That Advice We Gave on Buying Fractional Shares? A Few Corrections

For David Gardner, the Rule Breaker Investing podcast isn't so much a monologue as it is an extended chat with you, his listeners and readers, which is one reason he ends every month with a mailbag episode -- so that he can bring your viewpoints and questions directly into the conversation.

For this segment, he returns to a Triple David podcast response. Listener Christian calls out David Gardner and David Kretzman for the suggestions they gave to novice investor David on the best ways to start putting small sums of cash into the market. His first point: Capital One ShareBuilder, which lets people buy fractional shares, won't even exist for much longer. His second: Their other tips might have been a bit off-putting to a stock market novice, which is the last thing the Fools would want.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on June 27, 2018.

David Gardner: To close, Rule Breaker Investing mailbag item No. 6. I welcome back my good friend, David Kretzmann.

David Kretzmann: Hey, David!

Gardner: How are you, David?

Kretzmann: I'm doing well!

Gardner: Excellent! We're going to eat a little crow here at the end of this podcast.

Kretzmann: Have to do it.

Gardner: Sometimes we do that. I eat crow on a fairly regular basis when I pick stocks like GoPro, which I have done in the past.

Kretzmann: Well, I'm the one who pitched it to you, David, so I think we can both eat crow on that.

Gardner: I don't remember that!

Kretzmann: You're too kind.

Gardner: As a bottom line, for Stock Advisor and Rule Breaker s, since their inception, I'm always the guy who makes the final call, and when we screw up, I'm always going to take full responsibility, because it really is my final call. David, we're not even here to talk about GoPro. But, briefly, since we are, you may have pitched it. That was maybe in your first early months as a Fool.

Kretzmann: Yeah.

Gardner: In fact, I remember waiting. It ran up from $40 to $80, and I finally said, "Let's buy it now." Watching it drop to $10 isn't fun from $40, but it's even less fun from $80.

Kretzmann: Our timing on that one was not ideal. Thankfully, we have plenty of other picks that more than make up for that loser.

Gardner: Thank you! This one comes from Christian Bellco. I'm not going to read the whole email, but I'm going to get the gist of it, and then we're going to talk about it briefly.

"Dear David," Christian starts, "thank you for taking the time to read my email today. I enjoy the podcast very much, listen back and forth driving to work every Thursday to get your feedback from a variety of different topics. While I learned a lot of things from the RBI podcast that I didn't know excite me, today I heard you speak about a topic that, for the first time, felt like a wrong response to a listener question."

Christian goes on. "It was in response to the Dave story you told during the May mailbag." That was one month ago this week, I guess. "You and David Kretzmann were answering a gentleman's question, who was also named Dave," we were having fun with that, "about how he was so excited to have saved $500 in a brokerage account, was looking for advice on stocks to buy. You and David spoke about types of stocks, etc. But on the fractional shares piece, you all stated that options like ShareBuilder or Stockpile could be a good option for him to get started investing with fractional shares, even though the writer already stated he opened a Fidelity account."

Christian goes on, "I myself am a current Capital One ShareBuilder investor, but as of January this year, this part of Capital One was purchased by and is in the process of transitioning all holdings to E*Trade later this year. In fact, here's an article written by The Motley Fool on this. They have no plans to continue with the fractional share program after the merger. David K," although I'll throw in David G here, as well, "should have mentioned you can only buy fractional shares on a specific day of the week and time when Capital One can fill the order.

The second point was about moving out of the account that the listener, Dave, had already set up and was excited to get investing in. It sounded on the podcast like, since he didn't set up the account under the right brokerage, the advice was to change brokerages and use their benefits instead. While this may seem easy to seasoned investors," Christian writes, "a newer investor may find this off-putting and less enthusiastic about maybe becoming an investor. It would have been more helpful to talk about other opportunities with Fidelity, or reach out to give advice on how he could use the Fidelity site for his goals more effectively, creating watchlists, etc.

"I felt that this advice, in conclusion, would have better served Dave's questions, and hope that next time you're doing a mailbag, you'll consider all the best options for newer investors, and do some more research, rather than just go off the cuff with some suggestions going forward. Thank you for taking the time to read my email and Fool on!" says Christian. All right, David.

Kretzmann: What are we going to do about this?

