The Evolution of Finance: Influencers, Crypto, & Investing w/ Porter Gale
Speaker 1: Welcome to The Jump Off Point, an original podcast by Jump Capital. Today, our host, Jason Felger, welcomes two very important guests, Jump Capital's co- founder Sach Chitnis joins us today for his debut on The Jump Off Point, along with the one and only Porter Gale. Porter is a business builder, marketer, and author. Her resume includes current board director for Reddit, former CMO at Personal Capital, and former VP of marketing at Virgin America, among dozens of other accolades. Today, she's with us to help navigate the changing world of finance and how personal this evolving industry has become.
Jason Felger: Welcome, everyone. Today, I want to quickly introduce and just say hello to Porter Gale and Sach Chitnis who are our guests. Porter, welcome. Thanks for being with us.
Porter Gale: Well, thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.
Jason Felger: Such, thanks for being here.
Sach Chitnis: It's a momentous day, for sure for me, at least.
Jason Felger: So I want to start with a couple of really big macro trends. Almost you could consider generational trends and Porter. We've talked about this a little bit, so I'd love to get your perspective first on this, but one is we're starting to see the largest international or intergenerational, excuse me, wealth transfer in history over 30 trillion in inheritance money is going from the boomers to millennial generation, and that's going to be passed down over the next couple of decades, but at the same time, the differences in how these generations approach conversations about money are wildly different. So you have this really interesting flow of money and not just the magnitude, but where it's going and who it's going to, and you have this very different presence and approach to how money is managed, talking about that. How do you think about those trends and how do you think about the potential outcomes of those trends?
Porter Gale: What we've seen in the past couple of years, especially with COVID is that a lot more people are leaning in, in particular to retail investing. A lot of this has been abled by new platforms and apps such as Robinhood, the technology that now allows people to trade very rapidly. The thing that's interesting though, is that there are different segments of investors. There's younger segments and older segments in particular, in one young se segment that's interesting to watch is the fire segment. There are people that are motivated by having financial independence and retiring early they're very budget conscious. You also also see a lot of more day trader type mentality. This is very interesting because what we found is that a lot of wealth is still held by older generations and millennials today hold a lot less wealth than prior generations. Just to give you an example, baby boomers had 21% of all wealth at the same age as millennials and millennials only hold 5%. So what that tells us is that there's still a lot of wealth being held by older individuals that will be passed down the generational wealth transfer.
Sach Chitnis: Yeah. I think what's so fascinating. It's so spot on, but what's so fascinating about this is that you have these massive trends occurring with some really interesting complex behaviors that are the underpinnings, right? You have a key piece which I think is that loyalty has just become a commodity. Where people don't have the same attachment to brands, to relationships as they did before, where you may have it with say you're Morgan Stanley financial advisor, back in the day to where, when you're setting up a new account, it's all due digital. So there's not that same personalization. Similarly, I think that the friction of change. So you probably saw this in spades Porter that if you're taking a brokerage account that has money in it and moving it over, that is way more difficult than say, setting up a new account to go start doing some day trading on Robinhood or the like. So that premise that you're able to detether from some existing relationship, much more difficult. So when they're inheriting this money, what's going to be really interesting to see the old line of thinking and relationships and whether they detether, whether or not they move that money to their existing digital form, or if it's difficult for them to rip and replace if you will.
Porter Gale: Yeah, that's right. The other thing I would say is that there are some groups of people that are very interested in investing by brand affinity. For example, a lot of people are interested in investing in ESG or socially responsible investing. So there's been a big growth in ESG investing over the last couple of years.
Sach Chitnis: One of the things I'm curious if you're seeing Porter is the siloing of relationships, but also siloing of finance. The premise that I'm essentially creating my own different allocation of risk based on how I invest. So I may have money that's really, for safety for retirement, et cetera, money that maybe go get it, like the higher risk profile, maybe in crypto, maybe in day trading on Robinhood or like accounts and just really starting to segment the way I think money. Are you seeing that? And are there any interesting trends that come from that, that really enable or disable this experience?
