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If you haven’t heard of M1 Finance, it’s the best new online investment platform. The company offers the perfect blend of self-directed and robo-advised investment options. In late 2017 the investment firm decided to cut all robo-advising and management fees from their platform. As of this writing, they are the only completely free robo-advisory firm on the market!
“Robo advisors provide financial advice or investment management online with moderate to minimal human intervention. They provide digital financial advice based on mathematical rules or algorithms. These algorithms are executed by software and thus financial advice does not require a human advisor. The software utilizes its algorithms to automatically allocate, manage and optimize clients’ assets.”
Within the scope of M1 Finance, this means that each of your “pies” will dynamically reallocate your investments to reflect your pre-specified percentages (if instructed). You just have to input your portfolio specifications and M1 will take care of the rest at no cost. More on pies later.
Pros and Cons
|0% management fees||Once-per-day trading window|
|Fractional shares||No automatic tax loss harvesting|
|Dynamic portfolio rebalancing|
|Low account minimum ($100)|
0% Management Fees
As I highlighted before, M1 Finance does not charge management fees for its robo-advisory service or for assets under management.
This investment service offers the purchase of fractional shares. This means that if you have $10 to invest, but your favorite security costs $100, you can buy 10% of one share. This feature is one of my favorite parts of M1 Finance!
Dynamic Portfolio Rebalancing
Rebalancing your portfolio is as easy as the click of a button. Just set your preferred pie allocation and let M1 Finance take care of the rest.
Example: Let’s say you create a custom pie consisting of 50% VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) and 50% BND (Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF). If the stock market performs great and the bond market remains stagnant, your portfolio will then consist of a higher percentage of VTI relative to BND. If your portfolio is now 55% VTI and 45% BND, you can rebalance your portfolio back to a 50%/50% allocation by simply clicking “Rebalance”.
Important Note: Portfolio rebalancing may cause a taxable event. Clicking “Rebalance” will trigger buy and sell transactions that may result in taxable gains or harvestable losses.
Low Account Minimum
You only need $100 to establish your account. This makes M1 Finance accessible to nearly any investor.
Once-Per-Day Trading Window
In order to maintain their fee-free platform, M1 Finance only executes trades once per day at 9:00 AM Central Time. For example, if you initiate a trade at 3:30 PM, it will process at 9:00 AM the following business day.
No Automatic Tax Loss Harvesting
Robo tax loss harvesting is when a robo-advisor deliberately sells shares that have decreased in value and then immediately repurchases the shares at a lower price point. This automated technique captures tax losses that can be used to offset future taxable gains. Unfortunately, M1 Finance does not offer this service like some of its competitors.
Investing has never been easier with M1 Finance. The seamless platform grants you the autonomy to create your own custom pie to match your risk tolerance and investment preferences. If you can’t be bothered with creating your own portfolio, let M1 do all the work for you and select an “expert pie”!
Personally, I use M1 finance for my “play” money which accounts for approximately 5% of my portfolio. I invest in my favorite companies and speculative ETFs with fractional shares and with no commissions. Due to the fractional shares, not a single penny goes uninvested. It’s perfect!
For the new investor with under $10,000 in his/her account, I suggest investing in VTI (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) and setting up automatic investments. Sit back, relax, and watch your portfolio grow! If you’d like to learn more about this recommendation, read my Vanguard 101 – The Basics of Investing post.
If you’re convinced that M1 Finance is the right investment platform for you, let’s walk through how to set up your account. If you have additional questions, you can check out the M1 Finance website and read their FAQ section.
Go to the M1 Finance website.
Click the “Invest Now” button in the top-right corner.
Enter your email and set a secure password for your account.
Next, M1 Finance will show you a sample “pie” to give you a feel for their software and interface. Click “Continue”.
This is where you can build your portfolio. Choose from stocks, funds, expert pies, or create your own custom pie. You can use the search bar in the top-right hand corner of the screen to find specific securities.
As an example, I typed in “VTI” (Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF) into the search bar. M1 Finance pulls up the security and displays a circular, blue Plus Button to add it to my custom pie.
After clicking the blue Plus Button, you will be prompted to confirm your selection by clicking the “Add” button in the bottom right hand corner.
Once you’ve selected your first security in your custom pie, you can view your pie on this page. You have the option to either “Add slices” or “Save & Continue”. Once you’re done setting up your ideal allocation, click “Save & Continue”.
The next segment in setting up your account is filling out the “Account” details. I will not get into which account type is best for you in this article, but you can check out my Vanguard 101: Account Setup post to learn more.
After you’ve filled out all of our account information including personal details and your financial & investment profile, you will ultimately arrive at the “Review & Submit” page.
Once you’ve submitted your account details, you can now connect your bank. You can either do this by using your bank login credentials or by using your bank account number and routing number.
After you’ve connected your bank, you will be prompted to make your initial deposit. This deposit can be any amount over the $100 minimum.
The “Setup Recurring Deposit” option makes investing completely automated. This way, you can just set up automatic investments and watch your portfolio grow! If you don’t want to set up a recurring deposit, click “I’ll do this later”.
Congratulations, you’ve just created your M1 Finance account! You can now go to your Dashboard.
On your Dashboard, a banner will pop up at the top of the screen to verify your email. Go to your email account.
The email will look like this. Click “Verify My Email” and you’re all set! M1 also provides an informative YouTube video of how their platform works. You can check out that video here.
Keeping track of your investments is important. Personal Capital is a FREE website that aggregates all of your financial information to help you track your net worth. I highly recommend using Personal Capital. Their website is easy to use, there is a mobile app, and it’s completely free! If you’d like to sign up, please use THIS LINK (You’ll get $20, FREE!).
Thank you for checking out M1 Finance – Start Investing Today! I hope that this content was helpful and easy to understand. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message on my Contact Page. Most importantly, if this content helped you, please share! Website traffic helps to keep the lights on and allows me to keep producing helpful content.