What can brands learn from fin-fluencers?

TikTok has given rise to a host of Gen Z-friendly creators who dispense digestible advice on complex financial concepts.

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of strategy.

The rise of TikTok has brought with it a wave of influencers who naturally speak to niche audiences, particularly within the Gen Z cohort. One of the platform’s subcultures has emerged into the mainstream in a big way, and that is the so-called “fin-fluencer.” These content curators dispense advice on complex financial concepts in quick and easy-to-digest portions. And on TikTok, where the overwhelming majority of users are young, they’ve found a large audience.

Part of the success of fin-fluencers stems from the fact that finance in general is a category where “young people have always been on the outside looking in,” according to Johanna Faigelman, cultural anthropologist and founding partner and CEO of Human Branding.

“There has always been this huge disconnect. [Finance is] almost like child-rearing. You just expect people to get to a certain age, have a kid and [know how to] raise the child,” she explains. “Nobody formally educates people on money, and young people going into their late teens and early twenties are suddenly expected to have some foundation for how to approach it.”

Faigelman does acknowledge that traditional financial institutions have tried to make inroads with younger people, “but it’s been very unsuccessful.” When they have succeeded, it’s often been through partnerships with celebrities or other influencers, as BMO did when it recently enlisted RuPaul’s Drag Race Canadian winner Priyanka in a campaign to promote its millennial-first credit card.

Fin-fluencers, on the other hand, have had much greater success connecting with the cohort – establishing a model that delivers the relatability of a typical influencer along with content that is both informative and entertaining.

Max Valiquette, CSO at Diamond Marketing Group, suggests brands look to emulate how fin-fluencers have approached content on platforms like TikTok, offering consumers “entertainment and diversion and fun.” He adds that the “cost of entry is to be fundamentally more entertaining than anywhere else, which I think is important.”

“When you get into some of those categories in which the brand can take on a really good role – finance is one where educating young people really matters, which is what a lot of fin-fluencers are doing – you’ll notice that the very best balance of education and entertainment does really well.”