Krawcheck expands Ellevest robo to three service levels with more human advice

Firm adds premium and private wealth management tiers with elements of goals-based planning and career advice

Dec 20, 2017 @ 3:10 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

Sallie Krawcheck is using a recent infusion of venture capital to expand the offering of Ellevest, a digital-advice platform for women, to three service levels.

Investors can access the robo-adviser by itself for 25 basis points (formerly 50 basis points), which includes algorithmic portfolio construction, tax minimization strategies, and now support from human advisers via email and text.

For 50 basis points and an account minimum of $50,000, investors can access Ellevest Premium, which includes the technology platform as well as personalized goals-based planning from an adviser with certified financial planner credentials. Ellevest Premium also advises on preparing for a big job interview, negotiating salary or asking for a raise through a partnership with Forshay, a career coaching and executive recruiting firm.

The current national conversation surrounding discrimination women face in the workforce plays into Ellevest's mission, its chief executive said.

"This year's seemingly endless flow of headlines on sexual harassment has underscored the obstacles women continue to face to achieving financial success," Ms. Krawcheck said in a statement. "It's core to the Ellevest mission to be an advocate for women's contributions to the economy, to call foul on what impedes their success and to help women succeed regardless. Money is power, confidence, control — and can be the freedom to take this job and shove it, if needed."

(More: Sallie Krawcheck wants Ellevest to change the way women save for retirement)

A third financial-advice offering Ms. Krawcheck is introducing is Ellevest Private Wealth Management, a service that more closely resembles a traditional RIA relationship for women with at least $1 million in investable assets. Ellevest PWM includes a dedicated adviser and an increased menu of investment options focused on "driving social impact and advancing women."

A spokesperson for Ellevest said the demand for this high-touch service came from existing Ellevest clients who wanted greater service for assets not invested on the Ellevest robo.

Previously, Ellevest provided only one service offering: the purely digital option. The company said it's algorithm factors in the unique financial circumstances women face related to pay, career breaks and lifespan.

Ellevest raised $34 million in funding in September, led by Rethink Impact. Some have pointed out the high client-acquisition costs robo-advisers face, and have questioned whether charging low fees on relatively small accounts will allow robos to grow enough to provide an adequate return on investment for venture capital backers.

An Ellevest spokesperson declined to comment on how the company is tackling this challenge, but the tiered model Ellevest is introducing has been used by other robos to attract larger accounts. For example, Betterment added a premium service earlier this year that includes access to human advisers with its technology product. Ellevest PWM could help even further offset costs.

(More: Betterment funding jumps $100 million, boosting valuation to $700 million)

Since Ms. Krawcheck launched Ellevest in May 2016, the company has attracted $67.6 million in assets under management among 9,700 accounts, according to its most recent Form ADV.

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