Vivian Tu, the 28-year-old TikToker behind Your Rich BFF, is aware of the best way to clarify non-public fairness to her 2.2 million followers by way of a lens they’ll perceive: Kim Kardashian.
“Kim K’s foray into private equity is going to make her a multi-billionaire all while using other people’s money,” Tu kicks off the video in her typical front-facing, fast-talking fashion. “Kim got regular rich through sponsorships, TV, et cetera. She then leveled up by building her own brand, and now she’s hitting boss level by investing in other people’s brands.”
Tu then launches into a fast and soiled crash course on non-public fairness—basic companions, restricted companions, commissions, carried curiosity. The video clocks in at 59 seconds.
“I obviously cannot cover the dearth of information available on private equity in 60 seconds,” Tu tells Fortune in an interview. “But people can now digest the news better—read headlines better—because I’m able to help them.” It goes hand in hand along with her greater mission: serving to folks make sensible monetary selections by opening their eyes to options they could by no means have thought of in any other case.
It’s this mix of popular culture and studying that makes Tu so common on TikTok, the place her humor and unpretentious authenticity creates an approachable rapport that reeled in a whole bunch of 1000’s of viewers inside per week of her first video. Less than two years later, she runs the account full-time with a staff of two different folks and publishes a e-newsletter.
When I advised her we’d be recording our Zoom, she requested for 10 seconds to alter and was again in entrance of the digicam a minute and a half later with a recent shirt and a pair of earrings, laughing about how she have to be unrecognizable.
But she’s greater than recognizable to her hundreds of thousands of largely younger, feminine followers tuning in to her monetary recommendation movies, which she releases almost daily for an viewers she has lovingly dubbed “the leftovers.”
The total monetary companies trade, till now, “has been male, pale, and stale,” Tu says. She would know, having kicked off her profession on Wall Street. In an trade the place the whole addressable market is everybody, she says, younger ladies, the LGBTQ group, and low-income folks have typically been unnoticed.
With that in thoughts, she devised the BFF moniker. “Suddenly, you have someone who doesn’t look like your dad’s financial advisor. You have somebody who looks like I could be anybody’s college best friend,” she explains. “I want to entertain my audience and turn finance into funance and just make talking about money more accessible for the next generation of rich BFFs.”
The large enterprise of finfluencing
As with many influencers who rose to prominence throughout the pandemic, Tu by no means anticipated content material creation may very well be profitable sufficient to grow to be greater than a aspect hustle. “I want to tell you that I had this evil mastermind plan to build this all out, but I didn’t,” she says. Instead, she says she began her profession humbly—buying and selling equities at JPMorgan.
She left Wall Street for “the greener pastures” of BuzzFeed in 2018, the place new associates and colleagues, realizing her background, started asking for monetary recommendation.
But Tu felt that monetary conditions are too private to supply rule-of-thumb suggestions. “I’m like, ‘You guys, like, we’re all very different.’ Like you have a husband and two kids, you live in the suburbs, and at the time, I was this idiot 24-year-old swinging from the chandeliers on the weekends and definitely was not living the same lifestyle.”
But she obtained so lots of the similar questions, starting from medical health insurance plans to investments, that she determined to lean into her monetary guru identification and posted her first TikTok on New Year’s Day 2021.
“Welcome to #RichTok. It’s the first day of 2021, and I, your new rich BFF, am gonna teach you new ways to grow your wealth with my best financial literacy tips and tricks,” she says to the digicam by means of introduction. She then launches into her raison d’être: Her personal TikTok feed is startlingly stuffed with dangerous and deceptive monetary recommendation, and she or he’s able to appropriate the report.
“I don’t have any get-rich-quick schemes here, but I will help you with practical tips and knowledge on how to level up your financial literacy,” she goes on, referencing her time on Wall Street. She was desirous to share her greatest practices on budgeting, retirement, investing, and saving, “because being rich really should be for all of us.”
What started as a ardour challenge for her coworkers to look at so she didn’t have to elucidate issues “over and over again” shortly become one thing a lot greater: Her first video went viral the day it was revealed, she says, garnering her 100,000 followers by the top of the week.
It was clear to Tu that it wasn’t simply her coworkers in want of monetary recommendation, and so she started to construct out her model throughout TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, creating monetary content material that folks really need to watch.
A ‘gateway drug’ to understanding private finance
Tu acknowledges that it may be near-impossible to dole out monetary knowledge—which varies extensively—to the plenty. “I’m not going to know whether a Roth IRA makes sense for everyone,” she says.
That’s why she goals to empower her “leftover” viewers to search out the solutions for themselves. She considers her content material a “gateway drug” into private finance that lets folks dip a toe into the realm—only for 60 seconds at a time—with out getting overwhelmed.
She’s impressed by her first supervisor at JPMorgan, one other Asian girl who occurred to be the one different non-white man on her flooring. Tu thought-about her supervisor a “blueprint” in her path towards monetary literacy, serving to her determine all the things from 401(ok)s to utilizing the company lodge catalog to economize. She says she’s now making an attempt to be that individual for therefore many individuals.
Tu’s final objective is to open up the dialogue about cash and finance. “We’ve been told our entire lives that talking about money is taboo. It’s rude, it’s tacky, it’s gauche, whatever,” she says. “But rich people do it all the time and they love to do it. They do it on the sprawling greens of country clubs. They do it at private beach clubs in Ibiza. They do it at their fancy dinners…They’ve been giving each other tips since the dawn of time.”
If “regular people” can speak about cash with much less disgrace and judgment and extra acceptance and optimism, she continues, we’ll have higher tips on the best way to save, finances, and make investments. “Talking about money is the easiest free thing you can do to be better with your money,” she says.
She believes that one of many surest methods of combating inequality is by sharing data, which she is dedicated to doing for the lengthy haul.
“By helping people who were not expected to be rich, become rich. It’s fighting back against a broken financial system,” she says. “It’s like, here are the rules of the game. I’m going to teach you how to play.”