Reviewed in: Oct. 2022
Period considered: Aug. - Oct. 2022
The bottom line:
Ellevest offers two tiers of service, starting at $5 a month. Members get discounted access to professional help, free educational resources and a unique investing algorithm that factors in women’s pay gaps, career breaks and longer lifespans. Ellevest Private Wealth Management is available for investors with $1 million or more.
Unpaid non-client promotion
Pros & Cons
No account minimum.
Goal-focused investing approach.
Portfolio mix that factors women’s needs.
A la carte sessions with coaches and CFPs.
No tax-loss harvesting.
Compare to Other Advisors
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Where Ellevest shines
Ellevest specifically focuses on the needs of women: Gender-based investing at Ellevest means factoring women's generally lower incomes, different lifetime earnings curve and longer lifespans into portfolio construction. (Yes, men can be clients, too: They get recommendations that account for their own salary curves and longevity data.)
Ellevest’s coaching: Ellevest’s a la carte offerings help clients learn about retirement and building wealt — issues that can affect women differently than men.
Where Ellevest falls short
No tax-loss harvesting: Ellevest does not offer tax-loss harvesting, unlike several of its competitors.
Ellevest is best for:
Financial planning sessions.
Ellevest at a glance
Reviewed: Oct. 2022
Period considered: Aug. - Oct. 2022
$0, but some portfolios have minimums between $1 and $240.
Account management fee
Plus: $5 per month (or $54 a year, saving $6).
Executive: $9 per month (or $97 a year, saving $11).
Investment expense ratios
Core Portfolios: 0.05% - 0.10%.
Impact Portfolios: 0.11% - 0.17%.
Folio, a third-party, charges $100 for full account transfers out of an Ellevest account and $25 for partial transfers.
16 asset classes covered. Core Portfolios draw from 17 ETFs; Impact Portfolios draw from 23 ETFs and mutual funds. No customization allowed.
Socially responsible portfolio options
Clients can choose to invest in an impact portfolio for no additional fee. Impact portfolios put up to 53% of the portfolio in ESG and impact funds.
Individual taxable account, traditional, Roth and SEP IRAs. Ellevest also provides asset allocation advice on 401(k) accounts but does not directly manage them. Clients can roll over or transfer a 401(k), 403(b) or similar retirement account, IRA, or brokerage account.
Tax-optimized asset location and rebalancing.
Free on an as-needed basis.
Human advisor option
All clients have access to a free 15-minute call with a CFP. Members can purchase a la carte access to coaches and CFPs for a discounted rate. Nonmembers can access a CFP through Ellevest for retail price.
Ellevest offers live, virtual workshops with a CFP for free with all plans. Topics cover budgeting, debt, personal finance, how investing works, and market insights.
Bank account/cash management account option
Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)
Phone, email, Instagram direct message and Facebook Messenger support Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern. Email support for urgent matters on weekends.
More details about Ellevest's ratings
Account minimum: 5 out of 5 stars
While there is no minimum to start investing with Ellevest, some portfolios do have minimums. Those minimums range from $1 to approximately $240. You may not receive the entire recommended portfolio until your balance meets that specific portfolio’s minimum.
Account management fee: 5 out of 5 stars
Elleves offers two pricing models, $5 and $9 per month, with varying perks at each level.
9/month, includes everything from Plus and:
All members have access to a customized investment plan that, according to simulations, gives them a 70% likelihood of reaching a goal target. Another feature that increases the likelihood that you'll achieve your goals is auto-deposit, the ability to have a portion of your paycheck deposited directly into your Ellevest account. After all, it's harder to spend it if the money doesn't even make a pit stop in your checking account.
But the specific goals you have access to depend on your membership level.
Ellevest Plus includes the Build Wealth goal, which offers an individual taxable investment account and the Retirement goal, which allows you to open an IRA and lets you see how your progress toward retirement impacts your ability to build wealth as your primary goal.
Ellevest Executive adds access to the rest of the goals, such as buying a house or starting a business. The Executive level, like Plus, also provides a dose of reality in terms of trade-offs that may be necessary to achieve multiple goals — for example, how buying a house this year might delay starting a business.