Porter Gale: Yeah. You know, one trend around that is that I do think that there is a slice of investing that really is about gamification and the rise of cryptocurrencies. So if you look at platforms like Coinbase and Gemini, where people feel more confident about leaning into crypto and they understand how to have a wallet and how to actually make trades, we are seeing crypto really now start to be more of a mainstream investment. So a lot has been happening in terms of investing styles in the last couple of years.
Sach Chitnis: Yeah. And I'm just curious as to how does the existing industry adapt to that. You have this generational wealth transfer, you have these different consumption behaviors, different attributes, ESG investing in the like. What tools, what platforms are they going to be using to keep up? It seems like it's going to be a night fight.
Porter Gale: I'd say that to really understand it. You have to look at people's motivations. Are they looking for retirement funds? Are they looking for short term wins or are they really being motivated by a fear of missing out and they're trying to get into the mean stock craze. And as you know, I was most recently with Personal Capital and Personal Capital was a great free platform and dashboard where you can actually aggregate all of your accounts in one place so that you can understand your net worth. You can understand your budgeting, you can understand your retirement plans, but I think that there are other platforms that are being built and it's important for people to find the online tools so that they can track understand all of their money. So a lot of exciting things are happening.
Sach Chitnis: Yeah. Makes sense. Maybe one thing that I think we've been spending a lot of time at jump on is this trend of influencers. Maybe it started even way back when Jim Kramer had this street and eventually know was on CNBC and... Just watch CNBC, the rotating door of celebrities that join financial services celebrities for that matter, that are espousing their view. This trend of everybody gets a voice. Everyone's a creator has definitely taken a full a hold in the financial services. I'm just curious as to how do you think that plays out both from a transparency? Is it here to stay? Is this a fleeting moment? And why is it such a big trend right now?
Porter Gale: Yes, the influencer movement is alive and thriving and it's very exciting. People are so thirsty for content, for education. We obviously see people listening to podcasts, looking at content, looking at articles, they're turning everywhere to become more self educated. We're in a time of knowledge expansion. What happens when people are interested in this expansive base of content is that they also look for influencers and experts. So we like to call it the fin influencer movement. You see micro influencers, and then you see very, very, very large scale influencers and people are too earning to them. And this creator economy, these influencers can have a very robust income generated off their content and they can earn income, not only from being paid for the content, and also brand partnerships, but a lot of fit influencers also drive affiliate links for different companies. So there is a lot to be made. For example, I was just reading this morning about one finfluencer, who is very focused on YouTube and he makes$ 6 million alone on ad revenue off of his YouTube channel. So there is going to be a rise of more finfluencers and content creators that are helping to educate people.
Sach Chitnis: What I think is so interesting it's that everybody gets a voice. Everybody's a creator. Now these creators are essentially getting the opportunity to monetize that influence. Isn't there, that next step, which is that trust that influence needs to be validated or needs to be put some guardrails on regulation. It seems like it's imminent based on everything that you see, that if you're gaining influence from somebody, whether it's through a TV program through social media, through a log posts through any medium, that at some point there's going to be some guardrails or at least mechanism to understand that trust or that influence.
Porter Gale: Yeah. I think that's a really great question to see where we're going. The one thing that I would say is that you do need to be very cautious about where you're getting your advice and you should always be very thoughtful and litigious about understanding anything around investing advice. From a regulation standpoint, registered investment advisors, which is what personal capital is. They are very much regulated by the SEC in terms of how they spread content, what things they can say. There are a lot of rules around not making promises and not giving people investment advice where they think there's always going to be a win. So from a company standpoint, there is a lot of regulation that does take place to make sure that content is fair and accurate and not misleading. The other thing I just would say about finfluencers is that there's obviously mega finfluencers. One survey that we ran, we found that 72% of younger generations actually looked to Elon Musk for financial advice. They're watching his Twitter feed. They're looking at what crypto coins he's recommending, what companies he's retweeting, what NFTs he's retweeting. And so there are certain people that have a lot of power and that are also helping to drive the meme stock movement. So it's just a changing game. The power has gone from the institutional investors and a lot of it has moved to community and retail investors. And it's an interesting time. So if you're turning to an influencer or a finfluencer, I still encourage you to find multiple sources for your investing and to always be very thorough in your investing approach.
