1 Minute Review
M1 Finance is a unique investing platform that allows investors to allocate their funds through a strategy called “pie investing.” When you open an account with M1, you can choose from 1 of 80 expert portfolio allocations, which the platform calls “pies.” Each pie is made up of a unique mix of stocks and ETFs and each represents a “slice” of your overall account.
Pies distinguish themselves by their asset allocation and investment choices. For example, investors who want to hold onto their investments until they retire might choose a pie with a focus on slow, steady growth, while investors who value corporate responsibility may want to choose M1’s socially responsible investment portfolio.
You can also create your own pie by selecting individual stocks and ETFs. Every time you make a deposit into your M1 account, the broker will automatically divide your funds between your investments.
M1 offers only basic educational tools and its customer support leaves much to be desired. However, if you’re looking for a way to put your investments on autopilot, M1 Finance might be the right choice for you.
- Don’t want to take an active role in portfolio management
- Need a large amount of hand-holding when it comes to selecting investments
- Want the option to invest in a socially responsible portfolio
- Pie investing system offers a unique visual component to investing
- Streamlined mobile app offers full functionality of the desktop platform, plus access to M1’s banking components
- Socially responsible portfolio option is perfect for investors who want to invest only in companies that offer positive business practices
- No access to mutual funds, futures, forex or options investing
- Limited charting tools and indicators
- Poor customer service selection
- Basic educational offerings cater only to very new investors
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Why M1 Finance Brokerage Over Others?
What does M1 Finance offer over other brokers? Let’s take a look at some of the best features M1 offers over other online brokerages.
- Easy pie investing: M1 Finance’s simple pie system makes investing for the future easier and less intimidating. Simply answer a few questions about your risk tolerance and the industries where you prefer to put your money — then choose from over 80 expert investor portfolios.
- Hands-off investing: You can schedule weekly, monthly or annual auto deposits into your M1 account. Once your money is deposited, M1 Finance will automatically divide your funds between your selected investments.
- Fractional shares available: If you don’t have a ton of money to begin investing with, you’ll love M1’s fractional share option. Fractional shares allow you to start purchasing major stocks and ETFs with as little as $1 in your account.
Brokerage Quick Summary
|Tradable assets||Stocks, ETFs|
|Platform||Basic, beginner-oriented; few screening tools|
|Mobile app||Fully operational, mirrors desktop web trading platform|
|Available account types||Taxable, traditional and Roth IRA, joint|
M1 Finance offers low fees and low account minimums — though the broker’s selection is currently quite limited. Let’s take a look at how you might invest with M1 after you open an account.
|Stocks and ETFs||$0 commission|
|Options||Not currently available|
|Mutual funds||Not currently available|
|Bonds||No individual bonds available|
M1 also offers margin trading — but you’ll need at least $10,000 in assets in your account before you can take out a margin loan to trade with. If you have at least $10,000 in your account, you can borrow up to 35% of your portfolio value in a margin loan. For example, if you have $100,000 of purchased stock in your account, you can borrow up to $35,000.
Margin loans accrue interest at a flat 3.50%, which is better than most other competitors. Brokers like Fidelity and Ally charge higher percentages for those who borrow less. You can use the money you borrow for more than just purchasing stock — you can also withdraw it from your account to pay for things like a wedding, a new car or a college education.
M1 Finance is a unique brokerage. It doesn’t offer traders a standard desktop trading platform with lines, charts and candlesticks. Instead, it offers a hybrid bank and investing platform that focuses more on asset allocation and creating a personalized portfolio than price movements and daily fluctuations.
When you sign up with M1 Finance, you’ll answer a few questions about yourself, your financial situation and what you’re saving for. M1 will then help you create a “pie” — the term the broker uses for an asset mix. Your individual pie will include a unique blend of individual stocks and ETFs — each represented by a “slice” of your investing pie. The final blend should match your goals and risk tolerance.
You can choose from 1 of 80 expert portfolio recommendations or build your own pie by hand-selecting stocks and funds you want to buy. M1 offers traders a host of pies to choose from, including:
- General investing: The general investing pie is an all-around balanced pie that’s customized for your risk tolerance.
- Retirement planning: Your retirement planning pie will be made up of long-term investments that fit your level of risk based on your age.
- Industry and sectors: Want to invest only in a particular industry or sector of the market? M1 can create a unique pie made up only of stocks and ETFs focused on your industry of choice.
- Socially responsible: M1’s socially responsible investing strategy invests your assets into a variety of industry-leaders who limit their carbon emissions, promote from within and don’t sell certain controversial products.
