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How the Moka app rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the change.
Investing is an important part of any financial plan, but it can be a difficult and daunting subject. The Moka app invests your spare change in stocks and bonds as part of a personalized portfolio.
How does Moka work?
Moka invests your spare change – your electronic spare change that is. Once you download the Moka app on your phone, you can connect it to your debit or credit card, or both. Moka was previously known as Mylo.
So for example, when you buy a cup of coffee for $1.85 with your debit card, Moka will round up the amount to the nearest dollar – $2.00 in this case – and invest the extra 15 cents. That may sound like a pittance, but over the course of a year, your spare change can really add up. For example, three transactions a day with an average round-up of 50 cents equals $547.50 – all of it invested without you doing anything beyond buying the things you normally do.
|Minimum deposit to open an account||$0|
|Available asset types||ETFs|
|Available accounts||RRSP, TFSA or non-registered accounts|
Here’s a guide to get up and running:
- Download the Moka app
- Answer the questions about your risk preference and goals
When you sign up for Moka, you will be prompted to answer questions about your financial situation, the level of investing risk you are comfortable taking on and your financial goals. Moka says this information allows its fund managers to recommend a portfolio that reflects your unique situation.
- Buy StuffMoka uses something it calls the round-up feature. Every purchase you make is rounded up to the nearest dollar and the amount rounded up is invested in your portfolio. This doesn’t happen instantaneously. Moka automatically withdraws the total of your round-ups from the past seven days from your account each week.
- Watch your money grow
Now for the easy part. Moka balances your portfolio of ETFs according to how the market is moving. Your money is invested by a portfolio manager from Tactex Asset Management, a Moka company that manages over $140 million in assets. Moka uses the same security measures as major Canadian banks – 256-bit encryption, SSL connections and strict internal security policies based on ISO standards.
- Take advantage of perksMoka also offers an “advisor” service. This is a real-time chat function built into the app that lets you ask Moka advisors whatever you want about your finances whenever you want. Moka refers to its advisors as experts, although it doesn’t specifically state what credentials they have.
How much does Moka cost?
Moka charges $3/month to manage the money you invest, no matter how much the amount is. This contrasts with other online financial advisory firms that manage your money using algorithms and charge fees based on a percentage of the amount you have invested. For example, robo-advisor firms in Canada charge annual fees of around 0.4% to 0.6% of your total portfolio.
With Moka, the more you spend the more value you get. The flat monthly fee amounts to an annual charge of $36. Your round-ups would have to total $6,000 in a one-year period to equal an annual fee of 0.6%. If your round-ups totaled $1,000, the annual fee would be about 3.6%. Again, Moka‘s value proposition gets better the longer you use the app and the more money you build up in your portfolio. If you build your portfolio up to $30,000, that $36 annual fee works out to about 1.2% of your total funds invested.
Moka invests in exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The companies that manage these funds typically charge a Management Expense Ratio (MER) of 0.05% - 0.37% for regular portfolios and 0.20% - 0.60% for SRI portfolios. This cost is in addition to your $3/month fee and are fees that you would have to pay no matter how you invested your money. You’d even have to pay them if you picked all the ETF funds yourself using an online broker. They are unavoidable! For more on investing, read our guide.
Compare with other robo-advisors
Why should I invest with Moka?
Moka bills itself as a service that makes investing simple and helps turn spending habits into saving habits. You don’t need to know anything about investing, and you don’t have to change your lifestyle. Some people have a difficult time saving money. One way to look at Moka is as a forced savings tool that is easier than figuring out how to set aside money each month.
The Moka app lets you set financial goals, like saving for retirement, a down payment on a new home or for other big purchases. You can even opt to increase your savings by creating what Moka calls “multipliers” on your round-ups, which allocate an additional amount from each purchase to different goals. For example, if you buy a coffee for $4.50, Moka could deposit 50 cents in two different goals. As the company describes it, you’d be putting $1 aside on a $4.50 purchase.
What are the benefits of Moka?
There’s no minimum amount required to start investing with Moka.
More than one plan
You can invest in an RRSP, a TFSA or a non-registered account – i.e. not a government-designated tax shelter. Moka also offers what it calls Socially Responsible Investing accounts that are made up of companies engaging in ethical business practices in the following areas: climate change, gender diversity in the workplace, corporate responsibility and sustainable development.
Your portfolio is based on your personal risk preferences.
Accounts are protected by bank-level security.
You can access your savings with free, next-day withdrawals at no extra cost. Keep in mind that there may be a penalty for withdrawing money from RRSPs in some cases.
Moka also offers deals and discounts on affiliate brands.
What to watch out for?
Your money is invested in stock and bond markets, not a savings account. This means that your money will grow or shrink depending on market fluctuations. Over the long-term, capital markets generally trend upward, but they can swing significantly in the short term.
Lack of options
Your money is invested in a set of predetermined ETFs
based on your risk preference, meaning you don’t get to pick the stocks or bonds that go into your portfolio.
Banks charge their clients a fee when they try to take out more money from the account than they have deposited. If there’s only $10 in your bank account and you withdraw $20, you may be charged. This charge is called a non-sufficient-funds fee (NSF). Moka says it prevents transfers from your funding source to your investment account when there isn’t enough money in your account. However, the company recommends that you pause round-ups when your balance is very low.
How do I get started with the Moka app?
- Be a Canadian citizen and resident
- Valid social insurance number
- Have a valid bank account or credit card
- Be over the age of 18
- Email address
- First and last name
- Online banking information
- Social insurance number
- Financial goals
I’ve signed up for the Moka app, now what?
Now all you need to do is make some purchases and watch your investments grow. You can monitor your savings progress via the app and change your financial goals as necessary. You can also set up a recurring deposit into your Moka portfolio, which would be a more traditional way of building savings.
Moka also offers a financial advisor service via real-time chat. So feel free to ask any questions you might have about your financial situation or finances in general.
The Moka app is suitable for those just starting to invest. It rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the difference in a personalized portfolio. You pick one of five portfolio options to find an investment strategy that meets your goals and risk tolerance.
Because you are paying a flat monthly fee instead of a percentage of your total funds, Moka provides more value the more you use it and the more money you accumulate in your portfolio. Also bear in mind your options are relatively limited in terms of what you can invest in. This app may be useful for those who struggle with setting aside money to save or for those who find investing a daunting proposition.