Public.com vs. Tornado: Community-Oriented Investment Platforms

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Public vs Tornado

While there are many stock trading apps and online brokerages to choose from, only a select few offer social or community features. In this Public.com vs. Tornado comparison, we’ll look at two of the most noteworthy options for this functionality. 

Both of these platforms are ideal for connecting with other users and learning from the community, but there are significant differences between them that will determine which one is right for you.

Join Public to get up to $300 of free stock when you make a deposit.*

Currently, Tornado is offering a bonus of up to $1,000 cash to invest when you create and fund a new account (terms and conditions listed at Tornado.com). Additionally, all Tornado users with an active account can get up to $50 to invest by completing simple Learn and Earn lessons that teach basic fundamentals of investing.

Public.com vs. Tornado Summary

The main difference between these two platforms relates to their respective business models. Public.com is a free trading platform that is suitable for beginners or experienced investors. It features a clean interface and provides an excellent user experience, but it offers very few tools for analysis and research.

Tornado, on the other hand, provides more advanced tools, including an impressive Optimizer that makes it easy to manage your portfolio. However, Tornado charges a monthly subscription fee of $9.99, which includes 50 free trades per month.

Before we cover the details of these two platforms, here’s a summary of the key points and how they compare with one another.

  • Both platforms allow you to trade stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
  • Both platforms allow you to buy and sell fractional shares.
  • Public.com offers more than 25 cryptocurrencies. Tornado does not offer crypto trading.
  • Public.com charges no subscription or account fees, and stock and ETF trades are commission-free.
  • Tornado charges a $9.99 monthly subscription fee that provides 50 commission-free trades per month. Additional trades cost $4.50 per trade. 
  • Tornado users can opt-out of the subscription and pay a flat $4.50 per trade.
  • Both platforms provide an excellent user experience, but Public.com has a simplified interface that is cleaner and a bit easier for beginners.
  • Both platforms offer social features so you can connect with and learn from friends or others in the community.
  • Public.com provides investment Themes. These categorized lists of stocks and funds make it easy to find investments that appeal to you.
  • Tornado’s Learn and Earn program allows every user to earn up to $50 to invest by simply completing a series of investing education lessons.
  • Tornado users have one-on-one access to Community Thought Leaders, who are experienced members of the community.
  • Tornado features a powerful portfolio Optimizer that works to maximize potential returns without increasing risk.

Public.com Overview

Public

Public.com is a free stock trading platform that stands out from the competition by offering a sleek user interface and offering social and community features. The platform is extremely beginner-friendly, but also suitable for experienced investors and traders.

By allowing users to start investing with fractional shares and charging no commissions for trades, Public.com makes it possible for just about anyone to start investing.

While there are a lot of trading platforms and investing apps out there, Public.com offers what’s possibly the best and most user-friendly interface. Everything is well-designed, logical, and simple to use. 

Thanks to the social and community features, Public.com users are able to connect with friends and learn from other community members. You can join or start discussion groups, see what others are buying or selling, and learn while getting experience.

Top Pick
Get Free Stock from Public.com Get Free Stock from Public.com

Public.com offers fractional shares so anyone can start investing. You'll love the social aspect that makes it possible to connect with other investors. Get a free stock slice worth up to $300 when you open an account through our link.

Features:
  • Commission-free trades of stocks and ETFs
  • Buy and sell 27 different cryptocurrencies
  • Fractional shares
  • Easy to use and beginner-friendly
  • Connect with a supportive community of investors
  • "Themes" help you to find investments that interest you
Offer valid for U.S. residents 18+ and subject to account approval. This is not a recommendation. You can lose money with any investment. Open To The Public Investing is a member of FINRA & SIPC. Regulatory and firm fees apply. New customers receive free stock with value $3-300; 0.3% receive the max value. Cryptocurrency trading provided by Apex Crypto LLC (NMLS ID 1828849). Apex Crypto is licensed to engage in virtual currency business activity by the New York State Department of Financial Services. See Public.com/disclosures/

Tornado Overview

Tornado

Tornado is an investing and trading platform that’s highly focused on education. Users are able to access educational content that’s appropriate for their specific level of experience. Tornado even offers bonuses through the Learn and Earn program for users who complete brief lessons on foundational aspects of investing.

Like Public.com, Tornado offers social functionality so you can connect with and learn from others on the platform. One of the most unique social features involves Community Thought Leaders, who are experienced investors that are compensated by Tornado to provide assistance to other users. No other platform that we’re aware of provides this type of one-on-one access.

Another key feature is Tornado’s Optimizer, which allows users to optimize their portfolio at any time with a single click. Thanks to the Optimizer, Tornado could be viewed as an alternative to robo advisors.

