Why the World Needs Private Wealth for Women

By Sallie Krawcheck

By the time we launched Ellevest Private Wealth Management, women had been telling us for years: “I’m tired of supporting companies and institutions that don’t fully support me.”

They told us the financial industry didn’t fully reflect them. That they didn’t want their money invested in places where they wouldn’t want their daughters to work. That they wanted their investments to reflect their values. And that achieving their financial goals was so much more important to them than whatever hot new investing trend people were buzzing about.

Three women standing with their backs to us looking to the right, where they see a bar chart, a pie chart, and a checklist document, all in front of a wavy ombré background. Illustration.

Why women need better options for wealth management

So we dug into the research. And we found that these sentiments were more pervasive than we could have imagined. For example:

  • 75% of women making more than $250,000 a year don’t feel in control of their money.

  • Women, particularly women of color, are still sorely underrepresented in the financial services industry, meaning a woman who needs a financial advisor most likely won’t be working with someone who understands her. This is despite the research that women investors perform better.

  • Women’s financial goals are often different from men’s (aka the standard offering). According to our latest Ellevest Financial Wellness Survey, women’s #1 financial goal is taking care of family, while for men it’s retirement (which is #4 for women).

  • When a spouse dies, 70% of women will leave the financial institution they shared within the first year.

The evidence was clear: Something in our industry that was working well for men was simply not working for women. 

And the stakes are just higher for us. Women have a narrower margin of error than men do, mostly because life events hit us harder. We take more career breaks. Our earning power plateaus earlier. (Hello, motherhood penalty / fatherhood bonus.) Our businesses are less likely to be funded. Our health care and caregiving costs are generally higher. And we’re saving less for our retirements. 

Oh, and we live longer. 

These women we were talking to were looking for management of their money that is not about trading stocks or betting on Bitcoin. But instead something that is highly personalized, goal-driven, and founded on the belief that achieving financial goals and making an impact with your money aren’t mutually exclusive. They wanted a solution that didn’t adhere to tired tropes about women’s risk tolerance and being bad at math. And they wanted it from a company that looks even a little bit like them, from the financial advisors and investment managers all the way up to senior leadership.

So we built the difference.

Ellevest Private Wealth Management puts women, their goals, and their values first

We designed Ellevest Private Wealth Management to help clients — yes, women, but also everyone else, including families and institutions — achieve their financial goals and feel good doing it. 

Our philosophy is goals-based, family-first, philanthropy-enabling, and impact-driven. We look at risk tolerance, certainly, but in conjunction with risk capacity (as the former may not align with how much risk might be required to hit your goals).

An all-women team of financial advisors

As a company, we firmly believe in the power of diversity. And so we’ve built what is certainly one of the most diverse wealth management teams of any size, from our leadership to investment professionals and client services specialists to financial advisors.

As you would hope, we set out to hire financial advisors who would be best-in-class regardless of race or gender. But we couldn’t help but note that just 1.4% of total assets under management (AUM) in the US are managed by diverse teams … despite continued evidence that women are simply better investors, earning higher returns than male investors. 

Best-in-class impact investing

Next up was creating an offering that allowed our clients to pursue more than just financial returns (but don’t worry — that's also important). The women we spoke to before we launched Ellevest Private Wealth Management seemed to know inherently that every dollar they invested was making some sort of impact. So we wanted to offer the opportunity to align your investments with your values, to make a difference as you pursue financial returns across your entire portfolio (and not just in public equities).

In equities, we created the Ellevest Intentional Impact portfolios, which allow investors to move money away from companies whose practices don’t serve women and / or people of color and toward those who do. And we offer the Ellevest Climate-Conscious Impact Strategy, which refines that lens even more to focus on companies that pass a rigorous set of environmental criteria. 

In the fixed-income sphere, the Ellevest Municipal Impact Strategy, managed by AllianceBernstein®, allows you to invest in municipal bonds specifically vetted for the most impactful outcomes. 

And our powerful array of private alternatives — well, this is where we believe Ellevest’s offering truly shines. Very few Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) offer private investments, much less those with the potential to make a direct impact on the social and environmental causes investors care about. 

While liquidity risk is higher in the private space (your investments are typically tied up for longer), it’s also where investors can make a more tangible difference. Our best-in-class alternatives are designed to offer a source of competitive financial returns, diversification, and low correlation with public markets, all while getting money even more directly into the hands of women.

Why ‘built for women’ works — for anyone

Now that Ellevest Private Wealth Management has been around for a few years, what started as a hypothesis has become a cornerstone of our business: When it comes to wealth management (and money in general), “built for women” doesn’t just mean “just as good” as the thousands of other options out there. We believe it means something even better, not just for women, but for anyone looking for these services. Because we’re taking your lived experience into account. Your context. Your goals. Your future.

We know how high the stakes are for women building wealth. And we know how powerful that wealth can be when you’re putting it into action the way you want to. It can allow you to change careers. To take that risk and start your business. To buy the vacation home or get a divorce or quit that toxic job. It’s the difference between “fine” and the financial confidence you deserve.

Nobody can afford to play the wealth game men designed over a century ago — especially not women. It isn’t serving us. So let’s change that game.


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Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the Founder & CEO of Ellevest.