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Ellevest Review: Robo-Investing, Career Counseling, and More

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Ellevest is one of the best robo-advisors in the industry, and the platform is designed specifically to help women take control of our financial futures. Its well-rounded offer suite includes traditional investing services, plus career coaching, personal finance workshops, and banking. In this Ellevest review, we'll take an in-depth look at how the robo-advisor platform works, what it costs, and the features it offers.

Ratings Methodology
Bottom Line

With a competitive management fee and no account minimum, this is a great broker for a variety of people. The platform’s focus on women’s unique financial concerns sets it apart.

Fees:

0.25% management fee

Account Minimum:

$0

Open Account for Ellevest

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Full Ellevest review

This platform is a good fit for: Women and people who want to take the guesswork out of investing by using a robo-advisor. Ellevest is also valuable for its career and financial planning services and competitive costs. While the brand focuses on women, its services take gender-specific data into account to serve people of all genders.

Pros

  • Flat monthly fee
  • No minimum balance
  • Female-owned and -managed
  • Offers financial planning and career counseling
  • Automatic rebalancing
  • Low-cost ETFs
  • Banking and investing in one place
  • Personalized recommendations according to gender-specific financial concerns

Cons

  • No tax-loss harvesting
  • Limited investing account types

Top perks

Flat monthly fee

Ellevest charges a flat monthly fee, while competitors typically charge a percentage of assets under management (AUM). Monthly membership levels include:

  • Essential: $1 per month for basic investing, learning, and banking, plus 20% off one-on-one financial coaching.
  • Plus: $5 per month or $54 per year for all investing, including retirement accounts, learning, and banking, plus 30% off coaching.
  • Executive: $9 per month or $97 per year for all investing, learning, and banking, 50% off coaching, and multi-goal investing.

No minimum balance

Unlike many robo-advisors, Ellevest's service has no minimum deposit requirement to get started. You can open an account with $1.

Female-founded, owned, managed and focused

Ellevest refers to itself as a company "designed by women, for women." Its data and recommendations take into account factors like gender pay gaps, career breaks, and the difference in average lifespan among genders. The company was founded to address the gender wealth gap women and other underrepresented people experience due to their gender. The company welcomes clients of all gender identities and expressions -- it just places an emphasis on gender-related financial gaps than most platforms.

Financial planning

All Ellevest members can purchase discounted one-on-one coaching sessions with financial planners. Non-members can also purchase sessions at their retail value, which starts at $38. All financial planners with Ellevest are Certified Financial Planner® professionals. In addition to one-off sessions, you can purchase annual access to a CFP. Unlike many competitors, Ellevest works to give you a dedicated CFP with that package, so you’ll talk to the same planner every time. And, depending on your membership tier, the discounts on this service can make it much cheaper than finding a financial planner on your own.

Career coaching

Ellevest members can purchase discounted one-on-one career coaching on topics that include:

  • Career clarity
  • Resume review
  • Interview prep
  • Negotiation
  • Leadership

Non-members can also purchase coaching and courses at their retail price.

Automatic rebalancing

Most robo-advisors automatically rebalance client portfolios, but this is still worth mentioning. If asset allocation in your portfolio gets out of alignment with your goals, Ellevest will automatically make adjustments. Even better, Ellevest does it as needed. Some competitors only rebalance at certain intervals (such as twice a year).

Impact Portfolio

In addition to its core portfolio options, Ellevest offers options for socially responsible investing, with portfolios that put your money in companies with good track records for:

  • Women in leadership
  • Sustainability and ethics
  • Supporting women-owned businesses and community services

Low-cost ETFs

Ellevest invests client assets in low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These have expense ratios ranging from 0.05% to 0.10% for Ellevest's core portfolios. For its Impact Portfolio options, the annual expenses are in a slightly higher (but still competitive) 0.13% to 0.19% range.

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What could be improved

Tax-loss harvesting

Ellevest offers tax minimization strategies, including using investments like tax-free municipal bond funds in taxable accounts. However, unlike some of its competitors, it doesn't offer tax-loss harvesting strategies. If you have a large amount to invest or are in a high federal income tax bracket, tax-loss harvesting could be a valuable benefit.

Account types

Ellevest offers individual brokerage accounts as well as traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs. It does not offer joint brokerage or banking accounts, so you can’t open an account to share with a partner. It also doesn’t offer:

  • Trusts
  • College savings accounts
  • Solo 401(k)
  • A few other less commonly used account types.

Ellevest does provide 401(k) guidance to its clients and will help you rollover your 401(k) into an Ellevest IRA if you leave your employer.

