Motif Investing

Apr 7, 2014 by

If you visit here with any regularity, you know I’m wary of stocks and am a critic of the conventional wisdom that the only way to achieve a secure retirement is to turn over to Wall Street the lion’s share of your retirement savings.

But I have to admit I’m intrigued by online broker Motif Investing. Its co-founder and CEO, Hardeep Walia, has come up with a different way to invest in equities (and bonds). As Motif explains it, through this broker you can invest in real world ideas, not just companies, mutual funds, or ETFs.

What’s a Motif?

Because Motif’s website does an excellent job of explaining what Motif’s all about, I’m going to borrow heavily from it here, but in short Motif builds portfolios around real world ideas and trends. Motif chooses the weightings of specific companies in an idea-based portfolio, but you can customize the weightings. Here’s Motif’s overview:

motif investing overview

Are you excited about 3D printing? There’s a motif, or portfolio, for that. Would you like to invest in the prospect of deflation? There’s a motif for that. In fact Motif’s created about 135 investing motifs.

A Close Look at One Motif

Let’s drill down into a specific motif. Maybe you think clean technology companies are going to do well as younger generations seek to clean up the mess the Baby Boomers are leaving behind. Here you go:

cleantech motif

Here’s a screen shot of the Cleantech motif portfolio:

cleantech motif portfolio -1

cleantech motif portfolio - 2

You Can Customize Any Motif

You might be thinking, “that portfolio looks just like a Cleantech mutual fund or ETF. So what’s the big deal about Motif Investing?” In a word: customizability. Motif provides you with the initial Cleantech portfolio pictured above, but the company also gives you the power to change weightings and add and delete investments. You become the portfolio manager, in other words.

Create Your Own Motifs

Motif Investing has put together a bunch of ‘starter’ motifs, but you can also create your own, and many in the Motif Investing community have done just that.

If you’ve got the gumption, you can sign up for Motif Investing’s Creator Royalty Program, put together your own motif centered on an investing idea of your own, then earn royalties when others in the Motif community buy your portfolio.  When I checked Motif’s website, 3,808 community generated motifs were available.

Motif Investing Fees

Here’s a rundown of Motif Investing’s fees:

motif investing fees

If you decide to give Motif Investing a try, you can get up to $150 when you start trading at Motif Investing.

There’s More to Motif Investing

I’ve aimed here to give you a sense of the unique flavor of Motif Investing. The broker offers much more than I’ve described, including a social media component, an Advisor Service, multiple account types, and regular updating of motifs (which you can choose to accept or decline if you own the motif). The company’s website explains well how motifs work and the benefits of doing business with Motif Investing.

Have You Tried It?

Do you have an account with Motif Investing? Have you created your own motif and offered it to the community? What’s your experience been?


Disclosure: Money Counselor may earn a commission if you open a Motif Investing account through the links in this post. I gotta pay the bills here, now don’t I??

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  1. 30 stocks or less in a bundle are going to be more volatile than the Total Stock Market index fund, and the total market is volatile enough for me. John Bogle has said more than once that one of the key tenets of investing is to “diversify. diversify, diversify.” Many other smart people have said that, too. I used to think I could beat the market by buying individual stocks, and mutual funds that only held a handful of stocks. I lost a lot of money thinking that way.

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