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Investing

Stash 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.

Stash is an online, mobile-optimized brokerage that facilitates investments in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as well as individual Stocks. It allows users to start with a low opening investment ($5) and carries relatively low account fees of $1 to $2 per month or 0.25% of assets under management, depending on the type of account you open and the balance it carries.

Stash is marketed toward beginning investors who may not have much capital to invest upfront or aren’t sure where to start. It offers a host of educational materials and programs, such as Stash Coach, to help users learn more about investing as they go, and it groups asset options into themed funds based on specified issues and concepts. (For example, you might choose a fund whose participants are working toward a greener world or who support equality in the workplace.)

However, the app’s ease of use and quick-start accessibility are counterbalanced by a relatively small suite of features and functionality, especially compared to full-service brokerages.

Stash
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The bottom line: Stash can help new investors start building their nest egg quickly, easily and conveniently.

  • It’s user-friendly and mobile-optimized.
  • Just $5 gets you started.
  • Themed funds allow you to invest in your values.

Who should consider Stash?

As a user-friendly robo-advisor with low minimum opening requirements, Stash is built primarily for new investors who may not be very familiar with the stock market. The program allows you to open an account with as little as $5, automate future deposits to boost growth and learn more about asset allocation (and investment in general) as you go. You’ll also be able to specify your account type and allocate your funds based on your goals and values.

Stash carries relatively low management fees, especially for those who carry account balances of at least $5,000. However, it doesn’t offer all the functionality or customizability you might find with a larger brokerage. Users must choose from a relatively short list of investment account types: personal taxable accounts, Roth IRA or Traditional IRAs, and custodial accounts.

Stash fees and features

Amount minimum to open account
  • $5
Management fees
  • $1 per month for accounts with less than $5,000 deposited
  • 0.25% annual fee for accounts with $5,000 or more deposited
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $75 full account transfer fee
  • $75 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Custodial Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)
Automatic rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Offers fractional shares
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android
Customer supportPhone, Email

Strengths of Stash

If you’re looking to get started with investing as quickly and painlessly as possible, Stash’s user-friendly interface and low minimum opening requirement make it easy — even if you don’t know much about the market.

  • Low startup investment requirement: You can get started with Stash with a minimum investment of only $5, which may make investing accessible to those without much discretionary cash on hand. Furthermore, account management fees are only 0.25% for those with $5,000 or more in their Stash accounts or a flat $1 per month for accounts with less than $5,000. Retirement accounts are $2 per month, but they’re free for users under the age of 25.
  • Ease of use and educational opportunities: Stash offers a clean, simple, user-friendly interface on its browser and app versions, and apps are available for both Android and iOS. Participating in themed funds allows you to confidently invest in your values without doing heavy manual research. User tools like Stash Coach and a comprehensive Q&A make it easy to wrap your head around new investing concepts.
  • Automation: The best way to take advantage of the power of compound interest is to keep, well, stashing away what you can — even if it’s only a little bit. Stash makes this process simple with its automatic deposits, which can be as low as $5 and scheduled to occur on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis.
  • Customer service is easily accessible: While Stash’s searchable Q&A hosts a heap of great content that may be able to help you find answers to your questions on your own, you also can easily reach out to a customer service agent for personalized assistance. Both a telephone number (800-205-5164) and an email address ([email protected]) are listed, and you can expect the team to respond to your issue within 24 business hours. (Author’s note: I sent a test email to customer service on a Saturday afternoon and received a reply within an hour.)

Drawbacks of Stash

Although Stash offers a lot of attractive features — especially for those new to investing — the platform does have a couple of limitations that may give advanced savers pause.

  • Relatively few account options: Stash offers a variety of investment account options, including Individual taxable accounts and retirement accounts (Roth IRA and Traditional IRA). Stash also offers custodial accounts to help parents save for their children’s education. However, Stash does not offer 529 Plans or more advanced retirement options like solo 401(k)s, SEP IRAs or SIMPLE IRAs. Freelancers, entrepreneurs and parents hoping to take advantage of the unique tax benefits of a 529 might want to consider a more advanced brokerage for access to these investment accounts.
  • High fee ratio on low-balance accounts: Although Stash charges a flat rate of just $1 per month  (or $2 for retirement accounts), its seemingly low fees are actually pricier for those with low account balances. For instance, if you’re investing only $5 per week (or $20 per month), that $1 fee represents 5% of your assets under management. Of course, investing more will essentially lower this figure. For example, if you stay at the same investment rate of $5 per week, you’ll have stashed $260 in a year’s time ($5 x 52 calendar weeks = $260), which means the $1 fee is less than 1% of your assets under management, not counting interest, and will continue to diminish with time.

