Tornado Review 2021: Get Up to $1,200 to Start Investing

There are many investing apps to choose from to build your portfolio. Each online broker has its unique features that appeal to a specific investment strategy.

Tornado is an investing app that provides a different experience for researching stocks. You can get investing ideas from professional investors without paying a pricey management fee. Similar to robo-advisors, Tornado recommends a model portfolio – with individual stocks and ETFs.

Sound good so far? This Tornado review will help you decide if it’s time to switch brokers as you can improve your investing skills.

Table of Contents
  1. What is Tornado?
    1. Up to $1,000 Brokerage Promotion
    2. Account Options
    3. Fees
    4. Investment Options
  2. Key Features
    1. One-Click Portfolio Optimization
    2. Ask a Community Leader
    3. Investment Ideas
    4. Thought Leaders
    5. Trading Simulator
    6. Research Tools
    7. Tornado Mobile App
  3. Positives and Negatives
    1. Pros
    2. Cons
  4. Who Should Use Tornado?
  5. Alternatives to Tornado
    1. Webull
    2. M1 Finance
    3. Betterment
  6. Summary

What is Tornado?

Tornado is an investing platform founded in 2015 and is available online or on Android and iOS devices. You can invest in individual stocks and ETFs that trade on the US stock exchanges.

On July 22nd, 2021, NVSTR changed their name to Tornado. Everything else remained the same.

So, what makes Tornado different than your run-of-the-mill online broker?

Tornado founders Bernard George and Patrick Aber both left the hedge fund industry with the intent of making “intelligent investing accessible to everyone.”

With most online brokers, you (the investor) must decide by yourself what to invest in – or use a fully-automated robo-advisor. The lack of guidance makes it challenging to invest by yourself.

But with Tornado, you can manage your own portfolio and Tornado suggests stocks and ETFs to buy and sell to keep a balanced portfolio. You can also enjoy a Facebook-like interface to perform these investment research tasks:

  • One-click portfolio optimization (based on Nobel Prize-winning research)
  • Ask professional investors about a specific stock or ETF
  • Weighs pros and cons for stock tickers
  • See what stocks that other Tornado members are investing in
  • Copy model portfolios of famous investors
  • Simulate trades

Up to $1,000 Brokerage Promotion

Opening an Tornado brokerage account can be an easy way to earn a funding bonus of up to $1,000. By funding your account and placing a trade within the first month, you get a random cash bonus worth between $9 and $1,000.

Bonus: If you sign up using any Tornado link in this article you will get a 20% bump in your sign up bonus!

Account Options

You can open a taxable individual brokerage account when you’re a US resident at least 18 years old. Each brokerage account comes with a margin account and you can get margin loans with a minimum $3,000 account balance.

Joint brokerage accounts and retirement accounts are not available at this time.

There are no minimum deposit requirements. Having a $3,000 trading account balance lets you buy multiple portfolio optimizations with one click.


An Tornado brokerage account costs $4 per month and you get 20 free trades each month. Each excess trade costs $4.50 to buy or sell stocks and ETFs. The current annual interest rate for margin loans is 6.50%.

You can pay the monthly subscription directly from your linked checking account, savings account, directly from your Tornado account, or with a credit card or debit card.

There are no extra charges to use the other Tornado features, such as asking a professional investor for their insight.

Some of the less-common fees you might encounter include:

  • Paper trade confirm: $2
  • Paper statement: $5
  • Tax statement: $5
  • Margin sell out: $25
  • Short forced buy in: $25

If you’re not ready to fund your live trading account, Tornado offers a simulated trading account. You get access to most of the platform features to build a sample portfolio.

Investment Options

You can buy or sell individual US stocks, ETFs, and ADRs as long as they are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

While you can’t invest in some foreign companies, including commodity producers or Nintendo (NTDOY), you can buy most tickers that trade on the Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange.

It’s not possible to trade put or call options but you can sell short stocks and ETFs. At the moment, Tornado doesn’t offer fractional share investing so you will need to buy whole shares.

The lack of advanced investment options will deter short-term and options traders investors from using Tornado.

Get started with Tornado

Key Features

Tornado can be a good fit for new and experienced investors as they offer several “intelligent investing” features.

One-Click Portfolio Optimization

The one-click portfolio optimization tool is one of Tornado’s most potent tools. This feature makes Tornado an automated robo-advisor but for individual stocks and ETFs. Tornado uses the same Nobel Prize-winning Modern Portfolio Theory methodology as the robo-advisors to generate a model portfolio. Except most robo-advisors only invest in index ETFs.

