded up to the next dollar.
That spare change is transferred to your Save account. You can keep letting your round-up transaction accumulate in the account or transfer it to an investment account.
Sessions with financial planners and career coaches start at just $38. Your membership level determines the discount you get on these sessions – Ellevest Essential members – 20%, Ellevest Plus – 30%, and Ellevest Executive – 50%.
There are several types of coaching sessions available, including:
- One-on-one sessions– You work individually with a coach who will get to know you and your financial situation. Based on what they uncover during your one-on-one sessions, they will provide unique guidance for your situation.
- Small group coaching – These focused working sessions may have up to 20 other participants. Coaches lead the discussion and provide advice while you get support from like-minded participants.
- Live workshops – Hosted on Zoom by a coach for 45 or 60-minute sessions. During these workshops, there’s also a live Question and Answer session.
- Courses with live office hours – Each week you get information and resources delivered to your inbox. Then you can join your coach and other students for live office hours to help you with your situation or answer questions.
- Executive coaching – Ellevst private wealth management clients get access to these sessions for free. A dedicated executive coach will work with your over six sessions.
Ellevest Plus to Ellevest Executive members can get access to retirement accounts. Your retirement account at Ellevest doesn’t have any additional fees or charges. The cost is all included in your membership.
Your personalized plan reflects all your accounts, including those outside of Ellevest.
You can roll over an existing 401(k) or 403(b) retirement account to consolidate them at Ellevest. If you have a traditional, Roth, or SEP IRA, those accounts can also be transferred.
Transferring your other retirement accounts will require paying a transaction and transfer fee.
Ellevest Executive members get the ability to set up multi goals. Goals based investing is said to increase the chances of reaching your goals, according to research.
Members can open up to five customized investment accounts. You can add money goals like paying for your child’s college, a down payment on a car, or a vacation trip.
Ellevest will forecast how much you get put towards each goal. You can also look at different scenarios, like if you change one goal to see how it affects others in your plan.
Here are the investment goals that you can choose from:
- Big splurge – Allows you to choose the amount and target date
- Start a business – 5-year target; Takes inflation into account and helps you build 24 months of take-home pay
- A place to call home – 6-year target; Enter your target ZIP code and Ellevest will take the average home price in the area, calculate a 20% down payment, and take into account inflation to determine the right strategy
- Kids are awesome – 6-year target; For dependent expenses like weddings, education, camps
- Retirement on my terms – Time is based on retirement age; Helps create enough income for when you retire. Assumes you need an annual retirement income that’s equal to 90% of your after-tax salary the year before you retire
- Build wealth – 20-year target; Designed to help grow your nest egg for future needs
Private Wealth Management
Ellevest also offers private wealth management services. You have at least $1 million available to invest. Private wealth clients get more attention to setting up their personalized plans and investment management.
A dedicated team will coordinate with your accountant or attorneys to get the full picture of your financial life. Clients also receive complimentary access to executive coaching.
How does Ellevest Work?
To sign up for Ellevest, you must answer questions about your marital status and more to help its algorithm design a custom portfolio. Your risk tolerance and timeline will determine if your portfolio is aggressive, moderate, or conservative.
You must pick an investment membership plan between its 3 tiers, Essential, Plus, and Executive. Once you’ve opened an account, you can fund it manually or set up direct deposit.
With your funded account, you can then decide how much to contribute toward your account.
If you turn on the Round up feature, every time you make a purchase with your debit card, it will round up to the next dollar. That spare change goes to your savings account where you can contribute to your investment account.
You can talk to a career coach or financial planner about your specific situation with your Ellevest account. The discount off the service is based on your membership tier.
Your Ellevest account can include assets like non-proprietary exchange-traded funds (ETFs), Socially Responsible (ESG), ETFs, and mutual funds. It only offers 22 ETFs and 3 SG funds to create your core portfolios.
For robo advisors, these portfolio offerings are restrictive. The portfolios are either passive ETFs or part of the Ellevest Impact Portfolio.
The following asset classes are offered to make up the ETFs or ESG funds:
- Developed International Stocks
- Emerging Market Stocks
- Emerging Market Bonds
- Non-US Bonds
- US bonds
- US Large Cap Growth
- US Large Cap Value
- US Mid Cap Growth
- US Mid Cap Value
- US Small Cap Growth
- US Small Cap Value
Each impact portfolio (ESG options) is constructed to socially impact women by helping them to advance in the following areas:
- Thriving Communities – funds that provide loans that support women-owned businesses and companies that provide community service. Performing arts, housing, children’s education, care for seniors, and individuals in need are among these services.
- Sustainable, Accountable Companies – funds that invest in companies that are working to meet higher standards for sustainability and ethical practices.
