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Storyboard18 - Finance Influencers: The new Big Bulls of BFSI marketing?

Both traditional and new-age BFSI brands are engaging finance influencers or 'finfluencers' as a part of their marketing communication strategy. Collaborations, product placement, and dedicated content creation are some of the popular formats being used to drive engagements through these influencers

Published: Feb 2, 2022 07:10:24 PM IST
Updated: Feb 2, 2022 07:23:11 PM IST

Storyboard18 - Finance Influencers: The new Big Bulls of BFSI marketing?Finfluencers are the new rage on most social media platforms especially on Youtube and Instagram, giving free tips to millennials and Gen Z who are on the lookout for a like-minded wealth manager. Image: Shutterstock

As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was preparing to present the annual budget on February 1, Rachna Ranade, Parimal Ade, Pranjal Kamra, Fincocktail, Anushka Rathod, and many others were preparing to demystify it for their followers.

These finance influencers or ‘finfluencers’ as they are called, are new-age personal finance consultants or influencers who create digital content on social media. Their genre is one of the fastest-growing content universes online. 

Brands in beauty, fashion, food, and travel have typically courted influencers to boost reach, access, and engagement, and leverage their cultural capital to sell products and build brands. Over the past two years, the BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) sector has upped its influencer marketing game by adding these finfluencers to their marketing mix, using them to drive engagement and generate leads both online and offline. 

Brokers, BNPL (buy now, pay later) brands, banks, NBFCs, wealth management companies and mutual fund apps are increasingly deploying influencers in their marketing. Brands like Motilal Oswal, Cleartax, Uni Cards, Navi Group, PolicyBazaar, CTA FX, Smallcase, Groww, CoinSwitch Kuber, among many others, use influencers to promote their offerings and drive traffic to their platforms.

Collaborations, product placement, and dedicated content creation are some of the popular formats being used to drive engagements through the influencers, with brands shelling out up to Rs 15 lakh for one video. While paid partnership fees for these influencers start at Rs 25,000 per video, a lot depends on the individual influencer’s platform preference, content mix, and above all, follower base.

What do finance influencers do for brands?

The content mix for these influencers ranges from stock tips to insurance planning to financial fraud awareness to even lighter subjects like planning one’s first international holiday.

Regardless of the subject being discussed in the video, financial influencers make a conscious effort to plan their content in a way that it has a theme, a storyline and sometimes even fictional characters with comic undertones. It has to be digestible and shareable.

Rachana Ranade, who runs a Youtube channel that has 3.39 million subscribers, often starts her videos with a story. In her latest video on ‘Things you must know before entering your 30s,’ she creates a short storyline about how youngsters plan their weekends depending on the cash they have in hand. Even if this is a 15-second segment in her 16-minute-long video, Ranade says the dramatisation grabs the attention of her audience and makes them curious about solutions.

“The content is planned in a way that it helps common people understand subjects that are otherwise considered complex. The stock market, for instance, is a complicated subject for many, and through many of my videos I’ve tried to break down each and every element of the stock market for first-time investors to understand the subject and plan their portfolio,” says Ranade, who is a chartered accountant alongside being a ‘Fintuber’, a name given to YouTubers who create content on finance.

Aligning with brand requirements

According to Ranade, brands also prefer content that demystifies complex subjects for the audience. She generally provides partner brands with two collaboration format options—integrated videos and dedicated videos. While she charges Rs 6 lakh for an integrated video, a dedicated video comes for Rs 12 lakh for a brand.

The focus, however, for these influencers is not always on views and page visits. Some prefer their content to be niche and work with brands that share that view.

Nitin Bhatia, who has 9.7 lakh subscribers on YouTube, over a lakh followers on Twitter, and over ten thousand followers on Instagram, says he focuses on creating niche content in the unexplored territories of finance.

For instance, in one of his videos, Bhatia talks about the ‘Psychology Traps in Stock Market,’ where he demonstrates how investors focus so much on external factors like government, macroeconomic conditions, company performance to analyse their investments that they often lose control of internal and more personal factors like mental health, and lose money in the process.

