M1 Finance – An Algorithm that Works for You

We are rightfully leery of automation. Individuals would rightfully “steer the ship”, and this includes how and where we invest our hard-earned cash. That’s why when one first hears the phrase “robo-advisor”, the wrong images undoubtably come to mind.

Robo-advisors are not ripped from the pages of science-fiction. Robo-advisors are rather the latest in hands-off investing. M1 Finance is one of the very best of these, especially for investors who are moderately inexperienced.

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What is unique about M1 Finance is that they balance automation and autonomy: unlike many robo-advisor services, M1 Finance allows you the option of picking from both preconfigured portfolios or creating your very own, custom portfolio.

M1 Finance was founded in 2015 by “maverick” Brian Barnes. Barnes’ vision was to create something new and innovative, something that would lend creative substance to a stagnant, sometimes backward industry. And how did he go about accomplishing this? By introducing something called “pie investing”, a forgiving method for even the greenest of investors to manage their investments, and have fun while doing so.

Pies are exactly that: made up of individual slices, the user is able to allocate their stocks and bonds into different industrial sectors and risk categories while keeping the totality of their portfolio in plain sight. Pie charts are also a good way to introduce children to the fruits of investing, as they are engaging, colorful, and easy to understand.

Unique Features

Why chose M1 Finance out of the myriad robo-advisors clambering for your attention? There are several important features that allow us to unequivocally recommend the service.

  • Pie-Based Investing: what is great about the service’s emphasis on pie-based investing is that it allows the novice user to visualize their investments. Their pie-charts let you see exactly how your money is divided up, whether in individual stocks, bonds, or exchange traded funds (ETFs).
  • Expert Pies: Additionally, subscribers of M1 Finance gain access to what are called “Expert Pies”. Expert Pies are steeped in quantitative analyses overseen by investment professionals. The result is portfolios that combine diversity and performance.
  • Goal-Oriented Pies: M1 Finance should appeal to investors of all stripes and persuasions. This is because they offer a vast number of different pies, suited to divergent investing goals. For example, they offer pies emphasizing ethical investing, some which stress pure, untethered growth, and others which optimize long-term security.

Investing On the Go

In our fast-paced society, time is of an essence. That’s why M1 Finance made sure to create a mobile application that was just as robust and powerful as its desktop counterpart. In fact, moving from your computer to your phone is seamless with M1 Finance’s mobile application; just about every feature you could possibly need is featured on the handy, sleek application.

What’s more, you don’t have to worry about losing your phone. Your investments are safe with M1 Finance. We don’t say this lightly: the application has biometric login, and sports military-grade encryption. There is also an option to enable two-factor authentication.

Commonly Asked Questions

While a robo-advisor like M1 Finance seems like a no-brainer for first-time or relatively new investors, there are still plenty of questions and misgivings aswirl. These tend to be some of the more frequently asked:

  • How much does it cost? A basic account with M1 is completely free of charge. There are no monthly, management, or investing fees.
  • Is there a minimum initial investment? Yes, but as long as you have a mere $100, you can start investing today.
  • Is M1 Finance safe? While M1 Finance is a relatively new enterprise, it is a legit and respected company. This is no get-rich-quick scheme; the people behind the service are in it for the long haul. M1 Finance is also a member of the FINRA.
  • Is M1 Finance good for beginners? Yes, but consider the fact that M1 Finance offers a considerable amount of user autonomy, which may intimidate investors new to investing. A service like Betterment is better geared towards the passive investor.

M1 Finance vs. Robinhood

Robinhood may be the most well-known robo-advisor out there, but it is not without its drawbacks. How does M1 Finance compare to Robinhood? While both are great platforms in their own right, M1 Finance should be preferred by investors sporting a long-term outlook. M1 Finance’s brilliant “expert pies” give users the kind of guidance and structure to better situate themselves for long-term, reliable, and safe growth.

On the other hand, M1 Finance only lets you trade ONCE per day. This is a drawback for those interested in the freebooting aspects of day-trading.


M1 Finance is a user-friendly service that allows one to visualize and manipulate their portfolio, all the while benefitting from the algorithm-driven planning dimensions of robo-advisor services. With virtually no fees, it is a great option for those on a COVID budget. We can recommend M1 Finance to those who are relatively new to the world of stock trading, but desire a measure of control over their portfolio.