• Discounts and special offers
  • Subscriber-only articles and interviews
  • Breaking news and trending topics

Already a subscriber?

By signing up, you accept Moneywise's Terms of Use, Subscription Agreement, and Privacy Policy.

Not interested ?

Betterment vs. Ellevest

Betterment vs. Ellevest

Moneywise.com / Moneywise.com

πŸ—“οΈ

Updated: October 31, 2023

Partners on this page provide us earnings.

In the space of only a little more than 10 years, robo-advisors have reshaped the financial technology landscape, making investing β€” along with concepts such as tax-loss harvesting and asset allocation β€” available to everyone. With low minimums and fees way lower than you'll find with a traditional advisor, robo-advisors are especially great for new investors. But which one should you pick?

Betterment is the granddaddy of the industry. But since its debut in 2008, a whole host of other robo-advisors have popped up. Some are continuations on the Betterment theme, while others take fresh and interesting approaches to investing. Ellevest brings something new to the table. Let's find out if one of these robo-advisors is right for you.

Hightlights
Betterment
Ellevest
Rating
4.5/5
4.5/5
Minimum to open account
$10
$0
401(k) assistance
βœ…
❌
Two-factor authentication
βœ…
❌
Advice options
Automated, human assisted
Automated
Socially responsible investing
βœ…
βœ…

About Betterment

Launched in 2008, Betterment was the first robo-advisor on the market. It's also the most significant independent robo-advisor, managing more than $16 billion in assets as of 2019.

Betterment includes tax-loss harvesting for all accounts and estimates a benefit of 0.77% per year in your after-tax returns.

Betterment logo

Over time Betterment has continually released new options and services through its platform, including advice from financial planners, tools to learn about investing, and tools to adjust your investments.

With its robo-advisor services, Betterment creates and then implements a portfolio based on your risk tolerance and goals. It also provides investors with regular asset reallocation, can reinvest your investment dividends, and can even utilize tax-loss harvesting on taxable accounts.

About Ellevest

Founded in 2015 by Sallie Krawcheck, Ellevest was explicitly built and definitively to cater to women's investing needs. Krawcheck previously worked as CEO for Merrill Lynch and Citi Private Bank and believed that the traditional investing advice and plans don't work for women.

Ellevest has a gender-specific investing algorithm that aims to close the investing gap between men and women. The robo-advisor reports that traditional investing advice costs women $320,000 throughout their lifetime. Ellevest wants to change that.

Ellevest logo

How are they the same?

Both services offer many features. First, let's take a look at how they're similar.

Features Details
Minimum investment Neither of the three robo-advisors require a minimum investment.
Investment account types Both offer individual taxable, Roth IRA, traditional IRA, Rollover IRA and SEP IRA accounts.
Investment types Both services allow you to invest in exchange traded funds (ETFs).
Portfolio rebalancing Both robo-advisors provide portfolio rebalancing.
Mobile apps Both services emphasize investing with an Android or Apple mobile device.

How are they different?

  • Betterment strives to be a complete investing experience and offers many tools to that end. For example, its Financial Advice Packages are individualized advice packages that zero in on specific life events, such as children or death. Betterment includes personalized action plans to meet these life events, general educational tools to help people get prepared on their own, and tailored help from a certified financial planner or licensed financial expert who's familiar with your specific plans.
  • Ellevest is perhaps the most different, since it specifically targets women investors. Its algorithm takes into account things like the wage gap, women leaving the workforce to have or raise children, and the fact that women live longer than men (on average).

Unique features

Features unique to Betterment

Betterment is a fiduciary, meaning it has to operate in its client's best financial interests, even if that means the company doesn't earn as much money. Fiduciaries have to follow the Advisor's Act, a law that lays out what an investment advisor is and what they're supposed to do.

Betterment offers tax-loss harvesting, which Ellevest does not.

Features unique to Ellevest

Ellevest is also a fiduciary, like Betterment. However, what makes Ellevest unique is that it is the only one of these three companies to be founded by a woman and to cater to women. The robo-advisor's algorithm is gender-specific, taking into account women's financial needs.

