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Ellevest vs Betterment (WHICH PLATFORM IS THE BEST?)

April 2, 2020

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Ellevest vs Betterment

In this blog, I’m going to compare Ellevest vs Betterment, which is two investing apps – or roboadvisors – that take a goals-based approach to invest.

So let’s get right into it! I’m going to compare Ellevest vs. Betterment in terms of:

  • Mission
  • Investment portfolios offered
  • Investment strategy
  • Account types offered
  • Fees

Finally, I’ll end with some closing remarks and a recommendation on which one you should go with.

MISSION

  • Let’s talk about the mission. As a potential customer of any company, I always want to know what that company is all about. What’s their mission, and has difference are they trying to make in the world?
  • What intrigued me about Ellevest is that the company is 100% women-run and women-owned. The company’s tagline is “Invest Like A Woman”, and they’re on a mission to close the gender investing gap,  with an investing approach designed by and for women.
  • On the other hand, Betterment doesn’t have as clear of a mission, although they do feature a picture of a WOMAN on their home page, which is kind of nice since marketing investment products is typically directed at men, or at least that’s how it’s been in the past.
  • However, between the two, Ellevest is definitely more targeted towards women, whereas Betterment is designed for pretty much anyone who wants to invest, man or women.
  • Something else that’s really cool about Ellevest is that you get the opportunity to invest in companies that value gender diversity and women’s leadership, which brings me to my second point of comparison: investments offered

INVESTMENT PORTFOLIOS OFFERED

  • Both Ellevest and Betterment offer a couple of different portfolio options.
  • At Ellevest, you get the option to choose between TWO portfolios, and at Betterment, you get the option to choose between FOUR portfolios.
  • Let’s first talk about Ellevest. The two portfolios they offer are the Core and the Impact portfolio. The Core portfolio includes up to 26 different exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, that give you exposure to a wide range of asset classes. The Impact portfolio is very similar, except that they’ve switched out some of the funds in the Core portfolio for funds that focus on socially responsible investing. For example, the Impact portfolio incorporates the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund, as well as the iShares MSCI EAFE Fund. These are both ETFs that contain companies that advance gender equality and also have a positive impact on the environment. So it’s pretty simple – at Ellevest, you have 2 portfolios to choose from, the Core or the Impact portfolio.
  • On the other hand, Betterment offers 4 portfolios. Their default option is the Betterment Portfolio (which is comparable to the Ellevest Core Portfolio). They also offer the Betterment Socially Responsible Investing portfolio (which is comparable to the Ellevest Impact Portfolio). Betterment also offers the Goldman Sachs Smart Beta portfolio (which is a riskier but potentially more profitable portfolio), and the BlackRock Target Income portfolio (which is specifically for people who want to generate income off of their nest egg). As you can see Betterment does have a few more options.
  • If you’re about to retire and you’re looking to generate income, then Betterment’s BlackRock Target Income portfolio is probably the best fit for you. Because as of now, Ellevest doesn’t offer a specific portfolio for income generation. Their portfolios are mainly designed for growth.
  • If you’re passionate about socially responsible investing, then both platforms have portfolios for you. I will say though, that the Ellevest Impact portfolio has a LARGER percentage in socially responsible investments than Betterment’s version. For my Retirement goal, Ellevest has 51% in socially responsible funds, versus Betterment’s 39%. Also, Betterment doesn’t target social impact specific to women, whereas Ellevest chooses funds that specifically help advance women’s leadership and economic opportunities for women.

ACCOUNT TYPES OFFERED

  • Now let’s talk about the different account types offered on each platform.
  • Both Betterment and Ellevest offer Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, non-retirement Individual accounts, and 401k or 403b Rollovers.
  • Betterment goes even further and also offers Joint accounts, which are accounts with two owners such as you and your spouse, and they also offer Trust accounts, which are accounts that you manage but belong to someone else, such as your children.
  • Another thing to consider when choosing an investing platform is what kind of banking features they provide. Savings & checking accounts are nice amenities that make it easier to manage your money & investments all in one place.
  • As of now, Betterment offers a savings account called the Everyday Savings account. It pays a generous interest rate of 2.44%, and any withdrawals take about 1-2 business days to process. They’re also rolling out a Checking account soon, but as of today, it’s not ready yet.
  • Ellevest is a little bit behind the ball in this regard. I haven’t heard of any plans to roll out a checking account program as of yet. And their savings account, called the Ellevest Emergency Fund, pays a meager 0.01% interest, which is a lot less than Betterment’s 2.44%. But Ellevest hasn’t been around as long as Betterment, and they’re continually adding new features so my guess is that they are going to offer good savings account alternative at some point.

