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Betterment vs Ellevest – Which is Better?

Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links

Betterment vs Ellevest – it’s a common debate amongst investors.

In this article I’ll compare both, share the pros and cons, and who would be best suited for each.

About Betterment

logo of bettermentBetterment is the largest independent robo-advisor and is also one of the first to arrive in the market.

Betterment offers two services – Betterment Digital which has no minimum investment requirement and Betterment Premium, which has a higher minimum balance requirement of $100,000 and higher fees, but offers more, including access to a human advisor.

About Ellevest

Ellevest-best-for-womenEllevest is a robo-advisor geared toward women. It was founded by women, it’s run by women, and it focuses on women, but anyone can invest there, even men. They charge monthly fees rather than a percentage of assets under management and have three tiers to choose from.

Ellevest uses the goal-focused approach and they don’t require a minimum balance. Ellevest doesn’t offer access to a human advisor even in their highest tier program, but you can purchase human advisor services a la carte.

Best Service
logo of betterment
Great for Women
Ellevest-best-for-women
Account Minimum
The Digital Plan has no account minimum. The Premium Plan starts at $100,000.
The Digital Plan has no account minimum. The Premium Plan starts at $50,000.
Management Fee
0.25% for Digital and 0.40% for Premium
Digital: 0.25% Premium: 0.50%
Portfolio
ETFs from about 12 asset classes. The user can choose between a recommendation or decide the percentage of portfolio in each investment.
Depending on the portfolio you choose, the mix will include 20 to 27 ETFs. Just like with Betterment, customization is possible.
Account Types
Individual and joint taxable accounts; traditional, Roth and rollover and SEP IRAs, trusts and even business accounts.
Taxable brokerage accounts, Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs, 401(k)
Rebalancing
Tax Loss Harvesting
Fractional Shares
Automatic Deposits
SRI
Human Advice
Best for
Investors who are looking for hands-off, "set it and forget it" type of robo advisor with low fees.
Investors who want a goal based investing platform with the option to contact certified financial advisors and career coaches.
Best Service
logo of betterment
Account Minimum
The Digital Plan has no account minimum. The Premium Plan starts at $100,000.
Management Fee
0.25% for Digital and 0.40% for Premium
Portfolio
ETFs from about 12 asset classes. The user can choose between a recommendation or decide the percentage of portfolio in each investment.
Account Types
Individual and joint taxable accounts; traditional, Roth and rollover and SEP IRAs, trusts and even business accounts.
Rebalancing
Tax Loss Harvesting
Fractional Shares
Automatic Deposits
SRI
Human Advice
Best for
Investors who are looking for hands-off, "set it and forget it" type of robo advisor with low fees.
Great for Women
Ellevest-best-for-women
Account Minimum
The Digital Plan has no account minimum. The Premium Plan starts at $50,000.
Management Fee
Digital: 0.25% Premium: 0.50%
Portfolio
Depending on the portfolio you choose, the mix will include 20 to 27 ETFs. Just like with Betterment, customization is possible.
Account Types
Taxable brokerage accounts, Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs, 401(k)
Rebalancing
Tax Loss Harvesting
Fractional Shares
Automatic Deposits
SRI
Human Advice
Best for
Investors who want a goal based investing platform with the option to contact certified financial advisors and career coaches.

What do they have in common?

  • Both have a program that doesn’t require a minimum balance.
  • You can open a taxable or retirement account at either robo-advisor (but no joint accounts at Ellevest)
  • Both platforms work on a goals-based investment philosophy
  • Both companies invest in ETFs
  • Betterment and Ellevest both automatically rebalance your portfolio
  • Both platforms have a viable mobile app
  • Both brokerages operate as a fiduciary

How are they different?

Betterment looks at your finances from a holistic point of view. They look at your entire financial profile and zero in on specific goals, such as buying a house or having a baby. Betterment offers personalized plans to help you achieve your goals, and they offer plenty of education along the way.

Ellevest focuses on women investors. It has a unique focus on women’s issues including the wage gap, longer life expectancies, and time off to raise children. Ellevest doesn’t offer joint accounts, so if you planned on opening an account with your spouse, you’d have to look elsewhere.

In-depth comparison – 10 distinctions

1. Goal Setting

Both Betterment and Ellevest focus heavily on goals.

Betterment makes it easy to set and meet goals. You can monitor each goal on its own, and can add new goals as often as you want. You can easily track your progress on their dashboard. They alert you right away if you are off-base and offers solutions (larger deposits) to rectify the issue. Betterment is great for young investors just starting out that may need those reminders to invest more money and more frequently. Betterment does take into account your other financial accounts to fully plan your goals.

Ellevest is also goal-focused, however, the number of goals you can set depend on your chosen plan. The basic plan at $1 a month allows one goal and its top plan allows up to six goals. You can set up goals for just about anything including saving for a house, retirement, or opening your own business. Ellevest focuses on gender-specific salary differences and life expectancies to manage your goals.

