Meet the 28-year-old developing the personal finance industry as ‘your rich BFF’

Vivian Tu, 28-year-old TikToker is behind Your rich BFFknows how to explain private equity to her 2.2 million followers through a lens they can understand: Kim Kardashian.

“Kim K’s foray into private equity will make her a billionaire while using other people’s money,” Tu begins the video in her typical quick, straightforward speaking style. “Kim got rich through sponsorships, TV, etc. Then she leveled up by building her own brand, and now she’s hitting boss level by investing in brands. other people.”

Then Tu started a quick and dirty crash course in private equity – general partners, limited partners, commissions, real interest. Video clock at 59 seconds.

“Obviously I couldn’t solve the scarcity of information available on private equity in 60 seconds,” Tu said. Luck in an interview. “But now people can understand the news better—read the headlines better—because I can help them.” It goes hand in hand with her larger mission: to help people make smart financial decisions by helping them open their eyes to solutions they might never have thought of.

It is this blend of pop culture and literate that has made Tu famous on TikTok, where her humor and humble authenticity forge an accessible relationship that attracts hundreds of thousands of people. viewers within a week of her first video. Less than two years later, she runs the account full-time with a team of two others and publishes a newsletter.

When I told her we were going to record Launchshe asked for 10 seconds to change and a minute and a half later came back in front of the camera with a new shirt and a pair of earrings, laughing about how she must have been unrecognizable.

But she’s more recognizable to the millions of young, mostly female followers who watch her financial advice videos, which she releases nearly every day to an audience she shares with her. he affectionately called “the rest”.

The entire financial services industry has, by far, been “all male, pale and stale,” Tu said. She will know, after starting her career on Wall Street. In an industry where the whole market is accessible to everyone, young women, the LGBTQ community and low-income people are often left out, she said.

With that in mind, she came up with the nickname BFF. “Suddenly, you have someone who doesn’t look like your dad’s financial advisor. You have someone who looks like me who could be anyone’s college best friend,” she explains. “I want to entertain my audience and turn finance into sponsor and just make talking about money more accessible to the next generation of affluent BFFs.”

The great enterprise of finance

Like many influencers who rose to prominence during the pandemic, Tu never expected that content creation could be lucrative enough to become a side business. She said: “I wanted to tell you that I had an evil master plan to set it up, but I didn’t. Instead, she says she started her career modestly—trading stocks at JPMorgan.

She left Wall Street for BuzzFeed’s “greener pastures” in 2018, where new friends and colleagues, knowing her background well, began asking for financial advice.

But Tu feels that financial situations are too personal to make recommendations as a rule of thumb. “I’m like, ‘You guys, like, we’re all so different.’ Like you have a husband and two kids, you live in the suburbs, and at the time, I was a 24-year-old idiot swinging on a chandelier at the weekend and definitely not living that lifestyle.”

But she received a lot of the same questions, from health insurance plans to investments, so she decided to base her identity as a financier and sign up. 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, will teach you new ways to get rich with my best financial savvy tips and tricks,” she said in front of the camera. to introduce. Then she begins her reason for being: Her own TikTok feed is full of surprisingly risky and misleading financial advice, and she’s willing to revise her profile. .

“I have no get-rich-quick schemes here, but I will help you with practical advice and knowledge on how to improve your financial literacy,” she continued, referring to to his time on Wall Street. She eagerly shares her best practices on budgeting, retirement, investing, and saving, “because true wealth should be for all of us.”

What started out as a passion project for her co-workers to watch so she wouldn’t have to explain things “over and over” quickly turned into something much bigger: Her first video It went viral the day it was published, she said, raking in 100,000 followers over the weekend.

It became clear to Tu that it wasn’t just her co-workers who needed financial advice, so she started building her brand on TikTok, Instagramand YouTubeCreate financial content that people really want to see.

‘Gateway drug’ to understand personal finance

Tu admits that it is nearly impossible to share financial wisdom – which is very different – with the masses. “I wouldn’t know if a Roth IRA makes sense for everyone,” she said.

That’s why she wants to empower her “leftover” audience to find the answers on their own. She sees her content as a “gateway drug” to personal finance that allows anyone to step into it—in just 60 seconds at a time—without being overwhelmed.

She was inspired by her first manager at JPMorgan, another Asian woman who happened to be the only non-white guy on her floor. Tu considers her manager a “blueprint” on her road to financial literacy, helping her figure out everything from 401(k)s to using the company’s hotel portfolio to save money. money. She said that she is currently trying to be that person for a lot of people.

Tu’s ultimate goal is to open up the conversation about money and finance. “We have been taught throughout our lives that talking about money is taboo. “But rich people do it all the time and they love to do it,” she said. They do it on the sprawling lawns of country clubs. They do it at private beach clubs in Ibiza. They do it in their fancy dinners…They’ve been tipping each other since the very beginning.”

If “ordinary people” could talk about money with less shame and judgment, and be more accepting and optimistic, she continued, we would have better advice on how to save money. , budgeting and investing. “Talking about money is the easiest free thing you can do to make better use of your money,” she says.

She believes that one of the surest ways to combat inequality is to share information, something she is committed to doing for the long term.

“By helping those who were not expected to be rich, become rich. It is fighting a broken financial system,” she said. “Like, this is the rule of the game. I’ll teach you how to play.”

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