INVESTMENT STRATEGY

  • Moving right along to Investment Strategy. Ellevest and Betterment are very similar in the sense that their investment strategies are based on maximizing your chances of achieving your goals. Most other roboadvisors out there have investment strategies that are based on your risk-tolerance, and they don’t ask you much about your goals. I think this is a big mistake because that usually doesn’t help people actually achieve their investing goals. Smart investing should aim to maximize your chances of having the amount of money you need, when you need it, regardless of your risk tolerance.
  • At Ellevest or Betterment, the first thing they’ll always ask you is what goal you’re investing towards. Then depending on your goal AND your timeline for achieving that goal, they’ll design an investment portfolio that gives you the highest probability of accomplishing it.
  • For an in-depth explanation of goals-based investing, make sure to check out this blog. I’ll explain to you how Ellevest invests your money based on the goals that you have. I don’t want to repeat myself in this article, so definitely make sure to find time to read and learn more.
  • So how are Betterment and Ellevest different?
  • Again, Ellevest’s investment style is geared more towards women. First of all, the typical financial situation for women does NOT look like the typical financial situation for men. Women live longer, and due to things like taking time off work to raise children, their career trajectory and salaries look different from men’s. So all their forecasting and advice take this into account.
  • For example, since women tend to have longer lifespans than men when you have a retirement investing goal at Ellevest, they’re going to recommend that you aim for a larger nest egg than other platforms would recommend. I think this is smart, especially given that statistically, women are 80% more likely than men to be living in poverty at age 65 and older. Not fun to think about, but hey, it’s a reality so women need to invest accordingly!

FEES

  • Last but not least, I want to quickly touch on fees.
  • Betterment and Ellevest both charge an annual fee of 0.25%. That means that if you have $1k invested with them, you’ll pay $2.50 per year in fees. Most roboadvisors charge 0.25%, so fees aren’t really a distinguishing factor when choosing a platform.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS

Clearly, the distinguishing factor between Ellevest vs Betterment is that everything about Ellevest is women-centric, whereas Betterment is built for the general investing public.

  • MISSON: Everything from the Ellevest mission to close the gender investing gap, to the way they design their investment portfolios, is created to help women invest the way they want to invest.
  • PORTFOLIOS: Compared to Betterment, Ellevest offers superior options for socially responsible investing, because their Impact portfolio allocates a much higher percentage of 51% to socially responsible funds, vs Betterment’s 39%. However, Betterment does offer a wider range of portfolios for the more advanced investor, such as their Goldman Sachs Smart Beta portfolio and their BlackRock Target Income portfolio. Only you understand your financial needs well enough to know which platform has the right portfolio for YOU.
  • ACCOUNT TYPES: As a newer platform, Ellevest doesn’t offer as many account types as Betterment. The biggest one being their lack of a good savings account. Betterment’s savings account is currently one of the highest I’ve ever seen, at 2.44%, vs Ellevest’s rate of 0.01%. Hopefully, Ellevest comes out with a better option soon.
  • INVESTMENT STRATEGY: Finally, the investment strategy of each platform is slightly different. The advice you get at Ellevest is going to be more tailored to the typical financial profile of women, which is that they live longer and earn less than men over their lifetime.

Personally, I keep my emergency savings at Betterment so that I can collect the 2.44% interest, but I have investments at Ellevest because I want to support their mission and as their tagline says, I want to “invest like a woman”. I hope this article has been helpful for you in deciding between the two platforms.

As you can see, there are nuances and differences in features, but at the end of the day, all of these apps are investing in the same stock and bond markets, so it’s not going to make a huge difference in how much money you can make. The point is to just get invested!

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Rose

YouTuber, Money Expert, Educator, Traveler, Rebel, and #1 Book Nerd. My mission is to empower you with the mindset and financial know-how to get more of what you want out of life.