Money Analysed

Automate Your Investments with M1 Finance: Pros Cons and Features

and Overview

When it comes to investing, we can always use a helping hand to make smarter investment decisions with our money. This is where M1 Finance comes in as an automated investment platform that takes a hands-off approach to investing.

In this article, we will explore what M1 Finance is, how it works, and the pros and cons of using this platform to invest your money.

M1 Finance as an Automated Investment Platform

M1 Finance is a robo-advisor that offers automated investment services, allowing you to build and manage a diversified portfolio without any manual intervention. This means that the platform takes care of all the investment decisions for you, including buying and selling stocks, ETFs, and bonds.

The platform uses algorithms to allocate capital into pre-designed portfolios that meet the investor’s risk tolerance and financial goals. One of the biggest advantages of using an automated investment platform like M1 Finance is that it is a low-cost alternative to hiring a financial adviser.

In fact, M1 Finance offers commission-free trading, zero account fees, and no minimum balance requirements. This makes it an appealing option for those whose investment funds are on the lower side and wanting to minimize expenses.

Pros and Cons of Using M1 Finance

Like any investment platform, M1 Finance also has its own set of pros and cons. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using the platform.


1. Low Fees: M1 Finance has one of the lowest fee structures available that starts at $0 per month.

2. Automated Investing: Youll never have to worry about making investment decisions – everything is taken care of by the platform’s algorithm.

3. Fractional Shares: Investing in fractional shares allows investors to buy into expensive stocks that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

4. Customization: M1 Finance gives investors options to customize their portfolio based on personal preferences.


1. Limited Investment Options: M1 Finance’s investment options are limited compared to other platforms that offer more variety in stocks and ETFs.


No Tax-Loss Harvesting: The platform does not offer tax-loss harvesting which can impact the tax efficiency of an investor’s portfolio. 3.

Limited Account Types: M1 Finance only offers IRA, taxable, and joint accounts which may not be suitable for everyone.

How M1 Finance Works

M1 Finance operates by following a straightforward three-step process, empowering individuals to invest their money and save time while doing so. Step One: Automated Investing and Portfolio Building

M1 Finance’s platform is designed to automate the initial investment and portfolio building process for its users.

Users set their target investment goals based on their risk tolerance and choose their preferred investment portfolio based on the allocation strategy the platform offers. M1 Finance automatically invests in the user’s portfolio based on their preferred investment strategy.

The company aims to minimize investment costs by using fractional shares, meaning that the investor can invest in smaller amounts in any asset. By buying fractional shares, investors have a more diversified portfolio and can take advantage of opportunities that they wouldn’t have if they were limited to whole shares.

Step Two: Customization Options for Investors Portfolios

M1 Finance’s platform allows for investors to customize their portfolio based on their preferences. An investor can choose individual stocks or exchange-traded funds.

The platform’s automation ensures that individual investors’ accounts are diversified, rebalanced and tax-efficient based on the user’s settings. Furthermore, investors can override the automatic features of the platform and trade on their own if they so choose.

This provides users with the flexibility and autonomy to add individual investments or adjust their automatic investments, as they see fit, based on their evolving investment goals and strategies. Step Three: Fractional Share Options

M1 Finance’s fractional share options allow investors to invest in stocks and ETFs that are prohibitively expensive on a per-share basis.

By using fractional shares, investors can purchase a fraction of a share of any type of asset that they normally wouldn’t be able to invest in. This helps to diversify an invest portfolio with assets that might not have otherwise been included due to their price-point.

Fractional investing can add up quickly, allowing small accounts to become significant over time by taking advantage of automatic investment tools. Furthermore, it helps to minimize any potential risks an investor may face that could harm an un-diversified investment plan.


M1 Finance is an excellent option for those looking for an automated investment platform that offers low fees, fractional share options, and individual customization. However, it may not be right for everyone, as the platform’s investment options are limited, and their account types may not suit every investor’s needs.

With all things considered, it’s essential to understand how M1 Finance and their investing tools could fit into your investment strategy before investing your money.

Features of M1 Finance

As an automated investment platform, M1 Finance offers a range of features that make it a convenient and accessible tool for investors looking to grow their wealth. From account types to specialized membership options, here are the features that make M1 Finance unique.

