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Former Citigroup CFO Sallie Krawcheck launches Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women

TechCrunch TechCrunch 11/05/2016 Sarah Perez

Former Citigroup CFO Sallie Krawcheck launched her anticipated new startup, a digital investment platform for women called Ellevest, this morning from the TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016 conference’s stage. Krawcheck is not your typical startup founder, which makes her entry in the investing space particularly interesting. Prior to Ellevest, she was the president of Global Wealth and Investment Management at Bank of America and the CEO of Smith Barney and Sanford Bernstein, in addition to Citigroup.

She also bought Ellevate, a global network with tens of thousands of members that promotes women as business leaders.

However, until now, all we’ve known about Ellevest is that it’s focused on helping women invest, and that the company raised $10 million in Series A funding last fall.

That round was led by investment research firm Morningstar, and included participation from 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, according to an earlier report from Fortune.

Krawcheck will serve as the company CEO and fintech startup Andrea’s founder Charlie Kroll is Ellevest’s COO.

At Disrupt this morning, Krawcheck disclosed further details of her team, which includes Chief Investment Officer Slyvia Kwan, who has degrees from Stanford and Brown, as well as those with technology industry experience from places like Vogue.com, Thrillist, fintech startups, as well as a PM from Weight Watchers – a company dedicated to getting women to embrace change. That seems applicable, in a way, for a startup focused on getting women to change how they manage their investment strategies.

  1. Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest

    Sallie Krawcheck (Ellevest) Talks on the Investing Gender Gap, moderated by Connie Loizos at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
  2. Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest

    Sallie Krawcheck (Ellevest) Talks on the Investing Gender Gap, moderated by Connie Loizos at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
  3. Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest

    Sallie Krawcheck (Ellevest) Talks on the Investing Gender Gap, moderated by Connie Loizos at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
  4. Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest

    Sallie Krawcheck (Ellevest) Talks on the Investing Gender Gap, moderated by Connie Loizos at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
  5. Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest

    Sallie Krawcheck (Ellevest) Talks on the Investing Gender Gap, moderated by Connie Loizos at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
  6. Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest

    Sallie Krawcheck (Ellevest) Talks on the Investing Gender Gap, moderated by Connie Loizos at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
  7. Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest

    Sallie Krawcheck (Ellevest) Talks on the Investing Gender Gap, moderated by Connie Loizos at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
  8. Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest

    Sallie Krawcheck (Ellevest) Talks on the Investing Gender Gap, moderated by Connie Loizos at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
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Krawcheck explained that when she first began working on the company she had to discard a lot of myths about how women approached investing – that they weren’t as savvy, or as good at math, and that needed a lot of remedial financial education. She also thought women had to explore their emotions around money – something she said reflected her own gender bias, as it turned out.

But after spending hundreds of hours with women to better understand their investment goals, she realized that what women want are things like money to start businesses, buy homes, and retire well. And they don’t need anything beyond an investment platform that takes into account their own particular challenges.

Ellevest focuses on what women face when it comes to investing that men do not, explains Krawcheck.

“This isn’t…’pink it and shrink it,'” she says. “We’re going to forecast out your life so that you can achieve your goals.”

Women, for example, need a platform that takes into account not only her earnings, but also her salary arc – which is different from men’s. It needs to account for the fact that women live longer than men, on average, when planning for retirement. It needs to understand the salary differentials between a women’s pay and her male counterparts and how that impacts her strategies.

And it also will take into account those decisions that women tend to make more often than men – like taking a couple of years off from a career in order to raise children, for instance.

“Nobody is having that conversation,” says Krawcheck, of this career break. “But obviously, as a woman, that can keep you from achieving your goals.”

The service will also regularly engage with clients, updating their portfolios to reflecting their evolving goals. And if a woman gets off track, Ellevest will reach out to tell you, in a highly personalized way, what you need to do to get back on, she says.

Krawcheck claims that Ellevest, which is already in private beta testing with a few hundred women, will help women meet their goals or better in 70 percent of market scenarios.

“Our goal was to make [investing] approachable and achievable for all women,” she says.

The service’s products include managed ETF’s to keep costs down. It’s not “the cheapest” – the website’s FAQ says it charges an annual fee of 0.50% of an account’s average daily balance – but it’s lower than what some other firms charge, says Krawcheck.

Ellevest is live now, but is requesting women sign up for invites which will be distributed on a rolling basis.

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