Financially disciplined – A word used to describe people who are “good with money.” Who isn’t guilty of spending more than they earn and saving a portion of their earnings? Saving money sounds easy in theory, but it isn’t so easy to practice in real life, especially if you have to give up your lifestyle choices and adopt frugal habits just to set more money aside.
But what if you didn’t? What if you could take the first step towards saving and investing without making any significant lifestyle changes?
This is what we will try to answer in this Moka Review.
Moka (Formerly Mylo) is a smart financial app that makes saving and micro-investing easy for its users. It has two versions, each with its own monthly fee.
Pros of Moka
- Fixed and affordable pricing.
- Makes saving and investing as easy as spending.
- Fixed fee, regardless of portfolio size.
- SRI portfolio.
- Moke 360 has a 200% money-back guarantee.
Cons of Moka
- Limited investment options.
- Moka 360 is quite expensive.
- Not designed for sophisticated investors.
Introducing Moka – The New And Improved Mylo
Moka lets you save and invest your spare change, but it’s so much more than a simple round-up app. In 2017, it entered the market as Mylo, a name which was recently changed (July 2020) to Moka (a “linguistically-influenced” decision since Moka has a consistent pronunciation), once its founder and CEO, Philip Barrar, took the company overseas.
After becoming a smashing hit in Canada with a country-wide user-base, Moka now operates in France as well.
Many investing apps market themselves as tools that make investing easy for you, but Moka actually delivers on the promise. It allows you to save and invest money without making any drastic lifestyle or spending changes and make it easy for you to get on the right financial track.
One of the reasons why you might not save as much is because you are hesitant about making financial sacrifices in the present for the promise of a brighter future.
Moka prevents you from making that hard choice. It lets you see the fruits of simple and small investments without forcing you to change your financial habits. And once you get to see your spare change growing, you are likely to be motivated to take the next step for a better financial future.
Moka Review: Features and Benefits
An app’s features and benefits might help you understand whether it’s the right fit for you or not.
There are two versions of the application: Moka and Moka 360. The core features we are discussing below are available in both versions.
Spend And Save
Unless you already have a significant amount of cash lying around, you need to save before you can invest. Moka helps you save by rounding up your nearest purchases and putting the extra money away for saving.
You simply have to:
- Connect your Moka app to your bank account(s) or credit card. You can even add cards that are not associated with your primary bank account. If all of your cards/accounts are connected, that means all of your spendings would be rounded up, allowing the app to save more money for you.
- You can spend your money like you usually do. When it comes to investment apps like Moka, which round-up your cash, your spending frequency matters more than the amount you spend since it gives the app more opportunities to tuck your spare cash away.
The apps keep a tally of all the money it has rounded up for you, and every week, it withdraws the corresponding sum from your bank account and puts it into Moka investing account.
There are three things you need to understand about Moka’s investing feature:
- Moka is an investing app, but
- It doesn’t let you execute commission-free trades on your own, and
- It’s not a Roboadvisor.
Since Moka automatically invests your spare change, a lot of people think it’s a Roboadvisor, but it’s not. Automatic investment is just a feature that diverts the money the app has saved for you in an investment portfolio, which is created and managed by a dedicated portfolio manager based on your investment preferences.
These portfolio managers are from Tactex Asset Management, a subsidiary of Moka Financial Technologies Inc. (the parent company of Moka app) that currently manages $215 million worth of assets.
Investment Goals and Portfolios
Your investment portfolio is created based on your investment goals and risk tolerance. Once you create a Moka account, you will need to answer a few questions (to determine your risk tolerance) and set a goal. These two will determine how much of which asset will make up your portfolio. You can change your goal later down the road, and the changes would be reflected in your portfolio.
The application offers the typical five portfolio types, ranging from Conservative to Aggressive. If the safety of your capital is your top priority, then you might want to opt for a conservative portfolio. But if you are willing to take the risk in order to achieve maximum possible growth, an aggressive portfolio might be a better fit. For investors that are looking for Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), their money is invested in two SRI funds: Moka SRI Fund and Moka Money Market Fund.
The two funds are weighted based on your portfolio type. A moderately-conservative SRI portfolio is 30% Moka SRI and 70% Moka Money Market Fund.
These portfolios follow modern portfolio theory: Prioritizing diversification through ETFs over choosing individual stocks to beat the market.
The portfolios that Moka offers are created using a small number of ETFs. Currently, Moka portfolios are made from a selection of seven ETFs, each with its own MER (Management Expense Ratio). One of them is from Purpose Invest, while the rest are from Vanguard. These ETFs are combined to make three Moka funds (four if you count the SRI Fund), which are combined in different weights based on your portfolio type.