Is Stash safe?

Like any investment, your Stash account carries some risk. Market volatility can lead to losses as well as gains. With that being said, there are still plenty of reasons to feel confident in Stash’s ability to manage your assets.

Stash has more than $400 million in assets under management and is trusted by over 2 million Americans. It’s listed as a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and funds managed by Stash are held by a third-party custodian — Apex Clearing — which is an SIPC member and regulated by FINRA.

Final thoughts

For new investors hoping to get started as quickly and easily as possible, Stash offers a fairly customizable and eminently user-friendly option. There are, however, other options worth considering, including the following:

  • Acorns offers a similar model to Stash but allows users to link their main spending account and round up transactions, investing the spare change.
  • Betterment offers a similarly user-friendly, mobile-optimized experience but gives users access to professional financial planning and portfolio management.

Finally, full-service brokerages like Charles Schwab and Merrill Lynch or discount brokerages like TD Ameritrade may allow investors more specific control over their portfolios in addition to providing professional financial advice and services. However, these accounts generally carry higher fees and are less straightforward to open and manage.

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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.

Jamie Cattanach
Jamie Cattanach |

Jamie Cattanach is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jamie here

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Investing

CNote 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.

In recent years, finding stable, reasonable yield has been difficult for savers. A traditional savings account rarely offers an attractive yield and the bond market has been somewhat anemic in recent years. This is where CNote comes in.

CNote is a company that takes your money and invests it in community development financial institutions (CDFIs). Basically, these lenders issue loans to local governments, nonprofits and businesses owned by minorities and women. CNote invests your money with its partners and offers you a return.

CNote
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The Bottom Line: CNote offers you the chance to earn relatively stable yields that beat traditional savings accounts while allowing you to make a positive social impact in communities across the country.

  • Annual return beats that of most traditional savings accounts.
  • Investments are used for social impact.
  • CNote has no fees, but it does come with liquidity restrictions.

Who should consider CNote

CNote is meant as a savings account or bond market alternative. It’s not designed to offer inflation-beating potential returns like those seen in the stock market. Instead, it’s more likely to be appropriate for savers who are frustrated with their current yields and want a relatively stable way to boost what they’re earning each year.

Additionally, the social impact aspect of CNote could make it attractive to those looking for socially conscious ways to put their money to work. CNote’s CDFI partners invest in small businesses and community development projects, so for those who like the idea of doing good while their money earns interest, this can be an option.

However, CNote comes with limited liquidity. There are only four times a year that CNote allows for withdrawals (with 30 days’ notice), and at those times you’re limited to withdrawals of $20,000 or 10% of your balance, whichever is higher. (CNote does consider special circumstances and may allow larger or unscheduled withdrawals at their discretion.)

Those who need access to their money for goals in the medium term (four to seven years out) could benefit from CNote, but withdrawals require planning. As a result, it likely doesn’t make sense to use CNote as an emergency fund where immediate liquidity is needed.

CNote fees and features

Amount minimum to open account
  • $1
Commission$0
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 full account transfer fee
  • $0 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Trust
Customer supportPhone, Email

Strengths of CNote

CNote offers an interesting twist on social investing with the expectation of relatively stable returns.

  • Yield that beats traditional savings accounts: One of the stand-out features is CNote’s advertised return of 2.75% APY (or more). This is much better than most traditional savings accounts. In fact, as of this writing, CNote offers returns higher than the five-year Treasury yield. That means you could see a higher yield for medium-term savings than what’s available with other savings options.
  • No fees: CNote doesn’t charge any fees. Instead, the service makes money on the difference between what they pay you in yield and what they receive from investments made with CDFI partners.
  • Social impact investing: If doing good is important to you, CNote offers a way for you to do that. Your money goes toward helping provide affordable financing to underserved communities for projects like affordable housing, community development and minority-owned businesses.
  • Trust and business accounts: You can open a CNote account as part of a trust or use it for business purposes. Depending on your needs, this can be helpful in your asset management plan.

