Sea shanties and viral dance trends have helped make TikTok a hit since the start of the pandemic. In 2020, the social media app, which allows users to create and share one or more 60-second films soundtracked with music clips, surpassed 2bn global downloads.
In the financial world, TikTok has a reputation for promoting volatile cryptocurrencies and activist investing – interest in Dogecoin and GameStop has been fuelled by the platform. But, beyond the jokes and rocket emojis being shared by some users, there is a wealth of practical personal finance videos that are teaching young people how to use their money better.
This financial TikTok space, dubbed FinTok, is global and growing. Content tagged with the hashtag #stocktok has been seen by users 1.4bn times, while the slightly more mundane #PersonalFinance has garnered more than 4.4bn views. Tagged videos cover everything from budgeting to Isas, from taxes to debt.
What is remarkable about FinTok is not the content of these videos but their reach: young people who might have otherwise been uninterested in personal finance are engaging with it. People are thinking about their money, and how to make it work for them, earlier and with more care. Some are even taking their first steps into investing inspired by short videos they have seen on social media. For many generation Z and millennial users, TikTok is their first and only source of education on money matters.
Ava Montgomery, 17,came across personal finance when her favourite creators on the site shifted into FinTok. “A lot of their videos are advice-based, and a lot of that tends to be around finance,” she says. She is still in the sixth form, and, by her own admission, not yet at the stage of life to act on it, but she has already learned about credit and mortgages while scrolling on her phone. “I have taken into account how much I’m going to need to think about that stuff when I’m older,” she says.
Figures shared with Guardian Money by the investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown show that 46% of 18- to 34-year-olds have become more interested in investing over the past six months, and one in five attributed this newfound enthusiasm to TikTok.
Susannah Streeter, a senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: “Social media and trading apps really have democratised the whole investment process.”
Tips and advice
TikTok recommends videos to its users based on how they have previously watched its content, creating a personalised feed called the For You page (FYP). Unlike other recommendation systems, the FYP deliberately includes a range of diverse and random videos, even if they appear irrelevant to the user’s interests, in an algorithmic effort to avoid “filter bubbles”. As a result, users can come across FinTok videos despite having never shown interest in personal finance before.
Even if you use the platform purely for entertainment, this random feed means you can end up inadvertently engaging with educational content. Laura Pomfret, 33, one of the founders of the personal finance brand Financielle, says this is what she likes about TikTok.
Laura and her sister Holly Holland, 31, started Financielle on Instagram and have since expanded on to TikTok, amassing more than 22,000 followers. Their content ranges from simple explainers to putting a financial spin on the latest TikTok trends and songs.
One recent video explores the question should I rent or should I buy? and features Laura in a garden, explaining rising house prices and market appreciation. Her friendly Mancunian accent and simple language make the daunting issue clear and easy to understand. She ends the 60-second video saying that there are no rules, encouraging viewers to decide for themselves and “bear in mind these factors when considering renting versus buying”.
A Financielle series, called Definition of the Day, breaks down financial jargon. One video explains greenwashing – a term regularly used on social media and often misunderstood. In less than a minute, Financielle’s intern Lucy defines the term: “Basically, it’s deceiving consumers into believing that a company’s products are environmentally friendly.”
The Financielle sisters’ aim is to make content that can act as “someone’s financial best friend”, Laura says: “This isn’t financial advice; this is the bit before it.” They describe their content as “like the couch to 5K” app, which was developed by the NHS to encourage people to take up running. It is about “breaking things down” and creating a plan, Laura says.
Laura and Holly are looking to expand their demographic, with the aim of reaching generation Z “before they make some bad life choices at ages 21 to 25, like we all probably did”. They anticipate: “TikTok’s going to be a massive driver for that.”
A younger creator, @pokubanks, also sees his platform as a space for education. David Poku, 20, started making personal finance videos on TikTok in January 2020, and boasts more than 330,000 followers. His interest in money started “because of the absence of financial literacy in school”, he says. When he was in the sixth form, he realised that he had never learned about taxes, investing or debt, so he taught himself and enrolled in the University of Nottingham to study finance, accounting and management. “I make some of my content from my lectures, literally,” he says.
Poku’s typical video takes a conversational, question-and-answer style. In the wake of May’s cryptocurrency crash, Poku published a video in which he acted as a “naive investor” in a black tracksuit and an “experienced investor” in a plain fitted T-shirt. He explored the question of whether people who had bought crypto should sell their coins at a low price or ride the wave of speculation. The more experienced character told the other: “Only invest what you can afford to lose.” Poku says he is summarising the wisdom of established businessmen such as Warren Buffett, “and adding my twist to it so that people can understand the message”.
