Brittney Castro began her career as a financial advisor at just 22.
For her, being a young woman in an older, male-dominated profession, was an asset, so to speak, rather than a liability.
Less than 33% of financial advisors are women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even fewer are certified financial professionals, or CFPs. This can give them an edge.
An unprecedented amount of assets will shift into the hands of women in the U.S. over the next three to five years, representing $30 trillion by the end of the decade.
And younger women are becoming more engaged. A whopping 70% of female millennials reported taking the reins for all financial decisions, according to the Boston Consulting Group.
Still, financial planning — and the financial services industry, more broadly — has long been a world of predominantly white men.
“Everyone was going after the baby boomers because they had the money,” said Castro, now in-house CFP at Mint, Intuit’s personal finance management mobile app and website.
“I wanted to talk to people like me,” she said. It turned out that there were clients, too, who wanted to talk to someone like Castro.
“For women, it’s more about helping them know or understand what money means to them. Rather than getting the best return possible, it’s creating a life,” she added.
To set herself apart, “I mimicked women in the fashion and beauty space,” Castro said, with “more of this modern mindset.”
Castro leveraged social media sites like TikTok and that paved the way toward a bigger client base, as well as a broader following.
“I built my success off of social media, and I continue to leverage it,” she said. “There’s an opportunity for more financial advisors to do the same.”
When the coronavirus crisis sent shock waves through the economy, people became much more aware of their financial security, according to Castro.
“The pandemic really opened a lot of people’s eyes,” she said. More women understood this fact: “It’s up to me to make things happen for myself.”
That’s when financial TikTok, also known as FinTok, really took off.
Now it’s one of the most popular sources for financial information, tips and advice, particularly among Gen Z.
But like all things on social media, not all of the “expert” advice you see is necessarily true.
While there are ways to vet traditional financial advisors, it’s much harder to find out the intentions or possible conflicts of interest of someone giving advice online.
In addition, what one user says works for their finances won’t necessarily apply to the millions of other TikTok viewers watching.
To that end, Castro starts with some tried-and-true guidance that can be applied universally. First, create a budget. “A budget will tell you what’s happening.”
Then, direct a portion of your savings into a diversified investment account and slowly increase the amount over time.
“Investing is the only way where we can really grow wealth,” Castro said.
But when it comes to whatever hot tip is trending on TikTok, including heavily promoted cryptocurrencies, Castro says “with any new investment, do your research and understand the risks.”
If you are questioning whether it is the right fit, “go back to your budget, your plan, your goals and what makes sense to you.”