Sach Chitnis: Yeah, just, when I think about it anecdotally. When I used to get perspective and advice, and my friends would tell me about some interesting stock to invest in decades ago, it was at the water cooler. And I knew them. I had a perspective of whether they had smarts on that space. Now, if you jump onto TikTok, you jump onto Instagram, you jump onto any of these platforms that exist. The measure of success or the signal of trust is how many followers. I don't know how you're able to have a relationship with that anonymous person. And at the same time say, that sounds like an interesting advice, whether they're Elon Musk, that has a perspective, or if it's a random finfluencer. I'm just curious as to, is there going to be more to that. That premise that taking a screenshot that validates that you own that stock is one aspect of it, but that premise of how do you start assessing the quality of that signal of that data?
Porter Gale: Yeah. Well, it is a great question. Obviously, we're in a time where fake news or misinformation could apply to investing too. And so I think what people have to really recognize is to only invest what they're willing to lose and that there is a lot of risk in retail investing. And that there is all the stories of people making a lot of wealth and wealth creation, but a lot of people have also suffered and lost money. So always try to overeducate yourself and maybe look for multiple data points instead of just quickly reacting. Obviously the other trend that happened that was in sync at the same time as the finfluencers was the rise of things like Robinhood, where people can now invest and not have the cost portrayed in its much faster in almost a gamified way. And so we just have quicker access to the markets. Again, a lot is happening. We're going to see a lot more with crypto. And the way that's moving to mainstream is really fascinating, too.
Jason Felger: Porter. I'd love to have you put your marketing hat on your marketer hat as you've done for a number of FinTech and other consumer facing companies in these trends, particularly like where finfluencers and social finance, as far as speaking to the right customer, embracing some of these trends versus maybe observing them and just the deluge of maybe decisioning you have to go through to figure out how are you reaching and talking to your end customer when there's now so much more noise and clutter in the market?
Porter Gale: In terms of marketing. What I always encourage companies to do is to be very specific and understand who their customer is. You might even want to embark on doing a segmentations study and identify three or four of your largest customer segments. Once you understand who you're trying to reach, you can figure out how to reach them in the right way and in the right channel. In terms of digital marketing. There's obviously a lot more that can be done now with social media targeting, even streaming online video, because you can understand a lot about a person by the potential IP address that is being used, and also the cookies that are being tracked. So as a marketer, digital marketing can be very, very efficient and effective when you're a FinTech marketer. As I just mentioned, evangelists and finfluencers, there are a lot of referral programs that companies build where they will offer a financial incentive for a qualified lead coming into their funnel. So for example, personal capital does run affiliate program that is a very large segment of the leads that are coming into the company. So think about this, think about social media. Think about affiliates. Think about partnerships, partnership marketing is also a very, very interesting way to launch a company because sometimes the partner brand can provide a really great halo and give your brand more credibility when it's launching and growing. So the last thing that I just would say is that the other thing that's important when you're marketing is to take a very data driven approach, always make sure that you can track and measure what you're doing and not only look at your top of funnel metrics, but look all the way down the funnel. Are the leads that are coming in, are they engaging? Are they converting? Are they leads that lead to long- term relationships? All of this can be tracked in your funnel and then you can have a robust performance marketing approach to make sure that you're always optimizing and growing your business and growing your customer relationships in the best way possible.
Sach Chitnis: How do you think about, again, trying to rebuild those loyalty strains. Meaning I have a point solution that I'm using this financial services company for say high yield savings, say credit a card, whatever the case may be, how do you build that bond? And the marketing once you are a customer, so that eventually you can expand to that next product. That seems like a big gap or an imminent gap for many of these companies. There's so many big companies that have been informed that are point solutions that clearly have ambitions to be much broader. And I anticipate that being a core tenant, which is building that loyalty and that relationship and trust so you can expand, but how do you do that as a marketer as a product team?
