How a 30-year-old TikToker with 1.5 years of financial experience became the Gen Z influencer version of Warren Buffett

In a tiktok video with 14.5 million views, Humphrey Yang depicts a father giving a son an iPhone 13 on the condition that he returns it in a year.

The son (also played by Yang in the skit) reasons that he could sell the phone for $1,000 and wait apple to launch a new model within the year, which would likely drop the price of the iPhone 13 to $600. Buying it then would net him a $400 profit. A year passes and the father asks for the phone back. The son returns it and admits his plan.

“So you took advantage of me!” the father answers. “I just showed you what shorting a stock is. You borrow a share of a stock, and when you pay it back, if you can buy it back for less, you make a profit. If not, you will suffer a loss.”


Rich Dad Lesson on the Market using an iPhone analogy. #personalfinance #apple

♬ original sound – Humphrey Yang

Yang knows that shorting a stock can be a difficult concept to grasp, he tells Fortune in an interview. “So I used a simple analogy that most people can relate to.”

His simple analogy approach to financial education has resonated with 3.3 million TikTok followers. Although the app doesn’t provide clear demographics of this fan base, nearly half of TikTok’s users are under 30 years old. And a screenshot YouTube Analytics Yang provided to Fortune show that more than 75% of viewers of Yang’s short-form YouTube videos are under 34 years old.

Its popularity on social media partly explains why it is the most trusted source of financial advice among Gen Z, as a recent Consumer survey Found. Boomers and Gen Xers, by a wide margin, trust Warren Buffett the most. But the Berkshire Hathaway CEO fell to fourth place for Gen Z.

Given Gen Z’s affinity for TikTok, the finding makes sense, but it’s still a bit surprising. Buffett, 91, is one of the world’s most experienced investors, known for his frugal ways i A net worth of $103 billion. Yang, on the other hand, is a 34-year-old with a degree in finance who spent a year as a financial adviser at Merrill Lynch and five months interning at a Palo Alto investment bank. He then moved on to run operations for a mobile app and co-founded a custom art company before finally arriving on YouTube in 2019.

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Where Buffett trades lectures, Yang trades skits filmed and edited in his Bay Area apartment. Fortune spoke with Yang about how he’s managed to capture the attention of Gen Z, which he attributes to his ability to break down and demystify dense financial topics.

The secret sauce to becoming a personal finance influencer

Yang started posting videos on YouTube after realizing he had become his friends’ go-to guy for financial advice, thinking his persona might translate, but never predicting how much it would. a resonance

He soon downloaded the pop-up TikTok, searched personal finance hashtags, and found almost no videos. “I took it as a sign,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘Maybe I can be the first person to do this.'”

Between September 2019 and September 2020, Yang made a video every day. While he maintains presence YouTube i Instagramhis TikTok account he has had her full-time attention for almost two years.

Yang has remained consistent in his approach, simplifying complex financial topics without an iota of superiority in quick and easy videos.

He says he tries not to waste the viewer’s time since attention spans are so short, adding that he wants everyone to be able to understand the often confusing basics of finance and economics.

“The whole industry seems like a black box to a lot of people,” he says. “They don’t even want to get into it because it can get really confusing. There’s so much jargon, and things on TV aren’t necessarily self-explanatory or easy to see. People don’t want to look at charts and graphs.”

What’s missing, he says, is accessibility and an on-ramp to the subject that doesn’t scare people away. “The more a creator can disarm the viewer, help them realize that finance isn’t that hard once they get the key concepts, the more power it can give.”

Reduce the financial knowledge gap

Yang’s “North Star Goal” is impacting people and encouraging them to take control of their own finances. He understands people’s hesitancy when it comes to investing; Yang himself didn’t make his first investment until he was 25.

“I was scared!” he remembers “I still didn’t even trust myself. I have very smart friends in their 30s who work in technology and even hesitate to invest because they worry they don’t know enough. This is a knowledge gap that it must be overcome.”

But Yang, by his own admission, has a long way to go to accomplish that mission. He says it’s complicated in large part by the lack of confidence people have financial advisors and personal finance gurus, and the like predatory credit companies i interest rate may be.

In Yang’s eyes, not all personal finance influencers have the viewer’s best interest in mind. Skeptical of those trying to sell trading courses, Yang says he’s more interested in educating on personal finance to the point where viewers feel comfortable investing for themselves.

“If I wanted quick cash, I’d sell a course promising a certain amount of money in 30 days, but I just don’t believe in that stuff,” he says, adding that he’d be open to explaining “all kinds of money.” of things” if he wanted to expand his audience.

He recalls one time he was having lunch at a restaurant when two 20-year-olds approached him and told him that his videos had encouraged them to start contributing to a Roth IRA and investing.

“The fact that they saw something of mine and then got inspired to do something for themselves, that’s the ultimate goal,” he says. “I am a millennial; I’ve never had access to that kind of thing. I didn’t know what a mortgage was until I was 23. But Gen Z has all of that.”

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About the Author: Chaz Cutler

My name is Chasity. I love to follow the stock market and financial news!