“When it comes to the stock market, one must know how to control their emotions,” he says in the video.

Views. Loyalty. Trust. What’s the X factor?

“The number of views on niche content is low, but we can create loyal and dedicated audiences with high retention. While on the generic content I can get more views, the audience is not loyal,” he says.

The video on 'Psychology Traps' may have clocked just a little over thirty thousand views compared to a more popular market-focused video on best intraday stocks which crossed a million views, but Bhatia believes content creators need to shed light on information beyond money-making tricks and tips.

Bhatia has identified a gap in the smorgasbord of financial content online and is intent on filling it.

Anushka Rathod, an ex-investment banker, now a full-time content creator, agrees with Bhatia. She says creating meaningful content sometimes becomes a challenge.

“One of the major challenges is that people want shortcuts. Videos on the top 5 multibagger stocks, cryptocurrencies that will give 1000x returns tend to be the best performing videos. There is no such list that is suitable for every investor. However, people want to watch just that,” she tells Storyboard18.

It is a challenge for creators like Rathod to make educational content that 'empowers' their followers with the “correct information to make their own decisions” and at the same time “make it interesting that they actually watch it.”

What is the ROI?

BFSI brands, like most other sectors, are also targeting millennials and even Gen Z through influencer marketing and content creators are customising their communication to fit the needs of the modern marketer. Pranjal Kamra, for instance, focuses on Hindi content and believes that is how they reach 80 percent of the audience in India.

Kamra, a personal finance YouTube influencer with over 3.5 million subscribers, co-founded a financial advisory firm Finology Ventures Pvt. Ltd in 2018. The content that Kamra creates targets a younger audience or “anyone under the age of 35 who is comfortable with investing online and doesn’t need offline support,” he says.

Rachit Chawla, CEO and founder at the online loan marketplace Finway FSC, says BFSI brands use real people to create the trust factor that customers look for in financial offerings. “We read books thinking that the author knows the best. Today influencers have taken that place,” says Chawla.

“Since financial products are very emotional and it involves money, creating a trust factor becomes very important. Influencers with their huge following bring that trust factor and engage with the audience from an objective point of view. This helps the brand in generating leads and facilitating conversions,” he says.

Influencers in the space also often maintain a self-regulatory format to prevent people from being misled. Rathod explains how.

“I have partnered with consultants from the insurance, taxation, mutual fund, and crypto industry who are experienced subject matter experts and proof check all the content I am putting out there for an additional layer of verification,” she says.

She tells us that recently, every month, “we have had several NFOs who come for promotions but I don’t think it is a good idea for retail investors to invest in them. Hence I refrain from promoting them even if it means letting advertisement slots remain empty.”

Brands that create their own finfluencers

Co-founder at financial planning and advisory service company Invest Yadnya, Parimal Ade creates at least one explainer video every week for his Youtube channel. While he mostly uses the channel to generate leads, Ade is now a financial influencer with over four lakh subscribers on Youtube and about 62,000 followers on Twitter.

With a growing demand for research and analysis, Ade’s videos started gaining popularity over the years. So much so that the company now maintains a social media team just to handle the pages.

Alongside the video Ade puts up every week, his partner at the firm, Gaurav Jain, also conducts a knowledge session every week. “This session has close to 40,000 live viewers and a lot of them end up getting in touch with us for our services. Over the last two years, we have had 1 lakh paid subscribers on our own platform through our Youtube page only,” he says.

While the social handles were created to spread financial awareness and lead customers to their own platforms, they have now become a revenue channel too bringing in up to 5 percent of the overall revenues.

Like Ade, a lot of entrepreneurs, chartered accountants, investment bankers, and stock market experts who started blogging as a side gig have now taken up ‘finfluencing’ as a full-time career that offers multiple revenue channels from the platform side as well as the client and the partner side.

Aged between 25 and 40, finfluencers are the new rage on most social media platforms especially on YouTube and Instagram, giving free tips to millennials and Gen Z who are on the lookout for a like-minded wealth manager.

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