Upon joining, Tornado asks a series of questions to determine your desired annual return and investment preferences. From there, Tornado helps you find stocks that can diversify your portfolio and match your risk tolerance. If you like the model portfolio, Tornado will buy shares of your chosen stocks and funds with one click.

Tornado continually monitors your portfolio performance and can suggest buying additional shares or selling shares to rebalance your portfolio. You must authorize any sales for Tornado to rebalance your portfolio.

Of course, you can adjust your investing goals and open positions of stocks that Tornado doesn’t suggest.

Experienced investors can use the advanced investment objectives to fine-tune your portfolio. The optimization tool might recommend these portfolio adjustments:

  • Short stocks and ETFs
  • Prioritize stocks you assign a high conviction rating to
  • Buy stocks and ETFs with a minimum dividend income
  • Set a maximum portfolio allocation for stocks and ETFs
  • Avoid portfolio volatility

While the optimization tool isn’t foolproof, it can help you avoid risky stocks or having an imbalanced portfolio. Tornado doesn’t provide personal investment advice, yet this tool can be cheaper than hiring a personal advisor.

This feature is available for all Tornado accounts. However, your brokerage account balance must be at least $3,000 to enable one-click trading.

Ask a Community Leader

Another unique feature to Tornado is asking a community leader their opinion on a specific stock or ETF. Professional Wall Street investors can apply to be a community leader and Tornado pays them to answer your personalized questions.

A direct line to professional investors can be worth the $4 monthly cost to use Tornado.

Investment Ideas

Some investing apps, like Robinhood, let you see what other users are buying. Other brokers provide thematic research articles on popular investing topics.

Tornado offers several tools to find new investing ideas as you can connect with other users and see which stocks the most successful professional investors hold.

Investing Ideas Watch List

As you will most likely find more ideas than you can invest in, you can add them to your investing ideas watch list.

From your ideas list, you can rate the stock as a buy or sell. If you assign a sell rating, Tornado may consider shorting the stock. It’s also possible to add a conviction rating, investment horizon, pros and cons, and a reason for adding the symbol to your ideas list.

Exclude specific tickers from the optimization tool if you don’t want to invest in them but only want to monitor their performance.

Keep in mind that anyone you connect with on the Tornado social media platform can see your list. The good news is that you can adjust your privacy settings to keep your list private.

Stock Screener

Tornado has a built-in stock screener that lists stocks and ETFs for certain traits. Some examples include:

  • Stocks with a low correlation to your current holdings
  • Stocks that investors similar to you are buying
  • High dividend yields
  • Low price-to-book value

Within these prebuilt screens, you can add additional filters. It’s also possible to make a custom screen. The screener tool is similar to most online brokers in terms of capability.

If you like a stock pick, you can add the ticker to your Investing Ideas watch list. You can also buy or sell the stock or ETF directly from your screener.

Thought Leaders

Tornado compiles the current publicly-known portfolios of some of the most famous hedge funds. Here is the current list of Thought Leader investment firms:

  • Appaloosa Management (Jake Tepper)
  • Baupost Group (Seth Klerman)
  • Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett)
  • Greenlight Capital (David Einhorn)
  • Ichan Capital (Carl Icahn)
  • Pershing Square (Bill Ackman)

You will only see the long-term holdings from each portfolio and not any stocks an investor is shorting. It’s possible to add stocks you like to your ideas list. Clicking on the ticker symbol lets you take an in-depth look at the stock’s recent news, add your personal thoughts, and see the basic stock fundamentals.

Connect with Other Tornado Users

Tornado lets you connect with other users to share investment ideas effortlessly.

It’s possible to see the portfolios of your connections. You can see their portfolio allocation but not the number of shares or portfolio value.

Like a social media network, you can send messages to your connections and ask why they hold a specific stock. As your connections buy or sell shares, you can receive real-time notifications.

While this feature can give you investing ideas, avoid the herd mentality effect, and perform your due diligence before placing a trade.

Trading Simulator

A free simulated trading account can be useful for improving your investing skills and testing investing ideas. The trading simulator lets you use the one-click portfolio optimizer and adjust your investment strategy – and this is 100% free.

Research Tools

Tornado offers some research tools that are better than many free investing apps. But these community-focused tools are not as extensive as a full-service broker like Ally Invest or Fidelity.

