The Changing Face of Investment Content

Since the inception of financial markets, investors have always been hunting for an edge. Information and the rate at which people have been able to acquire, consume, and action that information has long been a key component of building that edge. 

But if speed, the rate at which one acquires information is one side of that equation; it is arguably insights, the ability to draw valuable and actionable conclusions from that information, that is the other side. 

Entire industries have sprung up around that premise of providing investors with insights and information. 

The Expert Industry, for example, which is basically a mechanism for connecting people with insights to people who want them (mainly big players in the financial industry), was worth about US$1.9 billion in 2021. 

Sometimes that edge hunting has coloured outside the lines of what is legal and what is not. But mostly, the boundaries have been respected. 

Information Democratization

Today the landscape of financial information and financial content is quite different. Access to quality information, at speed, is arguably the most accessible that it’s ever been. You don’t need an expert network to get expert insights. This newfound accessibility has had the flow on effect of altering the way content is consumed, created, and distributed.  

The Rise of the Financial Influencer

This democratization of financial information has given rise to the democratization of financial authority. Financial influencers, or finfluencers – are at the heart of this democratization and disruption.  

2022 has seen many of the financial influencers that acquired niche popularity during the early parts of the pandemic break out into mainstream success. The content these influencers create is diverse, ranging long-form articles, podcasts, memes, and more. Their backgrounds are arguably more diverse, and their views are often divisive. Here’s some examples.  

Kyla Scanlon

Kyla Scanlon has gone from quirky financial commentator on Twitter to quirky micro-celebrity with significant reach. In 2022 the New York Times published her brilliant piece titled ‘The Vibes in the Economy Are Weird. Really Weird,’ she appeared on Bloomberg’s wildly influential Odd Lots podcast, and she’s amassed 2.1 million likes on TikTok.

Beyond producing unique, human-centric, and deeply informative content, Kyla’s growing popularity can be attributed to the fact she knows exactly how to speak to the next and new generation of investors. Her work extends beyond staid financial formulas and facts, and looks at how markets interact with and impact people. 

Mark Moran

Others, like Mark Moran – who gained notoriety for his appearance in the US reality show ‘FBOY ISLAND’ – launched the firm Equity Animal, which aims to ‘redefine’ the very nature of investor relations. Moran claims that Equity Animal can help your company reach 35 million retail, institutional, and accredited investors each and every month.   

Logan Barlett

The growing reach of influencers and the content they produce highlights the maturity of the space. While the memes remain, growing and engaging with an audience has become serious business. 

No where is that more apparent than with the podcast Cartoon Avatars. Helmed by Redpoint Ventures MD Logan Barlett, Cartoon Avatars represents a serious institution, taking content; well, seriously. That blue-chip institutions like Redpoint – which was founded in 1999 and manages over US$4 billion – would recognise the value of content, reflects the fact that this content has real value in the real world.

Expanding the formats in which investment content becomes distributed, be that Twitter or Podcasts, represent strategic moves made by companies like Redpoint that have a lens focused beyond immediate revenue generation. With customer acquisition costs where they are, in 2023 having an established – or being in the process of building – a differentiated brand, will be more important than it was before. If the rise of the likes of Kyla, Mark, and Logan prove one thing, it’s that the age of staid corporate comms is well and truly over. 

120 Character Insights 

No discussion of the changing face of investment content would be complete without mentioning Twitter. 

Elon Musk’s bombastic takeover of the Bird App in 2022 has had little impact on the FinTwit community – a loose collection of anonymous and not-so-anonymous accounts dedicated to discussing everything from complex derivatives strategies, quarterly earnings reports, and financial memes. 

If not clear from the above, accounts like Kyla’s and Cartoon Avatar’s Logan Bartlett thrived in the text-centric, irreverent environment that defines FinTwit, boasting 148k and 56k followers, respectively. And while both have pivoted into new mediums as their brands have matured, they continue to produce content for the Bird App. 

Beyond the obvious ‘get reach’ appeal, Twitter’s key popularity as a platform for financial content is two-fold. For one, Twitter effectively closes the loop between insider and outsider. You’re just as likely to find controversial takes from famed hedge fund managers like Bill Ackman to the now disgraced SBF, as you are to the rantings of an anonymous crypto bro. For better or worse, the financial industry and the ancillary services built around it, clings to authority figures and worships their expertise. The influencers we highlighted at the start of this article haven’t been fully able to displace the deified experts that came before them. Maybe they will?  

But beyond the ‘insider takes’ of famous and influential investors, Twitter also speaks to the appeal of being immersed in the moment-to-moment market flow of financial news and gossip. Speed – like we said at the start – is the name of the game. To be sure, it is very easy to simplify things on Twitter. Did the stock beat or miss revenue expectations in the third quarter? Are earnings up or down? Meta lost US$3.7 billion on its metaverse project? What. Is. Going. On.   

To be sure, markets, and stocks in particular do react to those things. Sometimes sharply, sometimes not. The problem is of course that making investment decisions based on 120 characters or less is fraught with risk. Just like using TikTok as your financial advisor. 

Maybe the best way to use Twitter and similar platforms is as the first point of investment research. As an exercise in ideas generation. Whether that means exploring the investor relations page of an individual company, reading The Straits Times or the Australian Financial Review, or Syfe’s Learn page, the choice is yours.

This article/webinar is brought to you by Syfe Australia Pty Ltd., CAR number 1295306 of Sanlam Private Wealth Pty Ltd (AFSL 337927). Disclaimer: Investing involves risk including the risk of losing your invested amount. We do not provide personalised advice or recommendations.  Any information we provide is general advice and current at the time  written. Please speak to your Financial or Tax adviser for personal advice. Any reference to an investment’s past or potential performance is not an indication of any specific outcome or profit. 

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