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How Much Crypto Should You Have in Your Investment Portfolio?

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How Much Crypto Should You Have in Your Investment Portfolio?


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Bitcoin is exploding in value, but it’s still crazy volatile with a very uncertain future. In fact, the value of bitcoin has gone from roughly $10,000 to $30,000 in the last year. 

But there’s a lot of wild fluctuations, with prices jumping all over the place. So where’s the sweet spot? What percentage of your portfolio should you dedicate to cryptocurrency? 

To find out, I spoke with two finance professionals with Atlanta’s CPC Advisors and Raymond James Financial Services. Varun Marneni, CFP® helps clients navigate the complexities of their finances, and David Hunter, CFA is the firm’s Director of Research and Investments. Naturally, both of them have fielded lots of questions about crypto.

What is Cryptocurrency? A Quick Recap

A cryptocurrency, or “crypto,” is a form of digital currency. The original idea, outlined by creator Satoshi Nakamoto in his 2008 paper “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, was to give Internet users a currency that they could safely exchange without the need for a third-party, like a bank or PayPal. 

Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) run entirely through the blockchain. A blockchain is like a giant virtual ledger that records cryptocurrency transactions. If I sell you bitcoin, that creates part of a “block” containing a detailed record of our transaction. Blocks of cryptocurrency transactions are linked together in a “chain,” hence the term blockchain

So unlike paper currencies, Bitcoin is extremely traceable. “Imagine if every dollar in your wallet had a detailed list of everyone who’s ever had it – that’s Bitcoin” said Hunter. 

Why Professional Wealth-builders Aren’t Fans of Crypto (Yet)

If bitcoin’s price keeps rising, and it’s already turned tons of young investors into millionaires, why would two seasoned financial professionals advise against it? 

Well, as soon as you start talking to investing experts with letters after their name, you start to realize that bitcoin’s beauty is skin deep. 

When I asked Hunter and Marneni how much they think people should invest in crypto, they each gave precise numerical answers. 

Here are four reasons why they aren’t big fans of crypto. 

1. The Value of Crypto is “100% Speculation”

When you look at a traditional investment asset like a stock or a piece of real estate, there are factors you can look at to predict its future value. 

For example, some of the researchable factors that can drive a stock’s value include the global and domestic economy, earnings reports, investor sentiment, management shake-ups, and more. 

With another asset class like real estate, those factors may include things like interest rates, inventory availability, shifting demographics, demand, overall markets, the availability of government subsidies, and so on. 

By comparison, there are just three factors driving the price of a single bitcoin:

  • Supply and demand
  • Access and education
  • Regulation

That list isn’t just shorter – it’s made up of factors that are extremely difficult to measure. As Director of Research and Investments, part of Hunter’s job is to seek out information on cryptocurrency as a potential investment. His conclusion so far? 

“There’s not a lot of information out there about the value of bitcoin. That’s what scares me – I don’t know what the true value of this currency is.” 

2. Crypto is Unpredictable and Virtually Impossible to Forecast

Here’s my contribution to the 2021 Understatement of the Year Awards: the value of Bitcoin is hard to predict. 

To illustrate, here’s the value of a Blue Chip stock, GOOGL, over the past few years:

And here’s the value of BTC over a similar span of time: 

The first chart showcases why financial planners like Hunter and Marneni are more comfortable investing their clients’ money in blue-chip stocks. But bitcoin is going way higher! You might think. True! The value of a single bitcoin has objectively gone up by quite a lot. 

But the crypto’s future behavior is still too hard to predict. Since bitcoin’s value is based upon factors that are as scant as they are transient, nobody can say for sure what BTC will be worth in the future. For every strong prediction that bitcoin will keep going up, there’s another one predicting it’ll go down

Crypto evangelists say it’ll hit $1,000,000 – countless others say it’s a bubble and may plummet to single digits. The crazy thing is, Bitcoin’s past behavior supports both theories; the world’s favorite crypto has lost 25% of its value every year since its creation but rallied back up every single time. 

Could crypto hit a million, or even ten million in our lifetimes? It very well could. For all I know, you’re reading this from the future and giggling since BTC hit $181,255,861 this morning, and now your stoner friend from high school is yacht shopping again. 