Investment expense ratios: 5 out of 5 stars
An expense ratio is an annual fee charged by mutual funds, index funds and ETFs, as a percentage of your investment in the fund. If you invest in a mutual fund with a 1% expense ratio, you’ll pay the fund $10 per year for every $1,000 invested. If these fees are high, they can significantly drag down your portfolio returns. But Ellevest’s core portfolios have reasonably low expense ratios in comparison to other robo-advisors, ranging from 0.05% to 0.10%. Expense ratios are paid in addition to your Ellevest membership fee.
Account fees: 3 out of 5 stars
Some robo-advisors offer zero additional fees, but Ellevest is not one of them. Folio, a third-party, charges $100 for full account transfers out of an Ellevest account and $25 for partial transfers.
Portfolio mix: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Like its peer robos, each Ellevest portfolio has specific target allocations: more aggressive funds for long-term goals and more conservative ones for the short term. Customers are, however, given some measure of control over how aggressively their money is invested and can toggle their exposure to stocks up or down within reason (between 5% or 10%, depending on the goal).
Ellevest portfolios are composed of a mix of ETFs that cover more than 16 asset classes. For its core portfolios, Ellevest chooses from 17 ETFs. Many of the funds Ellevest uses are from Vanguard, a leader in low-cost ETFs.
Socially responsible portfolio options: 4 out of 5 stars
Ellevest’s Impact Portfolios invest up to 53% of a portfolio into ESG and impact funds that promote positive social change and the advancement of women on boards and senior leadership teams. Impact Portfolios draw from 23 ETFs and mutual funds.
Accounts supported: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Ellevest offers only individual taxable accounts and IRAs (Roth, traditional and SEP). Ellevest doesn’t offer joint taxable accounts, but it does offer 401(k) and 403(b) rollovers and allocation guidance for external 401(k) plans.
Tax strategy: 2 out of 5 stars
Tax-loss harvesting is an investment strategy that can significantly reduce capital gains taxes. In taxable accounts, the practice involves selling losing investments to offset the gains from winners. In contrast to its larger rivals, Ellevest doesn't offer automated tax-loss harvesting. That could be a turnoff for the wealthiest investors with high balances in taxable accounts. Like most robos, Ellevest aims to put any securities that might generate taxes into tax-deferred retirement accounts and puts investments that tend to have low tax burdens into taxable accounts. And the company’s Tax Impact Alerts warn about potential taxes triggered by portfolio changes.
» Want to check out other providers? Here are our top picks for best robo-advisors.
Automatic rebalancing: 5 out of 5 stars
Automatic rebalancing is regular rebalancing of your portfolio in response to market fluctuations or other factors that shift your portfolio out of its intended investment allocation. The market moves and over time, your allocation will move, too. So if your target was having 60% in stocks and 40% in bonds and stocks are doing well, you could end up having 70% in stocks, which may be more risk than you are comfortable with. With automatic rebalancing, the computer monitors your allocation and will automatically adjust your investment if they get out of line. Ellevest offers this service for no additional fee.
Human advisor option: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Ellevest gives all members access to a free 15-minute call with a CFP. Users can also purchase a variety of sessions (everything from a one-time session on budgeting to unlimited access to a CFP) at a 30% or 50% discount based on their membership plan. Even if you’re not an Ellevest member, you can purchase sessions at their retail price (for example, unlimited access to a CFP costs $1,999 a year for non-members). The CFP sessions Ellevest offers are similar to Betterment's a la carte financial planning packages, which are also available with no minimum account balance.
However, for ongoing, unlimited access to a financial planner, the services diverge: Betterment Premium, which offers unlimited calls and emails to a team of CFPs, requires a $100,000 balance and charges an annual management fee of 0.40%. Ellevest allows members at any level to purchase “unlimited” access. Phone calls are scheduled quarterly, but you get unlimited email access for a flat annual fee of $999.50 to $1,599.20, depending on your membership level (and not including the monthly membership fee). If you need to, you can request more calls (though other planners may assist you with urgent questions if your advisor isn’t available, and it may incur an extra fee).