2. Retirement Planning

Betterment does a great job at retirement planning. They focus on aggressive investments during your younger years and more conservative portfolios as you age. If you link your external accounts, you’ll get a more holistic view of your retirement funds with Betterment versus Ellevest.

Ellevest focuses on long-term life expectancies and invests for retirement accordingly. If you sign up for Ellevest Plus, you’ll get advice on IRAs and 401Ks. Ellevest also offers a la carte services with retirement specialists and career specialists to further your retirement goals.

3. Account Types

Betterment and Ellevest offer the same account types you find at most robo-advisors. Like I said above, though, Ellevest doesn’t offer joint accounts. Betterment does offer a few more account options, though.

Both brokerages offer:

  • Individual taxable accounts
  • IRAs
  • Roth IRAs
  • SEP IRAs

In addition, Betterment offers support for inherited IRA accounts and trust accounts.

  • Inherited IRA accounts
  • Trust accounts

4. Features and Accessibility

Betterment and Ellevest both have basic accounts with no minimum balance requirement and premium accounts with higher balance requirements and more features.

Both firms offer access to human advisors, but at different costs and both offer portfolio reallocation. Betterment requires you to have $100,000 under management. You pay a higher fee, but have access to access to a team of financial advisors – you get unlimited access on this plan.

Betterment also offers many financial planning tools, all of which are free. Plenty of flexibility when creating portfolios and goals and a platform that sees you through any changes, decisions, or questions.

Ellevest’s features depend on the chosen subscription. If you pay for the higher tier for retirement planning, you get higher discounts on advice from a human advisor. The discounts range from 20 percent to 50 percent on the highest tier. Ellevest’s platform is focused on women, including their salary and investment needs.

5. Fees

Betterment uses the assets under management strategy, charging 0.25% of assets under management under $100,000 and 0.4% of assets under management over $100,000. If you have more than $2 million invested, they offer discounted rates.

Betterment Fees

Digital Plan
Premium Plan
Account Minimum
$0
$100,000
Annual Fee
0.25%
0.40%
Automated portfolio
Fractional shares investing
Rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Basic Support
Proactive account management
Advice on outside investments
Unlimited access to financial experts
Digital Plan
Account Minimum
$0
Annual Fee
0.25%
Automated portfolio
Fractional shares investing
Rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Basic Support
Proactive account management
Advice on outside investments
Unlimited access to financial experts
Premium Plan
Account Minimum
$100,000
Annual Fee
0.40%
Automated portfolio
Fractional shares investing
Rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Basic Support
Proactive account management
Advice on outside investments
Unlimited access to financial experts

Ellevest Fees

Ellevest uses a subscription-based model:

  • $1 a month for one non-retirement goal
  • $5 a month for a retirement goal
  • $9 a month for up to 6 goals including a retirement goal

6. Minimum Deposit

Neither Betterment or Ellevest require a minimum deposit unless you want to use Betterment Premium for access to financial advisors, then you need $100,000 invested.

7. Portfolios

Both Betterment and Ellevest use the Modern Portfolio Theory which focuses on:

  • Diversification
  • Buy and hold
  • Risk tolerance
  • Goal timelines
  • Aggressive vs conservative investing

Betterment has the following portfolios:

Ellevest has both diversified and socially responsible portfolios as well, but they emphasize their impact or socially responsible portfolios.

8. Tax Loss Harvesting

Betterment offers standard tax-loss harvesting, selling off losses to offset the capital gains, and lowering tax liabilities.

Ellevest doesn’t do tax-loss harvesting, but uses a tax minimization strategy that helps rebalance tax liabilities in a similar fashion to tax-loss harvesting.

9. Security

Both Betterment and Ellevest take security seriously using 256-bit SSL encryption. They both also carry SIPC insurance and two-factor authentication.

10. Customer Service

Betterment offers email and phone customer service 9 AM – 6 PM on weekdays. Ellevest offers email customer service but typically respond quickly during business hours.

