“I realised that no matter what people studied, they don’t know how to handle their money,” says Bengaluru-based influencer Sharan Hegde, who quit his job as a management consultant with PwC to pursue a full-time career in content creation. Hegde specialises in finance — he creates content around personal finance and also curates videos that focus on simple but mass topics of interest like weighing the pros and cons of having one’s own car versus opting for cab rides.
“These videos get a lot of views,” says Hegde who has some 1.6 million followers on Instagram. About 55% of Hegde’s followers are the young millennials, aged between 25-35 years.
The young workforce led by GenZ and millennials is also spawning a new breed of investors. Young professionals are taking a keen interest in finance and related investment products like SIP, mutual funds. Some experts point out that the trend only got a fillip during Covid; as work moved home enabling people to cut certain everyday costs such as travel, they started learning about and exploring avenues to park this extra money.
Perhaps, investment was always on their agenda, but what however was lacking was the availability of easily explained, snackable finance content that people could subscribe to and learn about ways to invest. This gap in the market has created space for a new segment of influencers who exclusively focus on financial content. They are typically described as ‘finfluencers.’
“I felt there was a market. I have friends who pursue careers in law, architecture, engineering... they make adequate money and they can use portions of it to invest in various products. They wanted to learn about finance but no one was catering to them. It is still a very mature, traditional audience that finance and business content is being created for,” 23-year-old finfluencer Anushka Rathod, who has garnered 4,43,000 followers on Instagram, tells Fortune India.
Rathod's handle says: ‘let’s learn what schools didn’t teach.’ About 47-48% of her followers are GenZs aged 18-24 years; millennials aged 25-34 years make up another similar percentage of her total base of followers.
Kolkata-based Piali Sengupta, a 28-year-old millennial who works with a publishing house, started investing in equities in December 2021. She follows a couple of content creators on YouTube and Instagram, Ankur Warikoo being one of them, to learn about varied types of investment products and their benefits in terms of returns. Sengupta believes it is an opportune time to explore online investing.
“We can invest in one click and that is why more people who are interested in this space are at least making a start,” says Sengupta. She also had subscribed to the LIC IPO but failed to secure an allotment.
“Savings account, FDs can never give returns as much as stock market or mutual funds. People should at least begin somewhere. Investing is important because it helps us become disciplined in terms of spending money, helps us set a goal,” says Sengupta who perhaps echoes the thought of many such young professionals.
Warikoo, who has a wide following among GenZ and millennials, says he gets different kinds of queries from the young lot. Students mostly seek advice on how can they make money while young professionals who don’t earn enough at the initial stages of their career want to know about ways to make additional incomes.
“Once they have disposable incomes, they are completely clueless about how to think about investing as an approach. The cycle of queries typically starts from the inclination to learn about different asset classes, and then questions around how and how much we should invest, where should we invest arise,” says Warikoo, who has 1.6 million followers on Instagram and 18.3 lakh subscribers on YouTube.
Finfluencers like Rathod and Hegde are rightly tapping into this sentiment to carve a space for themselves in the influencer economy space. Rathod who has three to four years of work experience in domains like investment banking, mutual funds, and comes with a post graduate in tax management makes content around personal finance and trending business topics. For instance, she made content on LIC IPO, explaining the business of LIC and the mechanisms of the larger insurance business in general. Recently, she started talking about what she calls ‘tips and tricks’ covering subjects like criteria for availing flight refunds. Rathod says many people are not aware of such issues and it helps them gain knowledge. The video on flight refund bagged three million views, claims Rathod.
Business is brisk for finfluencers, at least for those who have been able to establish a sound following base. Hegde says he earns more than what his PwC job paid him. He makes about 16 videos a month on Instagram including branded videos. Branded videos are basically brand collaborations. Simply put, brands rope in influencers to endorse and promote their products. This is a lucrative monetisation avenue for creators. Hegde does about four branded videos a month and has worked with brands like Cred and Slice.
“The pay is very good and I can end up earning more than a lakh a month. I never knew money could be made through content creation,” says Hegde, who has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. “With the introduction of reels, Instagram visibility shot up for me. Amid the pandemic, people were home and content consumption got a boost.”
The finance content space has also widened opportunities for creators. Rathod, for instance, has been onboarded by a couple of startups for helping them with content strategy. Rathod has also garnered investor backing to fund her web series on cryptocurrency that she is currently working on. “I briefly ran a YouTube channel dedicated to cryptocurrency but have taken a break from the platform to focus on writing the web series,” says Rathod. The series that Rathod is writing and also producing will be an animated one and the idea is to explore collaboration with OTT (over-the-top) platforms or crypto companies for distribution. “People think that cryptocurrency is a substitute for money because of the word currency but it is not. The series intends to explain technological concepts in an easy manner,” says Rathod.
Creator management agencies have been a natural offshoot of a growing local creator economy but the rise of finfluencers has also led to the establishment of niche players like ones focused only on the management of finance creators. Bengaluru-based Finnet Media that handles both Rathod and Hegde has a total of about 25 creators on board.
Agencies typically act as a point of contact between brands and creators. They help brands partner with creators to craft their marketing campaigns. Both legacy and newage brands are leaning on influencer marketing to reach more users. Launched in January 2021, Finnet Media works with brands like Groww, Cred, Bajaj Finserv and Edelweiss.
“We create synergy between finance creators and finance brands,” says Finnet founder Ayush Shukla. The strategy from here on will be to work towards widening the digital presence of their creators across platforms. “The plan is to work with the same set of creators and enable more opportunities for them...how we can diversify the creators from Instagram to YouTube and then to Twitter.”
Being a finfluencer is not easy. Besides the pressure to remain visible and consistent with content, an added challenge is to get the facts thoroughly checked to curb misinformation. Rathod gets her inputs verified by a group of consultants before publishing her content.
“You cannot get all of finance by mere reading. The theoretical and practical aspects often tend to be different,” says Rathod. Hegde’s advice to aspiring creators is to avoid chasing trends. “See if you are adding value to the audience. If it doesn’t matter one year from now, don’t even think about it,” says Hegde.