Now that Gen-Zs are older, whether in college or entering the workforce, we’re at that point in our lives where we have to start #adulting. We’re opening up our first credit card accounts, moving into our own apartments, maybe even starting our own businesses. Technology has allowed information to be more accessible which has enabled us to do many things on our own. But, there is one area many Gen-Zs still struggle with: financial literacy.
Speaking from personal experience, I can say for a fact that anything finance-related went in one ear and out the other. Sure, I took finance and accounting courses in college, but they don’t really help you figure out what to do with your money IRL. And yes, we have our well trusted Google and Siri -- but it’s oftentimes difficult to navigate through the plethora of information.
I am surely not alone in this financial literacy limbo -- in a study by EVERFI, only 33% of Gen-Zs felt prepared to manage their money. In fact, during a webinar we gave about “Decoding Gen-Z,” someone asked: “What brands/industries aren’t targeting Gen-Z but should?” Our answer: the finance industry. Even though people still categorize Gen-Zs as “kids,” our generation has tremendous spending power and is on track to becoming the largest generation of consumers. From this, Hardy Capital Investments soon became our client.
As the creative director and copywriter for this account, it’s safe to say I was extremely nervous about creating social media content for a financial planning and wealth management firm. Finance was definitely out of my comfort zone and there was not much out there to get inspiration from -- not many finance firms target Gen-Zs and Millennials specifically, not to mention most finance content is a drag (imo). Building Hardy Capital’s online brand from scratch was thrilling yet intimidating but Arynton Hardy, Hardy Capital’s Founder and CEO, has made this process so worthwhile. His forward-thinking vision and openness to try new things have truly allowed for finance to become relatable (even fun), making financial literacy digestible and accessible for people like me.
Hear the story of Hardy Capital Investments from Arynton Hardy himself-- their successes, efforts to make financial literacy accessible to Gen-Zs, and their vision on breaking into the non-profit sector.
What’s the story behind Hardy Capital Investments?
While working in New York City for a large bank in downtown, I kept seeing ways I was limited. After some time, I grew restless. Why can’t I have certain types of clients? Why are we ignoring some areas of finance and are so heavily invested in others? Why do we have to be at odds with what’s best for the client versus what’s best for the bank? It didn’t sit right and I thought I could do more.
So I did.
I started this company for one reason - to help people. And everyday is a small attempt to be better for myself, my company, and most importantly the people we work with.
Who makes up the majority of your clients?
From the beginning, I’ve always wanted to make sure that we diversified our client base so as to not rely on any one demographic. That’s a keyword you’ll hear often when building portfolios: Diversify! So that’s what I did. We have clients in their 70s and we have clients in their 20s. We have entrepreneurs and people who have worked at the same company for 20 years. We’ve even diversified by location with clients in California, New York, and other areas.
One demographic we haven’t touched yet is Gen-Z. They are just entering the job market and for many, it will be the first time they have had to have a conversation about their finances. This is why we started an entirely new platform under Hardy Capital and Betterment geared towards Gen-Z called Ascend Invest. It’s fun, easy, and hopefully gets the conversation started.
What excites you the most about your job/industry?
The people! Personal finances are a very intimate part of a person’s life, and I am very fortunate and privileged to be a part of that experience every day. Past the numbers, speaking to people about their dreams, family, and the life they want to leave behind is a very humbling experience.
What has been the biggest success for Hardy Capital?
The validation of the work. Every thank you or expression of gratitude I receive from a client validates the work we do and gives me new excitement to wake up in the morning knowing that I am providing a service of value into the world.
What has been the biggest challenge/learning curve?
Right now it has been the constant battle of switching in between running two different businesses. First, the business of my clients and making sure they are on track and second my actual business! There are so many things I would like to do to grow and expand Hardy Capital like hiring more staff, putting out more content, and figuring out ways to streamline and enhance the client experience. It's a constant balance between being patient and having a sense of urgency at all times.
Tell us the story about how and why you started teaching 5th graders about financial literacy. What has that experience been like?
I attended the International Children’s Academy from 4th - 8th grade and absolutely loved it. It is a specialized school in Los Angeles that incorporates spirituality, ethics, and foundational life values into their curriculum. We would learn about concepts like cause and effect, the power of words, and how to make decisions thoughtfully instead of with robotic impulses. Which is very tough as a kid! These values have helped me greatly in building my career and as a human being seeking to be better every day.
Once I was asked to join the board earlier last year, we had the idea to introduce practical lessons into the curriculum as well. As part of this effort, I was able to teach a 5 lesson course to 5th and 6th graders on Finance. A scary topic to most, but they were able to pick it up right away. We spoke about Real Estate, how the stock market works, and we even brought in a few case studies of current events at the time. I was surprised at how easy they took to it and how eager they were to learn more! I am excited to be back for another course in Spring 2021.
What has it been like for you, working with a Gen-Z startup like NinetyEight? Any highlights the past few months of us working together?
Absolutely wonderful. I look forward to every call we have together and the collaborative process has been easy and effective. Because of NinetyEight, I have been able to offload the decisions I would have to make from marketing and onto what’s actually important - my business! NinetyEight has also allowed Hardy Capital to reach an entirely new audience which will only grow from here.
They even encouraged me to make a TikTok so stay tuned for more content there as well.
What are your thoughts on financial literacy and the younger generation (Gen-Z)? Why target them in your social media efforts?
Gen-Z can be considered the “internet generation” as there wasn’t really a time where being easily connected or tapped into the internet was never a part of their lives. Gen-Z is very aware of the importance of financial literacy. Yet, with so much information out there, many are still lost. In a survey from Charles Schwab, 70% of Gen-Zs say that educating themselves about money is important to achieve their goals.Yet according to the American Psychological Association, four out of five Gen-Z consumers ages 18-21 say money matters are a leading source of stress. Why is this the case? I believe amongst many other factors, there is a paralysis in the analysis. There is so much information out there that many aren’t sure about what to do for step 1 let alone worrying about how they will get their first job out of college. I think a bit of guidance here can go a long way.
Where do you see Hardy Capital Investments in the next 5 years?
I would like to see Hardy Capital break into the Non-Profit space. Success is never guaranteed, but I fully anticipate Hady Capital to be significantly more financially successful 5 years from now than today. Assuming that’s the case, I would love to position ourselves to specifically help people earning minimum wage or are at the poverty line and get them to a place of earning $60,000/year. According to many studies, earners below $60,000/year have shown more of a propensity of being unhappy than those who are up and above that mark. While money doesn't buy happiness, lack of money can bring misery for some.
Hardy Capital will always be in the people business and if we can bring a bit more happiness to the world through what we do best - investing in people - I think we’ll be in business for a long time.