Motif Launches Build-Your-Own Platform

Advisors can build their own motifs from scratch; Motif Advisor Services to launch in the next quarter

Motif Investing, the Silicon Valley company that pioneered ideas-based stock investing, launched a build-your-own (BYO) platform Thursday that allows advisors and other businesses to construct and share their own collection of stocks or exchange-traded funds online.

The just-launched BYO feature on the Motif website, powered by the proprietary Motif Publishing Platform, is what Motif calls the next iteration of its “mission to empower individuals to invest in, and profit from, real-world trends and ideas in a cost-effective manner.”

Hardeep WaliaHardeep Walia (left), Motif’s co-founder and CEO, told AdvisorOne in an interview that “in the next quarter,” Motif will also be launching additional tools and services for advisors under Motif Advisor Services. “We are helping advisor through our proprietary technology,” Walia said.

The BYO program “is a game-changer for online investing,” Walia says. “The ability to build your own motifs gives entrepreneurial investors, advisors and others a new, highly visible platform from which they can market their own investment ideas and strategies to a wide audience.”

Since last year, Motif’s customers have been able to purchase pre-built “motifs”—portfolios of stocks, bonds or ETFs linked by common themes such as tablet computing, inflation or home improvement—assembled by Motif’s in-house research team. Other motifs created by the company include an "all-American motif" and a Facebook motif of companies that are the "most liked" on Facebook.

While investors could customize those motifs to their liking, they did not have the ability to build their own custom motifs from scratch until now, the company says.

A big fan of Vanguard founder John Bogle, who pioneered low-cost index fund investing, Walia says Motif, too, is a “low-cost financial product.”

The BYO motifs soon will be featured on Motif’s site in a catalog akin to an online app store. “The catalog will provide intuitive categorization and search functionality to allow visitors to easily discover new motifs,” Motif says. The price to purchase your own BYO motif is $9.95, the same as a traditional motif.

This spring, Motif says it will begin allowing customers to buy others’ BYO motifs. “When that happens, the motifs’ creators will be eligible for compensation through a royalty payment,” the company says.

Tom Nowak, a financial planner, put together a motif called “Socially Responsible” that includes shares of companies that are advocates of the environment, consumer protection, human rights and diversity.

Nowak says the new BYO tool will help him align his clients’ investments with their particular “worldviews” and also give them the benefits of low-fee investing. “I’m really looking forward to using it more,” he said.

Companies in finance and other industries can also build custom motifs that highlight their brands. Motif notes that a publisher of a market index, for instance, could build a motif around that index, exposing others on the site to that brand. “All the tools you need and a catalog for discovery in building their own motifs, customers have the tools readily available to select listed individual stocks and ETFs and then intuitively adjust weightings for each stock in a motif based on their own investment strategies,” the company says.

Motif says the companies can match their portfolios against the performance of a benchmark index, and then decide the dollar amount they would like to allocate toward the purchase of their customized portfolios of up to 30 individual stocks.

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