Motif is a new and unique way to invest by using pre-built or custom made all-in-one mini portfolios. Think of them like customizable ETF strategies for whatever strategy, sector, or niche you can think of. But, unlike pooled investments such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETF), when you invest in a motif, you buy and directly own the underlying stocks so you always know exactly what you have. Various motifs have been developed in-house by a team of market experts and analysts, while thousands more have been created by its community of users. Choose from among these pre-packaged strategies or design your own and share it. If others buy into your built motifs, you can even be paid rewards.
Motif allows its users to purchase their strategies by specifying a particular dollar amount, say $1,000 of some strategy, and not be constrained by a specific number of shares. And, all trades are $9.95, regardless of how many individual stocks are in your motif. As their website states, “We take complex, expensive, cumbersome, opaque, one-size-fits-all financial products and make them intuitive, low-cost, transparent, convenient, customizable, values-based investments.” This provides unique, flexible access to retail investors that was once reserved for professional investors or wealthy clients.
Of course, Motif also serves as a traditional online brokerage letting its users trade stocks and listed ETFs, but in this review we will focus on Motif’s core offering: the motif itself – how to find them, customize and trade them, and build your own.
Homepage - Motif is a new and unique way to invest, using pre-built or custom-made all-in-one mini portfolios called "motifs." Think of them as like customizable ETFs for whatever strategy, sector, or niche you can think of.
Login - You will be prompted for your log-in and password.
Portfolio & Account Management
Login - Two-factor authentication - After entering your login credential you'll be required to verify your identity via two-factor authentication
Accounts – Dashboard - Once you've logged into your Motif account, you will be brought to your dashboard. You can return to this screen at any time by clicking on the Account link at the top of any page. The dashboard is a great place to quickly view your investments and navigate to parts of the site to view, build, and trade motifs. Scroll down to view market news and opinion as well as discussions and news items tailored to your own investments.
Accounts – Positions & Balances - From the Accounts menu, navigate to the Positions & Balances tab. Here you'll see all of your account balances and individual holdings – including the motifs, stocks and ETFs that you've purchased. Look to the lower right-hand corner of this page for a snapshot of key stats for your portfolio – its dividend yield, P/E ratio and Beta.
Balances - If you want to take a closer look at your account balances and where your money is held at Motif, click on the Balances tab along the menu
Allocations - Alternatively, you can click on the Allocations tab to better visualize how your funds are split up among various investments and cash positions.
Transfer - Need to fund your account or move money to your bank? Navigate to the Transfers option under Accounts. You can link external bank accounts, send a check, or roll over your IRA from this page.
Performance - Whenever you want to see how your portfolio has performed, click on the Performance link atop any page. Here you'll get a graph of your investment performance over time – year-to-date or using your own custom timeframe. Click or unclick the checkboxes on the bottom left of the chart to identify when you've added or withdrawn funds or made trades in your account.
Activity - So you've made some trades. Now click on Activity to bring up a list of your current open orders and their status.
History - If you want to see your filled orders, click on History to bring up a list of your past fills, including dates and times, prices and more.
Transaction History - Another way to view your trading history is to choose the Transaction History option under Activity on the top of any page. Here you'll see a slightly different account of your past trades.
Documents & Confirms - You might want a more official record of your trading activity. So, under Activity, click the Documents & Confirms link for a detailed history of your past transactions. Here you'll have access to your account statements, trade confirmations and tax documents for when April 15 rolls around. You can view these documents online or download them as .pdf files to your computer.
Settings – Account Settings - If you need to change or update any account settings, click the Settings icon on the upper left of any page. You can update your contact info and privacy settings, link to social media and more.
Settings – Profile - Also under the Settings menu is a link to view your Profile. Here you'll get a snapshot of your motifs and how many people are paying attention to the ones you've created. You can also add a photo for your profile, and list your profession, location and interests if you wish, so others know a little bit about you.
Motif Investing - When you're ready to trade, click on the Trading link on the menu bar atop any page. This will bring up Motif's main resource for browsing and searching for motifs to invest in. Remember, motifs are the signature product of this site – mini portfolios to fit different investing needs. The first thing you'll notice under the Explore Motifs heading is essentially a heat map to identify trending motifs by sector and popularity. Scroll down further to browse other motifs by 30-day winners and losers, top performers, and most popular. Motifs are identified by name as well as a relevant image. The “Pet Passion” motif, for example, features a puppy and consists of stocks dealing with various aspects of pets and animal well-being.
Explore Motifs - Now, let's get under the hood of a motif to see what it's all about. When you click on any one of the hundreds of available motifs that will bring up a screen with a description of the motif, its holdings, performance and analytics. For example, in the “Pet Passion” motif, there are holdings in stocks in the veterinary care, pet supplies and retail sectors. Each stock is listed along with its relative portfolio weight and performance. The chart next to the description sketches the motif's historical performance relative to the S&P 500, and clicking on the Performance tab will let you drill down into more performance metrics. You can also see other users' opinions of a particular motif by clicking on the What Others Think tab.
Community Motifs - Motif has a range of pre-made mini-portfolios for you to choose from, crafted by its own team of experts. It also has an array of motifs put together by other users. From the main Explore Motifs dashboard (click Trading from the top menu), click on Community Motifs to bring these up. Here you'll be able to browse through a digest of the nearly 15,000 user-made motifs that are available to you. You can also search for motifs using a search bar.
