Andrew Goldman has been writing for over 20 years and investing for the past 10 years. He currently writes about personal finance and investing for Wealthsimple. Andrew's past work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, New York Magazine and Wired. Television appearances include NBC's Today show as well as Fox News. Andrew holds a Bachelor of Arts (English) from the University of Texas. He and his wife Robin live in Westport, Connecticut with their two boys and a Bedlington terrier. In his spare time, he hosts “The Originals" podcast.
There a many different kinds of “vests” that are readily available to Canadians. Canada Goose makes some appealing options that will appeal to anyone who’s especially concerned with keeping the old internal organs cozy. The arms, as all true vest proponents know, can stuff it. They’ll thaw by July.
But there is one kind of vest that is sadly not available anywhere in Canada: Ellevest, the American robo-advisor. We’re very sorry to report that Ellevest is not currently available in Canada. But fret not. There’s a solid alternative.
What is Ellevest and is it available in Canada?
Considering that you made it this far, we imagine you’ve probably already got a pretty good inkling of what Ellevest is, so we’ll make it quick. Ellevest is a Manhattan-based tech startup launched in 2016. It was the brainchild of Sallie Krawcheck, who held a number of the top jobs in American banking including serving as Chief Financial Officer of Citigroup. She partnered with Charlie Kroll, a longtime startup guy who founded his first company, Andera, from his dorm room at Brown University.
Ellevest is a robo-advisor, meaning that when people invest with the company, their money isn’t actively managed by humans but rather by a computer algorithm. You may want to take a deeper dive on robo-advisors, but suffice it to say that the general model of robos is to keep fees low through passive investment, that is, investing exclusively in low-fee ETFs that seek to mirror the returns of a sector or index, for example the S&P 500, an index of the 500 most highly valued companies listed on American stock exchanges.
From the beginning, Ellevest distinguished itself in the field of robo-advisors in one very impressive way: it focused its services on women investors, who historically have invested less than men. As Ellevest has explained the need for such a service: women “tend to live longer but earn less.”
Ellevest isn’t yet one of the largest American robo-advisors by assets under management, or AUM. As of 2019, Ellevest reported managing $283 million in assets for approximately 22,800 clients. (Betterment, by contrast, reported managing $16 billion in assets for approximately 400,000 clients as of 2019.) But Ellevest has some powerful backers: Melinda Gates, Venus Williams and Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett have all invested.
The bad news is that Ellevest is not available in Canada at this time and has made no public announcements about launching here.
An alternative robo-advisor for women in Canada
Just because Ellevest isn’t currently available in Canada doesn’t mean there isn’t a robo-advisor that also takes seriously the important issues raised by Ellevest.
Consider Wealthsimple. Wealthsimple was founded in 2014 by Michael Katchen, a longtime market investor who had long helped friends and colleagues to invest wisely in low-fee, passive ETFs.
Katchen and Wealthsimple have made diversity and gender issues a priority. In 2018, Wealthsimple put itself under the microscope and embarked on an internal diversity survey in order to take stock of the company’s culture to assess where it was and try to figure out how to move it in the right direction in terms of inclusivity. Wealthsimple also commissioned the widely-cited survey that found that 40% fewer millennial women invest compared with men the same age. Check out what we found in our article, “Most of Our Clients are Men. We Wanted to Figure Out the Problem.”
Wealthsimple believes that investors can both make money and be good global citizens and has long offered a socially-responsible portfolio of investments.
Wealthsimple plans to address social issues for decades to come. It’s anything but a fly-by-night startup; it’s Canada’s largest automated investing service. It’s received $265 million in investment from some of the world’s largest financial institutions in Canada and Europe. As of May 2019, Wealthsimple boasted more than 150,000 clients and $4.5 billion of assets under management. Wealthsimple’s brokerage Canadian ShareOwner Investments Inc., which handles all client trades, is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). CIPF is a program that insures all accounts up to one million dollars against member firms bankruptcy.
Even if you’re not quite ready to invest, anyone with five spare minutes can go to our two-time Webby-winning website and sign up for a Wealthsimple account.
Are you a woman looking for the best robo in Canada? Give Wealthsimple a gander. All Wealthsimple clients, regardless of their gender or account balances, receive state-of-the-art technology, unlimited human support all for a remarkably reasonable management fee.