M1 Finance | Brokerage Review
Brief History & Overview
M1 Finance is a relatively new Chicago-based brokerage company founded in 2015 by Brian Barnes, the Founder & CEO. When Brian Barnes started M1 Finance in 2015, he set out to utilize new and emerging technology. Brian wanted to rethink what is possible in the financial sector while minimizing costs and improving people's lives.
M1 Finance is a unique company when compared to other brokerages in the market because M1 blends the freedom of a standard brokerage with the automated, algorithm-driven financial planning services of a robo-advisor.
When you are first funding your M1 account, you will be asked to create a "pie." A "pie" is a collection of up to 100 slices where any slice is a stock, ETF (Exchange Trade Fund), or another Pie. Each of the 100 slices is considered slice is considered 1% of your portfolio. Once you have chosen the stocks, ETFs or funds that your portfolio will consist of, as you fund your account M1 will automatically allocate your assets according to the percentages you have chosen. Where M1 shines is fractional shares, this allows you to put 10% of your portfolio into Google (a stock currently priced at $1,196.32) even if the total value of your portfolio is only $100. As the values of the slices (stocks, ETFs, and funds) change with the market, M1 will automatically fund the invest your money into the portions that are below their target percentage.
M1 is a financial institute regulated by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority).
M1 is also a member of SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation). SIPC protects against the loss of cash and securities held by a customer. SIPC protection is up to $500,000 which includes a $250,000 limit for cash. SIPC does not protect you for any decline in the value of your securities.
All data transferred and stored within M1 systems is protected with military-grade 4096-bit encryption, and for further protection, M1 offers you to opt into 2-factor authentications.
For further reading on M1 Finance security, you can read about it here.
Expenses & Fees
M1 has no fees for its brokerage platform, however M1 instead makes money by charging interest on the loans it offers to its account holders called M1 Borrow.
100% free, M1 charges no fees at all
Fractional shares (up to 1/10,000 of a share)
Freedom to pick all your investments and exactly how you want them
Auto balancing portfolio
Access to pre-built portfolios (expert pies) created by experts
Access to taxable and IRA accounts
Initial deposit to start an account is as low as $100 for a taxable account and $500 for an IRA account
Automation: With M1 once you set up your portfolio you can make funding your portfolio fully automatic
One of the best platforms for the dollar cost averaging investment strategy
Only one trading window
Unlike most other robo-advisor brokerages, M1 is not set up for tax-loss harvesting
M1 Finance is not built for day trading and is only really suitable for investors looking to buy and hold for the long term.
No access to mutual funds
Conclusion | Our thoughts
In the end, M1 Finance is an innovative platform that has revolutionized the lives of passive investors using the dollar-cost averaging investment strategy while still giving end-users the freedom to choose their investments. We believe M1 Finance is best suited for experienced or at the least intermediate level investors, because of freedom we mentioned formerly M1 is not quite as user-friendly to new investors as other platforms such as Acorns, Betterment, Stash and Wealthfront.