Wall Street isn't interested in women investors, Sallie Krawcheck argues. And she should know: The former president of wealth management at Bank of America spent years as one of the few females at the top of the financial industry. Just think about all the sports jargon Wall Street folks use, Krawcheck points out — and the aggressive money managers who yell at viewers on TV, and the fact that their mascot is a bull! But Krawcheck is looking to change all that, and she's starting today with the launch of Ellevest, a robo-advising platform designed specifically for women. I had a chance to test-drive the site this past Monday, and it was as if all my dreams for a female-focused investment site had come true. Finally, here is a product that's well-designed, practical, and speaks to women's unique financial needs, whether they're planning for retirement, a bucket-list vacation, or starting a family. And it couldn't come at a better time.
Millennial women face some unique money problems: We're staying single longer, putting off marriage and parenting, buying homes on our own, and paying off big student loan debt. And then there's that little problem of the gender-wage and gender-investing gaps. Basically, we have a lot of plans, but we're not always financially equipped to tackle them. When I met Krawcheck last winter, I felt like I'd met a kindred spirit. She understood a lot of the frustrations I felt when it came to being a woman trying to get a financial education. Krawcheck shared my distaste for all the pink websites with patronizing advice for young women trying to manage their money, lecturing us on the need to quit our latte habit or stop buying shoes. But she's got years of experience and knowledge, and she's actually changing the game. The Ellevest team spent over 100 hours interviewing women, and the final product shows this careful planning. Of course, like all financial programs, it's not for everyone. The platform takes a lot of your information into account (income, age, and zip code, among other things), but it doesn't ask about debt. The fees are slightly higher than those of other robo-advisors, such as Wealthfront or Betterment (though Ellevest is still cheaper than traditional managers). And, at the end of the day, this is not a real human managing your money (which has its own set of pros and cons). But for women looking to take the steps to get their financial lives organized, this is a great place to start. And if we're going to close that investment gap, we've got to get going.