Even if there is no guarantee that it will stay that way, the current pool of ETFs is kind of limited, especially if you consider that three of them are bond ETFs (safe but limited return potential) and one is a savings ETF. Though there is a lot that a good portfolio manager can do with these ETFs, it would have been encouraging to see a wider asset pool.
Even though the returns and safety of underlying investments are not guaranteed, the diversification that these ETFs bring to the table reflects that the company prioritizes the safety of capital over risky growth. That said, it’s one area where Moka doesn’t really shine.
Multiple Investment Methods
Apart from rounded up transactions, you can also set up recurring deposits, which will divert a set amount of money into your investment account automatically. By feeding more money to your investment account, you can grow your nest eggs even more extensive than you would have with just round-ups.
Moka perks also include cashback and other exclusive deals that can help you save money and divert it to the investment account.
Donate Spare Change
You can also use Moka to do some good in the world, i.e., invest in karma. You can set up automatic payments to the charities of your choice, where a set portion of your round-ups will be diverted. Donations to qualified charities are also tax-deductible.
The pricing is one of Moka’s most obvious edges. The pricing structure is different for different versions.
- Moka: $3/month
- Moka 360: $15/month
Moka 360 looks quite expensive, even if we consider its outstanding features (which we will in the next section), it comes with a very valid justification and a proud claim. The Moka 360 guarantee is that if you don’t save at least as much as you’ve spent on the app in twelve months ($180), the company will give you $360.
The fixed fee pricing structure comes with another obvious benefit, and it’s that all portfolios are given the same treatment, regardless of their asset value. Another advantage of fixed pricing is that it’s predictable. If you are setting saving and investment goals, fixed expenses help you plan more accurately.
Moka 360 is a significantly more powerful version of the basic Moka app. Whether it’s worth five times the cost or not is for you to decide, after going through its features. But the fact that the company is ready to pay back twice the amount you pay in fee if it can’t save you at least that much speaks to their confidence in their app’s ability to help you save money.
The company claims that they help their users save $250 a year on average. That’s technically $70 a year if you minus the cost, but some users have been able to save up to $1,000.
With Moka 360, you get all the features of the basic app. Other notable features are:
The app asks you some questions to get an accurate picture of your billing expenses. Then, it compares these rates to the market and ensures that you are getting the best possible rates. Since the company has a more comprehensive and more in-depth view of the billing market, they can leverage their knowledge and negotiate a lower price for you. The app focuses on the phone, internet, and cable TV.
You have access to a dedicated financial coach, and you can seek financial advice anytime via chat. There is no limit to the number of questions you can ask.
It’s, in our opinion, one of the most potent benefits of using Moka 360. With your financial information, the app helps identify the areas of debt management that can be improved, like paying off high-interest debt faster. The personalized debt-reduction plan is created by combining smart tools and the knowledge of financial experts.
The chief source of Moka reviews is Google Playstore and Apple store. The ratings are good on both platforms, 4/5 on Playstore based on over 5.5K reviews, and 4.4/5 on Apple based on 13K reviews.
The good comments were mostly about how easy and helpful this app is and how much it has made savings easier for users. The bad comments mainly were about issues at the time of cancellation and the price hike (The app used to charge $1 for the basic plan).
Our two major takeaways from the reviews we’ve read are:
- Moka’s customer service is very responsive.
- Most users consider it a simple savings app.
Is Safe and Legit?
Yes. We haven’t found any proof to the contrary. The app works on a fixed monthly fee system, so they don’t have to cart out your information or offer specific investment products to you for revenue generation. The company that handles the investments and portfolio management is a ten-year-old Montreal-based firm, and it also seems legit.
Alternatives and Competitors
There is only one proper competitor to the Moka app in Canada, and it’s the more extensively used Wealthsimple investment app.
There is a lot of overlap as well as differences between the two. The similarities are:
- Both offer round-up and automatic deposits.
- Portfolios are managed by humans.
- Both allow registered and non-registered accounts.
- Both invest in ETFs.
- Both offer SRI portfolios.
The differences are:
- Wealthsimple allows commission-free trading and crypto investing.
- Moka takes fixed fees while Wealthsimple’s fees are a percentage of the asset-base.
- Wealthsimple portfolios are re-balanced automatically.
- Wealthsimple offers more asset-class options.
In conclusion, Moka helps make investing easy and accessible for everyone and enables you to take baby steps. And Wealthsimple is for more “invested” investors.
Saving is brutally tricky for most people, especially if it requires making lifestyle sacrifices. Apps like Moka help with this particular issue and allows you to find money in your expenses that you didn’t even know you had. Moka is affordable and straightforward, and it encourages you to save and invest more. With Moka, you can take the first, most important steps towards a safe financial future and can save without becoming financially disciplined first.
The refreshing Moka gets Wealthawesome’s warm thumbs-up, and you can check it out here.