The service is fairly straightforward and comes with no costs, but it has the potential to help you earn a higher yield on money that might otherwise be sitting in a low-yield savings account.

Drawbacks of CNote

While CNote offers an innovative way to maintain a stable yield, there are some issues that you need to be aware of before you invest.

  • Limited liquidity: This isn’t a deposit account and your money doesn’t remain immediately accessible to you. CNote isn’t simply holding your money; instead, it’s investing your money with its partners. As a result, you need to provide advance notice before withdrawing your money — and you can only withdraw at certain times during the year.
  • Yield is still too low for long-term wealth building: Even though the yield is higher than a traditional savings account, it’s still not high enough for effective long-term wealth-building. If you’re looking for a way to build your nest egg, consider Stocks, Mutual funds and ETFs.
  • No tax-advantaged options: CNote doesn’t offer you the opportunity to invest with tax advantages. There aren’t IRA or 529 options.

If you decide to use CNote, it’s important to understand how you want to use it in your overall portfolio, since there are limitations to when you can access to your money and limited usefulness as a long-term investment vehicle.

Is CNote safe?

It’s important to note that CNote isn’t a depository institution and it isn’t protected by the FDIC. That means if CNote fails, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back. However, the loans made by its CDFI partners to community and municipal projects are generally considered low-risk with stable returns, on par with high-quality Bonds. Most of the projects funded by CDFIs are usually vetted heavily and CDFIs impose their own requirements on borrowers.

CNote also uses what it calls Triple Protection to limit potential losses. Because CNote isn’t a holding company, they don’t keep your money; instead, it goes to CNote’s CDFI partners. CNote only contracts with partners that use government-guaranteed programs, which offer a layer of protection. CNote’s partners are also contractually obligated to repay the loans they receive from CNote, even if something goes wrong. Finally, CNote has a loan loss reserve to help cover potential losses.

However, like any investment, there is still a risk, and you could lose capital in addition to missing out on returns.

Final thoughts

If you’re interested in boosting your yield on a chunk of capital that isn’t doing much, CNote could be an interesting place to park your cash. The returns could be fairly stable and may beat what you’ll get at with a savings account. Plus, you get the added bonus of feeling good about making a positive social impact.

However, you do need to be aware of the liquidity limitations and understand that pre-planning is needed before you access the money you invest using CNote.

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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.

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit |

Miranda Marquit is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Miranda here

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Investing

SpeedTrader 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.

SpeedTrader is an online broker that caters to active day traders. It offers a choice of platforms and a full selection of research and data tools, making it a competitive option. You also get direct market access with more than 25 routing options, a choice of per-share or per-trade pricing, and the ability to trade Stocks, Options, and Bonds.

However, SpeedTrader has a higher minimum deposit requirement than TradeStation and Lightspeed, which are designed for active traders as well. SpeedTrader doesn’t offer as many options for trading platforms as Lightspeed does, and you won’t have access to multiple free trading platforms with SpeedTrader — unlike with either of its close competitors.

SpeedTrader
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The bottom line: SpeedTrader offers direct market access and advanced trading features, including point-and-click trading, real-time market data and hot keys for faster order entry.

  • SpeedTrader provides a choice of trading platforms, including ActiveWeb, SpeedTrader Pro, and SpeedTrader Mobile.
  • Investors get direct market access — with a choice of more than 25 routing options — to allow for faster execution and better filling of orders.
  • Commissions and fees are affordable, especially for high-volume traders.

Who should consider SpeedTrader

If you’re a day trader who needs real-time market data at your fingertips with the ability to place and execute orders as quickly as possible, then SpeedTrader could be an ideal broker for you. SpeedTrader allows you to save multiple screen layouts, create customized watchlists, stream quotes in real time, manage multiple trading accounts in one platform, and customize 100 different hot key options for the fastest possible order entry.

