Ellevest and Betterment are two of the most popular robo-advisors on the market. Both take an algorithmic approach. Betterment offers a series of funds with a wide variety of risk and investment profiles. Ellevest distinguishes itself with a service built towards women and their financial needs. Here’s a comparison of both investing services.
If you prefer more of a hands-on approach, a financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your investment needs and goals.
Ellevest vs. Betterment: Fees
Ellevest and Betterment offer asymmetrical fee structures. It’s important to note that these are the fees charged by Ellevest and Betterment themselves. Different portfolios may have additional expense ratios and trading fees based on their underlying assets.
With Betterment, you pay a fairly traditional percentage-based fee. The company has three pricing models based in part on how much money you’ve invested. The basic plan, called Betterment Digital, charges an annual fee worth 0.25% of all assets under management. There is no minimum balance required. So, for example, a user with $10,000 in their portfolio would pay $25 per year to use this service.
Users with at least $100,000 in their portfolio can enroll in Betterment Premium. This plan charges 0.40% of all assets under management and offers additional services. The prices for Betterment Digital and Betterment Premium drop to 0.15% and 0.30%, respectively, for users with more than $2 million on deposit.
The company also offers cryptocurrency-based portfolios for a 1% annual fee plus all additional trading expenses, as well as no-fee checking and savings accounts.
Ellevest charges based on a flat-fee subscription model. Users pay monthly regardless of assets under management.
You can choose from two different services. The basic plan, known as their Plus Package, costs either $5 per month or $54 per year. You can upgrade to their Executive Package for $9 per month or $97 per year. The Executive Package allows you to open multiple accounts built around different saving and investing goals.
While Ellevest appears to have previously offered a lower cost option called its Essential Membership for $1 per month, they no longer list that pricing tier as an option for new members.
You can also purchase specific coaching and advising services for prices that range from $6 to $115 depending on the service you purchase. Finally, it will cost you $25 to transfer a portion of your money out of an Ellevest portfolio and $100 to transfer all of your funds.
Ellevest vs. Betterment: Services and Features
Ellevest and Betterment offer largely comparable services. Both of these brokerages offer what’s known as robo-advisory investing. This means that, as an investor, you don’t buy specific assets like an individual stock or bond. Instead, you put your money into a portfolio of assets. That portfolio is managed according to the company’s algorithms with its mix of assets automatically balanced to seek specific returns and risk.
In this regard, both investment services are broadly similar. However, they have some key differences in what they offer.
Most importantly, Ellevest and Betterment each offer a different approach to investment.
Betterment offers portfolios for general investors. When you open an account, you can select your preferences. This includes the options such as timeline you’re investing around, for example if you want to save for a college fund or retirement. You select also set your risk preferences, and can choose specific goal-oriented portfolios to invest in. For example, you can invest in socially conscious portfolios, technology-oriented funds or even crypto-based portfolios.
Ellevest also offers portfolio-based investments, although they have fewer options in terms of specific portfolio structure than Betterment offers. It does offer a choice between standard investments and an “impact-oriented” fund. However, Ellevest differs in that it advertises funds geared toward women’s specific career, financial and demographic needs. The firm offers investments structured around specific issues that affect women investors, such as career gaps and longer life expectancies, creating a better plan for this demographic’s specific financial needs.
Both Ellevest and Betterment offer individual financial advice. With Betterment you receive personal financial advising when you enroll in its premium membership, or you can pay for individual sessions at a rate of $300 per session. Ellevest offers a wider selection of financial advising options, ranging from workshops to individual counseling. Their individual financial advice costs $115 per session, and they can discount that price based on your membership.
Betterment offers depository banking and tax planning services such as tax-loss harvesting. Ellevest does not offer depository banking and does not offer tax-loss harvesting.
Ellevest vs. Betterment: Online & Mobile Experience
Both Betterment and Ellevest offer strong online experiences.
One of the key benefits offered by a robo-advisory is simplicity. As an investor, you don’t have to manage individual assets or navigate the complex world of technical analysis. Your firm can simply present a series of portfolios, explain their risk/benefit structure, and allow you to choose based on your investing goals. Ideally this can be a streamlined process that allows investors to make informed decisions about diverse products.
Both Ellevest and Betterment offer easy to navigate interfaces, with browser and app-based options. With each service it’s fairly intuitive to understand how much money you have, where it’s invested and what your options are.
The biggest difference is in customer service. Ellevest offers an online FAQ and e-mail-based customer service, but has no telephone line that you can call. Betterment offers in-person customer service over the phone during business hours.
Ellevest vs. Betterment: Who Should Use It
Ellevest and Betterment both offer strong products.
Betterment offers a much wider variety of portfolios, risk/reward approaches and industry-oriented investing. This includes more specific impact-oriented investing than Ellevest offers, allowing its users to choose from options like climate-, social impact- and sustainable energy-oriented investments. For someone who wants a greater degree of control over their portfolios within the context of a robo-advisory, Betterment is probably the better choice.
Ellevest offers fewer specific choices than Betterment, but also provides a service that anticipates the specific needs that are more often faced by women in the workforce, such as career gaps and personal longevity. If you want a more personally tailored investing experience, with somewhat easier access to financial advisors, Ellevest may be the right choice for you.
Ellevest and Betterment are robo-advisors that allow you to invest in portfolios that are automatically managed based on the firm’s algorithms and your personal investing preferences. With Ellevest you get a firm built for the specific career and financial needs of women. With Betterment you get a generalist firm that offers a wide variety of portfolio options.
Tips for Investing
- A financial advisor can help you decide how to allocate assets in your portfolio for retirement. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- If you are looking for an online broker, this roundup compares brokerage accounts for 2022.
- Whatever your time horizon for an investment might be, it’s important to know where you stand. SmartAsset’s free investment calculator can help you estimate how much you will have in 10, 15 or 20 years.
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