Now that I am fully immersed in the world of personal finance and blogging all about it, I have all sorts of cookies (of the internet variety), pop-ups and messages about the wide world of investing. And because I am a woman, a lot of those target 20/30-something female first-time investors.
There is just a little something that strikes me as odd – in this world of ‘leaning in’, equal pay for equal work and ‘I’m with her’, are these investment organizations using all sorts of feminist jargon to rake in a bigger, badder demographic of investors (women)? From what I can tell, the answer is yes.
Originally published in the Wall Street Journal, an article entitled Futuristic Fintech, with a Female Focus attempts to explain the gender divide when it comes to investing. The explanation focuses on the “language of financial services is male-oriented”: being “transactional, power-focused”, “competitive” and performance-based. In contrast, women are said to “think about their financial lives in terms of life milestones, such as marriage, divorce and taking care of children and parents” (according to a senior VP from Fidelity).
Goals vs. risk
One organization in particular was designed with women’s goals in mind, rather than focusing on their risk tolerance. Ellevest was launched in 2016 by the former Citigroup CFO Sallie Krawcheck, in partnership with Morningside. The Ellevest framework takes into account various aspects that are statistically more relevant to women: inequality of pay over a lifetime of working, a longer lifespan by at least 3-5 years on average, the greater probability of career breaks, etc. Similarly, WorthFM is a female-focused savings and investment platform that aims at delivering the same financial information in a different way that is more appropriate for a female audience.
When I first started looking at this, I was seriously skeptical. So I started my investigation into both Ellevest and WorthFM at the most logical place possible – the cost. The cost of their lady-focused services (0.5% of the total amount invested, on an annual basis) is the same as a lot of the investment apps out there (including the ones I reviewed here). However, this is slightly higher than some of the other well-known investment companies, like Betterment and Wealthfront. Betterment charges an annual fee of 0.25% for investment accounts under $100,000 and 0.4% for those over $100,000. That fee increases to 0.5% once the account is over $250,000. Wealthfront manages your investments for free if they are under $10,000; if they are over $10,000, the annual fee is 0.25%.
Conclusion: when it comes to cost, Ellevest and WorthFM are both charging the same or slightly more than other user-friendly, well-known investment websites and apps. The good news – they aren’t more expensive. The bad news – they aren’t cheaper either.
Where to invest?
If you want advice tailored to the specific (and quantifiable) issues facing women and their finances, Ellevest or WorthFM may be for you. If you are happy to use the traditional investment websites (and are not scared off by so-called “competitive”, ‘my portfolio is bigger than yours’, man jargon, you may be able to save yourself some money. As an aside, if you invest the difference in prices over several years, it could be a substantial amount of money… just sayin’. There are other alternatives to the above, including basic brokerage accounts where you make all of the investment decisions directly rather than choosing your basic goals (or risk profile if you’re a man).
While I personally believe that a lot of this recent target marketing of women is chocked full of hype, I am all for getting people (men, women, children, millennials) interested, informed and invested – using whatever means and marketing necessary! I will be doing a full series on investing – what to consider, how to invest, understanding the fees, so stay tuned for all the vital information… I won’t even charge you for it.
Sincerely yours in harmonious fun and fiscal responsibility,