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In the not-so-distant past, finance and investing were seen as male endeavors. Today, the market is answering the call for portfolio management platforms specifically created for women. A new entrant into this female-focused automated investing—or robo-advisory—arena is Ellevest, founded by Sallie Krawcheck. Krawcheck is a former Wall Street CEO and finance industry veteran whom Fortune Magazine labeled as “The Last Honest Analyst.” Having forged partnerships with analysts, entrepreneurs and engineers, Ellevest’s goal is to empower women financially. 

Read on for a review of Ellevest, and what this robo-advisor offers to investors. (For further reading, see: Robo- vs. Human Advisors for Women Investors.)

How Ellevest Differs 

Ellevest is distinct from many of its competitors. Most robo-advisors have a limited number of available investment portfolios. If your preferences don’t fit in with their pre-created portfolios, you’re out of luck. Ellevest rectifies that problem by presenting hundreds of distinctive portfolios, customized for the individual investor.

Most investment advisors, human and automated, start out with a risk tolerance questionnaire to determine your ideal mix between stock and bond-type investments. The Ellevest approach examines your goals, their timeline and then designs the investment portfolio to meet those aspirations. Additionally, users can select single or multiple goals and change them as needed. Included in the goal-based focus is a percentage likelihood of meeting that goal—70% is the minimum.

The Ellevest daily portfolio monitoring aims to keep you on track to meet those goals. The ongoing management includes portfolio rebalancing when necessary. Additionally, if you diverge from your goal, Ellevest sends an alert with details about how to get back on track. 

Another differentiating feature of Ellevest is the breadth of its fund choices. Today Ellevest offers 21 funds. Ellevest scrutinized the ETF universe to come up with funds that have low fees, high liquidity, tax efficiency, and ones that closely follow their stated benchmark. Following is the list of ETFs that investors will potentially have exposure to (every portfolio will not include all ETFs):

Symbol

ETF Name

BND

Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF     

BNDX

Vanguard Total International Bond ETF

BSV

Vanguard Short-Term Bond ETF

EMB

iShares J.P. Morgan USD Emerging Markets Bond ETF

FTGC

First Trust Global Tactical Commodity Strategy Fund

HYD

VanEck Vectors High-Yield Municipal Index ETF

JNK

SPDR® Barclays High Yield Bond ETF

MUB

iShares National Muni Bond ETF

SHM

SPDR® Nuveen Barclays Short Term Municipal Bond ETF

TIP

iShares TIPS Bond ETF

VB

Vanguard Small-Cap ETF

VBR

Vanguard Small-Cap Value ETF

VEA

Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF

VNQ

Vanguard REIT ETF

VNQI

Vanguard Global ex-U.S. Real Estate ETF

VO

Vanguard Mid-Cap ETF

VOE

Vanguard Mid-Cap Value ETF

VTI

Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF

VTIP

Vanguard Short-Term Inflation-Protected Securities ETF

VTV

Vanguard Value ETF

VWO

Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF

The company’s fees are comparable to many other robo-advisors at 0.50% of assets under management. Of course, this is lower than the average management fee of a human financial advisor. The firm has no minimum investment amount, which is helpful for women who are new to investing.

Ellevest’s available account types include the traditional investment brokerage account, a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. As it is not a bank or brokerage, Ellevest sees that its assets are held with Folio investments, an SEC-registered broker/dealer and custodian. Folio protects the securities and cash in your account.

The Bottom Line

On its site, the Ellevest robo-advisor boasts “obsessive number crunching, proprietary technology and algorithms, thousands of market simulations [and] four patents filed” backed by “decades of Wall Street experience.”  For women (or men) looking for an educational, goals-based investment advisor, Ellevest—which joins LearnVest and Women Investing Now in targeting women investors—is worth considering. (For further reading, see: What's the Best Robo-Advisor?)

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