Trade Motifs - When you've found a motif that interests you, you can buy it by clicking on the Buy Motif link. This brings up an order screen where you can enter the dollar amount you'd like to invest in this particular motif. Below that, you can see exactly which stocks you'll be buying and in what amounts. Since you'll be specifying a dollar amount for the entire motif, you'll be purchasing fractional shares of the stocks it's composed of. Click the How Buying Works link to get more details on how Motif carries out your order.
Confirm Trade - Before your order goes to the market, you'll be asked to confirm the trade. If you've made a mistake or changed your mind, you can modify or cancel the order before it goes through.
Trade Stocks - Do you just want to trade individual stocks? While Motif is known for its novel motif investment strategies, it also lets you buy single stocks or listed ETFs. Under Trading, choose the Stocks option to bring up a stock transaction screen. Enter or search for the ticker symbol you want, indicate the quantity of shares and the order type and you're all set!
Invest in IPOs - Motif is sometimes able to bring shares of new initial public offerings (IPOs) to its users. Under Trading, the IPOs link will show you what IPOs are currently available. You can also subscribe to be notified when new IPOs come up.
IPO Description - If you select one of the available IPOs, you'll see a description of the company, get key stats on the public offering, and be able to download the prospectus. After reading the prospectus, if you choose to buy into the IPO, click on the Participate link. Remember, IPOs tend to be risky, so make sure you understand the prospectus and the additional risks that IPOs pose compared to stocks already listed on exchanges. Depending on the popularity of the particular IPO, you may or may not get as many shares you wish to purchase.
Motifs in progress - One cool feature is that you can create your own motifs if you can't find one that you like. You can choose individual stocks to build your investment strategy, change allocation weights, and get an idea of how it would have performed in the past. The motif's description will also automatically update to make sure you're on the right track.
Building Motifs - Once you've constructed your new motif, you can review it before buying it for yourself. If you need to make some changes, you can rebalance the motif before trading it.
My Built Motifs - Once you've built one or more motifs, they will appear under the My Built Motifs menu. Here you'll get a snapshot of their performance as well as see how many other Motif users are watching or have bought them as well. Motif creators can earn royalty payments of up to $1 per purchase when others buy the motif that they've built. If you want to promote your motifs, you can share them on social media.
Creator Royalties - Click on Creator Royalties for more information on how you can earn money by creating motifs for other users to buy and to join the Royalty Program.
Motifs currently in Program - You can earn up to $1 each time another user purchases one of your motifs, and they're free to create as long as you already have an account.
Trading Alerts - If you're worried about large price swings or changes to your portfolio balance, you can set up alerts. Click on the Alerts option under Trading to view and change your alerts.
Watchlist - If you're interested in tracking the performance of some of the motifs that are available to you, but don't want to commit just yet to buying them, you can add them to your Watchlist, found under the Trading menu. You can also put individual stocks on your watch list at any time.
Discover Your Investing DNA - Motif offers its users an investor sentiment evaluation it calls your “investing DNA.” Click on Investing DNA under the Settings menu, located by the silhouette of a figure with a small gear icon at the top right of any page, right next to Log Out.
Your Investing DNA – Basic Info - When you start the Investing DNA questionnaire, you'll be prompted to answer a number of questions regarding your investment goals and risk preferences, such as basic info and your planned retirement date.
Your Investing DNA – Interests and Values - Your Investing DNA digs deeper and asks what kinds of investing ideas you're interested in.
Investing DNA Results - Once you've completed the questionnaire, you'll be able to view your results. Your “DNA” will lead to tailored motif recommendations and strategies based on your risk tolerance, time horizon, goals, interests and values.
Try Blue - If you want a bit more financial advising with your motifs, you can join Motif's Blue service for a monthly fee. Blue comes in three levels: a basic plan that will automatically invest in and rebalance a single motif for you in a hands-off manner. Above that is the middle-range Standard plan that gives you access to unlimited motifs with automatic rebalancing and includes market research pieces and one commission-free trade per month. Blue Unlimited provides everything in the Standard plan plus two additional commission-free trades each month and unlimited commission-free trades set to fill at the open of the next market day. You can sign up for Blue or learn more by clicking the Try Blue link at the top of any page.
Invite Friends - The little gift box icon located at the top right of any page lets you invite friends to join Motif by email or through social media. When friends you invite sign up for Motif, you'll earn free months of the Blue service, which gives you automatic rebalancing and a number of commission-free trades. Each month of Blue Standard normally costs $9.95, so it pays to get your friends involved.
Help – FAQ - We all need a bit of help sometimes. You can find Motif's help menu by clicking on the question mark icon at the top of any page. The frequently asked questions (FAQs) are a good place to find help based on commonly experienced problems.
Help – Fees - One commonly asked question is a breakdown of Motif's fee and commissions structure. Here you'll get a detailed overview of what you can expect to pay to trade on Motif as well as its fees for other services.
Help – Customer Support - If you need to speak with somebody, click on the Support link under the help menu. Motif's direct customer support phone number is listed on this page. Here you'll also find the forms to open, close or fund accounts as well as a number of disclosures and agreements.
Help – Blog - Motif doesn't have a lot of investing news or market research like some other broker sites. However, you can read articles by Motif staffers on its blog. You'll find the Blog under the Help menu.