Porter Gale: Well, I think, one thing that is important is if you are trying to add to your product line to really think, are you bringing value and something that's differentiated that your customer needs. So if you went into a company with a mortgage and you have that relationship and you have trust with them, making sure that the next thing that you bring to them, they actually want, so how are you doing it differently? I guess the other thing I'd say is that even though there is a lot of relationship that's being built digitally, there still is that human touch that can happen with customer service or chat messaging and making sure that again, you are bringing a great and delightful experience throughout a customer life cycle, because those things may make a difference. Not to keep talking about personal capital, but it is really exciting when you talk to customers and they'll tell you the little things that made loyalty really important to them. And the same thing with Virgin America, people would talk about the mood lighting or the phrase written on a cocktail napkins. So really think about every touchpoint in your experience. And are you bringing moments of delight to your customers?
Jason Felger: A lot of what we're talking about is just trust. How do brands build trust? And I think, yeah, the other thing we've been touching on is just some generational or at least alluding to, or like generational changes of how people talk about finances and engage in executing those financial decisions. I'm curious to go back to, is that about generations? There's just a shifting in generations have changed how they want to do that or is this just a more complete seismic shift of all consumers have moved towards a different way of managing finances a different way and engaging with those institutions. It bring us almost back to where we started off on is, is it as much generational as it is new technologies and platforms have really just shifted how all of us, regardless of age, of just how we are thinking about engaging with trading and wealth management and conversations around those and from a marketer standpoint, a little bit around customer segmentation and knowing your customer, but just curious if that resonates with you or as a marketer, if you think about it still, like I need to speak to different customers in different ways based off the trends and what's happening.
Porter Gale: I think that customer segmentation is really important. And I used to always try to look at least like the five main segments that you'd have. And you will find that segment number one and number two are going to drive a lot of your business so really understanding those core segments. But your question about, is it a seismic shift or is it generational changes? I was reading a report by McKinsey recently that said in the next 10 years, we're going to have more technological advancements than we've had in the last 100. So we have massive change in front of us. And I think that what we need to really figure out at least in the FinTech industry is try to think about how that will impact us. It's our digital identity, it's privacy, it's different types of financial offerings. Just look at, buy now pay later with Affirm and Klarna and UpLift that whole category. Even though we used to have like layaway at retail stores, it has really taken off and you're seeing huge changes in the way that people buy goods and services versus the old, just the method of credit cards. And really that was an insight that credit cards have a lot of interest and it's an inefficient payment and this might be a more elegant way for consumers. So, and also being able to understand risk and who should be given a loan. So again, I think there is some generational stuff, of course, but I do think that there's just massive change coming in front of us, also driven by blockchain, of course.
Sach Chitnis: That's music to my ears. Certainly, when I hear about buy now pay later when I first heard it, I was like, isn't that what credit cards are for? And of course, obviously it's evolved into something bigger, which is that everybody's become a FinTech company. Even retailers are now embedding these types of solutions to go after it. But maybe the way you ended your last comment, really, I want to pull on that thread. When you think about crypto and blockchain, like hasn't the competition, as well as the education curve for targeting your customers gone global. When I think about investing in crypto, this is not a US- centric mentality or a thought you're really looking at instruments from companies from all over the world teams that are truly global and even exchanges that are global. So how do you think about that from a marketers perspective, even to be able to identify who your core customer should be.
Porter Gale: So in terms of blockchain and all of those changes, again, understanding what target you're going after is really important. Personal Capital had a very, very specific target. That's very different than some of the ones that we're talking about. And it was individuals that were investing at least a hundred thousand dollars. And they actually had complicated portfolios. Like you said, actually, most people have 14 accounts now. So again, really defining who you're going after. But I would say that it's important to understand that individuals listening to this and also us, we're probably the early adopters. There's still so much education that needs to happen around crypto. And it's starting to evolve where it's not just the early adopters, but I think education is going to help lead the charge. And so if a company that's entering a space can be a thought leader and can help educate and help people understand these changes and why they should be potentially doing sustainable investing or why they should be trying a crypto exchange in et cetera. So positioning yourself, having that trust, all of those things are important.
Sach Chitnis: Yeah. Trust as a currency certainly is going to become a very important facet. I think the question that I still can't get my head wrapped around and understand like, how it's going to play out is if I do want to learn where do I go for it, is it going to be TikTok? Is it going to be Instagram? Is it going to be CNBC? And crypto, especially it's much more of the wild, wild west right now. There's just a lot more sources for information. It's a lot more decentralized upon intended. And I think what's really interest is that there is no destination for information. And I think that probably will become a big opportunity for somebody in this space.
