Home/FAQ/Trade Motifs

Trade Motifs

What is a motif?

A motif is a basket of up to 30 stocks or ETFs intelligently weighted to reflect an investment theme, market insight or innovative trend. Choose from one of our professionally built motifs, customize, or design your own. Then buy your motif in just one click.

To build your own motif, from your Motif dashboard go to “Build” and click “Build a Motif”.

What are “next market open” trades?

When placing a market order, you will have the option to execute it in real-time or at the “next market open”. When selecting “Next market open” or if the trade is placed after market hours, it will be scheduled to be executed when the market opens on the next trading day (9:30am ET).

The benefit for selecting this option is that these trades carry no or reduced commission fees. All automated trades (e.g. auto-invest, auto-rebalance) are also executed at the next market open.

Keep in mind, placing market orders at market open can be considered risky because a lot can change from market close one day to market open the next. For example, company’s earnings announcement with significant news, world events, and activity in international markets can all create volatility in overnight stock prices.

What are commission-free trades?

Commission-free trades are motif or single stock trades that carry no commission fees when executed.

In a Motif Impact account, all trades are commission free.

In a Motif trading account, all professional motif and single stock trades are commission-free when you select the option to trade at next market open. All auto-invest and auto-rebalance trades are also commission free.

With an optional Motif BLUE subscription, you get three commission-free real-time trades per month. Unused commission-free trades do not roll over to subsequent months.

What about taxes?

When you buy a motif, you own each stock it contains individually – that can be as many as 30 stocks. To do that, we actually place a separate trade for each stock. For each of those individual stock trades, Pershing LLC, our clearing partner, will provide you with cost basis and proceeds documentation.

One advantage of owning the individual stocks is you have greater control over the potential realization of gains and harvesting of losses.

You will receive a Form 1099 reporting the sale of any stock(s) made during the year.

Motif does not offer tax advice; we recommend you consult your tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

What is settlement?

After you buy or sell securities, settlement occurs when the security or cash proceeds is transferred to your account. This is commonly referred to as “T+2″ which stands for “trade date plus two days.” It can take up two days after the order executes for the transaction to settle and is the industry standard.

Can I add a stock/ETF to a motif I already own?

Yes, you can add a stock/ETF to a motif you already own. You can also trade single stocks and ETFs individually either in whole or fractional shares.

To learn more about trading single stocks and ETFs click here.

How is a motif built and how are securities selected?

Click here for general information on how motifs in our catalog are built and how securities are selected. For details on how we built a particular motif, go to the Overview page of the motif and click the “How We Built This Motif” link.

Are motifs ever updated?

Yes. Given the daily movements in the stock market, the weights of securities within a motif are subject to change. In addition, companies enter and exit businesses. As a result, it is important to rebalance motifs from time to time. We rebalance the motifs in the catalog on an annual and quarterly basis. If you own a motif that has been rebalanced, we’ll notify you so that you can follow the rebalance if you choose.

Are motif trades real-time?

Definitely! When placing a motif trade, you may have the option to execute it in real-time or at the next market open. Choose the real-time option if you want your trade to be executed immediately during market hours.

With this option selected, your order will be immediately placed for each individual security contained in the motif. And, if you decide to sell a motif, or selected individual securities it contains, those orders will be sent to the market for execution in real-time. A commission fee may apply — see Fee & Commission Schedule for details.

How are the default weights in a motif determined?

The securities in motifs that reflect ideas or themes are weighted based on their exposure to that theme, including adjustments based on factors such as the market capitalization of each company and recognition of pure-play companies. However, the weightings change as the prices of the securities within the motifs change.

What’s the minimum investment amount to buy a motif?

To invest in a motif, you can start investing for as little as $300. Keep in mind, however, there is no minimum amount required to open an account with us. To trade on margin, you’ll need a minimum balance of $2,000. Please note that margin trading is not applicable to IRAs.

What securities does Motif Investing support?

All US exchange-listed stocks, ETFs and ADRs.

What is a watchlist?

