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Investing

Motif Review 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Part broker, part robo-advisor, Motif specializes in thematic investing, an investing practice that focuses on how long-term trends will impact growth and performance across sectors. For example, instead of individually choosing to invest in certain big box retail chains, Motif offers investors the opportunity to invest in a portfolio named Discount Nation, which includes stocks and ETFs representing 20 or 30 retail chains.

Investors may choose pre-built portfolios based on themes and trends (top performing Motif portfolios include Repeal Obamacare, a portfolio that includes Quest Diagnostics, and Software as a Service, a portfolio that includes customer relationship management company Salesforce). Custom-built portfolios are also built around IPO’s, and “impact portfolios” are created around personal values like fair labor and sustainability.

In addition to professionally built portfolios, investors also have the option of creating their own portfolios, fittingly called motifs. Once a portfolio is created, an investor can buy and sell securities within their motif for $4.95 per trade, and can modify or rebalance their portfolio for a $9.95 commission. The minimum to invest is $300, which may include fractional shares.

These custom-built motifs can then be shared with other platform users. In addition to individual investing accounts, Motif offers the opportunity to use the platform to open an IRA, Roth IRA and trust.

Motif
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The Bottom Line: Motif offers a creative product for investors intrigued by how trends drive markets.

  • IPO opportunities and motifs allow for ownership of buzzworthy brands.
  • A low investment minimum allows new investors to easily trade individual stocks.
  • An ETF-like experience that also allows for complete portfolio customization.

Who should consider Motif

Motif isn’t a traditional brokerage, and may not appeal to a “traditional” investor. From the quippy names of the professionally-curated portfolios (Caffeine Fix, Too Big To Fail, Tablet Takeover) to the creative control offered in self-designing a portfolio and making it available to the community, Motif may appeal to the investor who intuitively looks past numbers or performance to focus on a company’s story.

To be clear, a creative investor can also be a serious investor. Motif may appeal to an investor who wants more control than a robo-advisor allows, an investor who wants to dip their toe into managing their own portfolio, or an investor who wants to add more buzz and movement — in terms of IPOs and name-brand companies — to their investment strategy, without investing a lot of capital.

Motif fees and features

Amount minimum to open account
  • $300
Management fees
  • 0.50% annual fee for thematic portfolio
  • 0.25% for impact portfolios ($1,000 minimum investment)
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $95 full account transfer fee from IRA accounts, $65 from non-IRA accounts
  • $0 partial account transfer fee
  • $40 inactivity fee per year, charged in quarterly installments, on accounts with less than $10,000 if the account has no commission trades, is not an Impact account holder or Motif blue subscriber
Current promotions

Get three months free access to Motif BLUE when you use a friend's referral link.

Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • Trust
Portfolio
  • Motif offers 7 asset classes.
Automatic rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Tax loss harvesting detailMotif investments contain individual stocks. Pershing LLC, Motif's clearing partner, provides investors with cost basis and proceeds documentations prior to trades. Each year, investors receive a 1099 based on any stock sales that year.
Offers fractional shares
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android
Customer supportPhone, Email

Strengths of Motif

  • Unique concept. While the concept of thematic investing isn’t new, the way Motif professionally curates portfolios based on theme makes it stand out from other brokerages.
  • Low annual fees on professionally built portfolios. Portfolios selected from the catalog can be automated by dollar-cost averaging and rebalancing. Annual fees on Motif thematic portfolios are 0.50% and annual fees on impact portfolios are 0.25%.
  • Focus on the investment community. As a Motif customer, you can build your own motif, buy a professionally selected one, or browse motifs made by other investors. You can also opt to share your personal motif through the Motif Creator Royalty Program. Every time someone buys or rebalances a motif you create, you’ll get $1 as part of the program.
  • Beginner friendly. It’s easy for new investors to get lost in a sea of jargon. By focusing on themes and impact, Motif reaches investors who may be more comfortable with words than numbers — but backs up their portfolio suggestions with data-driven analysis to drive portfolio allocation.

Drawbacks of Motif

  • Small platform with limited types of accounts. With 350,000 customers, Motif is still relatively small compared to other online brokerages and robo-advisors. Investors who want a one-stop shop for all their investing needs may feel confined by Motif. While Motif offers IRA accounts, it does not offer 529 plans or specialty investment accounts, which may turn off some investors.
  • Limited investment product options. Only Stocks and ETFs. Does not offer Bonds, Mutual funds, Futures / commodities or Options.
  • Less accessible customer service than other brokerages. Because Motif is growing, their customer service team may be more limited than larger brokerages. Right now, Motif offers 24/7 email support, with the caveat that responses may take longer outside regular business hours. During business hours, customer service reps are available via text and phone.

Is Motif safe?