Gardner: Well, I feel like part of the nature of Rule Breaker Investing, the podcast that I've been doing for almost three years now -- we started in July of 2015, in fact -- is, there is a little bit off the cuff. I have to admit, I'm not deeply knowledgeable across a lot of the topics that we'll cover. It's my pleasure to bring people onto the show who have some perspective about those things, who might know it better than I.

David, you are younger than I am. I remember you advising undergrads when you and I traveled together and spoke at university to start a Robinhood account a few years ago. I think that was excellent advice. I remembered that, so I was like, "Hey, let's have David come on and talk about this."

That was also my impression of how ShareBuilder works. But it sounds like we didn't quite get it. I think it's because part of the nature of this podcast is, we are kind of shooting from the hip and off the cuff a little bit. We do rely on smart people like Christian to come in and let us know if we blew it. I love to read notes like that, because that's going to help make us better going forward.

Kretzmann: Absolutely. I think that's one of the greatest benefits of The Fool community. We help each other get better. In this case, it certainly was my mistake, missing that E*Trade was buying that piece of Capital One, the brokerages that they have with ShareBuilder. That's just a piece of the ongoing consolidation that we're seeing with a lot of these brokerages out there. While we're on the subject of brokerages -- two months in a row, love it -- one thing that your brother mentions a lot, and more and more frequently, is that everyone should be asking their brokerage for free commissions. Brokerages are finding it more and more difficult to differentiate themselves from each other. All of these brokerages, for the most part, offer similar features. If you're with someone like a Fidelity or a TD Ameritrade, might as well call them up or shoot them a note, and say, "Hey, I've been a loyal member," or maybe you're a brand-new member, "why not shoot me over ten or 100 free trades?" That's one way, if you're starting out, that you can keep your costs down.

Going back to our question last month with Dave, who had $500 in the Fidelity account, I would say, if you are getting started, there's nothing wrong with investing just $150 or $200 in a couple of stocks, just starting off there. You don't necessarily need to have a high amount set per stock to invest in. You don't necessarily need $500 or $1,000 per position. I actually prefer starting small and then following the story and adding over time. I think that fits, David, with your approach of adding to your winners over time.

You don't necessarily need to start big and add from there. I think, especially if you're starting out, start small, continue to add what you can to your account -- whether it's in Fidelity, Robinhood, Stockpile, whatever it might be -- and go from there.

Certainly, the objective that we had last month was not to discourage any new investor, but rather just go over some of the different options out there. But we could have done a better job -- me especially -- presenting it.

Gardner: I really appreciate Christian taking the time to write. I feel like we may have slightly mis-served our pal Dave. As fellow Daves, I think we have to have a Dave apology to Dave.

Kretzmann: Of course.

Gardner: We're sorry, Dave.

Kretzmann: Sorry, Dave.

Gardner: We're excited that you're investing. We definitely are all about -- and I think I've made it clear in this week's podcast -- getting people started investing.

Just a final thought about the off the cuff nature of podcasting -- certainly for a lot of our work at The Motley Fool, we take that deeply seriously. We have fact-checkers, multiple looks before we publish recommendations, our stock research. We take that all very seriously. But if you're a Motley Fool podcast listener, whether you enjoy Market Foolery, Motley Fool Money, Industry Focus -- which I highlighted this week -- or Motley Fool Answers, which is such a delight, with Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp, do know that, probably, the level of fact-checking across Motley Fool podcasts would be beneath the level that we expect of published research and other work on our site. I'm just glad to have friends like David Kretzmann, who are so knowledgeable and such great exemplars. David, how old are you these days?

Kretzmann: 25.

Gardner: I wish every 25-year-old had started investing when you did or is listening to you now and getting started investing. That's a big part of this podcast, as well. It's my honor to have people like this, and often -- as I did with Mark Brooks earlier -- I'm taking him by the buttonhole and saying, "Would you join the podcast in about 15 minutes? I'd love to have you on!" So, there's not a lot of preparation we have. We're always shooting a little bit from the hip with our Motley Fool podcasts.

But, again, I really appreciate the note, Christian. My delight. Thank you, David, for joining me! Our delight to try to serve and try to up our game when we need to. We want to hear from you on that. So, thank you!

David Gardner has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. David Kretzmann owns shares of GPRO. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends GPRO. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.