For example, Tornado offers minimal charting tools for technical analysis. You will see a basic stock price chart and related news articles. This is because Tornado is built with the long term stock investor in mind, therefore technical analysis is not a prominent feature.

Pros and Cons

Probably the best research tool for most investors is the Pros and Cons feature. For each stock and ETF symbol, you will see a 250-character pro or con opinion.

Any Tornado user can add a tidbit and you can agree or disagree.

These pros and cons can be an easy way to understand how a particular stock can make money and its potential risks. Even if you’re quite familiar with a stock, this input can present arguments that you might overlook.

S&P Capital IQ

Tornado uses S&P Capital IQ to provide fundamental data for stocks and ETFs. Professional investors the same data source to compare potential investments. While you won’t get full access to the Capital IQ research reports, you can compare these metrics:

  • Price/Earnings
  • Price/Sales
  • Projected revenue growth
  • Dividend yield
  • Market cap
  • Net Debt
  • Forward EPS (current quarter)
  • Forward EPS (current year)
  • Revenue LTM
  • Price/Tangible Book ratio
  • Price/Sales ratio
  • Total Debt/EBITDA
  • and more…

These metrics can vary widely when using a free research tool. Seeing the same numbers as the pros lets you make educated investing decisions.

Tornado Mobile App

The Tornado mobile app is available for Android and Apple devices. It has the same research and trading features as the Tornado web platform.

Get started with Tornado

Positives and Negatives


  • One-click portfolio optimization for individual stocks and ETFs
  • Can ask stock-specific questions to professional investors
  • Connect with other investors to share investing ideas
  • 20 free trades each month
  • $0 account minimum


  • $4 monthly subscription fee
  • Lacks technical analysis tools for short-term traders
  • Cannot buy or sell ADR-stocks or mutual funds
  • No fractional investing

Who Should Use Tornado?

As you can see in this Tornado review, this platform is best for investors that want to invest in individual stocks and ETFs. The portfolio optimization tool makes it easy to build a diversified portfolio. From there, you can add stock picks from stock picking newsletters and your Tornado social network connections.

Alternatives to Tornado

You should avoid Tornado if you prefer to invest in index funds only. Short-term traders relying on powerful technical analysis tools and low trade fees will find Tornado constraining. You might consider these alternative brokers instead that can cater to your investment strategy.

Tip: Check out the best brokerage account promotions and bonuses worth up to $3,500


Webull is a popular free investing app for buying stocks and ETFs. You can also trade options and short-term traders can benefit from the technical analysis tools. New members can also get three free stocks worth up to $1,600.

Read our Webull review and learn about their free stock offer.

M1 Finance

You can buy fractional shares of stocks and ETFs with M1 Finance without trade fees. For instance, M1 Finance offers premade portfolios that copy the Tornado Thought Leaders lists and other investing themes.

Read our M1 Finance review to learn about this free robo-advisor.


Index fund investors that want a fully-automated robo-advisor should consider Betterment. While you won’t invest in individual stocks, you can invest in cost-efficient index funds. These funds give you instant diversification to US and global assets with a $0 account balance.

Read our Betterment review to hear more about the oldest robo-advisor.


Tornado makes it easy to start investing in individual stocks and ETFs with the one-click portfolio optimization tool. Being able to ask investing questions to professional investors and connect with the community are compelling reasons to use Tornado.



Product Rating



  • One-click portfolio optimization
  • Can ask questions to professional investors
  • 20 free trades each month
  • $0 account minimum


  • $4 monthly subscription fee
  • Lacks technical analysis tools
  • No fractional investing

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

How to Cure Yourself of Investing FOMO

Investing FOMO is real, especially on days with a lot of volatility. But don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to do something - here's how to cure investing FOMO.

How to Invest In Pre-IPO Company Stock: Understanding the Risks and Rewards

Pre-IPO company stock is a high-risk/high reward opportunity and potentially one of the most lucrative investments you can own. It's generally only available to high-income, high asset individuals. But if you do qualify, it can be one of the best ways to spread your investment wings into unique and highly profitable opportunities.

VTSAX vs. VTI: Which Will Get You to FIRE Faster?

You’ll need the kind of returns the stock market provides to reach FIRE status. You can invest in the entire stock market through two popular funds, VTSAX and VTI. VTSAX and VTI are an easy, convenient way to get the benefit of stock market gains without the need to select individual stocks or even a collection of funds.

What is a Qualified Purchaser?

After selling my first business, I started getting interested in a lot of different investments. I was looking to build…

About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment:

As Seen In: