Chart-topping podcast host Simran Kaur tells Business is Boring why she’s passionate about getting more wāhine into investing.
Two years ago, Simran Kaur and Sonya Gupthan had an idea for a platform that would open up the conversation about money, savings and investing for other women. Now, Girls That Invest is one of the top investment podcasts in the world, with social followings above 150,000 and over a million podcast downloads.
Kaur and Gupthan have spoken around the world, delivered a TEDx talk, and now have even signed a book deal with US publisher Wiley. From the conversation that sparked the idea in 2020 to now, Girls That Invest has been on a quick journey of growth, and they have big plans for the future too. This week, Kaur joined Simon Pound on Business is Boring to talk about the journey so far, and where Girls That Invest is heading next.
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Simon Pound: It can seem a bit crass to talk about money – but actually money equals freedom and choice and independence, right?
Simran Kaur: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s kind of what we speak on – it’s not about trying to get people to buy fancy cars or live in expensive homes. I mean, if that’s what you want to do, power to you, but it’s more about “how do you get enough money to have those choices, those freedoms in your life?”
To get there, we need to start talking about it. Because if you don’t talk about it, you don’t learn how other people do it. We definitely have a culture in New Zealand where we tend to be more humble, we tend to not talk about [money], but that also means that other people can’t learn from you.
There’s always been a class divide – wealthy families can pass that wealth on to their children, but on top of that there’s a massive gender divide because even in these wealthy families it’s historically been passed down through the males. How are you helping turn that ship around?
Only 16% of women in New Zealand are investing, which is very, very small. In comparison, around 30 to 40% of men invest. Why aren’t [women] investing? Research has found there’s just this knowledge gap. People want to learn – it’s not that they’re not interested, it’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that they don’t know how to get started.
Tell us about how you’ve grown the following and the platform, because lots of people can start a podcast, but how do you become one of the top investment podcasts in the world?
I always started with the idea that it would grow. With Girls That Invest, even though we were starting off very small, we knew that as it grew, it needed to cater for everyone. I was very specific with the kind of content we would speak about, for example we wouldn’t just give New Zealand examples, we would give American examples and UK examples. We wanted people to feel like this was a kind of global brand, as opposed to being New Zealand-based.
Who is your audience, and what are you trying to help them with?
Our audience is mainly young women and men, particularly people from minority backgrounds, people that have never felt like they could walk up to a financial advisor and go “hey, can you tell me more?” It’s about us breaking down the stigma and the jargon so that they feel confident they’re turning up with a little toolkit of information so if someone throws a word at them it makes sense.
The equivalent for me would be when I go to a mechanic – it doesn’t make sense to me, I’m very confused and anxious, and you either take on what they say, or you’re completely against it because you don’t trust what’s been told to you. I want people to feel comfortable going into their finances, in a way that they feel like they understand the basics. We never really tell people what to invest in. It’s more “what’s a fund? What’s a stock? How would you get started?”
You recently talked on Voices on RNZ about this idea of everyone having a money history. Can you talk us through that?
A money history is basically the way that you’ve grown up with money. Some people are more on the side of being a spender. Some people are more savers, some are very extravagant – I’m very frugal. It’s not necessarily a choice that we make, but it’s the ways that people around us have perhaps shaped our views on money.
It’s important to know your money history and your money story, because that way you can kind of unravel those thoughts, how you heard about money growing up. For example, I grew up thinking money was very evil and that if you were to be wealthy, you were probably a terrible person, or you were very busy, you didn’t have time for your friends and family and I didn’t want any part of that. I think it’s important to be able to break that down and ask: why do I think that way?
What advice would you have to someone who wants to solve a problem they see, like you have done with Girls That Invest?
When I was younger and I was investing I wanted to find a community of like-minded people, and it was very “finance bro-y”, and I never really felt like I belonged in that space. I wished there was a space for people like me that just wanted a fun investing community. No one else was doing it, so why not make it myself?
So if someone’s thinking “I really wish there was an XYZ in the space that I’m interested in, but no one else is doing it or no one else is doing it the way I’d like to see it done,” you’re probably not the only person that feels that way. A lot of my business decisions are based on the fact that if this is something that I would like, other people are probably going to like it too.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.