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As the world becomes increasingly digital, the financial industry has been no exception to rapid technological advancements. The rise of fintech, or financial technology, has disrupted traditional financial services by offering innovative digital solutions to consumers.

"Catch them young" is a well-established tenet of marketing.  Also, the young are digital natives compared to the older generations.  So, it is pretty obvious that several fintech brands would aim to connect with Gen Z/young millennials as a TG via youth culture.

Many big brands take the conventional approach to marketing, focusing their budgets on advertising and highlighting the features and benefits of their products.  But, a handful of fintech brands are focusing on branded content aiming to build a connection with the youth audience. 

Their chosen channel are influencers speaking heart-to-heart with their followers and wider audiences beyond their followers.  Money and finance communication usually involves a lot of 'education', teaching the public about the principles and best practices for managing money - whether it is saving, spending or investment.

In 'educating' youth about money, these fintech brands follow all the tenets for communication tonality that connects with Gen Z / young millennials.  These are:

1. Authenticity - speaking your truth without hiding anything

2. Humility and humanity - admitting mistakes and errors

3. Equality - influencers speak as equals to their audience, although they are the leaders and are much more successful than their audience. They make a lot of effort not to come across as patronizing or lecturing or "advising".  In other words, the brands don't adopt a 'parental' or 'elders' tone of voice.  They use a 'youth' tone of voice, by getting Influencers to just 'share' their experiences, thoughts and learning from their life.

Going beyond tonality, it is interesting to see the insights and ideas about money and investment that these fintech brands highlight.

Smallcase’s worst mistakes made with money - Clueless conversation #1

Tanmay Bhat’s podcast series ‘Clueless Conversations’ was sponsored by Smallcase, in the conversation with fellow comedians and Gaurang Sanghvi, a financial advisor. The conversation is freewheeling and covers the journey of young comedians with money.

The title of the series itself indicates how most young adults are clueless when it comes to the area of money management. By featuring a financial advisor in the podcast along with other comedians, Tanmay Bhat intends to showcase how even the so-called educated comedians have a limited understanding of the area of money and finance. The young comedians represent the youth at large, and the financial expert represents how only very few people have a good understanding of money and investment.   It is time for this state of affairs to change and get better, with more young people becoming savvy about money.

The narrations by the various comedians in the show highlight the various emotions, beliefs and ideas that youth today have about money.  Some of the more interesting ones are:

1. Money is complex, scary and stressful. Middle-class, salaried parents believe that it is the job of parents to handle money stress and to shield their children from it, thus freeing children to focus on their studies.  So, this generation of youth has grown up without any teaching from parents on money management and what it takes.

2. Many young people are "money avoidant". Because money management is a scary topic and their ignorance makes money management even scarier, they just avoid thinking about the topic, until it becomes absolutely necessary to do so e.g. paying out too much in taxes.

3. Money provides choice in life. For many young, creative people, their goal is not to become 'rich' or 'accumulate' wealth per se.  Money is the means to an end, and that end is freedom - freedom to work for passion, work following one's heart and values, without financial pressures forcing a compromise.  Money brings choice and shows the way out of compulsions and compromises.

Upstox - Ranveer Allahbadia’s My Honest investment strategy revealed

 Upstox collaborated with popular YouTuber and podcaster Ranveer Allahbadia. In the video titled, ‘My HONEST Investment Strategy Revealed,’ Ranveer talks about his journey as a Youtuber, how he started investing the money he earned as a creator, and the mistakes he made with money.

Ranveer is an effective storyteller, and with good visuals, you are drawn into the narrative of this compelling story. However, while narrating the story, Ranveer touches upon one of his regrets - not investing in gold, which he now considers as one of the safest investment options. Through a clever segue, Ranveer starts talking about digital gold as an investment option and integrates Upstox as a tool for investing in digital gold.

At first viewing, the audience does not consciously recognise the brand integration. Since the video was titled as an ‘honest’ investment strategy, you do not realise that it is a paid promotion until Ranveer starts elaborating on the benefits of using the Upstox app for investing.

Ranveer doesn't just do a transparent sales pitch for Upstox.  He also shares his experiences and suggestions for budding you tubers/ media entrepreneurs.  These include some basic tenets of money management such as:

Start early and save at least 20% of your earnings to build a corpus, if you are in business, then a significant part of your saving will get ploughed back into your existing business or help start a new business.  In simple terms, take charge of YOUR money and use it well to serve YOUR life goals.

Upstox collaboration with Barkha Singh

Upstox is an Indian online brokerage firm that offers retail trading services in equities, commodities, currencies, and other financial instruments. One of its collaborations is a tie-up with influencer/actress Barkha Singh, thus aiming for the young woman TG.

The video portrays Barkha Singh playing the dual of her mother and herself. She gets into an argument with her mother, who always thinks that Barkha is lazy and does not do any work herself. However, the mother is surprised when she nags Barkha once again, as she thinks that she is being lazy, but to her surprise, Barkha starts telling her how she is investing in digital gold and starts listing out the benefits of investing through Upstox.

The video aims to connect by accurately portraying how the Indian youth is perceived by their parents and vice-versa. The nagging parent thinks the child does not do anything all day while the young-adult child is actually smart and well-informed about the world through technology.  It falls into the genre of 'generation-gap' comedy, making audiences younger and older laugh at themselves while pitching the app.

CNBC’s collaboration with Prajakta Koli

Prajakta Koli’s interview with CNBC talks about her financial journey. The interview is designed to integrate CNBC’s own brand as a destination for financial information for the youth audience.  CNBC makes a conscious effort to highlight its own symbolism as a journalism brand by setting the interview in its own office space.  The viewer is thus given an inside view of the CNBC office to build a connection with the brand.

Prajakta Koli touches upon various aspects of her personal finance journey as she talks about her first paycheck, her wisest investments, her biggest failure and her dream investment. By talking honestly about investments and money, both CNBC and Prajakta are normalizing conversations about money in a country where you do not necessarily openly showcase your wealth with your peers.

Prajakta emphasises her middle-class origins and learning about money management from her parents and her sister and that she is just beginning her journey into the world of money management.  Buying her dream home (an apartment in Mumbai) and car is the foundation for security, stability and lifestyle - hence the wisest investment of her earning, from her success as a YouTuber.  She throws in a new dream/goal for Indian youth - not just buying property in India, but buying an apartment in a historical and picturesque small town in Europe.

The ‘My Money Mantra’ series also features popular YouTuber and podcaster Ranveer Allahabadia, there is a clear emphasis on making CNBC a destination of financial information and insight for the youth.

Conclusion and actionable insights:

A large segment of youth today are ignorant about money management as their middle-class parents thought it best to not 'worry' them with money stress.  Hence, as they start earning, they need to learn about wise money management including the basic principles and tenets.

'Educating' their customers and users is a foundational pillar of the communication strategy of almost all brands in the financial services space.  New fintech brands are no exception.  Financial services and fintech brands are also heavy users of digital channels and platforms, making a large number of 'educative' videos - product explainers and the like.  They also work with influencers big and small to 'educate' their customers and prospects.

What brands like Upstox, CNBC and Smallcase do well is using influencers effectively, using the right tonality that connects with young audiences.  Through their branded content, they stand in the youth audience's shoes, see the world through their eyes, speak their language, highlight how young people think about money and then share nuggets of wisdom about money management.  With this 'sharing' tonality, they are more likely to build their brands in the minds and hearts of the youth TG.