Account Types Available for Investors

M1 Finance offers two types of investment accounts: taxable accounts and retirement accounts. The platform offers a range of IRA accounts, including Roth and traditional options.

The unique aspect of M1 Finance’s retirement accounts is the ability to invest in individual stocks instead of only ETFs.

M1 Basic vs. M1 Plus Membership Options

M1 Finance offers two tiers of membership: M1 Basic and M1 Plus.

M1 Basic membership is free for all members and includes access to the platform’s automated investment tools and fractional shares. M1 Plus is a premium membership that costs $125 per year and includes additional features like a high-interest checking account–M1 Spend, a line of credit–M1 Borrow, and additional perks.

M1 Spend Banking Services

M1 Spend is the platform’s cash management account offering debit card access, direct deposit, electronic bill pay, and more. M1 Spend accounts are insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000.

With M1 Spend accounts, users can manage all their money in one place, whether they’re earning interest, spending funds, or investing in their portfolios. Furthermore, M1 Plus members receive 1% cashback rewards on all purchases made with their M1 Spend debit card.

M1 Borrow for Open Portfolio Lines of Credit

M1 Borrow is the platform’s loan offering that allows users to borrow funds from their M1 Finance account. M1 Borrow allows individuals to borrow against their portfolio for low-interest and long-term offers.

The minimum that can be borrowed is $10,000 and a user’s account must have a value of at least $25,000.

Smart Transfers for M1 Plus Members

Smart Transfers is a feature exclusive to M1 Plus members that use the platform’s account aggregation function and automatically move money into their investment accounts for every deposit made into the Spend account. Smart Transfers allow investors to build their investment portfolios more effectively by auto-investing any cash that enters their Spend accounts.

M1 Plus users have the option of setting up their Smart Transfers into one of three payment frequencies: weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

Fractional Shares for Optimized Investments

M1 Finance also enables investors to purchase fractional shares of stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that they otherwise might not be able to afford or prefer not to invest large amounts into. Fractional shares optimize investments by enabling investors to own the exact dollar amount of a position they want, regardless of the stock’s market price or share price.

Account Set-Up and Requirements

Opening an account with M1 Finance is free, straightforward, and straightforward. The platform allows investors to sign up for an account online and the setup only takes a few minutes to complete.

However, there are some account requirements investors must be aware of:

Account Creation Process and Required Information

The account opening process involves providing personal information, such as your social security number and employment status. Additionally, investors are tasked with setting up their financial goals and risk tolerance.

After filling out the necessary paperwork and undergoing identity verification, M1 Finance usually takes less than 24 hours to activate the account and transfer the first deposit into it.

Minimum Balance Requirements for Accounts

M1 Finance does not require a minimum initial investment or deposit. That said, investors must maintain at least $100 in their taxable accounts and $500 for retirement accounts.

The account minimum is waived for accounts held by clients under the age of 25.

SIPC Insurance for Protection

M1 Finance is registered with the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). SIPC insurance provides protection for up to $500,000 for each account type if the brokerage firm goes out of business and cannot refund your money.

SIPC insurance also protects against trader error and embezzlement. This insurance is critical as it enables users to know confidently that their investments are properly protected.


With M1 Finance, investors have access to a suite of powerful features that makes investing more accessible, affordable, and worthwhile. From account types that cater to different investment preferences to fractional shares and premium membership, the platform’s numerous features-led investors to construct well-balanced portfolios and reach their money goals.

M1 Finance has become a viable option for self-directed investors looking to optimize their investments for maximum returns.

Target Audience for M1 Finance

M1 Finance is a unique investment platform that has been tailored towards self-directed investors looking for a hands-off approach to investing. It is ideal for individuals who are looking to invest regularly without having to make numerous manual investment decisions.

Ideally, M1 Finance is perfect for investors seeking to keep costs low and those looking to take advantage of the essential asset allocation to diversify their accounts automatically.

Not Recommended for Active Traders or Day-Traders

M1 Finance’s investment approach is focused on long-term asset allocation and management. As a result, it’s not best suited for active traders or those who seek frequent gains from day-trading.

Unlike other online brokerages, M1 Finance does not offer real-time trades, so you may miss out on market fluctuations while waiting for trades to complete.