All investments carry risk, and that may be especially true for thematic investing, which taps into the intuition, values and even personal preferences of the investor. Motif tries to reduce that specific risk by relying on data science to create professionally built thematic portfolios. Motif asks for an investor’s financial goals to assess risk value before offering portfolio suggestions.

Motif is a member of the Securities Investment Protection Corporation (SIPC), which means every Motif account is insured up to $500,000. This includes a maximum of $250,000 for cash claims. On the site, encryption algorithms are used to safeguard the information and data of customers.

Final thoughts

Motif’s strong point of view stands out among other brokerages. The ability to invest in trends and values, coupled with the strong focus on the investor community among Motif customers can make investing seem exciting and relatable — and can make beginning investors feel welcome and empowered to create their own portfolios.

With the low account entry minimum, Motif thematic portfolios can help guide investors who have always wished to own individual stock, but haven’t yet had the opportunity to research history and performance. For some investors, a thematic portfolio can be a halfway step toward gaining confidence to trade stock on another platform. Motif charges $19.95 for every real-time trade, and $9.95 for a next market open trade, so an investor who’s frequently trading may be better served by a lower-cost brokerage like Robinhood, TD Ameritrade or Charles Schwab.

For now, Motif may be more of a boutique brokerage than a one size fits all option. Where it shines is offering access to thematic investing. The laser focus on this style of investing may captivate all levels of investors. Investors who may want a more traditional approach to investing, or investors who want to open multiple accounts for different goals, may be better served by a larger brokerage or robo-advisor.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Anna Davies
Anna Davies |

Anna Davies is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Anna here

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Investing

TD Ameritrade Review 2019

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

TD Ameritrade, with no minimum investment required to open an account, is one of the most well-known brokerages. It offers a range of investment accounts, including education, retirement, standard investment and specialty portfolios. With over 350 brick-and-mortar branches and a robust online investing platform, TD Ameritrade can bridge the gap between a traditional and online brokerage for investors who may want occasional in-person support. In addition to branches, TD Ameritrade offers a customizable web platform to track performance, mobile trading and thinkorswim, a professional-level trading platform with tools for test strategies and analysis.

TD Ameritrade offers a range of investment products, including Stocks, Bonds, ETFs, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and initial public offerings (IPOs). In addition, TD Ameritrade offers a range of managed portfolio options, including Essential Portfolios, its robo-advisor offering. Unlike investment accounts, these managed portfolios do have account minimums. TD Ameritrade also has third-party analyst resources available online for all clients.

TD Ameritrade
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The bottom line: TD Ameritrade has a lot to offer investors of all types, but you’ll pay for it with higher-than-average trading fees.

  • No minimum investment requirement for brokerage accounts
  • Flat $6.95 trading fee
  • Over 350 brick-and-mortar branches for in-person customer support as well as phone, text and chat support

Who should consider a TD Ameritrade brokerage account?

With a robust and extensive range of services and investment products, TD Ameritrade aims to reach investors of all levels. The fact that there’s no account minimum to open a TD Ameritrade brokerage account is attractive for new investors or investors who wish to open an IRA through TD Ameritrade or use TD Ameritrade to roll over an IRA from a previous employer. Investors who want face-to-face interaction and customer support will appreciate the fact that there are brick-and-mortar branches of TD Ameritrade throughout the country.

In addition, TD Ameritrade has robust resources, including a comprehensive suite of investment research tools. These tools include Social Signals, which pulls Twitter insights on particular investments into one place. And while a beginning investor can easily navigate TD Ameritrade, the ability to set up a free consultation with an independent registered financial advisor through TD Ameritrade’s AdvisorDirect referral program should provide additional peace of mind. Serious traders also will find a suite of products to meet their needs with thinkorswim, which offers 24/5 trading, a paper-trading platform with a virtual margin and IRA account to test strategies, and the ability to perform custom analysis via access to over 400 technical studies.

TD Ameritrade fees and features

Current promotions

Deposit $3,000 or more and get 60 days of commission-free online equity, ETF and option trades.

Stock trading fees
  • $6.95 per trade
Amount minimum to open account
  • $0
Tradable securities
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • Options
  • Futures / commodities
  • Forex
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $75 full account transfer fee
  • $0 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Commission-free ETFs offered
Mutual funds (no transaction fee) offered
Offers automated portfolio/robo-advisor
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • 529 Plan
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account(ESA)
  • Custodial Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)
  • Custodial IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Solo 401(k) (for small businesses)
  • SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees)
  • Trust
  • Guardianship or Conservatorship
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android, Windows phone
Customer supportPhone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 364 branch locations
Research resources
  • SEC filings
  • Mutual fund reports
  • Earnings press releases
  • Earnings call transcripts
  • Earnings call recordings

Strengths of TD Ameritrade

  • No account minimums for TD Ameritrade brokerage accounts and no account value thresholds for site access. The fact that there are no account minimums is a huge draw for beginning investors, who should know that all online tools are available to them regardless of account balance.
  • Robust research tools and analysis. TD Ameritrade offers live CNBC streaming and access to third-party research tools to help investors come up with a customized strategy.
  • Robust mobile experience. In addition to being able to buy, sell and trade via the app, the app features Snapstock, which allows you to take a picture of a bar code and receive the company’s latest market information.

