Tornado Review 2023: Pros and Cons

Tornado is a unique app that blends automated investing with an online brokerage, with advice from famous investors.
Best for
  • Investment beginners
  • Digital natives
  • Community investing
Overall Rating 4
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The Penny Hoarder Overall Rating
Fees starstarstarstarempty star
Investment options starstarstarstarempty star
Ease of use starstarstarstarirc_half_star
Customer service starstarirc_half_starempty starempty star
Tornado, which is a way to investment, leaves the power of investing in your hands. Their overall rating is 3 stars.
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Tornado is one of many investment newcomers that seeks to shake up traditional investment practices. Rather than handing your money over to a traditional asset management firm like Fidelity, Vanguard, Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase, Tornado leaves the power of investing in your hands (literally, as it’s all done via your smartphone).

Tornado, which was founded as Nvstr in 2015 by two hedge fund industry experts, Bernard George and Patrick Aber, is a hybrid platform that attempts to deliver the best of traditional online brokerages with the appeal of automated investing platforms (think robo-advisors).

George and Aber started Nvstr with the goal of leveling the playing field: making it just as easy for novice investors to strategically buy and trade stocks as it is for institutional investors.

As Tornado explains it, the platform is the first to offer advanced tech and tools for everyday investors and hyper-personalized news and discussions with other like-minded investors about personal finance, including stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The subscription fee is $9.99 per month for new subscribers.

But is a Tornado account actually worth the cost? And how does Tornado compare to other investing apps like Robinhood, Webull, M1 Finance and Public? 

Tornado Review: How the Investment App Works

Creating an account with Tornado is easy, and there’s no minimum account balance to get started. But before you move forward with starting the service, let’s make sure that what it offers is actually what you’re looking for.

Services and Features at a Glance

Feature Details More Details



For 50 trades

Thought leaders

Access to big names

Peek at their portfolios

Daily news


Individualized watchlist

Portfolio optimization

$5 balance

For beginning investors

Simulated trading


Good practice




Mobile app

Top rated

iOS and Android

Customer service

Email only

No phone

Investment options

U.S. stocks

ETFs and ADRs

Sign-on bonus

Up to $1,000

Random reward amount

Tornado Features

If the 50 fee-free trades were all you got for Tornado’s monthly fee, it would patently not be worth it. However, Tornado makes a case for itself with several key features and investing tools that you can’t get elsewhere.

Tornado Fees and Services

At its core, a membership with Tornado gets you 50 commission-free trades each month. If you reach these 50trades, you’ll pay $4.50 per additional trade until the next month. If you don’t use your free trades in the current month, the remaining trades do not carry over into the next month.

Conversations With Leading Investors

Through the Tornado mobile app and website, you will be able to join a community of investors. You can see what other Tornado users are buying and selling and how their portfolios are doing and even chat 1-on-1 with community Thought Leaders to discuss your investment ideas and strategies. These Thought Leaders also share pros and cons of various stocks so you can weigh out decisions on your own.

Perhaps the coolest part of this community of investors is that you can access what some of the biggest names in investing are focusing on. Some of these professional investors include:

  • Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
  • Seth Klarman, CEO of Baupost Group
  • Carl Icahn, CEO of Icahn Capital
  • Bill Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square
  • David Einhorn, President of Greenlight Capital
  • David Tepper, President of Appaloosa Management

You can also chat with other investors at your level and swap strategies for successful portfolios.

Hyper-Tailored News

Tornado saves you the trouble of parsing through the, well, tornado of news about stocks, bonds, ETFs, and personal finance by offering you ultra-personalized news related to your investments. Just make sure you have push notifications on so you can get real-time news alerts that are personalized to your portfolio.

Each day, scroll through the app for a deep dive into each stock in your investment portfolio, with news from only reputable sources. You can also add a particular stock to your watchlist to get news updates about investments you are considering.

Portfolio Optimization

One of the best features of Tornado — the portfolio optimizer tool — is now affordable for all clients. To take advantage of the robo-advisor you need to maintain a $5 brokerage account balance. That makes Tornado appealing for casual investors looking to throw, say, a couple hundred bucks in and see what happens.

With a single click, Tornado will work like a robo-advisor, generating a diversified portfolio for you based on your risk tolerance. Over time, Tornado’s portfolio optimizer will automatically rebalance your portfolio, though you must physically authorize all sales. 

You can feed information and investment ideas to Tornado to ensure the portfolio optimizer builds a portfolio to your liking. In addition to risk tolerance, you can indicate your interest and goals and, over time, perhaps more advanced preferences like minimum dividend income, investment horizon or stocks with a high conviction rating. 

Many users like Tornado’s mix of hands-on investing and the automated portfolio optimization tool. You can choose your own stocks as you learn and monitor the market or just use the one-click portfolio optimizer to ensure a diversified account that is still in line with your own investment ideas. 

Simulated Trading Accounts

If you are interested in the world of investing but concerned about risking actual money because you’re still a beginner, you can “practice” with Tornado’s simulated trading accounts. This is a free tool.

Simulated trading accounts allow you to experience the ups and downs of trading on the exchange using Tornado’s features like reviewing new investment ideas and one-click portfolio optimization.

Learn and Earn

In November 2021, Tornado launched its Learn and Earn program as a way to promote “financial wellness” among its clients. Investors can earn rewards — read money — by completing a series of modules on topics such as investing, stock markets and economics. The monetary rewards, up to $50, will be deposited into your brokerage account, usually within two days of being earned.

