M1 Finance vs SoFi – Expert Review of Robo and DIY Features
Both SoFi and M1 Finance are dominating the robo advisory automated and self-directed investing worlds. Each platform is easy to navigate and offers free investment management. For DIY investors, you can access stocks, ETFs, crypto (coming soon to M1) and more. You’ll find investing, banking, and borrowing all under one roof at M1 and SoFi. But, only one offers Certified Financial Planner access.
To find out the similarities, differences and which one is best for you, read this comprehensive review – and watch the comparison video.
*Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link.
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Top Features
|Features||M1 Finance||SoFi Robo-Advisor|
|Overview||Free investment app with stock and ETF trading and pre-made expert pies/portfolios.||Fee-free robo-advisor with financial advisor access.|
|Minimum Investment Amount||$100|
$500 for IRA
|$1 to open|
$5 to invest
Free investment management.
$125 for M1 Plus with more features.
Free investment management.
|Top Features||Choose pre-made or to create your own stock + ETF portfolio|
M1 manages and rebalances your investments
M1 Borrow and M1 Spend offer lending and banking
|Live CFP advisors + career counselors|
Risk-based automated portfolio
Stocks + ETFs via Active Investing
|Investment Funds||Over 6,000 ETFs and stocks. |
Diversified, low-fee Expert Pies/Portfolios with diverse strategies.
|Vanguard, SoFi and iShares ETFs. |
SoFi Active investors can access stocks and ETFs
|Accounts Available||Individual and joint taxable brokerage. |
Roth, traditional, rollover and SEP IRAs. Trust.
Cash account with debit card.
Individual and joint taxable brokerage.
|Contact & Investing Advice||Phone 9:30 am–4:00 pm EST M-F |
Concierge for onboarding and IRA rollovers
|Phone Monday – Friday. |
Chatbot and email 24/7.
Financial advisors available by appointment.
|Cash Management||High yield cash account with debit card.||Available though SoFi Money.|
|Free Services||Free investment management.||Free investment management, Financial and Career Consultants, and member benefits|
- M1 Finance and SoFi both offer free basic investment management.
- While both are on the low end in terms of initial investment requirements, SoFi wins out with only $5 required to begin investing, versus $100 at M1.
- M1 Finance offers over 6,000 stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs), in addition to 60+ pre-made portfolios across investment styles and risk tolerance levels.
- SoFi provides access to free financial consultants.
What is M1 Finance?
M1 Finance is a highly customizable robo-advisor, known for its “pie”-based investment model. Clients can choose to invest in one of M1 Finance’s 60 pre-made portfolio options AKA “pies”, or customize their portfolio completely by assembling their own “pie” slices. Investors can screen for and invest in more than 6,000 individual stocks and ETFs.
While they’re best known as a robo-advisor, M1 Finance isn’t stopping there. They offer other features, such as M1 Borrow (margin loans) and M1 Spend (high-yield APY checking account and a rewards credit card).
If you’re looking for premium features, M1 Finance has those, too. M1 Plus, which costs $125 per year, offers lower fees for M1 Borrow clients, an additional trading window for M1 Invest clients, and more.
3 month free trial
Credit card fee –
$95 per year
|High yield checking|
Cash-back debit card
Credit card – fee waived
|1 per month||4 per month|
|Borrow||40% of account value|
|Lower borrowing rates|
40% of account value
M1 Finance Top Features
- $0 account management fees, or $125 per year for M1 Plus
- Ability to keep your investment, lending, checking, and credit card accounts under one roof
- Sustainable, socially-responsible investment options
- Vast diversification available
- Crypto investing coming soon!
What is SoFi?
SoFi, the company, is fairly well-known as a lending platform. Popular for student loan refinancing, SoFi has been gradually adding financial products and services to help create a one-stop-shop for clients’ financial needs.
One such offering is SoFi Invest. They have a few different investment options, but their robo-advisor arm — SoFi Automated Investing — is highly ranked by Backend Benchmarking’s Robo Report, holding steady as Best Overall Robo-Advisor at the end of 2021.
Some contributing factors to SoFi Invest’s success include access to free half hour Certified Financial Planner meetings, strong performance over time, and no management fees.
SoFi Top Features
- Crypto, stock, and ETF investment options
- Access to CFP financial advisor appointments
- $0 account management fees
- Low initial investment requirement
- Many financial products, so you can stay with one company regardless of your needs
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Who Benefits?
If you want access to live financial advisors, you’ll love SoFi. SoFi Invest is also the only robo-advisor option we know of that offers guidance to make sure your overall financial strategy is aligned with your personal goals.