Ellevest uses a β€œgender-specific salary curve” to determine its users' investing portfolios.

Minimum investments

Neither Betterment nor Ellevest requires a minimum deposit to get started. That makes all three accessible to new investors.

Winner β€” It's a tie, since Betterment and Ellevest don't require a minimum investment.

Annual fees

Betterment's annual fee for its digital platform is 0.25% of total investments. For the premium platform, you'll pay 0.40% of total investments.

Ellevest charges the same for its Digital platform as Betterment (0.25%). A premium plan will run you 0.50% of total investments.

Betterment - Slight edge for a slightly lower premium charge

Standout features

Betterment

Betterment is almost continually releasing new features, which makes it a robo-advisor to watch. Most impressive, however, are its Charitable Giving program and its Socially Responsible Investing portfolio.

The Charitable Giving program allows investors to donate directly from their investment portfolios to charities. This is an innovative way for investors to make donations since it's easy to do and also a way to avoid capital gains tax on the donated shares.

The Betterment Socially Responsible Investing Portfolio is an option for those who are concerned about what their money funds. The robo advisor offers ETFs with a socially responsible bent, like removing oil and gas companies and focusing on companies that have made an effort to create socially responsible actions on their own.

Ellevest

Ellevest Premium offers one-on-one executive coaching from the company's career team. This service aims to help women beyond just their investing potential by addressing their earning potential, with tools to use in their careers (like negotiation).

Winner β€” Betterment is constantly improving its services by offering new features. That makes it a winner.

Socially Responsible Portfolios

With consumers becoming more interested in knowing what their money is supporting, socially responsible investing has become more popular. All three platforms offer varying degrees of SRI investing.

Betterment has a standard Broad Impact portfolio which chooses ETFs based on specific environment, social and governance criteria. In addition, Betterment offers two portfolios focused on either environmental or social issues. The Climate portfolio focuses on mitigating climate change by focusing on companies that reduce their carbon footprint, among other things. he Social Impact portfolio expands the Broad Impact portfolio by also including stocks of companies focused on diversity in the U.S.

Ellevest's impact portfolio includes companies with high standards for sustainability and ethical practices. It's also the only platform that offers a portfolio that actively focuses on investing in companies with more women leaders. Ellevest's impact portfolio also focuses on community development by investing in funds that support loans for affordable housing and community services.

Winner β€” Betterment offers the most variety of portfolio options focused on sustainable investing, but Ellevest is a runner up for its unique take on investing in women and the community.

Customer service

Betterment has phone and live chat service five days a week and email service seven days a week, although the hours are limited on weekends. The company also offers help on tax issues via its tax center, an online portal devoted to taxes.

Ellevest offers customer support via phone and live chat Monday through Friday during regular business hours. You can also email the customer service team.

Winner β€” Betterment offers more opportunities to reach customer support.

Security

Betterment has an entire page devoted to the steps it takes to keep your information secure, including two-step authentication, allowing third-party apps view-only access, and background checks on all employees.

Ellevest accounts are SIPC insured up to $500,000, have customized password requirements and uses third party Folio for all transactions.

Both robo-advisors offer smart solutions for privacy concerns.

Who are they best for?

  • Betterment is best for brand-new investors. This service is best suited for people who want to learn about investing but are more inclined to set it and forget it after they've established their portfolio.
  • Ellevest is designed by women, for women. Its devotion to women and their specific needs is admirable, and it is leading robo-advisors into the territory of niche investing advice.

Which is the best?

We recommend all three services as among the best robo-advisors on the market. Betterment might have a slight edge, however, since it was the first robo-advisor and the one that has shown the rest of the industry β€œhow it's done.” However, the company continues to innovate and offer great features that should appeal to investors of all stripes.

About our author

Kara Perez
Kara Perez, Freelance Contributor

Kara Perez is a freelance personal finance writer. She is the founder of bravelygo.co, a company that connects women and money. Kara lives in Austin, TX and believes in the power of budgeting and peanut butter.

Disclaimer

The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.