Tornado’s fee structure (more details on that below) makes it significantly different from Public.com and other online brokerages like Webull or Robinhood. Features like the Optimizer and access to Community Thought Leaders may easily justify the cost for some users, but you’ll need to consider your specific situation to be sure that it’s the right fit.

Investment Options

Both Public.com and Tornado support trades of stocks and ETFs, including the ability to buy and sell fractional shares. The primary difference is that Public.com also supports crypto trading. Currently, there are more than 25 cryptocurrencies available, and that number has increased several times in recent months. 

Crypto trading on Public.com is managed by Apex Crypto, an industry leader. You don’t need your own digital wallet to purchase crypto through Public.com. They’ll securely store it for you, which could be an attractive feature if you don’t already have or use a digital wallet.

Neither platform currently supports trades of mutual funds or bonds.

Winner: Public.com

Social Features

The main similarity between these two platforms is that they both offer excellent social and community features. While many other investing apps and online brokers provide a way to trade, only a select few integrate social features into the platform.

Both Public.com and Tornado make it easy to connect with your friends and other users on the platform. These social features could be appealing to investors with any level of experience, but it’s especially helpful for those who are new to trading or simply looking to improve their knowledge and experience. 

Tornado features Community Thought Leaders, who are experienced investors that actively engage with other community members. You can get feedback from Community Thought Leaders or ask them specific questions. This type of one-on-one access is unique to Tornado.

Public.com offers virtual town halls where users can submit questions for executives of publicly traded companies. The town halls provide a unique opportunity to interact with founders and executives of companies you invest in.

Although the functionality of these two platforms is slightly different, both allow you to discuss investment ideas with other users and see what they’re buying and selling (unless the user chooses to keep that information private). You can’t see the amounts that others have in their portfolio, but you can see details like percentages and how those holdings have performed for them. This can be incredibly useful for anyone looking to learn.

Winner: Tie

Ease of Use

Many modern trading apps and online brokerages have been designed with beginners in mind. Typically, these platforms are easy to use, which makes them more beginner-friendly. Of all of the options out there, Public.com offers (in our opinion) the best interface design and ease of use. Even if you have no experience with investing apps, Public.com is intuitive and everything is easy to understand.

Tornado is also well-designed and user-friendly, but there’s a little more going on, while Public.com has taken a more simplified approach. Tornado definitely scores well in terms of user experience, but not quite as well as Public.com. 

Winner: Public.com

Educational Resources

Because Public.com takes a simplified approach, there aren’t a lot of tools available for research or analysis. They do offer investment Themes, which are categorized lists of stocks and funds. There are more than 40 different themes that make it easy to find investment opportunities that appeal to you. 

The Themes can be extremely helpful to new users who want to start investing but aren’t sure what to buy. There are Themes for dividend stocks, tech giants, blockchain technology, companies with female CEOs, companies with immigrant founders, and much more.

Tornado is highly focused on education, so users will find a number of resources and features that can help investors gain valuable insight and sharpen their skillset. 

One important feature that combines education with the social aspect is access to Community Thought Leaders. Tornado compensates experienced members of the community to be available and accessible to other users. As a Tornado user, you can ask questions and get feedback from these Community Thought Leaders. This one-on-one access is a very unique and valuable feature.

Tornado also provides access to news that’s relevant to your specific interests and investments. You don’t have to wade through hundreds of headlines to find the ones that are significant to you. Simply add any stock to your watchlist if you want to keep a closer eye on the news related to it.

Through its Learn and Earn program, Tornado puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to its commitment to education. Every Tornado user with an active account can earn up to $50 to invest by completing a series of brief lessons on fundamental concepts of investing. Each lesson takes less than five minutes to complete, and you can complete one lesson per day. 

Winner: Tornado

Fees

Possibly the biggest difference between Public.com and Tornado relates to the specific business model they use and the fees that users will pay.

Public.com offers commission-free trades on stocks and funds, and there are no subscriptions or account fees. While Public.com charges no commission for crypto trades, Apex Crypto includes a 1-2% markup. For example, if you purchase $100 of crypto with a 1% markup, you’ll pay $101 for it.

It’s also worth noting that as of early 2021, Public.com does not make money from payment for order flow (PFOF). Payment for order flow is a common but somewhat controversial way that many brokers make money by directing trades to different market makers. PFOF came into focus after the GameStop saga. 

While most commission-free brokers like Robinhood make money from PFOF, Public.com chose to end the practice to ensure there’s no conflict of interest and that the company operates with users’ best interest in mind. When Public.com stopped participating in PFOF they introduced optional tipping. When you place a trade, you have the option of leaving a tip for Public.com’s service.

