Motif Investing Review 2019: Pros, Cons and Everything Else

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Brian Roberts

May 29, 2019  •  11 min read

Millions of Americans are moving further and further into the world of investing, as you’ll see in this Motif Investing review.

The last severe recession was over a decade ago. Individuals are often more worried about inflation and low savings rates than they are about the possibility of losing a considerable amount of money in a stock market correction.

They have realized that cash and savings accounts simply will not bring in the kind of income they will need to retire. Americans also do not want to have to turn towards brokerage houses with massive fees.

They want safe, simple investment options that they can turn to that are preferably automated and reflect their wants and needs. This desire was the catalyst for Motif Investing. Motif is one of the newest and most successful companies that offers an independent investing platform with a unique set of features.

What Is Motif Investing?

Motif Investing is one of many new investing platforms that have emerged in recent years. It is an investment app and online system accessible from an individual’s browser. The name Motif refers to the unique grouping system that the app offers. Motifs are the automated investing models that the platform offers to customers.

Motif was established in 2010, as per FINRA records.

These models use preset tenets to pick a selection of stocks or funds that an individual can buy. Individuals are able to buy, sell, and trade investments from this platform. They are able to interact with other individuals and discuss their training strategies and ideas.

There is a certain level of interaction that occurs when considering using Motif. Individuals do not simply trade back and forth in a vacuum.

Professional Motifs

First, there are what’s called “professional motifs.”

Professional motifs are set by the company using its ideas and algorithms.

They cover traditional areas of investing as well as newer approaches such as green or sin investments. Motif specializes in these collections and has a vast number for an individual investor to choose from. An individual can choose a motif that they will use to track a particular sector of the stock market.

Some motifs can be used to follow countries from different regions or from all over the world. Other motifs are effective at allowing an individual to retire in a particular year. A motif may switch up the amount of money in certain large and small cap stocks over a regular basis.

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There is a possibility that a motif can track nearly every change and behavior that a mutual fund can track.

In many ways, motifs can do much of the work of mutual funds on an automated basis.

Community Motifs

Next, there are also what’s called “community motifs.”

Community motifs that are set by the votes and ideas of the community.

These motifs may be more varied and include a large or small number of companies with differing legitimacy. The community motifs differ from the professional motifs in the fact that they are set by social media and the community.

These motifs can change and grow depending on their greater popularity. A community motif may disappear or become hard to find if a large number of members of the community end up voting against and rating it poorly.

Should I Use Motif Investing?

For decades, individuals invested solely through brokerage firms. These firms exclusively used expensive brokers who picked the stocks, bonds, and other equities that would comprise their firms.

These individuals employed a strategy of active management where they would buy when they thought the market would rise and sell securities when their research showed the market would drop. This approach worked well for many people but has been superseded.

Investors can view performance over time and track all expenses.

Investors now want a considerable amount of control. They want a large number of potential trades with the lowest fees possible. There are also more individuals who want to use their investing dollars to push their ethical, moral, and political ideals.

They want to use their money to support companies that are fighting against climate change or sourcing their materials in an ethical manner. Customers want to work with companies that allow them to have those priorities.


One of the clearest benefits to the Motif platform is its ease of use. Individuals can bring up all of their investments on a single dashboard that they can use on their browser or smartphone. An investor can view their performance over time and track all of their expenses.

They receive regular statements and disclosures. Individuals using motifs can talk to a number of customer service representatives who can help them navigate the service and its many offerings. Many of these representatives train as brokers and stock traders. They can provide a basic amount of help in allowing individuals to pick their motifs and to set their investment goals.

Lower Costs

A major contributor to the ease of use for this browser/app is its lower associated costs. The Motif trading platform can have costs that are only a small fraction of the cost associated with traditional brokerage houses. There are costs per stock trade along with relatively low costs for the overall maintenance of the account. These lower costs can be significant over a period of time.

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Individuals who work for brokerage houses still make their large fees and commissions even if an individual’s portfolio decreases in value over time. If an individual is paying the fractional costs of a company such as Motif, they are able to put more money in their pocket and feel better about their investments even in the worst possible times. Greater success means that individuals will feel better about the aloof nature of passive investments as experienced through Motif.

Supporting Causes

Another pro is the commitment to helping individuals invest in the causes they believe in. For most investment firms, there is a focus on making money. Other ideals are put aside. A large brokerage house may have one or two funds or collections that specifically focus on environmental causes.

These environmentalist funds are generally either hidden or difficult to access. They are treated as a minor constituent of the company. Motif makes it easy to invest for these causes. It is a company that is well-versed at creating approaches and strategies to both make money and help save the planet.

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The company also does not only appeal to a particular political ideology. There are a wide variety of motifs that allow an individual to implement their ideas. One example of this is the “hell in a handbasket” motif of stocks.

These stocks are for companies that make a considerable amount of money in a market downturn. In many brokerage firms, individuals can not easily make such investments. It’s shorting and shorting is too risky and expensive.

