1 Minute Review
Public is a new social brokerage with a motto of “Everyone’s an investor.” Instead of appealing to sophisticated traders or high net worth clients, Public wants everyone to get a piece of the pie. With no minimums, no commissions and fractional shares for purchase, Public allows anyone to invest in the companies they believe in, regardless of how much capital they have.
Public doesn’t have superior charting tools or complex derivatives, just stocks and ETFs on a basic mobile platform. Clients can follow other investors and copy their trades or develop their own strategy by choosing from preloaded themes or picking individual stocks. Advanced traders need not apply — Public is a brokerage for the class of investor that most major brokerages have decided to leave behind.
- New investors
- Stock and ETF investors
- Investors with limited capital
- Fractional shares
- Easy to learn interface
- No mutual funds or derivatives like futures or options
- Limited charting and research tools
- Mobile phone app only
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Why Public.com Brokerage Over Others?
- Easy platform to use: The Public trading app is only for mobile phones, but the platform is among the most intuitive and simple in the discount brokerage space. Downloading and setting up your account takes only minutes and you can begin trading as soon as your funds clear. You can easily follow other users like a Twitter account and see who else is trading your favorite stocks. Finding your balances, buying new shares, or reading up on company data takes only a few finger taps.
- Social trading: Investing can be an intimidating venture, especially if you’re new to the game and the thought of losing money makes you squirm. But Public allows you not only to follow stocks and investment themes but also real-life traders and investors. By creating a follow list and watching more experienced users, you can build comfort with your investment process or simply copy trade your favorite follows. There’s no shame in imitating the experts!
Public.com Quick Summary
The full name of the company behind Public is called Investing For The Public, Inc. If you can’t tell from the name, its goal is to make the markets accessible to everyone. For many potential investors, the costs of building a diversified stock portfolio are simply too high. If you’re on the lower-end of the income spectrum, getting enough funds together to buy a single share of expensive stocks like Amazon, Google or even Apple could be a challenge. Public provides free brokerage services with fractional shares, so you can build a diverse portfolio with minimal capital.
|Asset Classes||Stocks and ETFs|
|Platform||Mobile platform for iOS and Android|
|Account Minimum||No minimum on standard cash account|
|Available Account Types||Cash accounts onlyNo IRA or 401(k) accounts|
Since Public allows you to invest in fractional shares, there’s literally no account minimum for purchasing stock. If you only have $5 in your account, you can still purchase a fractional share of Amazon, even though its current share price hovers around $2,000. But since Public focuses on new investors and simplicity, you won’t find any derivatives like options or futures on the platform.
The Public investing platform is similar to Dough, another brokerage targeting new investors with themes, social media aspects and fractional shares. The first thing you do as a new user is choose a username and set up a profile. You’ll be asked to pick certain themes to follow like self-driving cars or meatless food and then follow other investors on the platform. Once you’ve built a social feed, you’ll be able to see who’s investing in what stocks (and how often they’re buying).
Some of the features that make Public’s platform rate high in usability:
- Simple interface: There’s practically no learning curve when it comes to getting used to Public’s mobile platform. You’ll have your account balances, investments and watchlists all just a tap away. Clicking on a specific security will give you a basic chart with price information. Scrolling down allows you to view who on your feed owns or watches the stock, along with earnings data and stats like market cap, dividend yield and volume. A news feed gives the latest updates on the company from Motley Fool, Benzinga, Zacks, Forbes and more.
- Social news feed: Unsure about which companies to invest in? You can use your social feed to build an army of investors to take hints from. Instead of just seeing which of your favorite follows bought Slack stock, you’ll be able to ask them why they decided to invest. Some of Public’s most famous account holders include Sophia Amouroso and Shaquille O’Neal.
- Dozen of investment themes: If you don’t want to follow along with a group of other investors, you can choose your own investment philosophy and buy stocks who fit your goals and ethics. Over 30 different themes are available with ESG elements, including Combat Carbon, Women In Charge, Green Power and Fighting Disease.
Public doesn’t have stock reports from reputable firms like Morningstar, BofA or S&P. Free news reports from sites like Forbes, MarketWatch and Benzinga are available on a news feed listed under each stock. But in-depth security analysis needs to be found elsewhere. Of course, if you’re using a platform like Public, you’re probably not trying to jump in and out of stocks based on changing headlines.
Public does have a quality library of resources to educate new investors about the ins and outs of the market. A FAQ section teaches you how to use the platform efficiently, covering topics like funding, bid/ask spreads and how to transfer a current account over to Public.
Over at the learning center, Public has dozens of articles on topics pertaining to the broader market. Understand concepts like dollar cost averaging or value investing? If not, Public has you covered with helpful guides written without technical jargon. You’ll learn about the benefits of ETFs, how the stock market works, tips for retirement and more. Plus Public provides tools like the Ticker Time Machine and calculators for capital gains and compound interest.
Public is based out of New York City with an office in Lower Manhattan. Phone and chat support is available during working hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. Public also has a FAQ page with 40 different articles discussing investing, banking and current Public promotions.
Public keeps it simple for new investors by offering only stocks and ETFs. Mutual funds and derivatives are unavailable, which won’t please advanced traders, but Public isn’t really a platform for that crowd anyway. At some point new investors become veteran investors, however, and Public might consider opening up to derivatives like options after establishing a solid long-term customer base.
Public.com Stocks and ETFs
Public might only offer stocks and ETFs, but that doesn’t mean it’s a short list of equities to choose from. Public breaks its stock offerings down by category with a default load-out focusing on ESG themes. Some of these themes (and their accompanying firms) include:
- Green power
- Canadian Solar, First Solar, NextEra Energy, Brookfield Renewable Partners
- Meatless revolution
- Hain Celestial, Conagra, Beyond Meat, United Natural Foods, Ingredion
- Reuse and reduce
- Federal Signal, Clean Harbors, Waste Connections, Republic Services
- Water works
- Ideanomics, York Water, Aqua America, Advanced Drainage Systems
- Aurora Cannabis, Tilray, Aphria, Cronos Group, Canopy Growth, AbbVie
- Self-driving cars
- Uber, Intel, IBM, Delphi Technologies, Google, Micron Technology
Public also groups companies by its subsidiaries, too. For example, Amazon is grouped into the meatless revolution theme thanks to its ownership of Pill Pack and Quidsi and also the AI theme because of Alexa and Twitch.
Just how sophisticated platforms like NinjaTrader aren’t for everyone, neither are brokerages like Public. While they operate at different ends of the spectrum, both appeal to a very specific set of investors.
Public wants everyone to know it can get a piece of the investment pie without access to huge loads of money. You can buy fractional shares, chat with other investors and follow themes that matter to you all while building your investment identity.
Public doesn’t weigh down its users with useless jargon or excessive fees — it’s a simple buying-and-selling process with no frills attached.
If you’re looking for derivatives like futures and options, Public isn’t the broker for you. But if you’re new to investing and don’t want to be overwhelmed by business data and flashy charts, Public might be a perfect fit.