Betterment Pros and Cons

PROs
Perfect for easy, hands-off investing – Once you have set your goals you can lean back and let Betterment do the rest.
CONs
Difficult to cancel the account – Betterment makes it paperwork heavy to leave them.
Rebalancing and Daily tax-loss harvesting – Minimize your tax liabilities with daily tax-loss harvesting, selling off your losses to offset your gains
Encourages you to invest your emergency fund – Most financial experts recommend keeping your emergency fund liquid, but Betterment recommends a specific portfolio that is on the aggressive side and could put your emergency fund at risk.
Offers a variety of tools – Betterment helps you plan your financial future by making smart financial decisions with your investments and regular accounts too.
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No minimum deposit – You don’t need any money to open an account, but even better is the low $100,000 minimum for Betterment Premium which offers access to professional financial advisors.
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Low management fees – Betterment charges just 0.25% for less than $100,000 and 0.40% for over $100,000
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PROs
Perfect for easy, hands-off investing – Once you have set your goals you can lean back and let Betterment do the rest.
Rebalancing and Daily tax-loss harvesting – Minimize your tax liabilities with daily tax-loss harvesting, selling off your losses to offset your gains
Offers a variety of tools – Betterment helps you plan your financial future by making smart financial decisions with your investments and regular accounts too.
No minimum deposit – You don’t need any money to open an account, but even better is the low $100,000 minimum for Betterment Premium which offers access to professional financial advisors.
Low management fees – Betterment charges just 0.25% for less than $100,000 and 0.40% for over $100,000
CONs
Difficult to cancel the account – Betterment makes it paperwork heavy to leave them.
Encourages you to invest your emergency fund – Most financial experts recommend keeping your emergency fund liquid, but Betterment recommends a specific portfolio that is on the aggressive side and could put your emergency fund at risk.
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Ellevest Pros and Cons

PROs
A platform that focuses on women and their investment needs – In my search for robo-advisors that specifically target women, Ellevest came out on top. Founded by women, the program takes into consideration the income gap, longer lifespan, and savings issues women face today.
CONs
No joint accounts – If you want to open an investment account with your spouse or someone close to you, joint accounts aren’t an option at Ellevest. In this case Betterment may be the best alternative.
Low account minimum – Women don’t need any money to open an account. Of course, you need money to make money, but not having a minimum balance requirement makes it easy for any woman to start investing.
Not much say in your portfolio – If you want control over what your money gets invested in
Relatively low fees – The 0.25% - 0.5% account balance fees are minimal compared to many other robo-advisors. While there are other miscellaneous fees depending on what assets you trade, there are always fees to trade assets and Ellevest keeps them as low as possible.
No tax loss harvesting – If you’re a wealthy investor, the lack of tax loss harvesting can cost you a lot money in tax liabilities
Focuses on goals – Rather than just setting up an investment account and hoping for the best, Ellevest creates portfolios for each goal you have. For example, if you’re saving for a house and retirement, you’ll have two portfolios and can see where you stand with each goal at any time.
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No IRA transfer frees – Transfer over your IRA to Ellevest for no charge. Your current IRA firm may charge a fee, though, so always check with them too.
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Automatic rebalancing – Ellevest will automatically rebalance your portfolio only if it veers way off the chosen goal’s path. This usually happens if there are large dips in the market or your monthly contributions change significantly.
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Ellevest is a fiduciary – This means that Ellevest must watch out for your best interests and not their own profits. Ellevest must be transparent in how they handle your money and communicate with you about any changes.
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PROs
A platform that focuses on women and their investment needs – In my search for robo-advisors that specifically target women, Ellevest came out on top. Founded by women, the program takes into consideration the income gap, longer lifespan, and savings issues women face today.
Low account minimum – Women don’t need any money to open an account. Of course, you need money to make money, but not having a minimum balance requirement makes it easy for any woman to start investing.
Relatively low fees – The 0.25% - 0.5% account balance fees are minimal compared to many other robo-advisors. While there are other miscellaneous fees depending on what assets you trade, there are always fees to trade assets and Ellevest keeps them as low as possible.
Focuses on goals – Rather than just setting up an investment account and hoping for the best, Ellevest creates portfolios for each goal you have. For example, if you’re saving for a house and retirement, you’ll have two portfolios and can see where you stand with each goal at any time.
No IRA transfer frees – Transfer over your IRA to Ellevest for no charge. Your current IRA firm may charge a fee, though, so always check with them too.
Automatic rebalancing – Ellevest will automatically rebalance your portfolio only if it veers way off the chosen goal’s path. This usually happens if there are large dips in the market or your monthly contributions change significantly.
Ellevest is a fiduciary – This means that Ellevest must watch out for your best interests and not their own profits. Ellevest must be transparent in how they handle your money and communicate with you about any changes.
CONs
No joint accounts – If you want to open an investment account with your spouse or someone close to you, joint accounts aren’t an option at Ellevest. In this case Betterment may be the best alternative.
Not much say in your portfolio – If you want control over what your money gets invested in
No tax loss harvesting – If you’re a wealthy investor, the lack of tax loss harvesting can cost you a lot money in tax liabilities
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Which is best? My Pick

Betterment is better for goal planning and overall retirement savings. They offer a holistic view of all accounts, allow as many goals as you want, and have low fees. It’s easy for anyone to get started, even beginners.

Ellevest is mostly for women.

While anyone can invest there, the research, education, and all marketing is for women. The pricing is different and you have to pay extra for human advisor services. Ellevest uses a slightly more aggressive investment approach too, which isn’t great for beginners.

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