But crypto’s market cap isn’t what’s most important to a professional financial planner. Hunter and Marneni value predictability. Crypto is just too volatile right now, which is why: 

3. Crypto Doesn’t Fit Into an Asymmetric Risk Profile

Marneni and Hunter may have different job titles at CPC Advisors, but they share a common goal: to help clients navigate the complexities of their finances and to build their wealth over time. 

Part of that mission involves safely investing their clients’ money in ways that provide maximum returns with minimal risk. To achieve that goal, advisors build portfolios into what’s known as an asymmetric risk profile – a “bet” where the odds are greatly in their favor. 

“You’ve got to have that asymmetrical risk profile. You want to have the odds really, really in your favor to win over the long-term.” 

A great example of an asymmetric risk profile in action is a casino. “The house always wins” is mostly true – the house wins at least 70% of the time, and never a percentage point less. To protect this number, and ensure the odds are always in their favor, casino games are designed with tremendous research, data, and care. 

In the investing world, risk profiles have to be even more asymmetric, where the house (or wealth advisory firm) wins 90% or more of the time. Naturally, to achieve such odds in the stock market you need tons of financial models, algorithms, and data trend analysis. 

If you’ve ever wondered why returns on retirement accounts are just 7% while Bitcoin is 700%, that’s why; the former has some certainty built into it

At present, cryptocurrency has no certainty built into it; therefore, it simply doesn’t belong in an asymmetric risk profile. The risk of betting on Bitcoin is nearly 100%, and there’s not enough data to say otherwise

So investing in Bitcoin as an early retirement strategy is like giving a horse LSD and expecting it to get you to work. 

Crypto may be based on transient data, impossible to predict, and have no place in a safe investing strategy, but none of these drawbacks are the main reason why Marneni and Hunter have little interest in it. Number four, they say, is the main one: 

“It’s just not necessary.” 

4. Crypto Isn’t Necessary 

Over the years, CPC Advisors has fielded tons of questions about Bitcoin. But one cluster of clients has remained noticeably silent. 

“We’re not getting questions about crypto from our most successful, seasoned clients.” 

According to Hunter and Marneni, CPC’s older, more experienced clients just aren’t that interested in crypto for two reasons: 

  1. They lived through several bubble pops.
  2. They don’t find it necessary.

The second reason is the big one; after seeing what compounding interest can do for their portfolios, they just don’t see the need to invest in cryptocurrency. 

“If you invest $5,000 in a Roth IRA or some bluechips and earn just average returns, you mitigate your risk and still become a millionaire,” Marneni said. 

Sure it’ll take longer, and a $10,000 investment in BTC may be worth $80,000 in a year… but the risk is way less.

“Your financial future isn’t something you should bet on red.” 

Hunter and Marneni acknowledge, of course, that all forms of investing involve some amount of risk. Even 401(k)s dip from time to time. But the overall goal of financial planning, says Marneni, is to “win over time by losing less.” 

So How Much Crypto Should You Have in Your Investment Portfolio? 

To reiterate point number four above, you really don’t need any crypto in your portfolio. You can easily become a millionaire by consistently investing 20% of your income with a human or robo-advisor

But what if I really don’t want to miss this gravy train, guys? 

“FOMO is not an investing strategy.” they said. 

OK, fair enough, good point. Let me ask a different way; considering everything we talked about, how much is safe to invest? 

Interestingly, Hunter and Marneni offered different answers. Both, mind you, were brief. Due to the volatile nature of crypto, and even the most seasoned professional’s inability to forecast its behavior, the two pros could offer little more than a gut feeling. 

They didn’t pick numbers out of thin air – their choices make sense – but don’t expect charts or hard data in this section (because they don’t exist). 

“Maybe 10%, but I still wouldn’t recommend it”

Hunter, who’s done a lot of due diligence on crypto investing, thinks between 0% and 10% is a safe range. He still recommends 0%, but if you’re feeling good about it, 10% is definitely the max. 

Why only 10%? 

“Even if it tanks, you can still retire.” 

“Get $100,000 in safe investments first”

Rather than a percentage, Marneni offers a benchmark. He recommends that you should hit $100,000 in safe investments first, and only then consider a crypto investment

The reasoning is that if you can have $100,000 in safe investments by the time you’re 35, and keep depositing another $100 monthly, you’ll retire a millionaire. 

