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If you’re interested in building an investment portfolio, you may find the choice of investment platforms a little daunting. There are numerous low-cost or free trading platforms that offer entry into the investment market.
Tornado was originally named Nvstr and has been operating since 2015. The company founders had the aim to help everyone become a more confident investor through personalized content, community insights, and investing education.. You can use Tornado to invest in stocks or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) traded on US stock exchanges.
What makes Tornado different from other online brokers is its guidance. Most platforms either give the user full control with no guidance, or they function as a robo advisor and give the investor very few options. Tornado is a hybrid of the two approaches, which makes it far more appealing to casual or newbie investors. It allows you to manage your portfolio by yourself but provides data, tools, and community insights to help you maintain a balanced investment portfolio.
Tornado also offers a Learn and Earn program which serves up educational content aligned with your skill level. You can earn up to $50 to invest when you complete a series of investing lessons, a simple way to encourage members to continue their financial education.
You can access Tornado via the website or mobile app which is compatible with iOS and Android devices. This allows you to research investments, assess stocks, simulate trades, and even see what famous investors are buying or selling.
Webull is a little younger than Tornado, as it was formed in 2017, launching its app in 2018. The platform was launched to target millennials and it positioned itself to serve active and newer traders and others looking for a variety of services with no account minimums, access to cryptocurrencies, and commission-free trading.
Webull is weighted towards self-directed investors with less comprehensive offerings compared to full-service brokers. However, it does offer a nice platform with a variety of helpful features and tools, together with competitive margin rates.
For more details, read our Webull review.
Webull is a free investing app that provides advanced reporting tools and allows you to make free trades of stocks, ETFs, and options. Right now Webull is offering six free stocks when you signup through our link (use the button below) and deposit any amount.
- Commission-free trades of stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency
- Buy fractional shares for any amount
- Extended trading hours
- Advanced reporting tools
- IRAs now available
- 24/7 customer service
Pricing and Fees
One of the most attractive things about the Tornado platform is that there are not many fees associated with having an account. You’ll pay a $7.99 per month subscription fee, which includes 40 free trades each month. After the first 40, each trade costs $4.50 each. You can pay your monthly subscription costs with a debit or credit card, by using your linked savings or checking account, or directly from your Tornado account
If you plan to only place trades occasionally, you can use Tornado without a subscription. In that case, there is a fee of $4.50 per trade.
Other Tornado fees that you may potentially encounter include:
- Paper statements: $5
- Paper trade confirmations: $2
- ACH notice of change: $5
- Margin sell out: $25
- Tax statement: $5
- Returned payments: $30
Webull is marketed as a no-cost broker, so you’ll not pay commission for trades, or fees for account minimums, or for accessing the platform’s tools. You may incur SEC transaction fees or regulatory costs and competitive margin rates.
You will also incur a small fee for some incidentals, including:
- Transfer from Webull through Apex: $75 per outgoing stock transfer
- Paper statements: $5
- Paper confirms: $2
- Paper prospectus: $2.50
- Domestic wire transfer (deposit): $8
- Domestic Wire Transfer (withdrawal): $25
- International Wire Transfer (deposit): $12.5
- International Wire Transfer (withdrawal): $45
Tornado has no minimum deposit requirements, but you need to maintain a balance of $3,000 or more to use the portfolio optimization feature. The investment options for this platform include stocks and ETFs.
Webull has a focus on U.S stocks, ETFs, and options via taxable or IRA accounts. Fractional shares can be purchased for as little as $5. You can also trade in cryptocurrencies from $1.
Community and Social Features
Tornado is quite unique, as it’s one of the few platforms that has social networking features. You can connect with other users to see what they are invested in and the platform will show you how their portfolio is diversified together with each asset performance, without specific dollar amounts.
Tornado also ranks users’ portfolios. Users in the bottom 50% are unranked, but if the user is in the top 50%, you’ll see a percentage ranking.
The platform also allows you to access thought leaders. You can select a thought leader to see their long-term investments, gathered from public sources. There are also Community Thought Leaders, which are experienced members of the Tornado community, who you can ask about specific stock or EFT queries. This is superb one on one access which is more than worth the monthly subscription fee. No other platform that we’re aware of offers functionality quite like this.
On the other hand, Webull does not have any particular social features. There are news feeds, but there is no real interaction between users.
Ease of Use
Tornado is an innovative platform that provides a superb user experience. The platform is built around “ideas”, which can not only provide insight but also help you to track investments you’re thinking about. The layout is intuitive and you can start exploring ideas almost immediately. As a default setting, your ideas will be visible to your connections. However, you can adjust the settings if you want to keep your ideas private. You can also click on the profile of people you’re connected with to see their ideas (unless they are private).
To create an idea, you just enter some basic data, such as level of conviction and expected rate of return. You can then choose to include the idea in the Optimizer or omit it. We’ll explore the Optimizer feature in more detail below.
Webull is a little more straightforward to use. The layout is clean and offers intuitive navigation that you can access via the website or mobile app. The great thing is that the website, workstation, and app have almost identical functionality and appearance. There are buttons on the left side of the screen to access a stock page with information on single stocks, a customizable quote board, a market overview page, a stock screener, and a customizable trading screen. There is also an account tab that shows positions, balances, performance, buying power, account bank transfers, and paper trading.
You can easily create watchlists across all the platforms from the stock screener results. There is also a straightforward order entry process and you can customize your trading ticket information according to what you most commonly use.