Clients who want socially-responsible investing will gravitate toward M1 Finance. Beyond simply choosing to invest in companies that are doing good in the world, M1 Finance also highlights companies that are run by historically marginalized communities.
Either robo advisor will work if you don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars a month in management fees and want well-constructed pre-made portfolios. Both SoFi Invest and M1 Finance are free robo-advisors!
DIY investors will enjoy either M1 Finance or SoFi Active Investing, each with zero commissions and access to ETFs and stocks. Although only M1 will rebalance and manage the DIY stock and ETF portfolio.
Seeking cryptocurrency trading? SoFi has it now, M1 Finance will offer fee-free crypto trading soon. Get on the M1 Finance crypto waiting list. ADD AFFILIATE LINK
Quick Overview: Who Benefits from SoFi Invest vs. M1 Finance
- M1 Finance offers SRI investments
- M1 Finance offers 60+ customized thematic portfolios like retirement, income, hedge fund, innovation and more
- SoFi Invest has human financial advisors available by appointment
- Both robos offer $0 account management fees
- DIY investors will be able to customize their portfolios extensively with M1 Finance and have them managed for free.
- SoFi has a vast stable of lending products
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Fees and Minimums
One of the reasons we like both of these robo-advisors is their accessibility. Though advanced investors can benefit from either platform, SoFi and M1 Finance are mindful that not all investors are able to invest thousands of dollars upfront.
As you’ll see, they are also some of the most reasonably priced robos on the market.
M1 Finance Fees and Minimums
You can get started investing with M1 Finance’s taxable brokerage investment account for only $100, or one of their retirement accounts for $500.
M1 Finance does not charge account management or trading fees for its basic account. M1 Plus — the premium account type with some extra bells and whistles — costs $125 each year, with free promotion.
SoFi Fees and Minimums
You need only $1 to open an account with SoFi Invest, though you’ll need to reach $5 in order to begin investing.
Like M1 Finance, SoFi Invest also does not charge clients management or transaction fees.
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Deep Dive
Both of these robo-advisors may be affordable and appealing for first-time investors. But what really sets them apart? This deep dive will analyze the similarities and differences between SoFi Invest and M1 Finance so you can make the best decision for your unique investment goals.
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Human Financial Planners
This is one of the most important differences between M1 Finance and SoFi: only SoFi Invest clients will have access to Certified Financial Planners in live-time (by appointment). The website states they’ll help you make sure your asset allocation is aligned with your goals. But, SoFi doesn’t offer indepth personalized financial advice.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as M1 Finance is very much a DIY platform.
What is surprising, however, is that SoFi Invest offers this service for free! Many other robo-advisors offer human financial advisors as part of their packaging, but we don’t know of any that do so without any account management fees.
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Investments
Clients will find fairly diverse investment options at either robo-advisor. Both have a unique take on their investment options, however, which leads to great customizability for clients.
M1 Finance Investments
M1 Finance offers over 6,000 stock and ETF options, some of which include real estate and cannabis ETFs. Clients can create their own “pies” made up of their own combination of stocks and bonds, or they can invest in community and expert pies.
According to their website, “M1 Community Pies focus on groups of publicly traded companies led by Black, female, or LGBTQ+ executives.” They also offer pies focused on Latin- and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI)-led companies, and promise to add more in the future. These community pies, as well as their Sustainable Businesses pie, help clients invest in causes and communities that matter to them.
M1 Finance’s expert pies help clients further tailor their investment experience by focusing on Hedge Fund investment strategies, retirement, target-date funds, dividend portfolios, typical risk-based, diversified stock and bond portfolios and more.
Additionally, M1 Finance allows clients to purchase fractional shares, which helps small investors achieve portfolio diversification.
SoFi itself offers six SoFi-specific ETFs as options for investors:
- WKLY, which pays weekly dividends and follows global stocks
- TGIF, a fixed-income, actively managed ETF that pays on Fridays
- GIGE, which follows high-growth tech company IPOs
- SYF, which provides clients a share of the 500 largest, publicly traded companies in the US
- SFYX, which invests in 500 mid-cap companies in the US
- SFYF, which invests in the top 50 stocks available on the platform
The SoFi investment company as a whole offers quite a few ways for clients to invest. Options include:
- Active Investing. Take a hands-on approach to your investment portfolio by making your own trades. SoFi calls this an opportunity to “learn the market as you do-it-yourself.”
- Automated Investing. This is the robo-advisor arm of SoFi. The platform will create an investment portfolio for you based on your financial needs, risk tolerance, and more. Accounts are automatically rebalanced as needed.
- Cryptocurrency. You need only $10 to get started trading Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum, and more. Cryptocurrency trades can take place 24/7, all through the SoFi app.