SpeedTrader also provides support for institutional clients, including hedge funds. Or if you are diving into day trading for the first time, you can request free virtual practice accounts with virtual buying power to make sure you’re ready before you risk any real money.

But if you’re looking for features that cater to hands-off traders, such as commission-free ETFs, no-load Mutual funds, or robo-advising services, SpeedTrader is the wrong tool for you. Online brokers such as Ally Invest, Charles Schwab and E-Trade would be more your speed.

SpeedTrader fees and features

Amount minimum to open account
  • $30,000
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $75 full account transfer fee
  • $75 partial account transfer fee
  • $30 inactivity fee per quarter
Current promotions

When you open a new account with SpeedTrader, you can get up to $100 in free trades or one month of free trading.

Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Coverdell Education Savings Account(ESA)
  • Custodial Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA)/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)
  • SEP IRA
  • Solo 401(k) (for small businesses)
  • SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees)
  • Trust
  • Guardianship or Conservatorship
Automatic rebalancing
Tax loss harvesting
Offers fractional shares
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS
Customer supportPhone, Chat, Email

Strengths of SpeedTrader

Some of the key benefits of SpeedTrader include the following:

  • Affordable commissions: With SpeedTrader, you have a choice of how the commissions are structured. You could pay a per-trade fee as low as $2.95 if you make 500 trades or more per month or up to $4.49 per trade if you trade less frequently at under 200 trades in a month — or you could pay a per-share fee instead. Per-share fees start at just $0.0025 if your monthly share volume is at least 500,000 and goes up to $0.0044 if you trade under 250,000 shares. This is comparable to Lightspeed, which charges $0.0045 if you trade under 249,999 shares per month and as low as $0.0010 if you make 15,000,000 or more in trade volume per month. And it’s below TradeStation’s pricing of $5 per trade.
  • Tools to facilitate timely ordering: SpeedTrader is focused on allowing you to place orders as quickly as possible. That’s why you have direct market access with a choice of routing options as well as hot keys to facilitate trades. Most conventional brokers don’t offer direct market access, instead routing customer orders to centralized trading desks, which in turn route to other liquidity providers.
  • Advanced data, charting and research tools: SpeedTrader has multiple platforms, each of which offers customization and advanced tools to help active traders. Investors can create customized watch lists; view streaming quotes as well as time and sales data in real time; and choose from a full array of chart types, including candlestick and price charts.

Drawbacks of SpeedTrader

  • High minimum deposit requirements: SpeedTrader offers only margin and options accounts, and there is a minimum $30,000 deposit for U.S. and foreign clients. There is also a minimum $30,000 deposit if you want to open a day trading account.
  • Costly inactivity fees: There is a $30 inactivity fee per quarter if you execute less than 15 trades.
  • A lack of options for free trading platforms: Lightspeed offers two free trading platforms, while TradeStation doesn’t charge software fees and provides free access to its advanced trading tools. SpeedTrader, on the other hand, charges a minimum of $25 monthly for ActiveWeb unless you generate at least $199 in monthly commissions. And its other platforms are even costlier, with SpeedTrader Pro Level I starting at $49 monthly unless you generate $199 in commissions and SpeedTrader Pro Level II coming in at $104 per month if you have less than $499 in monthly commissions.

Is SpeedTrader safe?

SpeedTrader is committed to account security. It is in full compliance with all regulatory requirements, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. And client assets held with SpeedTrader are insured up to $500,000 since SpeedTrader is a member of the SIPC.

SpeedTrader clients also get additional protection through Lloyd’s of London for up to $24.5 million in assets. That means a combined total of $25 million per client is protected, including up to $1 million in cash.

This insurance does not, however, protect you if the assets you invest in lose value. There are inherent risks to investing, and you could end up losing money if your investments perform poorly.

Final thoughts

SpeedTrader, more than most other online brokers, focuses on facilitating the fastest ordering speeds possible, which is a big benefit for day traders. If speed is of the essence, SpeedTrader is likely the right choice for you. But if you’re looking for a wider choice of trading platforms and are interested in not paying a fee to use them, then you may want to consider Lightspeed or TradeStation instead.

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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.

Christy Rakoczy
Christy Rakoczy |

Christy Rakoczy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Christy here

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