Data and Research
We’ve already discussed ideas and thought leaders, but there are other research and data tools on Tornado. This includes a built-in screener, which lists stocks and ETFs according to traits such as low price to book value, high dividend yields, low correlation to current stock holdings, and even stocks that investors similar to you are buying.
There are prebuilt screens, but it’s possible to add extra filters and make a custom screen. If you find picks you like, you can add them to a watch list or buy and sell directly from this page.
Tornado also has an option to simulate an account. This is ideal for newbies, as you won’t use real money or do any real trading. There are no fees to use a simulated account, so you can learn strategies and test ideas without financial risk. Your simulated account will work the same as a regular account. You’ll still be able to access the stock research and social networking tools. You can even try the Optimizer. You can differentiate between live and simulated trades by the user profile picture. If there is a circle around the profile picture, it is a live brokerage account.
Webull has a superb selection of data and research amenities. This includes a stock screener on the website and workstation with data and charting for U.S markets. There are technical indicators that are easy to use and you can save a customized search into a watchlist. There are also tools to help construct options strategies via a drop-down menu and solid charting functionality. You can set alerts and order tickets directly from charts, but it works a little differently on the mobile app, due to the smaller screen size.
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- Research more than 8,500 stocks
- Details on 4,000 ETFs and 40,000 mutual funds
- Portfolio management (syncs with your brokerage)
- Detailed portfolio performance
- Powerful charting and screening
- Fully customizable
This is a unique and standout feature of the Tornado platform, which allows you to at any time automatically rebalance your portfolio. The goal of the Optimizer is to help you to build a portfolio from your ideas to maximize expected returns without compromising on your acceptable level of risk.
When you create an account, you can select your level of risk. This will be used to determine appropriate suggestions by the Optimizer. However, it’s possible to change your risk setting within the Optimizer. You can also access advanced settings such as allowing short sales, minimum dividend income, the maximum allocation for single stocks, and more. These settings will all impact the results when you run the Optimizer.
This innovative feature solves the issue many new investors face of not knowing how much to invest in each ETF or stock. The Optimizer allocations are based on risk/return optimization and your own preferences. It will not make any trades without approval, so you are not tied into the results. You can simply view the list of suggested trades and if you prefer authorize all trades with one click.
This is a viable alternative to a robo advisor. While it works with your ideas, you can quickly reallocate or optimize your holdings at any time.
- No Account Minimums: Unlike many trading platforms, there are no account minimums. But you will need a balance of at least $3,000 to access some platform functions.
- Learn and Earn: You can earn up to $50 to invest when you participate in Tornado’s Learn and Earn program, which serves up education content aligned with your skill level.
- Free Trades Included in Subscription Plan: You’ll get 40 free trades per month included in your $7.99 monthly subscription fee. This works out at less than $0.20 per trade. You can also pay a fee for additional trades if you go over the 40 in any month.
- Thought Leader Answers: You can ask community thought leaders stock specific questions, which is a fantastic resource.
- Share Ideas: The platform also has a social component where you can share investment tips and ideas with other Tornado users.
- One-Click Portfolio Optimization: The Optimizer can generate allocations based on your ideas and setting preferences. If you want to go ahead with the suggestions, you can implement them all with one click.
- Free Trading Platform: Unlike Tornado, which has a subscription fee, there are no fees with Webull. Apart from incidentals, you can trade with no cost whether you’re buying and selling stocks, ETFs, or crypto.
- Quick and Easy Account Opening: The entire account opening process will only take a few minutes. This means that you will receive trading approval quickly. Once you add your bank account and set up a transfer you’re good to go. Webull will even allow you to access buying power even if your transfer will take a few days to complete.
- Free Real-Time Streaming Quotes: Webull provides free streaming quotes and you’ll also enjoy a three month Level 2 Advance quotes subscription for free. This is Nasdaq TotalView, which provides greater depth of bids, and asks on securities, plus market depth information.
- Intuitive Desktop and App Layouts: Unlike some trading platforms, Webull’s mobile app and desktop layouts are intuitive and easy to use, with minimal differences between the two. This means that you can use either without a steep learning curve.
- Access to Extended Hours Trading Periods: Webull customers can access pre or extended hour trading periods. You can also choose if you want your orders active during non regular trading day times.
Final Thoughts on Tornado vs. Webull
Both Tornado and Webull are great platforms offering a low-cost way to trade stocks, ETFs, and other securities. However, these platforms are likely to appeal to different types of investors. Tornado is quite innovative and has a social component that allows its users to interact by sharing tips and strategies. You can also ask a community thought leader a question and use the Optimizer to receive guidance for your portfolio. Additionally, the platform incentivizes investors of all levels to continue learning by rewarding progress via their Learn and Earn program. However, this does come at a cost. You will need to pay a $7.99 per month subscription fee. This includes your first 40 trades and subsequent trades are charged at $4.50 each.
Webull is more aimed at those traders who want to keep their costs as low as possible. While there are screeners and a few other tools, it is a more basic platform. So, this may be more appealing to slightly more experienced traders who want to avoid fees and charges. Webull has minimal fees; there is no subscription fee or trade commissions. The only fees you may incur are for ancillary items such as paper statements, which is great if you have a limited investment fund.
We hope this Tornado vs. Webull comparison has been helpful for you. Now, take action and get started with the platform that’s the best fit for your needs.