With this company, stocks that make money when the market drops are just another motif that an individual can use. The lack of a personal connection sometimes means that individuals have more latitude in the decisions that they make surrounding their investments and how they approach the stock market. Many individuals simply will not need to use the complex connections that a stock broker may provide.


Despite the many benefits, even an exceptional service like Motif Investing has some cons.

Fractional Investing

There is also the ability to set up efficient purchases through the use of fractional investing. Fractional investing involves individuals who are able to buy stock in dollar values instead of by shares.

This approach to trading is key for allowing individuals who have a modest amount of disposable income to invest. Individuals should be able to invest in companies that they believe will grow over time and make them a considerable amount of money.

They should have the ability to diversify with the stocks that they want. Individuals who want to invest should not have to control those decisions based on the share price of a company. Motif allows them to do just that.

This company has the number of tools and connections that allow individuals to buy stocks based on a monetary value instead of on a number of shares. Individuals can cleanly divide all of their investments even if they can only invest a few hundred dollars in a number of different companies. The ability to invest in more companies means that diversification is easier and an individual will be taking less risk through the process of investing.

Limited Options

Many of the cons of Motif result from its nature as an application and a digital purveyor of one’s money. There will always be a certain amount of stress and concern from some individuals when there is not a place they can visit in order to gain access to their money.

A more precise con of Motif is its lack of options for traditional investors. This app is not meant for individuals who wake up every morning and focus on trading stocks. As much as they can in order to pick up on short-term market trends.

There are only a handful of options to trade stocks in a traditional way. The ability to buy and sell individual stocks has considerable costs associated with it when one uses this app.

Limited Diversity

One of the cornerstones of investing is diversification both within a stock portfolio and within the entirety of one’s investing world. Individuals buy a wide variety of stocks, bonds, and other funds in order to spread out money and risk.

Motif is helpful in this regard if an individual wants to spread out their risk as determined by the community and professional motifs that have already been set by the platform. But for individuals who want to craft their own combinations of different stocks and funds, the process is more difficult.

Options are plentiful, but only if picked by the community or the platform.

In addition to limiting the ability for an individual to diversify, Motif is also less effective for individuals who want to trade stocks and bonds in order to maximize profit. A socially conscious investor will benefit less than a professional investor.

It is difficult for an individual using Motif to embrace fundamental analysis. Technical trading is particularly difficult for users of this platform. Such difficulty intensifies when an individual is only buying and selling individual stocks.

It is also difficult for investors to act as day traders with this platform. Each trade pays a large fee. That high amount discourages many individuals from making the volume of trades that one would need to use in order to pursue a day trading strategy.

No DRIP Program

Finally, traders who focus on high returns may also be discouraged by the lack of a DRIP program with Motif.

DRIP stands for Dividend Reinvestment Program.

It refers to the practice of many brokerage accounts where dividends are reinvested automatically if a certain setting is activated every quarter.

DRIP can contribute to the compound interest of an account and lead to a considerable increase in funds over a period of months or years. But Motif, as a result of its focus on groups of investments instead of individual stocks, does not have a dividend reinvestment program.

Individuals have to make an extra effort to either withdraw their dividends or put them back into their investment account. This extra effort can be time-consuming and can sometimes occur at a moment when an individual is not paying close attention to their investments.

This could be when an individual may or may not be frequently checking their accounts. Motif’s lack of a dividend reinvestment program create a headache and a hassle that many other individuals at other brokerage firms do not have to deal with.

Motif Investing Summary

Individuals should certainly invest if they have the money and the time to track their investments. They should look at their financial goals, debts, and their ideals. Anyone interested in investing needs to know how much money they are taking in and sending out every month.

They need to have a general idea of how much money they will need later on in life.

Individuals should then fully understand how their ideals will fit into these goals and expectations. They need to know if they can make enough money to succeed or retire while also investing in companies that reflect their ideas. Investing in environmentally friendly companies during foreclosure, won’t help the investor.

Individuals need to determine what all they want to do with their investing. They should decide how important simple returns and fees are to their goals. This importance will help an individual decide whether Motif is the best trading approach for them.

Complex trading based on certain fields and political ideals will be much easier with Motif than other approaches. This approach is attractive if an individual is more focused on improving the world than the highest returns.

Individuals should also look at the companies that they want to invest in and how those stocks comport with their overall amounts that they have to trade. Some individuals believe that high-dollar stocks such as Google or Berkshire Hathaway are the key to their investing future.

For these individuals with small amounts to invest, they should strongly consider Motif for its fractional investing platform. Individuals with larger amounts to invest and less qualms about where their money goes may want to look elsewhere.


Newer approaches to investing are quickly making the old-fashioned brokerage house obsolete.

In the process, they are renewing how individuals think about investing and the impact that their money may have. Companies like Motif are significantly altering what people think about investing and who can invest. Anyone interested in making an impact with their investments for a low fee needs to consider signing up with Motif.