Folio Investing is an innovator in personalized long-term investing strategies for individuals, creating the first customized portable portfolio strategies, known as Folios, back when it was founded in 2000. In many ways a Folio is similar to an exchange-traded fund (ETF). Rather than owning a fund, however, you own a basket of each of the underlying shares of stock, each for a specified dollar amount. This means that you'll own fractional quantities of shares.
Unlike some of its competitors, Folio is tailored to the long-term investor and is not looking for its customers to trade based on short-term fads, momentum, or hype. Folio offers low flat fees and automatic rebalancing, and takes advantage of so-called window trading - this means the company aggregates all its small individual and fractional orders and trades them in large blocks twice a day. This keeps commissions low and exploits economies of scale. In addition to its flagship custom portfolio product, Folio puts innovative tax management tools, performance reporting, and market research at your disposal.
Taken together, an account with Folio is a great option for the long-term strategic investor. In this walkthrough, we will look at Folio's core offering and its online brokerage platform.
Homepage - A pioneer in customized portfolio strategies, Folio lets you build or trade thematic baskets of stocks and ETFs. Intended for long-term strategic allocations, Folio doesn't encourage short-term swing trading but instead offers a low, competitive cost combined with top-notch tools and features.
Login - Log into Folio with your Username and Password. If you want to give the site a test drive, you can sign up for a free 60-day trial with no commitments or cost to you. If you like what you see, keep the account and fund it to start trading.
Accounts - When you log into Folio Investing, the first thing you'll see is a summary of your accounts. You can keep multiple accounts, including individual or retirement accounts, and they will be broken down by the holdings in each, along with their corresponding balances. Along the very top is a menu bar labeled with large icons and a dropdown menu to the far right corner. Each entry in the accounts window also has a dropdown menu, which we will explore in depth.
Menu - If you need to change account settings, update your profile, add new accounts, or make other changes, use the dropdown menu on the upper right corner.
Account Quick Links - You'll notice that next to each account entry there's a dropdown menu labeled Account Quick Links. This will be your primary source of links to the account and portfolio tools.
Create a New Folio - Folios are the main product here, so selecting Create a New Folio from the Account Quick Links menu is the place to get started. You can select from a number of Ready-to-Go Folios or design and build your own from scratch.
Featured Folios - Select Featured Folios to browse a small sample of the pre-made Folios that are available. View a brief description of each Folio or delve deeper into one of them for more details before you decide to buy it.
Categories of Ready-to-Go Folios - You can also browse pre-made Folios by investment strategy, asset class, or category. Choose the category you're interested in to see what's available, or you can also search an A-Z List of every offering out there.
Strategy - Say you're interested in investing strategies such as Analyst Choice, Dogs of the Dows, and Bear Market. You're in the right place. Scroll down and click on the Ready-to-go Folio, Strategy, and see a list of Folios designed for the classic Dogs of Dow or Bear Market investor.
Performance - For a simple snapshot of what a particular Folio is and does, click on the Overview button accompanying it. You'll also see how that Folio has performed against its benchmark historically.
Holdings - To see what's inside the Folio, click the Holdings tab. Here you'll see each asset, its ticker, and its starting portfolio weight.
Modify Holdings - If you basically like a particular Folio but want to tweak it a bit, click on the orange Modify Securities button at the bottom of the screen (previous page) and you'll arrive here. Add or remove stocks or change the relative weightings of those that are already there. When you're done, click Analyze Changes to see what effect your updates have had. If you're satisfied, click Preview Order to prepare an order ticket.
Investor Questionnaire - Another way to find Folios that are appropriate for you is to use the Investor Questionnaire. It will ask about your goals, risk preference, and attitudes toward investing - and then provide you with a sample of proposed Folios that you can evaluate, as shown here.
Folio Quick Links - Next to each Folio you have in your accounts page, you'll also see a dropdown menu of Folio Quick Links. Some of these are identical to the options under the Account Quick Links, but others are Folio-specific.
Trade Individual Stocks & Funds - To sell out of a Folio you own - or to modify or rebalance it - choose the Trade option in the Folio Quick Links menu. Use the Action dropdowns to trade an individual security or click over to the Trade Entire Folio tab to make a Folio-wide transaction.
Trade Entire Folio - Under Trade Entire Folio, you can rebalance your holdings to their former target weights, using a number of different strategies, such as dollar-cost averaging. You can also use the appropriate tab to sell out of the Folio completely. When you're ready, click the Analyze Changes button to see how these transactions would affect the Folio and Preview Order to enter the trade.
Preview Order - When you get to the Preview Order screen, you can cancel, modify, or confirm your order. Here you also get to see exactly which individual trades will take place to complete your order.
Folio Statistics - If you're interested in how the individual components in your Folio have performed, click on the Folio Statistics link for a breakdown and comparison.
Automatic Buy/Sell - Folio is built for long-term investing, and you may want to add incrementally to a particular Folio over time. If so, you can easily set up Automatic Buy/Sell programs to handle that at regularly scheduled intervals.
Markets - Looking for some research, quotes, or news? Click the Market Research link along the top menu bar for an overview of the day's market activity, top headlines, and market movers.
Quote - Use the quote box or click on the Quote tab for a detailed price quote for the ticker of your choice. Notice the new set of tabs that appear under the Market Research part of the platform? They will populate based on the ticker you've selected.
Charts - The Charts tab is perfect for the technical analyst in you. These interactive charts let you overlay comparisons, annotate, add indicators, and more. You can save your chart settings to save yourself some work later.
News - Click on the News tab for top headlines on a particular stock. Click on a headline to read the full story.
Company - For a snapshot of a company, contact info, and a summary of the indices a stock is in, use the Company tab.
Financials - If you're more of a fundamental analyst, the Financials tab will bring up current and past financial statements, such as the Balance Sheet and Income Statement.
Insiders - Insiders lets you know whether a company's execs, directors, and key employees are buying or selling shares in the company and how that activity has changed over the past few months.
Filings - When you want to mine corporate filings to the SEC and other regulatory bodies, the Filings tab is the place to go to view and download.
Analyst - To see how analysts on Wall Street rate a particular stock, go over to the Analyst tab for the consensus rating and how it's changed over time.
Earnings - The Earnings tab will give you a synopsis of a company's corporate earnings over time, as well as how those earnings have come in relative to analysts' estimates.
Historical - View historical prices and data for a stock using the Historical tab.
Tax Football - Folio has patented a very useful tax-planning tool that is exclusive for its customers. The Tax Football (so named for the shape of the graph) lets you pinpoint the appropriate transactions to generate a specific tax gain or loss for a given amount of money you'd like to raise. For example, if you need to sell $5,000 worth of stock to cover an expense and hope to create a net zero tax liability, use the Tax Football to determine what you should do.
Private Investing - One unusual service that Folio offers its customers is access to a number of private placement offerings, found under the Private Investing link across the top menu bar. Accredited investors can gain access to these unlisted deals to diversify their portfolios or take on a little bit of extra risk.
Offerings - Click on a private placement deal to see an overview of the company, what the deal is, and what the offer terms are. Accredited investors can proceed to view the prospectus by clicking on the Learn More button.
Help Center - Need assistance with a Folio or the platform? Head over to the Help Center to view frequently asked questions (FAQs) or to get information on a particular topic. You'll find the link to the help center at the bottom left of every page on the site.
Contact Us - If you need to get in touch with someone at Folio, use the Contact Us link on the bottom left of each page on the site to find the phone number.