Women-focused robo-adviser SheCapital shuts down

Not enough investors signed up for the niche platform that started about a year ago

Jul 19, 2016 @ 2:03 pm

By Alessandra Malito

Women-focused robo-adviser SheCapital has shut down about a year after it launched, a sign that it takes more than building a niche platform for investors to join.

Founder Tina Powell, also the director of business management at Beacon Wealth Management in Hackensack, N.J., said SheCapital required a heavy time commitment and did not receive the amount of traction she had hoped for. Six clients signed up since August, and all have moved their business, totaling $1.3 million in assets, to Beacon.

Around the time SheCapital joined the robo-adviser scene, other online investment platforms with a focus on women were in the works. Sallie Krawcheck, chairwoman of Pax Ellevate Management and Ellevate Network, announced last September funding for Ellevest, a robo-adviser for women that launched in May. That same month, a women's personal finance website Daily Worth released a robo in beta called WorthFM. And there is Women Investing Now, a women's online financial planning service that also works with financial advisers.

SheCapital's selling point was having written content for women created by women.

Though SheCapital is stepping out of the ring, there's still a place for these gender-specific sites, industry watchers said.

"You need a lot of manpower behind you," Ms. Powell said. "If anybody can make a go at it, they can," referring to other robo-advisers focusing on women.

Women are disenfranchised by the financial services industry, said Amanda Steinberg, founder and chief executive of Daily Worth and WorthFM.

"It's not that they need their own solution, it's just that they're not using the ones that are there now," she said. "It is a wide-open territory."

Advisers also don't know how to work with women, said Stacy Marcus, founder of Women Investing Now. She said the industry only started paying attention after a 2009 Harvard Business Review report came out saying the financial industry is missing out on the huge market of serving women.

"It wasn't something that came from an altruistic point," Ms. Marcus said. "It came from self-interest."

In an InvestmentNews survey last year, 46.8% of advisers said they did not have a strategy for attracting female clients.

These women-focused robo-advisers can fill in the gap, which was Ms. Powell's original intent when she started SheCapital. But having an established network gives some platforms a better chance of reaching women, said Cary Carbonaro, author of "The Money Queen's Guide."

Ellevest and WorthFM have communities behind them. Ellevest, which has an undisclosed number of users because it is still in invitation mode, according to a spokeswoman, has Ms. Krawcheck's Ellevate Network. WorthFM has Daily Worth behind it, with its more than 1.2 million followers. Since rolling out in closed beta six weeks ago, 240 people have opened and funded accounts on WorthFM, and there are 32,000 more on a waiting list, Ms. Steinberg said.

Having a backing like a large network also helps these robos compete with the larger independent platforms and the financial institutions partnering or acquiring them, which will be a challenge, said Ms. Marcus.

"You have to have brand awareness, and writing articles is not enough to gather enough clients to make it worthwhile to compete with the likes of FutureAdvisor and Jemstep and Betterment," she said. "It becomes more difficult to attract assets because women have the option of putting money in a platform they already know."

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