Don’t forget — you can also create your own pie by selecting individual stocks and ETFs from over 6,000 choices.
Overall, M1 Finance is a simple and easy-to-understand option. Though its charting opportunities may be disappointing for experienced investors, new traders will love M1’s focus on expert guidance and simplicity.
M1 Finance offers a number of tools that you can use to learn more about investing, saving for retirement and the different securities available. Let’s take a look at a few of the tools you can use to learn more with M1.
- Expert portfolios: When you invest with M1, you don’t need to choose your own asset mix or pick individual stocks. Instead, you can pick from 1 of 80 expert portfolios, which automatically splits your deposits into your own unique asset mix to fit your risk tolerance, investing preferences and more. Using M1 can be a major benefit for new investors who are still learning about the different types of investment vehicles available.
- Education center: M1 Finance’s education center includes a wide range of articles and videos to learn more about investing and how to use the M1 Finance tools and features. Article topics range from answering focused investing questions (for example, “What is a mutual fund?” and “What is a beta value?”) to offering fun and easily digestible financial tips and tricks.
Some of M1’s more casual articles include “Building Wealth: Great Financial Habits to Become Wealthy” and “Free Guide: Investing in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.” Articles are written with a very casual tone and are largely focused on very basic investing concepts. New investors will love the guide’s easy-to-understand language but intermediate and advanced investors may not find much use for it.
- Platform explanation: M1 Finance offers a full selection of video courses to teach you how to use the platform. Videos offer explanations on how to link your bank account, how to turn on auto-investing features, how to schedule recurring transactions and more.
Though M1 Finance’s education resources are a bit limited, they can be useful for beginning traders.
M1 Finance offers limited customer service assistance. To get in contact with M1 Finance’s team, you’ll need to fill out a support ticket. After your ticket is received, M1 Finance’s customer service team will contact you.
Customer service is available anytime the U.S. stock markets are open — Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST. There is currently no specific customer service option available for people with hearing limitations.
Let’s take a look at some assets you can invest with when you open an account with M1 Finance.
M1 Finance Stocks, ETFs and Mutual Funds
M1 Finance offers $0 commissions on all stocks and ETFs, and the platform offers over 6,000 individual assets available for purchase. You can search for stocks and funds by industry or select a pre-made expert portfolio to fit your risk tolerance and preferred investing style. M1 also allows you to invest in fractional shares, which means that you can start investing in companies like Apple or Amazon with just $1.
M1 Finance doesn’t currently support mutual fund purchases or sales.
The M1 Finance app is comprehensive and streamlined and offers all of the functionality of the desktop platform. Let’s take a look at a few mobile features that we love.
- Streamlined, one-stop-shop design: M1 Finance’s app offers a 1-stop shop for all of your M1 accounts. If you bank or borrow through the broker, you can find everything on your app. Just swipe through your screens to access all of your accounts.
- Native newsfeed: The M1 Finance has a native newsfeed that allows you to browse the market’s top stories and market movements as they occur. The app updates regularly to show you the latest news.
- Build out your portfolio: The M1 Finance app doesn’t cut any features from the easy-to-use desktop platform. Schedule transfers from your bank account on a weekly, annual or monthly schedule and make purchases and research assets all from your M1 Finance app.
The M1 Finance app is available as a free download for both Android and Apple devices.
There are a lot of features to love about M1 Finance — especially if you’ve never invested your money before and you’re looking for an app that offers a lot of handholding and assistance. M1’s unique pie investing strategy isn’t just easy to master and intuitive. It also offers you a visual way to picture where your money is actually going and how you’re progressing toward your goals.
M1 Finance is best used by investors who know that they should be saving for retirement or investing to create passive income, but who aren’t very interested in the heavy lifting that comes with choosing which investments to buy. Sure, you can research and purchase individual stocks and ETFs through your M1 account, but the platform doesn’t offer the research and charting tools that other brokers like TD Ameritrade and Fidelity do. The broker’s real value is in its pre-allocated expert portfolios, which make investing (according to your risk tolerance) easy and fun.
Beyond its pie investing feature, there are plenty of places where M1 Finance can improve. The broker doesn’t offer any form of mutual fund investing and it doesn’t offer day trading tools. M1’s customer service needs a few more options, and we’d love to see the broker expand its asset offerings to include futures, forex and individual bonds.
If you’re a novice investor who wants to put your savings on autopilot, M1 Finance might be the right choice for you. If you’re an intermediate or active trader, you likely won’t find the tools you need through M1.