Porter Gale: One place that I saw recently, I believe it was called Blockworks, and they do a lot of educational content around crypto and they're doing events, but I guess also asking your trusted friends, where do they go for information? And I would just be curious, what are you reading? And where are you looking right now to find your insights? Because Jump Capital is obviously very active in this space. And so I'd like to learn from you too on what you're doing.
Sach Chitnis: Yeah. That's a great question. So maybe I'd start with, you have to be insatiably curious about the topic. It's just so easy to glance at crypto or blockchain and say it's so complex and just bounce away from it and believe it doesn't exist or it'll fail. And I think a lot of people do that. So breaking out your knowledge base, I think in three parts, one is there's the basics. I think there's so much foundational information that exists out there. Just all you have to do is go onto the web. There's a ton of podcasts about it. And you don't really have to look that far. General media outlets, whether you're the New York times or have plenty of primers for you to learn everything from Bitcoin, Ethe, blockchain, DeFi all of the terms, understanding the fundamentals. Two, when you look at it, there's a bunch of buckets that you can look at, but you really need to understand the incremental innovations, the disruptive technologies, some of these trends that are occurring that showcase these convergences with the existing industries. And I would argue that when you can learn a lot of this by just following a lot of the leading investors and advocates, everything from Twitter to their blog posts and just general conferences in the like. I think that generally speaking, it's such a broad area. You're really recreating the new internet. You're recreating, trusted contracts, you're recreating new capital market systems and beyond. So you almost have to pick a passion area. Once you understand the building blocks. It's a composable system, understand the basics, understand the different nuances of a chain and blockchain in general, and then pick an area and then just dive deep rabbit holes as they say, there's a lot going on, but I think it's being methodical and thinking through where you find passion and where you have interest. And then maybe lastly, the third piece I'd say is, this is a community driven ecosystem. It's so easy to get immersed. When you're thinking about it you have to just look at crypto Twitter, you have to look at Discord, Telegram, Signal you could join inaudible. There's just so many ways to listen, hear and understand what people are thinking about, how they're seeing trends and gaps in the market. And this chatter debate is really everywhere. So I think there's a great opportunity for people to join. They just have to use new mediums that they're probably not used to using on a day to day basis, and then just find ways to immerse themselves in this community. But because it's a community based environment, it's important to join those forums.
Porter Gale: Yeah. I totally agree. I had a girlfriend was over this morning and we were having coffee talking just about this, about how do you learn more about crypto and where do you turn? And what's the right source. I look forward to hearing some more of your podcast to see what other people are doing.
Sach Chitnis: Yeah. It's one of those things that I would maybe layer on one other piece, which is, it's a certainly an investment area that we see an opportunity, which is this trust as the currencies we've been talking about in different ways, ways and shapes and forms, but this collaborative investing. This premise that you may learn from other people, whether it's from sharing insights and perspectives, but you may also just say the gap of knowledge is so wide, but I trust this person and I want to replicate their portfolio. I want to be able to invest behind them. So I think there's some really interesting trends around that, but that collaboration, whether it's just a discovery and learning, or if it's actually doing, and in crypto, I think it's increasingly going to be, how do I simplify this for myself? Because most people can't get extraordinarily deep into it and it may be instruments like ETFs and the like, but it more likely than not may end up being that I trust these sources of information and I'm going to let them guide my investment approach.
Porter Gale: Yeah I agree.
Jason Felger: Porter, you started to mention some of your past experiences, which are not all in financial services, Virgin and others. You're on the board of Reddit. When you're thinking about companies in FinTech, in crypto that are building brand that are thinking about their marketing efforts, how do you, or where do you really look in industries and other examples to port over learnings?