So what does he mean by “safe” investments? Basically, the building blocks of an asymmetrical risk profile. “Broad-based market ETFs, bluechips, etc.” 

“You should cushion yourself – then you can safely buy $5,000 worth of crypto.” 

Bottom Line

The explosive rise of cryptocurrency is wildly entertaining to watch, and it’s natural to ask yourself whether you should go ahead and invest before it’s too late. There’s a massive potential upside to buying bitcoin, and thanks to marketplaces like Coinbase, it’s never been easier. 

That said, there are totally valid reasons why seasoned professionals like Hunter and Marneni aren’t buying in. Crypto is too volatile. Its value is based on pure speculation, and its future is uncertain. The bubble may or may not burst, but regulation is definitely coming. Lastly, you just don’t need it to get rich. Compound investing is your friend. 

Should you avoid crypto entirely? No, it’s fine to buy a little crypto. Just try to build a $100,000 cushion of safe investments first so your financial future is secure. 



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Bitwage’s Stellar implementation will improve millions of lives

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Bitwage’s Stellar implementation will improve millions of lives


The CEO of Bitwage CEO said the company would be improving millions of lives after its recent implementation on the Stellar blockchain

Crypto payroll provider Bitwage announced on Thursday, August 11th, that it is now offering the digital dollar (USDC) stablecoin to be distributed via the Stellar blockchain on their platform.

Thanks to this latest development, companies across the world now have a fully compliant, easy-to-use, and frictionless solution when it comes to paying their employees and contractors globally. 

Following this implementation, Bitwage aims to provide a new solution that makes it easier for companies to hire alent across different continents and countries

At the moment, both companies and workers suffer from issues such as the loss of certain percentage of funds when using the global banking systems, the long waiting time to receive payments and more. 

The issue discourages some companies from hiring talents outside their countries. However, Bitwage’s latest announces means that  workers are now able to receive any percentage of their salaries they want in digital dollars, via USDC. 

This latest development means that companies and employees would enjoy lower costs, same-day deposits of their funds, the ability to store their savings in USD, and the ability to get local currency exactly when they need it.

Credit Bitwage CEO Jonathan Chester exclusively told Coinjournal that;

“It’s been great working with the stellar team. Together, we’ll be empowering millions to receive wages in the currencies they want, faster and cheaper than traditional methods”

By taking advantage of USDC on the Stellar blockchain, workers are given access to USDC on a low-fee blockchain that has one of the longest histories in the industry.

Chester added that;

“USDC on the Stellar network has lower fees, so you can receive your money faster, cheaper and keep it as digital dollars for saving. Our users have been asking for low-cost options for stablecoins and we are very excited to deliver. Now, companies can guarantee cheaper, faster and better payment options to all their workforce. This option is fully regulated and compliant so all companies have to worry about is how to keep their employees happy and not worry about payments issues. Thanks to USDC over Stellar, digital dollars will make a huge change to people’s lives.”

Bitwage said although it made a name for itself in the Bitcoin payroll space, empowering people to get paid in USDC is a great alternative. 

The company concluded that using Bitwage for USDC payroll with Stellar gives both individuals and companies a low-risk option to partake in the crypto payroll revolution.

Bitwage is a San Francisco-based company that offersBitcoin, cryptocurrency and stablecoin payroll services including invoicing and benefits services. The company also offers resources to employers, employees, and freelancers with their robust, online platform.



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Crypto.com obtains a monetary licence in the Cayman Islands

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Crypto.com obtains a monetary licence in the Cayman Islands


Crypto.com is now a registered virtual asset service provider in the Cayman Islands a few weeks after obtaining its licence in Dubai. 

Crypto.com, one of the world’s fastest-growing cryptocurrency platforms, announced on Thursday, August 11th, that it had received registration and regulatory approval as a Virtual Asset Service Provider from the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority. 

Tha ks to this latest development, Crypto.com can offer a suite of products and services in compliance with local regulations.

Kris Marszalek, Co-Founder and CEO of Crypto.com, commented that;

“This regulatory approval in the Cayman Islands is the latest example of Crypto.com’s commitment to compliance and our constructive approach to regulator engagement. We look forward to expanding our suite of offerings and services available, and continuing to work with stakeholders across sectors on advancing blockchain technology.”