Tornado takes a much different approach than most trading platforms by charging a subscription fee of $9.99 per month. Users with an active subscription are able to make up to 50 commission-free trades each month. Additional trades cost $4.50 per trade.

Optionally, Tornado users who don’t place many trades can decide to pay a flat $4.50 per trade instead of paying the monthly subscription fee.

Tornado’s fees are, in our opinion, reasonable considering features like access to Community Thought Leaders and the Optimizer (which we’ll cover next). But the fee structure must be considered when you’re deciding if it’s the right platform for you because the free structure doesn’t work well for accounts with small balances.

Although Tornado does not have a minimum deposit or account balance requirement, the subscription fee structure makes it less than ideal for accounts with small balances. Some other platforms, like most robo advisors, charge percentage-based fees. Tornado’s flat fee structure means that the fees are more significant for smaller accounts and less significant for those with larger balances, which could be good or bad depending on your situation.

Winner: Public.com

Portfolio Optimization

Public.com is a straight-up trading platform. Like most other basic trading apps and platforms, there are no features that allow you to optimize your portfolio.

On the other hand, one of Tornado’s most noteworthy features is the Optimizer. The Optimizer uses technology based on independent, Nobel Prize-winning research to indicate a portfolio allocation based on your preferences. With the help of the Optimizer, you can maximize potential returns while staying within your comfort level in terms of risk tolerance.

The Optimizer can be used at any time and you can get the suggestions with a single click. While Tornado is not a robo advisor, the capabilities of the Optimizer and the ability to use it at any time make Tornado an alternative to robo advisors.

Not only is the Optimizer one of the most significant features of Tornado, it’s also the standout functionality that justifies the monthly subscription fee for many users.

Winner: Tornado

Mobile Apps

Both Public.com and Tornado can be used on a desktop (through an internet browser) or on a mobile device. Apps for both are available for iPhone and Android users.

The mobile apps for both Public.com and Tornado are well-designed and user-friendly. With either platform, it’s easy to access your account and make trades at your desk or on the go.

Winner: Tie

Public.com Advantages

Now that we’ve looked at the details of each platform, let’s look at the areas where Public.com comes out on top in the comparison.

  • Commission-free trades on stocks and ETFs. If you’re looking for commission-free trades, Public.com is a better option. All trades of stocks and funds are free, although you can leave a tip (optional).
  • Access to cryptocurrency. Crypto is becoming more and more popular with investors. By using Public.com, you can have your stock, ETF, and crypto investments in one place.
  • No subscription fees. Public.com is a free platform, which is a major advantage for accounts with smaller balances.
  • Investment Themes. Public.com’s investment Themes make it easy to find investments that appeal to your interests.
  • No payment for order flow (PFOF). Public.com is a very transparent company that’s well aligned with the best interest of users. The fact that they choose not to make money from PFOF is evidence of that.
  • Excellent user experience. Of all the investing and trading apps out there, Public.com offers the best user experience, in our opinion. Whether you’re an experienced trader or a complete beginner, you’ll find it easy to use.
  • Town halls. Public.com provides access to executives of publicly traded companies through town halls. Users can submit questions and get them answered.

Tornado Advantages

Of course, Tornado has some significant advantages as well, including:

  • Powerful portfolio optimization. Optimize your portfolio at any time with a single click. This feature differentiates Tornado from competitors that are simply trading platforms.
  • Educational content aligned with your experience level. Tornado is committed to education, so it’s a great platform for anyone looking to learn more about investing.
  • Earn up to $50 to invest through Learn and Earn. Every user with an active account can get the bonus by completing brief lessons on investing.
  • Access to insights from Community Thought Leaders. Ask questions and get feedback from experienced members of the community.
  • Simulated accounts. For those who are looking to gain experience without putting any money at risk, Tornado offers simulated accounts so you can experiment and practice strategies.

Final Thoughts on Public.com vs. Tornado

While Public.com and Tornado have some similarities in terms of social and community features, the two platforms are very different in many other ways. Neither is necessarily better than the other, but the details of each make them ideally suited to different types of investors. 

Hopefully, this Public.com vs. Tornado comparison has helped you to learn which option is better suited for your specific needs.

*Public.com offer valid for U.S. residents 18+ and subject to account approval. This is not a recommendation. You can lose money with any investment. Open To The Public Investing is a member of FINRA & SIPC. Regulatory and firm fees apply. New customers receive free stock with value $3-300; 0.3% receive the max value. Cryptocurrency trading offered by Apex Crypto LLC. See Public.com/disclosures/



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