- IPO Investing. This is an option available to Active Investing members only. IPOs, or Initial Public Offerings, are opportunities to jump on a brand new stock. It comes with a potentially higher risk, but can also pay off.
- Fractional shares, or “stock bits” options. No need to save up hundreds of dollars just to purchase a share in a large company! Fractional shares let you purchase stocks for much less, so you can benefit quickly.
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Trading Windows
SoFi offers open trading windows. This is a good option for clients wo want to trade frequently. Day trading is allowed for those active investors with account balances greater than $25,000.
M1 Finance offers only one trading window, or two per day if you’re an M1 Plus client. M1 Finance is not suitable for frequent traders.
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Tax-Loss Harvesting
Neither robo-advisor on this list offers tax-loss harvesting.
If this is an important feature to you, there are many other robo-advisors that include tax-loss harvesting.
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Socially-Responsible Investments
SoFi does not offer SRI portfolios at this time.
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Account Types
M1 Finance customers can open an individual or joint brokerage account, Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs, trusts, and custodial accounts.
SoFi is a little more limited, and offers individual and joint taxable accounts, and Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs.
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Additional Services
Both companies aim to be one-stop-shops for the clients, though in this case the SoFi features outweigh M1 Finance’s offerings.
M1 Finance Additional Products:
- Borrow: Margin loans, available from 3.5%-5.0% (subject to change based on market interest rates)
- Spend Checking Accounts: M1 basic clients don’t get any bells and whistles, but M1 Plus clients will get interest (1.30% APY as of July 2022), 1% cash back, 4 ATM fee reimbursements per month, and more. All checking accounts are FDIC insured.
- Spend Owner’s Reward Card: A credit card with up to 10% cash back. The $95/year fee is waived for M1 Plus members. As an additional bonus, your cashback rewards can be reinvested in your portfolio.
M1 Spend Interest Rate – 1.7%*
SoFi Additional Products:
- Loans: Student loans, student loan refinancing, personal loans (e.g. home improvement and wedding loans), mortgages, small business and auto loan refinancing.
- Credit card: Up to 3% cash back.
- Checking and savings accounts: As of July 2022, accounts were offering 1.50% APY and no account fees. You can also earn up to 15% cash back with the attached debit card.
- Insurance: Auto, life, homeowners, and renters insurance.
- Estate Planning.
- Additional financial “insights,” such as credit score monitoring, property tracking, investment portfolio summaries, and budgeting and spending assistance, to support your personal finance journey.
M1 Finance vs. SoFi — Customer Service
SoFi’s customer service hours vary based on department, but in general they can be reached via phone Monday-Friday 5am-7pm PT, and Saturdays and Sundays from 5am-5pm PT.
M1 Finance offers “Instant Help” via chat feature. Individuals can also submit help requests via form, and a success team member will respond within one business day. Phone customer service is available 9:00 to 4:00 ET on days when the stock market is open.
Which is Best: M1 Finance or SoFi? The Takeaway
Both of these robo-advisors are competitive because they offer diversified investments and a combination of DIY and automated investing portfolio options. We also appreciate how each company offers additional financial products; this is convenient for clients who want to keep their cash accounts under the same company as their retirement accounts!
Even better, there’s free portfolio management and a low minimum deposit requirement for each robo.
Still, many clients may prefer SoFi Invest because it has many more features.
- Free access to CFPs
- Cryptocurrency and IPO options
- More diverse personal finance products in addition to investment portfolios
- Open trading window
- $0 account management fees and $5 account minimums to begin investing
- Limited account types; no trusts or custodial accounts
- No tax-loss harvesting
- No Socially-Responsible Investing options
- Financial advisors aren’t suitable for personalized long term financial planning. Personal Capital or Betterment Premium offer more individualized financial advice, albeit at a higher price.
Don’t count M1 Finance out just yet, however. Though they are a smaller company, the firm continues to innovate and add new features.
M1 Finance Pros:
- DIY and highly tailored investment portfolios, or “pies,” including SRIs
- High yield cash account, margin borrowing, debit and credit cards.
- $100 initial investment is low compared to many robo-advisors
- $0 account management fees
M1 Finance Cons:
- No tax-loss harvesting
- No access to human financial planners
- Limited trading windows, even with M1 Plus membership
The two major deciding factors that many will need to choose from are: Do you need access to CFPs? Do you want to invest specifically in certain community-led companies, and if so, does SoFi offer enough customization to meet your needs?
In brief, if free access human investment advice is essential to you then you’ll lean towards SoFi.
If you’re more concerned about what sort of companies your investments are supporting, you’ll need to choose M1 Finance.
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*Spend interest rate for M1 Plus customers.
Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t believe is valuable.
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