Paul Merriman
Sound Investing For Every Stage of Life 

FAQs for Motif  Investing

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How do I find Paul’s Motifs at Motif Investing?

Once you open a free account, using our link, search for “Paul Merriman Diversified” and you’ll see a list of Paul’s recommended portfolios.

What if I want less International market exposure?

Paul now offers 70% US / 30% International Motifs for customers who are not comfortable with a 50/50 US/International allocation.

Here’s a summary of the initial Motifs Paul has provided:

Will Paul be introducing more Motifs?

Yes! In the months ahead, new Motifs following Paul’s recommendations will be offered. Stay tuned by subscribing to Paul’s FREE bi-monthly newsletter on the home page of his website.

Are there other resources for information on Motif?

It is a good idea to read through all of the Motif FAQs. You will note there are a lot of services at Motif that are designed to engage traders and investors who are building portfolios of individual stocks. Of course, those are NOT the strategies that we recommend but it is a good idea to understand all the ways that Motif is trying to serve investors. 

What do I do now? Get started! Click here and set up your free account.

What kind of Investor is Motif Investing built to help?

Motif was created to help the first-time investors.

Is the commission charged to trade Motif accounts worth paying?

In short, yes. It saves you the trouble of yearly re-balancing. Motif will automatically pick up the changes that have been made to the portfolio since the last time you re-balanced. It’s the difference between working up a huge spreadsheet to do your own re-balancing and paying $9.95 to have it done for you!

Should the commission that The Merriman Financial Education Foundation receives be viewed as a conflict of interest?

No. In addition to a one-time commission of $45-$55 per activated account, the Foundation only receives one dollar per portfolio transaction, a royalty fee for creating portfolios. That dollar then goes to help support the necessary cash flow to support the work of the Foundation on a long-term basis.

Does it make sense to move large accounts from Vanguard to Motif?

It does not, but the Merriman Diversified portfolios at Motif can still be a good resource for information to figure out what recommended ETF’s you may like to add to your portfolio. That can simply be done by opening a free account at Motif.

How much is Paul paid by his foundation?

The by-laws of The Merriman Financial Education Foundation clearly state that no officer or director can receive any compensation. However, if he travels to speak on behalf the Foundation, his expenses are reimbursed.

What are the pros and cons of using Motif for taxable accounts?

If you’re going to sell a lot of mutual funds that have large capital gains built into them, you may have a problem that Motif will never catch up with. But if you have a small IRA that doesn’t have a lot going on, it could be beneficial to open an All Value Portfolio through Motif, to gain some exposure.

Under what circumstances should young investors choose Motif over their 401k plan?

If the 401K does not give access to all of the asset classes that you need, it would make sense to do the 401K up to the match and then make use of the All Equity Value Motif. This would give you access to small, large, US, international, and even emerging market value.

How do I find your Motif portfolios?

If you search for “Merriman diversified” under Community Motifs you should see the list of 70 portfolios. Here is a direct link as of today. 

Which of your portfolios should I use to convert an IRA to a Roth IRA?

Before I answer your questions it’s important to understand my limitations.  I want to do all I can to help you make good investment decisions but I am not able to give personal advice.  My hope is, with the help of the Fine-Tuning tables you can identify the right combination of asset classes to meet your need for return within your risk tolerance.  Of course the conversion of a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA is a combination of tax and estate planning decisions. Again I am limited in giving personal tax advice.  When I was an advisor I often encouraged investors to convert their IRAs to Roths as it was the equivalent of saving more money. Plus who knows what tax and estate laws will be in the future?

I know our present lineup of portfolios at Motif is overwhelming to many investors. My hope is our soon-to-be offered target date portfolios will make the decision easier.

Regarding Motif commissions: since I like to save a certain amount per paycheck and invest it into an account, wouldn’t it be wasteful to investthat amount and incur a commission every paycheck from making a trade?

It doesn’t make any sense to spend $9.95 a month to dollar cost average into a small account. I am trying to figure out the steps you should take, as I’m sure there are a lot of people in your position.

Here are a couple of ideas. You can set up an account with a firm that doesn’t charge anything to make small contributions. One possibility is to work with Schwab. At your age an all-value portfolio is a reasonable strategy. Then once you get to $2,000 you can transfer $1,500 to Motif and continue to invest the monthly amounts at Schwab.

Another approach is to borrow your intended annual contributions from your parents and let them be the recipient of your monthly contribution. What I like about this approach is it means you invest earlier in the year and that should produce a lot more income when you retire. I will be doing more on this in the future.

My goal for you is to find the best place to meet your personal needs and Motif is not going to be the answer for many investors.

Can I use the names of the funds in your ETF portfolio and try to find similar mutual funds on Schwab’s OneSource list where I have my 401k?

There must be a lot of people who would like that help at Schwab, and Fidelity. I have added them both to my “to do” list. In the meantime I suggest the following: I know you will be able to find funds that represent the asset classes I hope you will have in your portfolio. They include all the equity asset classes found in by Ultimate Buy and Hold Portfolio. Some are available in very low cost Schwab index funds.  Watch for my Schwab and Fidelity self directed recommendation in the last quarter of the year.