Aligning with our community


  • Payment for Order Flow (PFOF) is a standard industry practice where brokerages like Public are paid to execute orders on stocks. This creates a dynamic that potentially puts the brokerage at odds with their members.
  • In order to do the right thing by our Members, Public will stop participating in PFOF.
  • Instead, we’ve introduced Tipping, an optional step where Members can decide to leave us a tip to help pay for the cost of executing their commission-free trades.

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This last week was a historic moment for retail investing. Notably, it has shed an unprecedented amount of light on the discussion around “if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”

It seems that everyone has been focused on democratization — but at the cost of transparency.

Since the inception of this company, we have said that the reason most people don’t participate in the stock market is not because of commission fees, but rather because of a lack of financial literacy. This was literally the first slide of our pitch deck.

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Where do you go after zero commission?

To do the right thing for our customers, we have to lead the industry with first principles thinking, and proper values.

Public will stop participating in Payment for Order Flow and introduce tipping.

To align our incentives with those of our members, we will stop participating in the practice of PFOF and instead introduce a tipping feature on trades. By doing this, we can remove this conflict of interest from our business model.

Trades will remain commission-free and tipping is entirely optional. Members of the community can freely decide if they’d like to leave a tip to help pay for the cost of executing their trades. The reality is that there is no such thing as free trades.

We have notified our clearing firm that we want to be off the “PFOF rails,” and we started the process of getting that done on Saturday, Jan. 30. With the help of our clearing firm, Apex, we will route all orders directly to exchanges (e.g. Nasdaq and the NYSE).

Direct routing to the exchanges is more expensive, and therefore we’re turning what used to be a revenue stream (PFOF) into a cost center and we’re optimistic that the difference will be offset by the optional tipping feature. This process of transitioning to exchange execution may take a few weeks, and we’ll share updates on Twitter.

Get started transferring your portfolio to here.

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Let’s be clear, we are still a business. We need to make money, pay people’s salaries, and make our shareholders happy. If we succeed, we hope that one day, can be publicly traded as well, so that anyone can be an owner of this company and benefit from its success.

A core principle at Public is that “feedback comes from a place of care.” It’s about understanding that feedback is a gift, especially if we’re all aligned towards the same goal. We hope this change to our business model will achieve more alignment, and that you, our members, will continue to give us the gift of feedback (we’re always listening at and @public).

The foundation of this company is built on the idea of bringing the stock market to the public. It has become abundantly clear to us that staying true to our mission requires that our incentives align more closely with those of our community members. Transparency is a core pillar of building trust, and we think it’s important that we live up to our name.

Join us ✊💙
Leif, Jannick & the entire Public team

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The above content is provided is paid for by Public and is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute investment advice or any other kind of professional advice and should not be relied upon as such. Before taking action based on any such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not endorse any third parties referenced within the article. Market and economic views are subject to change without notice and may be untimely when presented here. Do not infer or assume that any securities, sectors or markets described in this article were or will be profitable. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. There is a possibility of loss. Historical or hypothetical performance results are presented for illustrative purposes only.