You can add any motif, stock, or ETF – including motifs you built yourself – to a watchlist. A watchlist makes it easy to track performance of your favorite motifs, stocks, or ETFs.

You can access your watchlist from your Motif dashboard by going to “Monitor” and clicking on “Watchlist”.

How is the Motif Index calculated?

The Motif Index level represents the performance of a benchmark motif (a motif in our catalog) over time. It is set at 1000 on the date of inception of the motif. For example, a Motif Index of 1100 represents a 10% return since inception. Similarly, the change in the Index over a specified period represents the period return on the portfolio holding the same share weights as the benchmark motif.

How do you compute the dividend yield on a motif?

The composite dividend yield on a motif is the weighted average of the dividend yield of the individual securities in the motif.

How is the volatility measurement of a motif calculated?

The volatility measurement for a motif represents the annualized standard deviation of daily returns on a portfolio holding the same share weights as the motif. It is measured in a range from Low to High. Since the standard deviation of returns is commonly used as a measure of portfolio risk, a High volatility measurement indicates that holding the motif in the past subjected the holder to higher fluctuations.

Where do you get the duration of the ETFs?

The duration of the ETFs is obtained from the fact sheet of each individual ETF provided by the issuer. Motif updates the duration on a quarterly basis.

How do I sell a motif?

You can sell the entire motif or individual securities in the motif you already own. You can sell your motif in these places:

  • Click “Trade” on the positions page and enter the amount you want to sell, or select “Sell All” in the drop-down menu if you want to sell the entire motif;
  • Click on a position on the positions page and click the “Trade Motif” button on the Overview page of that position.

What’s the minimum amount to sell a motif?

The minimum amount for a sell order is $250 unless you’re placing a “Sell All” order to sell the entire motif you own.

Can limit orders apply to the stocks in the motif?

Yes. You can place buy or sell limit orders on one or more stocks in the motif you own. You can also place a buy limit order to add a new stock to the motif (but this would only work if your motif contains 29 or fewer stocks since a motif contains at most 30 stocks).

In all cases, you can place limit orders on fractional shares. For example, you can set a limit order to buy 0.55 shares when XYZ’s share price reaches $20. You will get the best market price available real time for fractional shares, just like you do for whole shares.

When I add money to a motif, how is it distributed to the stocks/ETFs I already own?

Money is distributed proportionally among all your stocks/ETFs based on your current allocation. Since security prices are constantly changing, so are the dollar weights of the motif you own. The dollar weights of the stocks/ETFs at the time of new purchase will be the same as the dollar weights of the stocks/ETFs you own at that moment. This is to ensure that adding or removing money from a motif will not alter its performance trajectory in percentage terms.

What if I have ideas for other motifs?

If you want to invest in an idea, but can’t find a motif for it, you can build your own motif from scratch. To build your own motif, from your Motif dashboard go to “Build” and click “Build a Motif”.

You can also tell us about your idea and we’ll consider building a motif around it. Email your idea to ideas@motifinvesting.com.

Do fixed income motifs include individual bonds or mutual funds?

No, at this point our fixed income motifs only include ETFs.

I have a motif order marked “Partial Failure” on my Order Status page. What are the “Archive” and “Repair” links for?

If any stock in your motif order is not filled entirely, your order will have a “Partial Failure” status and you will have the following options:

  • Archive: The “Archive” link will move the order from the Current Orders page to the Orders History page and remove the “Repair” link. Your position in the motif will remain as is. If the failed order is for a benchmark motif (a motif in the catalog), the order needs to be filled in its entirety for your position to track the benchmark. Archiving a failed order will remove the “Repair” link and will result in a custom motif. For example, “archiving” a partially failed order for the “Hot Retail” motif will change its name to “myHot Retail” on your Positions page so you know the stock compositions of this motif are different from the benchmark motif.
  • Repair: The “Repair” link will create a new market order for the parts of the order that were not filled. You will have the opportunity to review the order prior to placing it.

Can I trade options?

No, at this time we do not support option transactions.