Drawbacks of TD Ameritrade

  • High trading fees. TD Ameritrade’s flat fee of $6.95 fee per online trade may be higher than the fees of other online brokerages, including Ally Invest ($4.95 trading fee) and Robinhood ($0 trading fee), which may be off-putting to investors who trade regularly. This may not be a deal breaker to an investor who’s just beginning to build their portfolio, an investor who’s primarily focused on creating a retirement portfolio, or an investor who wants to maximize their access to the range of investment tools available to TD Ameritrade clients.
  • Short-term ETF trading fees. TD Ameritrade offers over 300 commission-free ETFs. You must own them for at least 30 days before selling, or you may be charged a $13.90 short-term trading fee — something to be aware of if you’re an investor who regularly trades with ETFs and is focused on keeping costs as low as possible.

Is TD Ameritrade safe?

TD Ameritrade has a history of 40-plus years in investing. The online and mobile platforms have strong security requirements, including two-factor authentication, and shut down account access at the first sign of suspicious activity. TD Ameritrade also offers an asset protection guarantee that promises reimbursement for any securities or cash lost as a result of unauthorized account activity.

TD Ameritrade manages $1.3 trillion in client assets and has over 11 million funded client accounts. TD Ameritrade is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), and securities in your account are protected up to $500,000, including $250,000 in cash. Certificates of deposit (CDs) purchased by TD Ameritrade are issued by banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Cash in your investment account can be held in an FDIC-insured deposit account, where it is insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per depositor, per bank.

Final thoughts on TD Ameritrade

Investors who have a range of investment needs may find TD Ameritrade to be a good all-in-one option. The robust online tools, accessible customer service and lack of account minimums make TD Ameritrade appealing to investors of all levels, although some may be turned off by the higher-than-average fees. Investors who want to actively manage their accounts but are looking for lower trading fees may want to check out E-Trade, Lightspeed Trading or Ally Invest before signing up.

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Anna Davies
Anna Davies |

Anna Davies is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Anna here

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Banking

Review of Ria: An International Money Transfer Provider

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

With over 350,000 locations worldwide and a robust online presence, Ria is a convenient option for people who need a no-hassle way to send money internationally.

Launched in 1987 as a single New York City storefront, Ria has expanded exponentially in more than thirty years in operation. In 2007, Ria merged with Euronet worldwide and now provides wire transfer services to 149 countries. Money transfers are available to be sent from the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Australia.

Customer service is available by phone during business hours — including Saturdays and Sundays — and a pricing tool allows you to see exactly how much a transfer may cost, making price comparison simple.

In addition to money transfer services, Ria also offers other services like money orders, check cashing, bill payment and prepaid debit cards.

Whether you’re doing business with a client in another country or sending money to family members abroad, it’s important to find a transfer company that delivers money securely, with minimal and transparent fees. You may also look for a money transfer company that’s available both online and in person, in the United States and around the globe. Comparing rates and capabilities helps you choose the best money transfer service for your needs.

In this review, we’ll cover all you need to know about Ria and how it stacks up to competitors.

Ria highs and lows

  • Transparent pricing. Ria has a price calculator tool that allows customers to see a price quote of a potential transfer, making price comparisons between service providers simple. This is a rare feature, as many big name transfer services don’t make it quite as simple to see how much a transfer will cost before you make it.
  • Multiple payment options. In addition to allowing patrons to send payments online and via their app (available on Apple and Android devices), Ria has a partnership with PayNearMe. This program allows customers to pay a transfer with cash at a local 7-Eleven convenience store.
  • Global reach for recipients; limited reach for senders. With storefronts in 149 countries and over 350,000 locations, Ria can be an easy option for those sending money from the U.S. abroad. That said, currently money can only be sent through Ria from four countries: the United States, the U.K., Australia, and Spain. If you’re frequently making transfers and requesting money from elsewhere, Ria may not be the best option for you.
  • Limited daily and monthly transactions. While it may be possible to send more money if you work through an agent (as opposed to exclusively online), Ria only allows you to send up to $2,999.99 a day, or up to $7,999 a month.

Sending a money transfer with Ria

Options for receiving funds depend on where the recipient is located. Ria has a courier delivery service available in Vietnam, Peru, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. Money can also be transferred for in-person pickup at a Ria agent location or deposited in a worldwide bank location.

Funds can be sent from bank accounts, credit cards, or debit cards, with additional fees that differ based on which option is chosen. Cash payments can be enabled by the company’s partnership with PayNearMe, which allows customers to use cash to start a transfer.

