When she saw the giant hole unfilled by a lack of women in investing, Tina Powell responded with the first solution of its kind — a robo-adviser for women.
Ms. Powell, the director of business management for Beacon Wealth Management, came into the industry in 2009, years after her father had suffered a massive stroke and she was left with taking care of the finances. At Beacon, she saw she was not the only one who needed help when it came to money, so she started a program to help fellow women.
Six years later, that program became SheCapital, an automated investment platform geared specifically for women. The platform, powered by robo-adviser technology provider Jemstep, contains investment articles written by women for women, and aims to help with investment strategies and philosophies.
It caters to women's characteristics, and their schedules.
“If we look at SheCapital, it is investment management and thought leadership,” Ms. Powell said. “All of these experiences for women are aggregated in one platform. Women don't have time to be going back and forth … They like that one-stop shopping.”
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PORTFOLIOS, STRATEGIES, LITERACY
With SheCapital, women get the investment portfolios and strategies, as well as financial literacy. In the coming months, women will be invited to events to discuss finances, as well as be offered a new well of 20-minute educational videos to empower professional women.
The cost for the platform is tiered: clients with $5,000 to $250,000 in assets are charged 50 basis points; clients with $250,000 to $999,000 are charged 40 basis points and clients with $1 million or more in assets are charged 35 basis points. Ten percent of the company's profits go to She's the First, a charity for girls' education.
Women and men differ when it comes to finances. Eighty percent of women investors surveyed in an InvestmentNews study on women and investing said running out of money was a top concern, compared with 76% of men who said investment returns. Retirement planning came in second for both genders, at 64% and 65% respectively, followed by providing for family in third, at 53% and 51% respectively. Long-term care was fourth for women, at 47%, and running out of money was fourth for men, at 48%. Last was widowhood for women, 32%, and estate planning for men, 38%.
Investment returns didn't make the list for women.
Women need a bit more hand-holding when it comes to taking hold of the finances in their lives, said Cary Carbonaro, author of “The Money Queen's Guide.” Women are more emotional, cautious and better at long-term saving.
They can also be a nervous, which is where having a knowledge base through SheCapital could help.
“You have to start somewhere,” Ms. Carbonaro said.
Such a platform will eventually lead women to work with a financial adviser, who could take care of the more emotional and complex situations in a woman's life, she said.
“I don't know how you'll feel the warm and fuzzies with a person through the computer,” Ms. Carbonaro said. “But the fact is you can start and get comfortable, and learn.”
SheCapital is the first robo-adviser of its kind, but weeks after its launch, a second announced plans to join the market. Sallie Krawcheck, chairman of Pax Ellevate Network, founded her own woman-specific robo-adviser, Ellevest, expected to launch in 2016.
The truth of the matter is there's an opportunity in this niche market, said Sophie Schmitt, senior wealth management analyst at Aite Group.
“I'm sure many women would prefer to work with a woman adviser,” Ms. Schmitt said, adding that there are not many female advisers in the industry, and even less who are team leaders. “If you want someone who has that perspective giving you advice on your financial life, you are not getting that today.”
She wonders if having a gender-specific robo would limit the platform, though.
Ms. Powell said it doesn't. In the eight weeks since her platform launched, she said she has been surprised to see so many more men than she expected checking out SheCapital. Some are taking portfolio audit checks while others are subscribing to the blog.
“One of the most exciting things is even if you launch with a gender-specific platform, everyone can share,” she said.
In one instance, a man called to thank her for her new service. He said he had one son and three daughters, and a platform like this could help them in the future.
“It gets the dialogue out there,” Ms. Powell said. “It is a conduit for women to get financial confidence now rather than later.”