Released in December 2020, Orca is a relatively new addition to the investing world. It pledged (and still pledges) to be an investment app for everyone. Indeed, they offer financial education, a slick app, and a host of other excellent features aimed at helping those who are new to the markets get started investing. Is this truly the perfect investment app for everyone, though? Let’s find out in our comprehensive Orca review!
Update 08/06/2022: Orca are in the process of closing down their business.
Orca Review: What Is This Investment Platform?
Before getting into what’s good and not-so-good about this platform, it’s worth reviewing, first, what Orca is.
Orca is, primarily, a platform for trading stocks and ETFs. As of right now, there are approximately 250 stocks and ETFs that you can trade. Orca is looking to add more in the future. They also have a strong focus on investor education, as they have wizards that help guide new investors to create a well-rounded starter portfolio.
With Orca, you can sign up for two account types: the general investment account (GIA) and the individual savings account (ISA). Your yearly ISA allowance is £20,000. Any money you contribute to the ISA account receives preferential tax treatment, so typically investors will max that out before opening up a GIA. However, your tax circumstances may differ, so please understand your tax circumstances before choosing what account to open!
Like many new trading platforms, you’ll need to complete all trades on the app. There’s no web or desktop trading with Orca. This app is available for both iOS and Android, so no matter which type of phone you use, you’ll be able to get the app!
While there are some bells and whistles, at its core, the premise behind Orca is quite simple: provide a straightforward app and trading platform that everyone can use. It’s an app that you can use to trade stocks, and the system itself is not much more complex than that!
Orca Review: The Positives
Many times, people mistake simplicity for something subpar. That’s often false. More often than not, the more intuitive and straightforward something is (that is, the less clunky and complicated it is), the better the end-user experience is. As we’ll see in this Orca review, the Orca app is a beautiful example of this.
The Website and App Design Are Fantastic
First, it’s worth noting that the team behind Orca has masterfully designed both the app and the website. When you first check out Orca, you’ll see this gorgeous landing page that clarifies the platform’s benefits. It has a very Apple-esque vibe to it, and it’s a pleasure to behold.
The app is straightforward and intuitive, both on Android and iOS. It has a clean, minimalist design that will delight both novice and advanced investors. You’ll find it easy to get started investing with the intro tutorial, as well, letting you set up your very first portfolio in minutes.
All in all, the app and website are beautifully done. The app can easily make people feel genuinely excited about investing!
No Hidden or Monthly Fees
One of the best features about Orca is that they don’t have monthly subscriptions or ISA/GIA fees. Part of the problem with many of these new investing platforms is that they charge monthly fees for the accounts or charge monthly fees for access to better data or more stocks.
These fees are often small. Indeed, they might be no more than two or three pounds a month. The problem is that if you’re investing, say, £20 per week, even those few pounds a month are high relative to your deposits. You’re putting in about £1,040 a year and losing £50, for example, just in fees. But, even when you stop putting money in, you’re still losing that £50 a year from whatever money your investments are making – for life. If you keep the account open for 30 years and only put in that initial £1,040, you’ll wind up spending £1,500 (30 years x £50 per year) to keep it open!
Plus, those fees are often “wasted money,” as evidenced by these quality no-fee alternatives, like Orca!
So, the fact that these accounts are free is genuinely a powerful testament to how much they value the newer investor! If you’re putting in £20 a week, you’ll get to truly enjoy all the investing power of that money without monthly fees eating into it over time! And if you stop contributing, that’s ok, too. There won’t be any fees eating into your cash!
Impressive Investor Guidance
The last feature that makes Orca stand out is their investor “guidance.” When you open the app, you go through a wizard that helps you pick the right shares for your portfolio. Orca groups stocks by type. There’s the “Golden Mean” type that is a set of stable companies. There’s also a group of companies showing rapid growth.