- Women in Leadership – funds that invest in companies that have more women leaders and policies in place to advance women
There’s not much that investors can do to customize their portfolios. The robo advisor makes most of the choices when you first set up your account through how you answer the questions.
You can only add ESG funds or change your risk tolerance level.
Its robo-advisor account doesn’t have tax-loss harvesting. It does use a tax minimization strategy to ensure that positions with the highest cost basis are sold. This minimizes the realized capital gains for the investor.
Another tax minimization strategy that Ellevest uses is looking at securities that might cost you less in taxes. Tax-efficient municipal bonds are an example.
Corporate and government bonds that might incur more taxes are put into tax-deferred retirement accounts.
Your investment portfolio is rebalanced periodically. Ellevest doesn’t outline specific details or the time frame this occurs.
Commission and Fees
The primary cost for Ellevest’s robo advisor and cash management services depends on your membership level. It doesn’t matter what your account balance is because there’s no account minimum.
You do not pay any additional advisory fees.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are fees involved with the ETFs and mutual funds. The expense ratios range from 0.05% to 0.26%.
Low Cost Service Tiers
Ellevest takes a different approach from other robo advisors by offering different tiers to allow investors to pick the choice that works best for them. It’s a flat fee that, even coupled with the expense ratio on the portfolio, is still a bargain compared to others at the entry-level plan.
ETFs and Portoflios are low-cost
The expense ratios on Elleveest’s ETFs are low compared to many other robo advisors. That includes its impact portfolio offerings.
Easy Sign-up Process
Signing up for a new account with Ellevest is a breeze. You’ll answer questions about your financial situation, career goals, and more. Your answers help Ellevest build your portfolio. Once you’re signed up, you’ll get regular emails to help keep you engaged and on track with your goal.
Whether you have $100 or $100,000, you can use Ellevest to start investing.
Factors in Women’s Unique Situation
Women tend to earn less than men, and this makes a negative impact on their earnings potential. Ellevest’s robo advisor serving takes into account these differences when it comes to financial planning instead of giving everyone the same plan.
Offers Financial Planning and Career Coaching
Sometimes you need to talk to a real human to get career or investment advice. Ellevest gives you access to both financial planners and career coaches.
Convenient Spend and Save account
On top of robo advising, you also get access to a spend and save bank account. You get a debit card with rewards, no fees, or minimum account balance requirements. Save accounts can automatically get deposits every time you use your debit card through the round-up feature.
Low Interest on Save account
The one big drawback of Ellevest’s cash management account is that the savings account barely earns any interest. And if you compare to some rivals like Betterment, who offer higher yields, you might think twice about using the account.
Limited Account Types
Ellevest doesn’t have the robust account offerings that some of its rivals have. It offers individual taxable accounts, but not joint accounts, for example. Standard IRA accounts are offered, but you’ll need to look somewhere else if you want to open a trust or 529 accounts.
Must be on a Higher Tier for IRA accounts
You must sign up for one of Ellevest’s higher-tier services if you want access to IRAs.
Doesn’t offer Tax Loss Harvesting
Most robo advisors offer tax-loss harvesting, which is a feature that Ellevest lacks. This service sells off losing investments for a tax write and reinvests the money somewhere else, deferring taxes.
FAQ: Ellevest Review
Does Ellevest offer a good user experience?
Members can access Ellevest via desktop, iOS, and Android smartphones. The interface is highly intuitive and easy to use.
You can view balances, projects, progress towards goals, and other important information. The account functionality is available through all platforms.
What types of accounts and assets are offered with Ellevest?
Ellevest offers individual taxable accounts, traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs. If you have an employer-sponsored account (401k), Ellevest will provide asset allocation advice, though it doesn’t manage them.
Retirement accounts are only available to Plus and Executive members.
They don’t offer popular assets like individual stocks or crypto at this time.
Does Ellevest offer customer service or support?
There’s no customer service phone number provided on its website. The online chat can answer only certain questions because Ellevest doesn’t have live representatives. You can submit your questions through its chatbox form to get an email response.
Is Ellevest affordable?
You pay a flat monthly fee for a membership with Ellevest that includes investing, banking, and coaching. The career coaching or financial planning sessions are discounted based on your membership level.
Overall the fee is low compared to other competitors.
Keep in mind that each of the funds has expense ratios that should be considered in the overall costs. The expense ratio, on average, is low on the funds that Ellevest offers.
Bottom Line: Is Ellevest Worth Using?
Ellevest is great for investors that are just starting out or don’t know that much about investing. It offers socially responsible investing options that are great for investors who are passionate about that.
The fees and expenses are low, so if you don’t have a lot of money at first, it’s a reasonable cost.
They have great resources to help you navigate this important topic. You can even get help from a financial planner if you need a little extra help. The banking accounts are helpful to make managing your account easier.