Biz / Tech

Meet the finfluencers: TikTok's investment gurus

AFP
Trying to figure out how the stock markets work? These days you're as likely to turn to a social media influencer for advice as a financial adviser dressed in a suit.
AFP

Trying to figure out how the stock markets work? These days you're as likely to turn to a social media influencer for advice as a financial adviser dressed in a suit.

Across the globe, baby-faced investment gurus in their twenties are building huge followings on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok by offering tips on how people can better manage their finances.

TikTok, the most downloaded app of 2021, may be best known for dance routines and weird recipes. But posts by so-called "finfluencers" – financial influencers – have proved an unexpected hit.

The hashtag "StockTok" has 1.7 billion views and counting, while "FinTok" (financial TikTok) has more than 500 million. Variations on "investing" rack up millions or even billions of views depending on the language.

Australian finfluencer Queenie Tan regrets that the app wasn't around six years ago when she was first wading into the intimidating world of investing. At the time, she mostly turned to books for pointers.

"It's so much better now, because it's so much more accessible," said the 25-year-old, who boasts 100,000 followers on her "Invest With Queenie" TikTok account and tens of thousands more on Instagram and YouTube.

Filmed in her living room in Sydney, her videos range from simple explainers of investment vehicles to the money lessons you can learn from hit Netflix series "Squid Game."

Like many finfluencers, Tan's posts have an aspirational quality: she already holds assets worth some $400,000. She encourages viewers to invest young, like her, to build more wealth over a lifetime.

But she stresses that her own success came from living frugally and then investing her savings wisely.

A period of living under the poverty line at 19 "really taught me how to budget and how to value money," she said, adding that she still lives simply and doesn't plan to "buy a mansion anytime soon."

Tan's background is in marketing, and like many FinTok personalities she cautions that she doesn't have any financial qualifications.

Mexican finfluencer Andres Garza, who is nearing a million followers, is unusual in that he is a certified investment strategy advisor.

Like Tan, his videos are popular among youngsters who prefer getting investment ideas from people their own age, with an innate understanding of how to communicate well on platforms like TikTok.

"People like me turn something complicated into something fun," the fresh-faced 22-year-old said.

Like the easy-to-use trading apps that have popped up around the world, Garza sees social media as widening access to wealth. "The financial system has always left the ordinary investor lagging behind," he said. "But increasingly, anyone can invest."

In the West at least, millennials and their younger Gen Z counterparts are sometimes derided as financially frivolous – often unfairly, given their huge generational disadvantages compared with baby boomers.

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