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Simran Kaur (Photo: Supplied)
Simran Kaur (Photo: Supplied)

PartnersJuly 4, 2023

This is Kiwi: Simran Kaur on owning your financial future

Simran Kaur (Photo: Supplied)
Simran Kaur (Photo: Supplied)

A Kiwibank series in collaboration with The Spinoff Podcast Network, This is Kiwi celebrates extraordinary achievements by ordinary New Zealanders. In the second episode, Jane Yee interviews Simran Kaur.

Simran Kaur is the founder and director of Girls that Invest, a financial columnist, best selling author, TEDx speaker and financial literacy advocate. With a focus on empowering women and minorities to own their financial futures, Kaur inspires thousands through her online presence.

Her podcast, Girls That Invest, has topped the business podcast charts all over the world with 4 million downloads, and her instagram account The Indian Feminist, which aims to “smash the patriarchy, one post at a time,” has over 300,000 followers.

This year Kaur was a guest speaker in the UK house of parliament for International Women’s Day, and she was also named a Forbes 30 under 30 Asia honouree alongside her business partner and best friend, Sonya Gupton. With several lifetimes of extraordinary achievements under her belt, it might come as a surprise to learn that Kaur is only 26 years old. 

Facing each day as a new opportunity to grow her business and to empower others, Kaur is showcasing the potential for young New Zealanders to not only gain financial literacy, but to strive for greatness.

Kaur spoke to Jane Yee on the This is Kiwi podcast – read an excerpt from the full interview below.

Jane Yee: What is it that made you so passionate about helping women gain financial literacy?

Simran Kaur: When I was younger I really experienced around me the impact of what a woman’s life looks like when they’re financially independent, and what a woman’s life can look like if they’re not financially independent and they’re in a sticky situation. I remember even at a party that my parents took me to, a lady said to me “What do you want to do when you grow up?” And I was unsure. I was like, “I don’t know.” My parents were behind me so I was like, “Maybe I’ll be a doctor.” And she was like, “Good, you should do something like that. Because when you have money, you can choose who you marry.” 

I just remember thinking, “What a weird thing to say. You can always choose who you marry, or, you can always have choices in life”. But the idea that you have more choices in life when you have financial independence just became so important to me. I don’t know why I got tunnel vision with it, but I just did. And that’s just been a huge passion of mine since.

Tell me about how you went from studying optometry to creating this mini empire that you’ve got now with Girls That Invest, your book, speaking engagements, masterclasses… How do you do it all?

We started during March 2020. And that was because the stock market dropped and dropped in a way that was quite scary. Covid was this new thing, and because of my health background and my financial background, I was like, “Oh, people are a little bit scared. They don’t understand what this is. It’s just a virus, but like, it could be big, it could be fine, I don’t know. But the market will recover from it”. 

I remember just being like, it’s another day, let’s actually invest a little bit more, because it’s so down. I went to work and heard a lot of commotion around me, concerned colleagues talking about, “Well, what about my KiwiSaver? Should I pull out from my growth fund and put it into a conservative fund? Because it dropped 5% today?” 

I realised that financial literacy is not as common as I thought. I’ve been quite lucky – I studied finance alongside my optometry degree, and I’ve also had parents that were good with money and I just kind of thought everyone got to have the access that I did. That was the kind of lightbulb moment where I was like, “OK, well, I love teaching”. And I think more than anything, if people wanted to attribute what we’ve done to like, one skill, it’s been being a good teacher, I can just jump online and start sharing about why you shouldn’t be pulling your money out of KiwiSaver when the market drops, because it actually solidifies your losses. 

My experiences are not that unique. If I’m wondering these things at some point in my life, I’m sure other people are as well. And so that’s how we began, we did not realise that three months later, the stock market would rebound and go on this massive bull run, which in non-jargon terms means it just did really well. It was going upwards and upwards and upwards and suddenly everyone else was wondering about the sharemarket. And so we were kind of at the right place at the right time. Yes, we worked really hard, but we got to ride a wave that we didn’t see coming, and it was just by actively starting and doing something that we were able to catch on to it.

Do you think of yourself as a role model? Because your instagram The Indian Feminist has 300,000 followers and I would argue that there are a lot of people who are looking up to you, and the stuff that you say does have an impact.

Sometimes I look into what we do, and I would kind of wish I had this growing up. Because I didn’t, and I think it was a case of, well, there weren’t many strong women of colour role models in the business space in New Zealand when I was younger. There’s so many now and it’s fantastic to see and social media makes it much easier to find those people, but I became an optometrist because a woman at my temple was an optometrist. And I was just like, “Well, she can do it. And she’s amazing. And she looks like me, and sounds like me. So I can probably do it too.” And that’s just what representation does. So I’m appreciative that we can expand representation in the space that we work in.

You’ve done hundreds of podcast episodes, you’ve written a book, you’ve done speaking engagements, all these things. But if you were to just take a couple of key messages for your listeners, readers and audience members to take away, what would they be?

The main thing I would say to anyone, whether you are someone that’s trying to get better with your money or you’re someone that’s looking to start a business, is never underestimate how much you can learn, and never underestimate what you can understand. What I’ve run into a lot with the people that we’ve worked with is a lot of self-limiting beliefs, not because it’s their fault, but just because we’ve been taught “Look, money’s really hard, or it’s really hard to get unstuck and it’s better to bury your head in the sand than to call up your bank and go, ‘OK, I’m actually struggling here’.”

What does debt consolidation look like? Or what can I do? What are the proactive steps I can take? If you believe that, you have the ability to go, I don’t understand this right now, but I’m sure I can learn it, and if I can’t learn it from this person maybe I’ll go to someone else, or I can’t learn it from this book, maybe I’ll go to this podcast or I’m not really a podcast or a book person, I need someone to talk to me, I’m gonna go to an advisor. All these different options we have to learn whatever it is that you want to learn. 

I don’t know if this is naivety, but I don’t believe there’s anything in the world that I can’t wrap my head around.

To hear the full kōrero, listen to This is Kiwi wherever you get your podcasts.

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