Porter Gale: Yeah. One thing that I have seen Jason, is that a lot of companies that are in this space are driven by founders that are product engineering, tech founders, and you don't often have like a brand or design founder. And so they'll work on product market fit and then brand and messaging is an afterthought where they'll get out there and then they'll realize, oh gosh, maybe I want to up level this. So the first thing I'd say is don't underestimate the power of succinct and clear messaging. And also the visual appeal that great design can add to your brand. And that people actually really respond to it. One thing to do is to look at successful category challengers, Lyft, they had a design founder on part of their company and worked really hard on design and came in after Uber. So look at category challengers. Another tip is there's a company called eatbigfish and they have defined the 10 arc types of challenger brands and brand positioning and figuring out, do I want to be a brand that is humorous and irreverent? Do I want to be a brand that is the personal champion of the underdog. So understanding your arc type and really charting a course. So being specific and intentional with your marketing and your branding can be really powerful and change your funnel dynamics and your growth ability.
Jason Felger: That's great advice. We've touched on a few trends that we're all excited about, but I want to specifically pose it to both of you, which is fully ingesting all of these signals and things that were seeing in the market.
Porter Gale: Yeah. One area that I do think is going to be a very interesting one to lean into is just the whole privacy aspect. We touched on that a little bit, but in finance, obviously because a lot of the finance is being embedded in companies now and our data, we need to make sure our data is secure. And thinking about the metaverse, what will FinTech look like in the metaverse will you be shopping at a virtual Gucci? So I've been thinking a lot about that. And honestly, what I've been thinking about recently is what are some of the risks that we also could face culturally with the shifts that are happening with web 3. 0, I have a daughter who's in college. So I've been just trying to think more about that and reading a lot about what's happening in Korea, because they're a little bit ahead of us in terms of the metaverse and some of the things that are happening. So I've been thinking more, I guess, broad stroke about web 3. 0 and what that means for us.
Sach Chitnis: Yeah. I think, there are so many interesting threads that you can pull on within FinTech. There's so much innovation, but I maybe summarize with three trends that I think are super interesting as we see it today. One is everybody talks about traditional finance and crypto or digital finance as totally separate things. And I think there's going to be an incredible wave of convergence. The traditional players entering the digital space by having crypto offerings and conversely, and so there's going to be a lot of things layered into that, the compliance layer that comes into it, the enablement of custodian solutions for crypto assets and so forth. So that bucket for me is really interesting and obviously a jump we're very active on both sides. And so that's a potentially a self- fulfilling prophecy that both sides accelerate with success. Two for me is this rationalization of relationships. I just think it's nonsensical to think that the, I think you said 14 Porter relationships that most people have on inaudible which happens to be very close to mine. My number is going to continue. At some point there's a rationalization of point solutions and relationships. And so as a result, you're going to have an increasing number of them, not build these out. They're going to white label and just plug and play. And eventually everybody will have broker solutions, credit card solutions, debit card solutions. And eventually you'll aggregate to one relationship. And you're seeing that with players like PayPal and others expanding beyond their core capability. And then for me, the third like we talked about it a bunch and I think it's just, it's a fascinating trend. I certainly, don't know where it's going to go. But this trust as a currency, this premise of collaborative investing I think is so fascinating. The premise that my brother, my dad are trading stocks certainly more frequently than I am. And I wish I had more time to do that. And would I want to invest behind what they're doing? For sure. How do you enable that? Or if somebody gives me advice on social media, how do I know that I should trust them and the premise of discovery and learning from other people and understanding where should I invest if I have an ESG component that whole element of being able to share advice, discover, follow, replicate portfolios I think is just a fascinating trend. And frankly, the advent of social media has really enabled. So I think it's going to explode.
Jason Felger: Well. This has been an amazing conversation and Porter gave some just spot on advice and perspective. So I just want to thank you. Thanks Sach for doing this with us. I really appreciate you taking the time.
Porter Gale: Of course. Well, you guys are awesome. So thank you for inviting me today and I hope to talk to you all again in the future very soon.
Speaker 1: Thank you so much for listening to this month's episode of the Jump Off Point an original podcast by Jump Capital. If you have an idea for the show or know of someone who would make a great guest, please contact podcast @ jumpcap. com.
This week on the Jump Off Point: Host Jason Felger talks with Jump Capital Co-Founder Sach Chitnis and guest Porter Gale. Porter is an author, business builder, marketer and currently is on the Board of Directors for Reddit.
In this episode, Porter helps us navigate the evolution of the FinTech industry, including the upcoming intergenerational wealth transfer, financial influencers and their effect on investing, and the significant change that's still to come to the industry.