Comparison to Other Investment Platforms

When it comes to choosing the ideal investment platform for your needs, several options come to mind. Heres how M1 Finance stacks up against some of the most popular investment platforms in the market.

Comparison to Robinhood

Robinhood and M1 Finance are two unique investing apps that offer a different approach to investing. While both platforms are free to use, there are major differences between them.

Robinhood is more suitable for active traders since it provides a more traditional brokerage firm’s experience. Robinhood offers real-time trading, options trading, and margin trading, while M1 Finance does not offer these trading options.

Additionally, Robinhood enables you to trade cryptocurrencies, something M1 Finance does not yet offer. By contrast, M1 Finance is geared towards long-term investing using robo-advisory tools, while Robinhood provides free commissions and powerful trade execution tools.

M1 Finance’s sophisticated automation tools, such as Smart Rebalancing and Fractional Shares, can encourage a more disciplined approach to investing, but it won’t appeal to those seeking high-octane trading action.

Pros and Cons of Each Platform Compared to M1 Finance

Provides zero commissions trading, flexibility with buying fractional shares, and low account minimums. Robinhood tends to be more suited to small account holders, and the platform has a focus on high-growth stocks and risky penny stocks.

Traders enjoy sophisticated charting tools, powerful research and data services, and intuitive mobile trading. On the other hand, M1 Finance has appeal for users looking for a hands-off, low-cost investment platform.

While active traders may be deterred by the lack of options and customization, M1 Finance is an excellent pick for beginner investors. The mix of automation, fractional shares, and no commission trading create a low-cost, long-term vehicle for portfolio growth.

Comparison to Betterment

Betterment also caters to self-directed investors looking for a hands-off approach to investing. Like M1 Finance, the platform uses robo-advisory tools to automate investment decisions.

Key differences exist between the two platforms. Betterment was founded in 2008 and is among the most popular robo-advisors in the market.

The platform provides portfolio management and investing tools geared to deliver efficient and optimized long-term gains. Betterment uses a diversified portfolio approach that comprises of customized portfolios using low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The platform has over 15 years of back-tested data for asset allocation and offers users tax-loss harvesting capabilities. M1 Finance was founded in 2015 and shares some similarities with Betterment by offering competitive and strong robo-advisory tools.

M1 Finance, however, takes on a more straightforward approach to investing, with automation at the forefront. Its Smart Rebalancing and Fractional Shares are designed to automate the process of building diversified portfolios.

The platform does not offer tax-loss harvesting or tax-advantaged accounts.

Pros and Cons of Each Platform Compared to M1 Finance

Both M1 Finance and Betterment offer automated investment options for investors. However, the key difference between the two platforms is that Betterment offers tax-loss harvesting and tax-advantaged accounts.

M1 Finance does not offer either of these features an aspect that may deter some users. Betterment is best suited for those looking to hit long-term financial goals such as retirement.

The platform has a focus on low-cost, long-term investment strategies, allowing users to invest in different types of accounts. Meanwhile, M1 Finance is best suited to investors who are interested in allocating assets using automated tools such as Smart Rebalancing and Fractional Shares.

The platform is a simpler, lower-cost alternative for beginners who do not need the complexity of a traditional broker.


M1 Finance is a reliable investment platform that is ideal for hands-off investors who prefer having an automated strategy to manage their portfolios. It offers its users commission-free trading, fractional shares, and a range of support tools, which makes it an excellent option for beginner investors.

It is, however, necessary to note that the platform may not be the best option for active traders looking to make quick gains. By comparing M1 Finance to Betterment and Robinhood, it’s possible to see which platform is suited best to individual investors.

In conclusion, M1 Finance is a powerful platform that offers valuable investment options catering to hands-off investors looking for low-cost, long-term growth. Its unique features such as Smart Rebalancing, Fractional Shares, and Premium membership options make it a viable choice for those wanting to automate their investment portfolios.

However, it will not appeal to active traders seeking quick gains, nor is it ideal for users seeking sophisticated trading platforms. When comparing M1 Finance to other investment platforms such as Robinhood or Betterment, it becomes clear that the platform is well-suited to beginner investors seeking low-cost automation.

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