Portfolio Frameworks [Case Study]

Listening to members dissatisfaction with the Fool’s rigid approach to portfolio allocation guidance opened the door for a new approach and new services.

The Basics
The Motley Fool
3 months
1 Product Designer / Front-end Coder (me)
3 Back-end Coders
Representatives from product, marketing, editorial and investing.
Product Strategy
Product Design
Front-End Coding
Product Management
Product Design: Axure, Illustrator, Photoshop
Front-End Coding: HTML, SCSS/CSS, Django/Python, Bootstrap
Product Management: Agile, Excel, Google Docs, Trello, Slack, Upwork


The Motley Fool had moved away from the constraints of the print newsletter business model, and had begun to provide new solutions that offered a list of always-on stocks that were the Best Stocks to Buy. This was a big win in fulfilling the Jobs to be Done by the subscribing investors. However, solving one problem illuminated another: the members wanted more clarity on how buying one of the Best Stocks would impact their overall portfolio.

The Motley Fool had for years offered portfolio guidance to keep a balanced portfolio, but it was based on following every buy and sell the service recommended or risk fall out of sync. 

Motley Fool’s portfolio guidance was structured to be followed explicitly; however, that was not how members were using the services.

Most members did not follow this advice so diligently and there was a disconnect where members still wanted help balancing their portfolio but rejected the extremely prescriptive approach the Fool was offering

Realizing the business was not aligned with the member needs led to a new strategy for a key product feature that would re-imagine how to offer portfolio allocation advice in a more flexible way that met our member’s needs.


I collaborated on the project strategy, designing a solution to meet users needs that kept within the tight time and resource constraints this product had. I built out the wireframes, comps, and prototypes. I contracted illustrations and led the team of designers, front-end developers and back-end developers to deliver the production-ready code that is live today. I also collaborated with the key stakeholders from Product, Investing, Tech and Marketing to push for this to become a feature, a key feature and then the backbone of a new premium service.


Previous work on the built-out of Motley Fool Market Pass including building a feed of the Best Stocks to Buy culminated from the major front-door services, so there was already a pipeline of good investing ideas, they just needed to be organized and allocated.

I had institutional knowledge from migrating all the services from .NET to Django that buried deep in an under-performing service was an article offering a series of allocation guidelines for your investing portfolio (large cap: 25%, mid-cap : 15%, etc) organized by whether you were far from, near to or in retirement.

This Growth portfolio allocation model, tucked away in one of the 18 Motley Fool services, provided the framework to build a new key feature. 

By pulling these out of obscurity we had found a the framework to use to map the Best Stocks. UX went testing the viability of the frameworks while Tech build out a tool to tag the Best Stocks by their investing type.

With resources and time being tight, I also went outside the company to find a contractor who to illustrate pie charts represent the different allocation amounts and how they relate in context.

Pie chart illustrations to add a more visual element to the allocation breakdown

The result was a dashboard that consumed the Best Stocks and organized them by investing type with context around what percentage of a portfolio the member should have in each of these categories.

The Best Stocks organized by allocation class, balanced by the Generate Income framework, and folded into new Motley Fool Total Income premium service


The Missed Opportunity

This project had a very tight window to be completed before focus had to return to other higher-priority efforts. What was left on the table, and in retrospect seems so critical was integrating the users Scorecard of stocks into the Portfolio Frameworks dashboard. This would show the member what they already own in each investing category and their current allocation balance. By not getting to this step, the Fool is providing great investing ideas, but left the onus on the member to figure out which types of ideas they should be looking at and calculating their allocation percentages offline to see if they meet the guidance provided.

The Successes

Similarly the Grow Wealth framework for those still far from retirement was added to Market Pass and marketed to new members when that service was reopened.

The new Premier Pass all-access service provided members all three portfolio allocation approaches.

And when a new all-access service, Motley Fool Premier Pass, was being, access to all three frameworks became a key feature. Premier Pass was a means to gain access to every Motley Fool services, and all the stock recommendations and investing advice from each of those services. Having ways to filter and digest all that information through the framework was a key selling point. The Premier Pass product (currently priced at $3,999) has over 4,000 members which would make back-of-the-napkin net revenue of $16M annually.

Further, this provided a new next-step for members. Members first had to believe they were investors and then start finding stocks to invest in, but once reaching mastery of that level, now they had a new goal, making all the stocks they bought work together in a balanced portfolio and the portfolio frameworks showed them the way.