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Krawcheck launches robo-advisory service for women

11 May 2016  |  5566 views  |  0 Sallie Krawcheck

Former Bank of America and Citi executive Sallie Krawcheck has launched a robo-advisory company catering specifically to women.

Krawcheck raised $10 million in September for the launch of the female-focussed investment service, securing backing from an A List cohort of investors, including Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz and the former CEO of Pimco, Ajay Banga, president and CEO of Mastercard, and Brian Finn, former president of Credit Suisse First Boston.

At the time, details about the service were scant, but today's launch sees Ellevest sitting squarely in the territory occupied by a new breed of wealth management firms such as Betterment and Wealthfront.

Like its competitors, Ellevest creates financial portfolios comprised of exchange-traded funds that it rebalances based on a user’s timeline and risk tolerance.

Operating with the need of female investors in mind, Ellevest promises to take into account a woman's salary expectations, career breakpoints and relative longevity in comparison to male mortality rates. The platform operates from a goal-based perspective, rather than a portfolio-performance indicator, and locks users into a maximum 60-80% risk band for their investments - in acknowledgement of the generally risk-averse nature of female investors.

At 0.5%, Ellevest is more expensive than its digital competitors, but better value than traditional wealth managers, who generally charge one percent per year.

Krawcheck ascribes the inspiration for the platform to a "head slapping moment", upon realisation that the investment management business has been built squarely "by men and for men".

She should know, having held senior positions in big-ticket financial institutions, as a former CEO of Bank of Bank of America Wealth Management, CEO and chair of Citi Global Wealth Management and CFO at Citigroup.

"There are a lot of financial advisers that do a fantastic job for women. I know many of them, but the facts are the facts," she says. "There are so many businesses that implicitly or explicitly target men. There can be lots of businesses that serve women."

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