What Does it Mean to Invest Intentionally?

By Sallie Krawcheck

Here’s the truth: Every dollar you invest, spend, or save has an impact — on you and your future, and on the world around you. Even if you don’t know what that impact is.

What Does it Mean to Invest Intentionally?

We’re already making conscious, intentional choices about the impact we make in our everyday lives. There’s the whole reduce, reuse, and recycle thing. There’s the never-ending quest to find “balance” in our nutrition, our exercise habits, and the amount of sleep we get. And if you’re anything like me, you’re trying to be more intentional about how you spend your time and energy, as well.

Why shouldn’t we be intentional with our money, too? Answer (you guessed it): We totally should. Which is why at Ellevest, we believe in — and practice — intentional investing.

What is intentional investing?

Ultimately, intentional investing includes three things:

  • Understanding WHY you’re investing

  • Carefully choosing WHAT you’re investing in

  • Being cognizant about WHO you’re investing with

Why you’re investing: Your goals

If you read about investing in the news, you might assume that the point of it all is to “beat the market” or “pick the winners.” But the thing is, it doesn’t work. You can’t control things like that — not reliably. Which means you can’t plan your life around it.

Knowing why you’re investing — aka what you’re working toward — means setting some future financial goals (even if they might change later) and investing intentionally toward them. It’s the opposite of just throwing money into an investment account and crossing your fingers (really hard) that it will be “enough.”

If you aren’t 100% on your financial goals yet, it’s never too late to do some dreaming. Maybe you want to retire in a certain city (Mykonos, anyone?), or with a certain lifestyle (I see you, future-part-time national park tour guide — and you too, member of all the boards). Or maybe you’re planning to buy a house someday, and you need to build up enough money for the down payment. Maybe you want to quit your job and start a business in a few years. Or maybe you just want to add to your net worth (valid).

You’re putting yourself in the driver’s seat.

Once you have some tentative goals, you can plan out how much you might want to invest along the way in order to hit them — and what kinds of investments might be most likely to help you do it. You’ll want to track your progress as you go, and adjust your plan if (when) your goals change. By being intentional about what you’re investing for, you’re putting yourself in the driver’s seat and setting yourself up to be more confident about your financial future.

What you’re investing in: Your social impact

Every dollar you invest supports something — a company, maybe, or an industry. If you aren’t intentional about that impact, you could be unwittingly supporting companies or industries that counteract the causes you care about.

Good news on this front: Today, it’s easier and less expensive than it’s ever been to invest with your impact in mind. For example, some investing firms offer the option to screen out some “bad” factors — like investments that score poorly on ESG (environment, social, governance) criteria. Other firms take it even further by allowing you to actively direct some or all of your money into “good” things, better known as impact investing. (At Ellevest, our version of impact investing is all about investing to advance women.)

Whatever your cause, though, the important part is looking carefully at who and what your investments are supporting — and, if you don’t like what you see, doing what you can to change it.

Who you’re investing with: Your financial advisor

Finally, it’s also about being intentional about which investment advisor you choose to work with. My personal stress test is this: Is this a company where I would be proud to work? One at which I would want my child to work someday?

Find yourself a company that employs people who look like you. A company that has your best interests at heart. A company that tries to do the right thing at every opportunity — for you, and for everyone they serve.

Ellevest was built intentionally, too

We believe in the power of intentional investing so strongly that we built an entire company to help you do it.

Built to help you with your why

When you use Ellevest, your investment portfolio is designed intentionally and specifically for you.

If you have an Ellevest Digital investment account, there’s a specially designed portfolio for each individual goal you have. Our algorithm factors in specifics about you: your gender (which really, really matters), your age, the industry you work in, what part of the country you live in, and more. We’re intentional about what goes inside your portfolios, too. And about how we come up with the realistic forecasts we show you. When all is said and done, our recommendations are designed to help you hit your goals (or better!) in 70% of market scenarios. (Other digital advisors? Oh, they aim for 50%. Like a coin toss.)

And for our Private Wealth Management clients, we’ve built a super-smart, highly experienced, incredibly passionate team of women financial advisors and operations professionals. They really get it when it comes to women’s money. And they’ll manage an entirely personalized portfolio for you, thoughtfully created for your goals.

Built to help you choose your what

With Ellevest Digital, our impact portfolios are designed to help you reach your goals by investing your money in companies that advance women — and we hold them to the same tough standards we hold our core portfolios, so you aren’t giving up the opportunity for competitive returns.

And for private wealth, we offer Ellevest Intentional Impact Portfolios, an equity solution that lets you choose to invest your money in companies that meet our criteria for doing the right things by women — and redirect your money away from companies with products, policies, and practices that may harm them. Again, all without sacrificing potential returns.

By investing in women, we invest to make a better world.

Built to be your who, always

Every single day, we come to work with a set intention to be the company at which you’d want your daughter to work.

The majority of our team members identify as women — including more than half of our engineering team — and half of us are people of color.

We’re also intentional about who we’ve invited to help shape our company. We’ve raised money from investors who align with our values, like Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Investments, Penny Pritzker’s PSP Capital, Rethink Impact, Venus Williams, Mohamed El-Erian, Aspect Ventures, and others. The companies that have invested in us are also best-in-class in diversity and in closing their gender pay gaps, like Salesforce, Mastercard, and Paypal.

Let’s change the future of personal finance itself.

And, operating as we do in the financial industry, where conflicts of interest are the norm: We don’t sell our own investment products, we don’t have hidden fees, and we don’t participate in hidden conflicts that would quietly transfer value away from clients to ourselves. And we never, ever ask our employees to sign agreements that would force them into confidential arbitration for any sexual harassment allegations. (Yes, they’re the norm. And yes, arbitration agreements have a silencing effect.) No way.

So join us. Let’s change our futures, and our friends’ futures, and the future of personal finance itself. Let’s invest intentionally.


© 2019 Ellevest, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

All opinions and views expressed by Ellevest are current as of the date of this writing, for informational purposes only, and do not constitute or imply an endorsement of any third party’s products or services.

The information provided should not be relied upon as investment advice or recommendations, does not constitute a solicitation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered specific legal, investment or tax advice.

The information provided does not take into account the specific objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person.

Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of funds will meet your investment objectives or provide you with a given level of income.

Investing entails risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there is no assurance that the investment will provide positive performance over any period of time.

A newsletter you’ll love

Get all the news, advice, and must-know info on women, money, and career.

Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the Founder & CEO of Ellevest.