Ellevest Review and Profile

Ranked #3 for Complex Financial Planning Needs

Overview

Founded by Wall Street veteran Sallie Krawcheck, Ellevest caters to a historically underserved segment of investors—women. Ellevest is poised to scale quickly, as women are estimated to control north of $11 trillion worth of investable assets in the United States.  Since its founding, Ellevest has managed to raise an impressive $78 million in venture capital funding, including support from familiar names including Melinda Gates and Google co-founder Eric Schmidt.  Here is our Ellevest review.

With educational content and a tone tailored to women investors, the platform has earned an honorable mention from Backend Benchmarking for its ability to handle complex financial planning needs. The premium tier gives clients access to financial planners and career coaches who help clients navigate salary negotiations and other career challenges. Ellevest also offers unique features including a Private Wealth offering, which provides an even more detailed level of service and portfolio management for clients with over $1 million of assets invested through Ellevest.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-understand educational material
  • Private Wealth offering
  • Dedicated advisors are CFP-certified (Premium Only)
  • Career coaching (Premium Only)

Cons:

  • Weak online planning tools
  • No performance benchmarks

Platform Facts:

Account MinimumDigital: No minimum 
Premium: $50,000
Advisory FeeDigital: 0.25%
Premium: 0.50% (access to live advisors and executive coaches)
Average Weighted Expense Ratio0.07%
Accounts SupportedIndividual, Joint, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA

Performance Figures:


1-TR TrailingSharpe Ratio2-YR Trailing (annualized)Sharpe Ratio
Ellevest Taxable4.00%.234.44%.36
Ellevest SRI*3.64%.19

*This account has not been open long enough to have two-year performance data. 

Digital Advice Ratings

Access to Advisors ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Although Ellevest’s basic package is digital-only, clients can access advisors by upgrading to the premium tier. Advisors are required to hold a CFP or relevant professional designation. Clients also benefit from having access to a dedicated advisor, as opposed to a call-center model used at other digital advice firms. Additionally, Ellevest makes available executive coaches who help advise clients on career-related issues like salary negotiations. The one shortcoming is that CFP professionals and executive coaches are only available at the premium level, which has a $50,000 minimum. 

Financial Planning ⭐⭐⭐

Ellevest scores below-average in regards to digital financial planning tools.  While clients can model different goals and test “what-if” scenarios, plans incorporate neither Social Security assumptions nor additional retirement income, such as a pension benefit.  Clients are also unable to use the tools to determine an amount to sustainable spend in retirement.

Transparency and Conflicts ⭐⭐

Ellevest ranks low in terms of transparency, as it does not provide access to both traditional or blended benchmarks to assess performance.  It does provide white papers detailing the investment strategy. However, it does not detail the performance of its models online. Portfolio models are made available before account opening, based on the planning goal and results of the risk tolerance questionnaire.  Ellevest does not invest clients’ portfolios in proprietary funds.

Features and Customer Experience ⭐⭐⭐

Ellevest is average in regards to features and customer experience.  There are no cash management features or portfolio-wide dividend reinvestment. Ellevest does have a mobile app and educational material available and specifically tailored for women who are interested in financial planning and investment topics.  It does not provide the ability to include outside accounts for a holistic financial picture.

Costs ⭐⭐⭐ 


Management Fee*Fund Expenses*Total Cost*
Digital Account$25$7$32
Access to Live Advisors$50$7$57

*Per $10,000 invested.  

Ellevest is close to average in regards to the cost of its digital-only product (0.25%) and hybrid offering with access to live advisors (0.50%).  They are slightly more expensive than competitors such as Vanguard, who offers access to CFP professionals for just a 0.30% annual management fee.