How long does a transfer take?

Transfer time is dictated by the transfer method chosen by the sender. Credit card and debit card transfers should take 15 minutes. Credit card transfers tend to be the fastest, and are also the most expensive due to processing fees.

Bank transfers can be the most economical option, but are also the most time-consuming, taking up to four days to reach a recipient’s account. In addition, bank accounts require you to set up your bank account through Ria’s platform, which can cause a delay as you’ll need to validate your bank account info.

Where can you send money?

Right now, money can be sent to 149 countries on six continents, as well as within the U.S. It’s important to note that some countries have differing services — for example, it’s only possible to send money to Nigeria through bank transfer, and many countries don’t currently offer courier money services.

How much can you send?

If you’re sending money online, Ria caps transactions at $2,999.99 a day or $7,999.99 a month. It may be possible to send more money if you’re working directly with an agent.

Fees and fine print

Fees vary depending on country, the payment method and payout method, but it’s not uncommon for fees to be about 0.5% to 1.5% of the total amount you’re sending.

Ria’s price calculator tool provides transparency into how much you pay in fees based on how you’re sending the funds. There may be different fees based on whether you send the transfer online or work with an agent. In addition, you may be charged a retail exchange fee if you want the payout for your recipient to be in local funds, rather than dollars.

So how do Ria’s fees stack up to other money transfer services? These fees may be lower than transferring money internationally through your bank, but it really depends on all the factors we outlined above, so be sure you compare. Wire transfers from your bank may charge a one-off fee (regardless of how much you’re sending) of $20 to $35 per transaction, and may also charge a fee for the recipient who receives them.

Is Ria a good money transfer service to use?

A thirty-plus year history in international money transfers and a robust presence abroad could make Ria a good option, depending on your needs. Here, some potential things to consider:

ProsCons
  • Robust global and online presence. A variety of agent locations as well as bank transfer options makes it seamless to transfer abroad.
  • Brick-and-mortar or online options. Having a brick-and-mortar storefront with agents may be an appealing option if you’re planning to
  • Easy cost comparison. The online calculator tool is helpful in planning the most cost-effective transfer method and can be used when pricing out potential alternatives.


  • Minimal app features. Although a mobile app is available, there are mixed online reviews with some customers complaining about a lack of features.
  • Limited origination countries. Right now, Ria can only be used to send money from the United States, the UK, Australia, and Spain. If you’re frequently sending and receiving money, using a service that allows money transfers from the countries you regularly exchange money with may make sense.
  • Limited transfer amounts per month. While you may be able to transfer higher amounts, the limits of $2999.99 per day and $7999.99 per month may be low for some customers doing extensive business abroad.





Alternative money transfer options to Ria

Western Union and TransferWise are international money transfer companies providing similar services to Ria.

Western Union

  • Where can you send money? Western Union’s very large network of 500,000 agent locations lets you send money to more than 200 countries and territories.
  • How long does a transfer take? Most Western Union transactions take place in minutes, although like many other transfer services, factors like the destination country and source of funds can slow things down.
  • How much can you send? Limits depend on where you are sending money from, the destination country, your transaction history with Western Union and the type of transfer service you choose.
  • Fee to send money: Western Union is not known as the least expensive option: exchange rate fees may be higher and there are other transfer fees. You can estimate the cost of sending money using Western Union’s online fee calculator.

Western Union stands out among competitors for its conveniently large network and speed. With more than 500,000 agent locations, finding a convenient spot to send or receive money may be easier than with other service providers.

TransferWise

  • Where can you send money? TransferWise lets you send money to more than 70 countries.
  • How long does a transfer take? Transfers take one to four business days, depending on destination, payment method, and how long it takes the recipient’s bank to process the transaction.
  • How much can you send? How much you send from the U.S. may depend on which state you live in and local laws that apply to international transfers. You can transfer up to $15,000 per order via ACH and up to $1,000,000 via other methods; this upper limit is not applicable in Nevada or Hawaii, or in the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  • Fee to send money: TransferWise’s fees vary depending on the currency you are transferring from and the source of the funds, with extra fees for debit cards and credit cards. It offers a handy online pricing calculator to help you estimate transfer costs and fees.

TransferWise is a relative newcomer to the international money transfer market. Among its unique features is a “borderless account,” or an account where you can keep money in 40+ currencies, transferring them when needed. Like other money transfer options, TransferWise has an online pricing calculator to help you estimate transfer costs and fees.

Should you choose Ria?

Ria’s robust global presence, including a very large number of brick-and-mortar locations and variety of delivery options, make it a great choice for people who need flexibility in transferring smaller amounts to diverse recipients. However, it’s less-than-stellar app and lower monthly transfer ceilings may limit its utility for some users.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Anna Davies
Anna Davies |

Anna Davies is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Anna here

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