Commissions

Ellevest doesn’t charge commissions on its funds. Instead, you’ll pay a flat monthly fee between $1 and $9 for an Ellevest membership.

Investors with $1 million more under management with Ellevest can sign up for Private Wealth Management for an additional annual management fee between 0.25% to 0.90%, depending on AUM.

Buying mutual funds and ETFs

You may have to cover fees charged by the brokerage firms Ellevest works with to manage funds. That could include service fees, IRA fees, mutual fund fees, and other operating expenses. The prospectus for a fund will include all the fees you’ll pay when you invest in a particular fund.

For mutual funds, you’ll pay expense ratios charged by the ETFs Ellevest includes in your portfolio. These are charged as an annual percentage of assets in the ETF and range from 0.05% to 0.10% for core portfolios and 0.13% to 0.19% for impact investing portfolios.

Fees

Ellevest charges a flat monthly fee for memberships that include investing, banking, and coaching. You can choose from three membership tiers.

Membership tier Cost/month What's included?
Ellevest Essential $1 Access to basic investment and savings services, Ellevest's educational resources, and 20% discounts on one-on-one sessions with financial planners and career coaches.
Ellevest Plus $5 In addition to the above, this tier receives personalized retirement planning services and a 30% discount on one-on-one sessions with financial planners and career coaches.
Ellevest Executive $9 In addition to all of the above, this tier receives goal-specific investment portfolio options (such as saving for a home), a free one-on-one investment plan review, and a 50% discount on one-on-one sessions with financial planners and career coaches.
Ellevest membership fee tiers

Trading platform

To set up your membership, you’ll answer a few simple questions about yourself and pick your membership tier. Once you’re a member, you can set up investing and banking, or come back to them later.

Like most robo-advisors, Ellevest starts the investing process by asking a series of questions about you as an investor. These questions include your age (for retirement planning) and investment goals. It uses your information to craft an investment portfolio made up of low-cost ETFs. Each portfolio is designed to produce maximum returns while staying within your acceptable risk level. You make deposits -- Ellevest does the rest. You’ll also get monthly progress reports by email to keep you in the loop.

Like most robo-advisors, Ellevest creates custom-made investment portfolios based on your personal situation. Unlike other robo-advisors, Ellevest holds a particular focus on gender-related factors. The platform also offers:

  • Automatic rebalancing of your portfolio to stay on track with goals and risk factors
  • Banking services including a spend and save account and debit card
  • Educational resources including on-demand email courses, live workshops, video content and a personal finance blog called Magazine

In addition, Ellevest's membership pricing structure can make investing far cheaper than it is with many brokerages. The flat rate is especially appealing if you have an account with several hundred-thousand dollars invested because you’ll pay the same as someone with $10,000 invested.

Ellevest also offers Private Wealth Management for those looking to invest $1 million or more. With this service you’ll get a dedicated financial advisor who will work to help you reach your money goals. This bespoke service comes with an investment management fee and isn’t included with an Ellevest monthly membership.

Research offerings

Ellevest doesn’t offer investment research tools, because it doesn’t let members pick individual securities to invest in. Instead, it matches you with a portfolio of ETFs and mutual funds based on your goals and circumstances.

Customer service and support

Robo-advisor clients need two types of support: investment advice from a human being and help with technical issues. Let's take a look at how Ellevest stacks up.

All Ellevest members have access to platform support and general questions from the Ellevest Concierge Team as well as discounts on one-on-one sessions for more specific money or career advice. For Ellevest Plus and Executive members, the concierge team will also help you roll over your 401(k), even including calling your provider together.

Ellevest Executive members also get a free investment planning session with the Ellevest Concierge Team.

Ellevest offers technical support and account help by phone, text, and Facebook from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, as well as email support.

Alternatives to consider

If you want to set up a joint account: SoFi Automated Investing lets you set up a joint brokerage account and a joint banking account, so you can manage money alongside a partner.

If you need tax-loss harvesting: TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios includes tax-loss harvesting, along with competitive management fees. Where Ellevest outshines TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios is its lower account minimum and access to financial advisors.

Ellevest is right for you if:

  • You want an investment and financial strategy that factors in gender-specific financial concerns.
  • You want access to a dedicated Certified Financial Planner® professional or a career counselor.
  • You want to start investing, but don't have a ton of money to contribute right away.
  • You want to open an individual brokerage account or IRA.
  • You aren't terribly concerned with the tax implications of your investments or are planning to invest in a tax-advantaged (retirement) account.

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