On the $100,000 account balance required for Betterment Premium, the service's 0.40% annual fee is $400 a year. That dollar amount goes up as your account balance grows. With Ellevest, if you don’t need professional help, you don’t have to pay for it, but when you do pay for those services they can be costly.
Members also have access to free, digital workshops with Ellevest’s team of coaches, in-app learning which includes useful videos, articles, guides and email courses, and personalized progress reports with tips to keep their money goals on track.
Savings account/cash management options: 1 out of 5 stars
Ellevest does not offer any type of banking services. Many robo-advisors offer comprehensive banking services in addition to automated investing.
Customer support options: 4 out of 5 stars
Ellevest has the standard phone and email support during business days, as well as Instagram direct message and Facebook Messenger support. There is also email support for urgent matters on weekends.
Ellevest Private Wealth Management
Ellevest also has a Private Wealth Management option for clients with over $1 million in assets. The private wealth management service offers personalized planning, access to a dedicated team that will coordinate with accountants and estate attorneys and impact investing and offers investment opportunities that help address gender inequality, racial injustice and climate change.
» Want to compare options? Check out our roundup of the best wealth advisors
Reviewed: Oct. 2022
Period considered: Aug. - Oct. 2022
Account management, planning or subscription fee
0.90% for clients with under $2 million in assets. That fee drops the more assets you have under management. There is a $2,000 per quarter fee minimum.
Setup or onboarding fee
Advisor access and credentials
Financial advisors are all Investment Advisor Representatives and the majority are either CFPs or CFAs. Reviews are scheduled at least annually or more depending on the client’s circumstances and needs. Advisors are available in person, by video, chat, text, phone, or via email during flexible hours.
Financial planning services
Retirement, education, estate and business planning, cash flow analysis, budget analysis and tax strategies.
Tax and estate planning are coordinated with the client’s CPAs and estate planning attorneys.
Investment expense ratios
Equities: 0.15%. Fixed income: 0.15%. Alternative investments: 1.5% to 2%.
Portfolios are custom and unique to a specific client's needs and goals. Ellevest can manage stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs for all clients and alternative investments for clients who are eligible (such as accredited investors). At certain account balances, impact strategies can be further customized.
Clients’ assets are only managed and held at Ellevest's custodian, Charles Schwab.
Tax-loss harvesting on taxable accounts. Intentional Impact Portfolios offering enables stock-level tax-loss harvesting.
Is Ellevest right for you?
Ellevest is a good choice for beginning investors looking for help reaching their financial goals.
It offers free educational materials on topics ranging from retirement to interview coaching and budgeting, and it also provides access to professional coaches for an added fee. Ellevest is also a good fit for values-based investors and people who want to invest their dollars in companies that have policies and practices that advance women.
The service is best for hands-off investors who want to outsource portfolio management; if you would rather take a DIY approach to picking and choosing your investments, a robo-advisor may not be the right fit. (Consider an online broker instead.)
How do we review robo-advisors?
NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. robo-advisors. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.
We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The questionnaire answers, combined with demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across 16 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars).
For more details about the categories considered when rating robo-advisors and our process, read our full methodology.
* Banking products and services are provided by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Mastercard International. If you opt in to the Roundup Program for debit card purchases, each settled (i.e. fully completed) purchase transaction made with your Ellevest Debit Card will be rounded up to the nearest whole U.S. dollar. The Roundup amount will be transferred from your Spend account to your Save account. Foreign purchases are rounded up to the nearest whole dollar after the purchase is converted to U.S. dollars. ATM withdrawals and transactions in whole US dollars, e.g. $20.00 are excluded from the Roundup program. If, at the time of settlement of a purchase, your Ellevest Spend Account has insufficient available funds to cover the full amount of the Roundup transfer, the Roundup Transfer will not be made. If a purchase is canceled or reversed for any reason (including disputes), the corresponding Roundup Transfer will not be reversed. You can opt out of the Roundup Program at any time. Domestic ATM transaction fees will be reimbursed if a payroll direct deposit has been received within the prior 30 days of the ATM transaction settlement. International ATM withdrawal fee of $5 will apply.