From there, you can decide how much you want to invest. Once you tap “Create Collection,” the system will make the trades, and you’ve just become an investor! Impressively, with just a few taps, you can get a well-balanced portfolio with Orca.
But the guidance doesn’t stop there!
They have many other thematic collections of assets. Fancy stocks that are Irish-based? Yep, you can find them at Orca. Or, do you want to invest in companies that have women CEOs? Again, there’s a collection for that. Right now, there are seven thematic collections from which you can choose. However, over time, Orca will probably release more.
Ultimately, no matter your investment preferences, Orca probably has some guidance to help you find the right type of stocks for your portfolio. These portfolios typically have minimum investments between £100 and £300, so you can get started with a well-rounded portfolio for relatively little money.
What Could Orca Improve?
While there’s a lot to love about Orca, there are opportunities for improvement like any app! In particular, there are two areas where Orca could probably use some additional work.
Unfortunately, while Orca has one of the best-designed platforms, it doesn’t permit trading too many different stocks. There are around 250 shares on Orca that you can deal in right now. These shares are exclusively in the UK market.
Orca plans to bring some US stocks from the NYSE and NASDAQ to their platform in the summer of 2021. That addition will be a huge help, but it’s still a relatively small selection.
Therefore, if you want to invest in a wide variety of companies (especially if you want to invest in some more obscure ones), Orca is probably not for you. However, it is worth noting that Orca aims to bring investing to everyone. Not as many people invest in lesser-known companies, so, understandably, they don’t have as many companies as the brokerages that are focused on more advanced clients.
Still, if you wanted to get in on the GameStop action, for example, you could not have done that with Orca.
This negative might sound counterintuitive, considering one of the positives was that the fee structure was very upfront. Still, the fees are worth discussing in this Orca review, even if there are no hidden ones.
Orca charges £1 per £1,000 you trade. That might not sound like a lot, but these fees can amount to quite a bit at the low end. Consider someone that wants to invest £20 per week. They would incur £52 in fees to invest £1,040. That’s 5% of their total investment, just in trading fees!
On the plus side, as already noted, there are no monthly subscription fees that eat into your profits. But, if you trade frequently, you could find yourself paying a lot in fees. If you invest 30 times a month (let’s say you wanted to invest £10 per day), you’ll spend £30 in fees to invest £300.
It would be nice to see Orca have some plan or subscription for high-volume traders to reduce or eliminate the fees. Then high-volume traders could pay a flat monthly fee, and those with a little less activity could pay the very reasonable £1 per £1,000.
Hopefully, Orca will implement these types of creative solutions as they continue to scale!
A Little Bit More About the App
Since the app itself is Orca’s primary offering, it’s worth diving a little bit deeper into what this app provides.
For starters, unlike many other beginner apps, you can use it to submit trailing stop and postponed order trades. That makes it much more advanced than some of the other platforms available in the UK.
Additionally, you can get real-time data (which is, yet again, another feature of the app that not every brokerage gives you). You’ll make your trades instantaneously, without waiting. Some brokerages pool all the transactions and execute them all at once at a given time. Not Orca!
You can also use the app to stay up to date with all the latest market news. You can sign up to receive updates from your favourite companies.
Finally, you can use the app to invite friends and receive rewards for doing so!
Ultimately, the Orca app is not merely “basic.” It’s a pretty well-thought-out experience that most investors – even those who are relatively new to investing – will enjoy!
Orca Review: This Is a Worthwhile Investment Platform
All in all, as you can likely see from this Orca review, there’s a lot to like about this relatively new investment platform. It’s straightforward to use, has some fantastic guidance for newer investors, and doesn’t have any subscriptions or surprise costs. Plus, the app is gorgeous, offering just the perfect amount of information in a lovely dark theme.
That’s not to say that this app is perfect, however. There are some downsides. Overall, though, it’s worth checking out – especially for anyone new to investing. If you’re looking to make this the year you get started in the markets, downloading Orca is one of the best ways you can do that!