The cryptocurrency exchange has been expanding its presence globally and now has over 50 million users on its platform. 

Crypto.com said today’s announcement comes after it received in-principle approval for a Major Payment Institution License from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, provisional approval of its Virtual Asset License from the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority, Electronic Financial Transaction Act and Virtual Asset Service Provider registration in South Korea.

Furthermore, Crypto.com is also registered in Italy under the Organismo Agenti e Mediatori (OAM), registered in Greece by the Hellenic Capital Market Commission, and registered in Cyprus by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Crypto.com has been around since 2016 and currently serves millions of traders and investors globally. 

The Cayman Islands is one of the most cryptocurrency-friendly countries in the world. Virtual assets (cryptocurrencies and other digital assets) in the Cayman Islands are accepted as digital representations of value that can be electronically traded and used for investment purposes.

Crypto.com said it is committed to accelerating the adoption of cryptocurrency via innovation and empowering the next generation of builders, creators, and entrepreneurs.



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M1 Finance Review 2022 | A Robo Advisor & Brokerage Hybrid

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M1 Finance Review 2022 | A Robo Advisor & Brokerage Hybrid


Advertising Disclosure
This article/post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers or partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products or services

M1 Finance can perhaps be described best as a hybrid robo advisor and traditional investment brokerage firm. However, we’re going to classify it as the former, since we think this may well be the future of the robo advisor sector.

But this platform also offers the ability to borrow and spend your money alongside investing tools. Our M1 Finance review is covering how all of these features work, the pros and cons, and how to ultimately decide if this hybrid robo advisor is right for you.


Commissions & Fees – 10


Customer Service – 7


Ease of Use – 9


Tools & Resources – 7.5


Investment Options – 9.5


Asset Allocation – 9

8.5

Although it doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting or mutual fund investing and is not ideal for active traders, M1 is a top-notch robo-advisory service. Its fees are low, it charges no commissions, and there’s no required minimum deposit.

Invest for FREE with M1 Finance

Pros & Cons

pros

  • M1 doesn’t charge broker fees or commissions.
  • A low $100 minimum investment requirement.
  • M1 lets you select your own investments and applies automated portfolio management.
  • There’s no fee for buying and selling securities within each Pie.
  • M1 maintains your investment allocations using fractional shares thereby fully investing your money.

cons

  • M1 doesn’t recognize certain investments, such as employer-sponsored retirement plans.
  • M1 isn’t for active traders like day-traders.
  • No tax-loss harvesting.

What Is M1 Finance?

M1 Finance is a versatile financial services company that began in 2015. It offers both a robo advisor but elements of an online broker, plus the ability to borrow money and use a credit card. The fact you can customize your portfolio but also rely on prebuilt M1 portfolios also makes it one of the more flexible robo advisors out there.

Overall, M1 Finance caters to both hands-off and active investors. And with its low fees and a $100 investing minimum, it’s also very beginner-friendly.

M1 Features

Minimum Investment $0
Fees None
Accounts
  • Taxable
  • Joint
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Rollover IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • SIMPLE IRA
  • 401(k)
  • Solo 401(k)
  • Trusts
  • Limited Partnerships
  • Partnerships
  • Coverdell
  • 529
  • Custodial
  • Non-Profit
  • 401(k) Guidance
401(k) Assistance
Tax Loss Harvesting
Portfolio Rebalancing
Automatic Deposits

Daily, Weekly, and Monthly

Advice Automated
Smart Beta
Socially Responsible
Fractional Shares
Customer Service Phone: M-F 9A-5P CT; Email
  • Dividends — All dividend income will be reinvested in your portfolio once it reaches at least $10.
  • Tax reporting — M1 integrates directly with H&R Block and TurboTax.
  • Margin account status — Since M1 doesn’t hold any of your portfolios in cash, your account is established as a margin account if it has a balance of over $2,000. The margin account status enables you to withdraw money quickly from your account without having to liquidate asset positions.
  • Free consultation — You can schedule a free consultation with a product specialist who will show you around the platform and discuss how it will benefit you.
  • Possible ETFs and stocks used — M1 has over 6,000 ETFs and stocks available for you to choose from, with individual stocks that are available on either the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq (preferred stocks are excluded).
  • Account protection — The SIPC covers up to $500,000, including $250,000 in cash, against broker failure.

How Does M1 Finance Work?

M1 departs from other robo advisors in that it gives you complete control over the investment process in your portfolio. That even includes security selection. M1 manages your ongoing investment flow. But you are in complete control of how your money is invested. You can even make changes after the fact.

M1 Investment Portfolio Templates

M1’s robo investing element provides investment portfolio templates, referred to as “Pies.” The Pies are based on Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT). Most robo advisors use MPT in their algorithms. But unlike other robo advisors, with M1, there’s no questionnaire used to determine your investment risk tolerance.

You can invest all of your money in one of these prebuilt templates or customize it in any way that you want. M1 then automatically manages your account by maintaining your allocations within the Pie through rebalancing and allocating your new contributions.

But M1 works more like a traditional investment brokerage platform in that you can choose your own investments for your Pies. You can even purchase individual stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) within your account — as well as the prebuilt Pies.

M1 Pie Investing

As mentioned above, “Pies” are the basis of investing with M1. During the signup process, you will be offered a suggested Pie with preselected investment categories. Each Pie is a collection of as many as 100 “slices.” Each slice represents an investment — be it a stock, an ETF or even another pie.

M1 Finance: The Author's Pie

The Pie then becomes the tool that you will use to manage your portfolio. M1 has more than 60 pre-built pies for you to choose from. You can also customize them by adding any stocks or ETFs that trade on either the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq.

Once you’ve made your Pie selections, M1 will automatically buy your investments in the correct proportions, both when you initially fund your account and when you add additional funds.

Available Investment Categories

M1 has Pies available from all of the following categories:

  • General Investing — a diversified portfolio based on your own risk tolerance
  • Plan for Retirement — invest for your target retirement date
  • Responsible Investing — options for the socially responsible investor
  • Income Earners — builds a portfolio based on dividends and income returns
  • Hedge Fund Followers — mimics investment strategies from some of the most successful investors and reputable hedge funds
  • Industries and Sectors — enables you to invest in specific sectors
  • Just Stocks and Bonds — builds a diversified portfolio with two ETFs, focused on stocks and bonds
  • Other Strategies — additional investment strategies to help you find what works best for you

Each of these general Pie categories also offers variations. For example, the Just Stocks & Bonds Pie offers nine different Pies. You can choose a mix of 10% stocks and 90% bonds, 20% stocks and 80% bonds, and all the variations up to and including 90% stocks and 10% bonds.

M1 Finance: The Stocks and Bonds Pies
M1 Finance: The Stocks and Bonds Pies

Each Pie listed also includes the dividend yield, historical performance and risk level.

Outlining all of these options helps you pick the Pie composition that best fits your investing goals and level of risk tolerance.

Filling Your Pie

You can also customize your Pie. M1 offers nearly 2,000 ETFs that you can use in its construction. You can just check off the fund from the list and add it to your Pie. You can also add individual stocks from a similar display.

I chose the 70/30 Pie, which accounted for 50% of my custom Pie, and then added three stocks and one bond ETF. The Pie looked like this:

Once you have constructed your Pie, you save the changes, and it forms the basis of your investment portfolio going forward. You can also create different Pies for various investment goals. There’s no limit to how many Pies you can own in your account (yet another departure from other robo advisors).

Other M1 Finance Features

Automated investing with M1’s Pie system is what this robo advisor is known for. However, there are several other banking features you can take advantage of.

M1 Spend

Another feature M1 Finance provides is a free rewards checking account. This account pays 1% cash back and 1.70% APY if you’re an M1 Plus member, which is the platform’s $125 premium annual plan.

This APY is competitive with many high-yield savings accounts, so it’s a nice option for parking idle cash before investing.

You use a Visa debit card for transactions, and you get other perks like:

  • Early direct deposit up to two days early
  • $0 balance requirement
  • One free ATM withdrawal per month (four for M1 Plus members)
  • No foreign transaction fees for M1 Plus members
  • Up to $250,000 in FDIC-insurance

The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1

As part of M1 Spend, you can also open a rewards credit card to maximize your cash-back.

With The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 you earn up to 10% cash back when you spend money at companies you own. M1 Finance organizes 70+ brands in to three different reward tiers:

  • Tier One (10% Cash Back): Includes companies like AMC, Dollar General, Netflix, Spotify, and Tesla.
  • Tier Two (5% Cash Back): Includes companies like American Airlines, BP, Etsy, Nike, Starbucks, and Wayfair.
  • Tier Three (2.5% Cash Back): Includes companies like Apple, Airbnb, Amazon, DoorDash, and Target.

You only need to own $0.01 of a share in a company to earn cash-back when you purchase from it. And your Owner’s Rewards Card also pays 1.5% cash back everywhere else.

The main downside of this card is cash-back rewards cap at $200 per month. But you can automatically reinvest cash back into your M1 portfolio, putting your money to work faster. And you also get perks from Visa, like Visa Zero Liability and access to its Signature Luxury Hotel Collection.

There’s a $95 annual fee for this card, but M1 waives the fee for Plus members.

M1 Borrow

Customers can borrow money against their investments, with a line of credit equal to 40% of portfolio value. Rates depend on if you’re a regular M1 customer or an M1 Plus customer. Regular customers get a borrowing rate of 4.25% while Plus customers get a 2.75% rate.

You also get a flexible payment schedule; there isn’t a minimum monthly loan repayment amount. You can also create an automated payback schedule to gradually pay off your loan.

Note that M1 Borrow is only available for margin accounts with at least $2,000 invested. It’s not available for retirement, custodial, or trust accounts.

Tax Minimization

M1 doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting (TLH). But they do offer a new feature called “Tax Minimization” standard on all accounts. This feature enables you to sell asset positions in the most tax-favorable way.

Whenever you sell an investment, M1 prioritizes the sale in a way that will minimize your taxes. The order of assets sold looks like this:

  1. Lots that don’t result in a tax liability
  2. Lots that result in long-term gains
  3. Lots that result in short-term gains

While it’s likely that this strategy will, in fact, minimize your taxes, it doesn’t seem likely to have the same consistent benefit that’s provided by TLH.

M1 Crypto Investing

In July 2022, M1 Finance announced that cryptocurrency investing is coming to the platform. If you have a funded M1 Invest account, you can apply sign up for early access to a M1 Crypto account when it becomes available. This account will offer:

    • Expert Crypto Pies: Create M1 Pies based on different strategies like DeFi, Web3, and various large-cap cryptocurrencies. You can also set target percentages for different pies in your M1 Crypto portfolio.
    • Automated Trading: Since crypto trades 24/7, M1 Crypto users will be able to place their own orders and create automated trading rules to run their portfolio.
    • Dynamic Rebalancing: M1 can rebalance your portfolio when you make a deposit to help keep you on target with your goals.
    • Commission-Free Trading: M1 Crypto doesn’t charge any trading fees. However, Apex Crypto, the custodian that actually securely holds your crypto, charges a 1% or 100 basis points fee to all crypto transactions.

Once you sign up for early access to M1 Crypto, you get notified via the app and email when you’re eligible to start investing.

Branching into crypto alongside stock and ETF trading is a massive improvement for M1 Finance. FTX is leading the charge at the moment for stock and crypto investing under one platform alongside investment apps like Robinhood and Public. But M1 Finance is one of the first hybrid brokers and robo advisors to branch into cryptocurrency trading.

M1 Finance Fees: M1 Basic vs. M1 Plus

M1 Finance doesn’t charge portfolio management fees or trading fees. This is one of its main competitive advantages since most robo advisors charge annual fees.

The main fee you can pay is for M1 Plus, which costs $125 per year. M1 Plus customers get perks like cash-back with their Visa debit card, 1.70% APY on the checking account, and better borrowing rates.

Additionally, M1 Plus customers can use its Smart Transfer feature. This lets you set rules to manage your various accounts so you have the right amount of money when you need it. For example, you can create a rule to deposit a specific amount of money in your checking account to cover monthly expenses but to automatically invest the rest so you’re not over-saving.

Here’s how M1 Basic and M1 Plus compare against one another:

 
M1 Basic
M1 Plus
Annual Cost
$0
$125
Trading Windows
AM only
AM and PM
Borrow Rate
4.25%
2.75%
Checking APY
0%
1.70%
Checking Cash Back
0%
1%
Owner’s Rewards Card Fee
$95 annually
Waived
Smart Transfers
No
Yes

Other potential M1 fees you can encounter include:

  • Inactivity Fee: $20 for accounts with up to $20 and no activity for at least 90 days.
  • IRA Termination: $100.
  • Outgoing Account Transfers: $100.
  • Wire Transfer: $25.

Right now, M1 Finance is giving customers a free year of Plus, so it’s the perfect time to maximize the rewards you can get.

Opening an M1 Account

In order to sign up for an account with M1, you first need to create a password. Once you do, you’ll be directed into the first part of a three-step process:

  1. Build Portfolio
  2. Create Brokerage Account
  3. Fund Your Account

The Build Portfolio part introduces you to the M1 Pie concept. At that phase of the signup, you will determine your portfolio as described above. Once you have created your portfolio, you then complete the application process and fund your account.

How to Contact M1 Finance

You can reach M1 Finance customer support by using the live chat widget or submitting an email support ticket on its website. You can also call M1 Finance at 312-600-2883. Customer support hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm ET unless there’s a market holiday.

Is M1 Finance Safe?

M1 Finance is a safe, and the company is a registered broker/dealer with FINRA and a member of the SIPC. This means you get up to $500,000 in SIPC insurance for your investments and up to $250,000 in FDIC insurance for cash in your M1 Spend account.

Furthermore, M1 Finance says all data is encrypted to protect your privacy. Users can also enable extra security features like two-factor authentication to keep their accounts safe.

Best Alternatives

We think M1 Finance is one of the best robo advisors on the market because of its lack of fees and the control it gives you to pick your investments.

However, other robo advisors and wealth management companies might be superior depending on the types of portfolios you want to invest in or if you want human advice. Here’s how M1 Finance compares to Betterment and Personal Capital, two other popular options for investing and building wealth.

Betterment is an excellent alternative that also offers a variety of investment ETF portfolios at an affordable price. Their portfolios are based on modern portfolio theory and they also offer an SRI portfolio called the Broad Impact portfolio. This portfolio focuses more on companies that meet specific social, environmental and governance goals. Betterment costs 0.25% annually but includes features like tax-loss harvesting.

As for Personal Capital, it offers professional wealth management services for clients with over $100,000 to invest. If you want human advice and a tailored portfolio, this is your best option. Plus, Personal Capital also has a host of free tools like an investment fee analyzer, retirement planner, and budgeting software.

The Bottom Line

M1 is one of the more interesting of the automated investment platforms that have been coming out in the last few years. You choose the investments that go into your portfolio.

The platform then performs all of the day-to-day management of your account, including regular rebalancing. Plus, it’s now free. That’s right — there are no longer any broker fees or commissions.

Since you select your own investments (though you could simply default to the pre-built pies), it isn’t quite the fire-and-forget platform that pure robo advisors, such as Betterment and Wealthfront are.

M1 is primarily for buy-and-hold investors who prefer to select their own investments. At the same time, it can enable you to have control over your investments, without having the day-to-day responsibility of managing the portfolio.

If M1 allowed investment in mutual funds, offered tax-loss harvesting, and retirement planning tools, we’d be giving this platform a higher rating. But apart from those three missing pieces, M1 is very much worthy of consideration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is M1 Finance Free?


M1 Financ doesn’t charge commission on stock and ETF trades or annual management fees for its robo-advisor. This makes most of its core offerings free. However, it charges $125 per year for the M1 Plus membership and $95 annually for the Owner’s Rewards Card.

How Does M1 Finance Make Money?


M1 Finance generates money in several ways, including interest on cash, interest on lending securities, M1 Borrow, and payment for order flow. The company also makes money from M1 Plus membership fees.

Is M1 Finance Legit?


M1 Finance is a legitimate company that’s also a FINRA Regulated broker-dealer. It provides commission-free trading and a no-fee robo advisor. The company is transparent about how it generates revenue and what also provides customers with protection like FDIC-insurance on cash balances. Overall, it’s a safe and legitimate way to invest.







The Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 Disclosure – M1 Owner’s Rewards Card by M1 Powered by Deserve and issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-Chartered Industrial Bank, Member FDIC.

 



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