The bonus money can be invested as soon as it’s received, and it can be withdrawn one year after receipt if the account is in good standing. Tornado is considering future non-monetary rewards.


Tornado makes an appealing case for choosing it as your investment app, thanks to the multilayered security and abundance of insurance protecting your investments.

For starters, you will use either an iOS or Android mobile app for Tornado or their desktop or mobile website. All data is stored with 256-bit AES encryption.

Tornado is registered with FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and SEC (the US Securities and Exchange Commission). Tornado is also a member of SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) and promises up to $37.5 million in insurance with Lloyds of London, through their clearing broker Apex Clearing.

Mobile App

Tornado’s mobile app functions much like a social media account, with news and community engagement. The app is easy to use and very intuitive for digital natives.

At the time of publication, the Tornado mobile app has a 4.7 star rating on the Apple App Store (based on 2.8k ratings) and a 4.2 star rating on Google Play from 3.0k reviews. Though the number of reviews for Tornado is small compared to other investing apps, our own review of the app confirms these higher scores.

Customer Service

This is an area where Tornado is currently lacking. As an app-based company, there are no physical locations to go to for help. There is also no phone number to call. Customer service support is limited to email: [email protected].

The website has an extensive FAQ section, but we could not find an online chat option.

Tornado Investment Options

With Tornado, you can invest in US stocks, ETFs and American Depositary Receipts (ADRs); the latter is less commonly offered on platforms in this sphere.

However, while Tornado lets you purchase most stocks available on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, you are not able to trade foreign stocks or call options.

Tornado does not allow short selling for stocks and ETFs.

Tornado Rewards: Up to $1,000 Bonus

Let’s talk about one of the biggest reasons to consider opening a Tornado account: the promise of a sizable reward.

When you open a brokerage account with Tornado, you will be randomly assigned a reward value, ranging from $5 to $1,000. The $1,000 reward is rare, of course; only 0.02% of new users win it.

Sign-up Bonus Breakdown

Reward Amount Who Gets It


39.94% of new users


20% of new users


20% of new users


5% of new users


0.04% of new users


0.02% of new users

Each time you refer someone to open a Tornado account (and they successfully sign up), you’ll be entered to win a reward as well.

There is a lot of fine print to the reward bonus, so be sure to give it a read before signing up, especially if this is the sole factor leading you to an account with Tornado.

Tornado Review: Pros and Cons

So does an account with Tornado make sense for you? Let’s weigh out the pros and cons.

  • Tornado gives you access to the portfolios of famous investors, as well as community thought Leaders. You can also chat with other investors like you to discuss investment strategies.
  • Tornado delivers hyper-personalized news right to your smartphone so you can make smart decisions about your portfolio.
  • Tornado offers portfolio optimization
  • There is no account minimum to get started.
  • The mobile app is intuitive and full of great nuggets of information in easy-to-find places.
  • Tornado offers a cool sign-on bonus feature, up to $1,000 (though you are statistically much more likely to get a $5, $7 or $10 reward).
  • The Learn and Earn program offers monetary rewards for investing when customers complete financial education modules.

  • Tornado costs $9.99 a month to use. Some competitors, M1 Finance for one, have no monthly fee and no commission fees.
  • Commission-free trading is capped to 50 trades a month. Once you surpass that, you’ll pay $4.50 per trade.
  • Customer service is email only.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Tornado

Still have questions about Tornado? We compiled some of our readers’ most commonly asked questions and found the answers.

Is the Tornado Investment Mobile App Safe?

Tornado is a safe choice for an investment mobile app. It uses 256-bit AES encryption to protect your data, and your money is protected and insured through Lloyds of London. Tornado is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation and is registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Is the Tornado App Legit?

Yes, Tornado is a relative newcomer, but like other investment apps, it seeks to upend the traditional world of investing by giving power to the people. With it, you can have a diversified portfolio of stocks and ETFs and trade like you would with any other online brokerage.

Is Tornado the Same as Nvstr?

Nvstr officially rebranded as Tornado in July 2021.

Can I Get Free Stocks with Tornado?

Some investment apps offer free stocks as a perk of signing on. Instead, Tornado offers a cash bonus for the account, ranging from $5 to $1,000.

Can I Open More Than One Brokerage Account with Tornado?

Tornado users can only open one account at this time.

Is There an Account Minimum for Tornado?

There is no account minimum for investing with Tornado. And just a minimum $5 in the brokerage account will let you utilize the one-click portfolio optimization tool.

Is Tornado Right for You?

Tornado is an  innovative investment platform with an affordable portfolio optimization tool requiring users to have just $5 in the brokerage account. Some robo-advisors offer this service for free but a recent reduction to $5 from $3,000 shows that Tornado is making its platform more accessible to casual and beginning investors.

If you want to be hands on and are still learning, you might benefit from the educational tools within the Tornado app, as well as the conversations with other investors about your investment strategies. Having access to real-life investing pros like Warren Buffett is also a strong appeal.

Timothy Moore covers bank and investment accounts for The Penny Hoarder from his home base in Cincinnati. He has worked in editing and graphic design for a marketing agency, a global research firm and a major print publication. He covers a variety of other topics, including insurance, taxes, retirement and budgeting and has worked in the field since 2012. Contributor Sean Cudahy contributed to this post.