M1 Finance Review (and how I use it)


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5 minutes

I’ve been using M1 Finance for 3 years now and just thought it’s about time to write a review about it. While M1 Finance also offers a website solution, I only use the Mobile App of their offering – available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. If you are interested in the mobile version of M1 Finance, this review is for you!

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M1 Finance, in a nutshell, is an Investment App & Website that empowers you to construct your own investment ‘pies’ laden with a variety of assets – stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrencies and more. You have the freedom to either craft your unique pies or select from those made by the community. The app also encompasses a comprehensive research hub, a High-Yield Savings Account and much more.

Here is an overview taken directly from their App Store Page:

What does M1 Finance Offer?

The company behind it, M1 Holdings, Inc, was founded 2015 and is located in Chicago, Illinois. M1 Finance offers lots of interesting features around investing and finance. Let’s dive into each of them one-by-one.

Investment

In M1 Finance, your portfolio becomes a pie chart. Or to be more precise: A pie chart of pie charts, because you can nest them.

A single pie can contain multiple slices, while each slice can be either a stock, ETF or a collection or them – forming a sub-slice if you will. You can specify a target percentage for each slice. When you invest money in M1 Finance, you can invest into entire pies or individual slices. It is fully up to you what you want here. M1 Finance will distribute the amount of money you invest into the percentages of the slices you defined.

You can also Rebalance you pie or slice, which will move your invested money around. This will cause sell and buy operations to match your defined percentages of your pie. Beware that such an operation can create a taxable event though!

I’ve been using this pie chart based approach to create Themed pies for:

  • General Pie – a loose collection of “good investments” as I see fit
  • AI Play – smaller companies that stand to benefit from AI developments
  • Real Estate Play – some good real estate companies
  • Crypto Play – yes, crypto (no direct crypto investment, but companies operating in the space)
  • Battery Play – I think whoever invents a longer lasting and durable battery will propel us to the next level – this is my bet

Each of these pies contain a few companies in the respective field and they have different percentages of the entire pie. I fully created the slices on my own and didn’t make use of the predefined pies.

My general experience with this approach is very positive. The app encourages me to create small collections of investment ideas and allows me to track their individual performance over time – something that not every investment app allows me to do so easily. I would also note that I haven’t used the Rebalance feature, because I like to manually manage my portfolio. I generally rebalance my pie by investing into slices that have underexposure relative to their defined percentage. I’m not stressing out too much if my actual percentages differ from what I have defined and also rarely sell any positions.

M1 Plus Membership

The app comes with a subscription product called M1 Plus. For $10/month or $95/year, you can subscribe to their product and get some benefits including:

  • 5.00% APY on savings
  • Up to 10% cash back on credit
  • Interest rate discount on loans
  • Expanded investing options

M1 Finance High Yield Savings Account

Disclaimer: I’m not using this product of M1 finance.

M1 Finance also offers a High Yield Savings Account. Since M1 Holdings, Inc isn’t a bank, this savings account is indirectly managed by B2 Bank. This bank offers FDIC insurance up to the standard $250.000 as defined in the FDIC regulation (There is some conflicting information at the time of writing, because the M1 Finance Website actually states that the money is insured up to $5 mission – the app is possibly not up-to-date).

One important note: The offered Savings account has a APY of 5.00% for subscribers of their M1 Plus Members only. For non-members, the yield is only 1.50% – making it far less interesting. The 5.00% APY is definitely competitive, but not unheard of these days.

The cash back of 1.5% – 10.0% is defined to max out at $200 per calendar month, while cash back of 2.5% – 10.0% again are only available for M1 Plus members. The M1 Plus membership would be a must have in order for this product to be competitive at the very least.

M1 Margin Loans

Another product they offer is borrowing money through what’s called a margin loan. This loan comes with an APR of 8.5% and again, with M1 Plus you get 1.5% less APR. We at StockFit generally do NOT recommend using margin loans when investing, because you should only ever invest money you actually have. But for completeness, I wanted to include a section about this offering.

Stock Market Research

This section of M1 Finance offers different infos you can use for staying up-to-date with all things investment. It offers a news section, a stock & fund search with detailed specific information, crypto specific information, pre-created pies and a watchlist feature.

The Expert Pies section is particularly interesting. It provides an excellent starting point for your pie and demonstrates how you can employ the pie-chart strategy for various financial goals. The Expert Pies themselves are rich in details about their intent and past performance.

Here are some examples of what that looks like:

Conclusion

In conclusion, I find M1 Finance to be a potent investment tool. While I’m not making use of the M1 Plus Membership, credit card, savings account and margin loans, I still find the pie chart approach to be incredibly useful for my personal investments.

I will continue using it and will update you along the way, should anything stand out to me.

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 #1 Buy and hold Stocks for 5+ years
 #2 Have at least 25 Stocks
 #3 Don't overreact on short-term news
 #4 Reinvest into your winners

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