Poku is wary of the risks of unregulated online advice, so many of his videos seek to educate viewers about how to navigate the onslaught of information. A recent video marked with the hashtag #FactCheckYourFeed was part of a campaign by the site and the charity Citizens Advice.
Poku’s video gives three tips to avoid scams online. He tells viewers it is a “bad sign” if you are asked to pay for something quickly or in an unusual way, that they should avoid giving away personal bank details or passwords, and should not rush into any decisions.
Other films in the campaign have been made by @thatmortgageadvisor, an independent UK mortgage broker, and @tejlalvani, a chief executive and dtar of BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den. The videos in the #FactCheckYourFeed campaign will cover financial terminology, research methods and how to make informed decisions.
When 27-year-old Andra Maier, who lives in London, was furloughed from her job in fashion PR last year, she turned to TikTok in search of budgeting techniques. “Now my For You page is mostly financial advice,” she says.
Maier remembers specific helpful videos rather than individual influencers. She recalls that one creator explained how to use a Google Form for budgeting, which made Maier ask: “Why did I never do this?” She has created budgets in this way ever since and it has given her an increased awareness about what she is spending money on. She says: “I have a Google Form, I input every single thing I spend, and then it goes into its category.”
Based on Maier’s interests, TikTok showed her more finance videos, which encouraged her to shift from planning to investing. Because she saw “repetitive information” on TikTok, she felt confident enough to make her first trades.
She went to Hargreaves Lansdown and invested in a portfolio of low-risk stocks and funds. Then she downloaded several new investing apps popular on TikTok, such as Plum, through which she made higher-risk trades with smaller chunks of money. She sees TikTok as the first point of information, explaining new concepts such as “compound interest” in simple terms, and showing her what to research in greater depth elsewhere.
What to bear in mind about the videos
However, these simple and snappy FinTok videos are not universally popular. At 37, Matthew Flower from Saffron Walden is older than the typical TikTok user. He downloaded the app “to keep abreast of what my children are actually doing online”, then stumbled across the app’s many personal finance videos. He’s not a fan. “Most of them are awful,” he says.
One problem for UK users is that the majority of FinTok content is American. “Obviously, there’s a difference in our financial systems,” Flower says. But the bigger problem, he says, is that people might take influencers’ “statements as fact, without doing their due diligence”.
Nigel Frith, an FCA-accredited analyst from the website AskTrader, says the emergence of online platforms and the opportunity to act immediately has “brought the Wall Street or the London Stock Exchange experience to consumers”.
But he is also concerned about the dangers that come with such a low barrier to entry. All you need to start posting videos to TikTok is the app. The ability to go viral on the FYP, easier than on other social media according to creators, means information might be viewed hundreds or thousands of times without the need to establish the trust of committed followers.
The dangers of unregulated influencers are starker when it comes to personal finance than in other genres because there is a risk that they could engage in market manipulation by giving tips that benefit their own investments.
Hargreaves Lansdown’s Streeter says it is difficult to know “the motives of these people” on social media. And she says if something is wrong “it’s not easy to censure an influencer at the moment”.
As Guardian Money went to press, it emerged that TikTok had banned branded content promoting financial services and products, including everything from cryptocurrency to debit cards. The extent of the ban is not yet clear, but it does suggest TikTok is taking action to reduce the potentially harmful content on the site.
Myron Jobson, personal finance campaigner at website Interactive Investor, says the change “will hopefully mark the end of dubious and outright misleading adverts of high-risk investments as well as highly volatile cryptocurrency on the platform. The hope is that TikTok’s systems are robust enough to detect and weed out content that falls foul of its revised policy.”
A TikTok spokesperson says: “Keeping our community safe is a top priority,” and that this is why it launched the #FactCheckYourFeed campaign. It posts a public service announcement on financial advice hashtags, reminding users that investments involve risks. The spokesperson says: “Our guidelines make clear that we do not permit content that brings about financial or personal harm – and we have specific rules banning pyramid, Ponzi or similar schemes.”
Even if the rules tighten in the future, FinTok is going nowhere. The viewers and the influencers see TikTok as filling a vital knowledge gap for the UK’s youth, and many creators such as @financielle and @pokubanks actively support some form of regulation.
For now, in the wild west of personal finance videos, the advice is simple: do your own research, don’t make a financial decision just because it is trending, and keep your options open.
The data integration business growing its EMEA HQ in Dublin is set for further expansion following a $5.6bn valuation and key acquisition.
Silicon Valley-headquartered Fivetran has announced $565m in Series D funding alongside a deal to acquire HVR.
This latest funding round sees the automated data integration provider’s value reach $5.6bn just over a year after it first reached unicorn status.
The funding round from new and existing investors included General Catalyst, CEAS Investments and Matrix Partners. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, which also brought in new investors Iconiq Capital, D1 Capital Partners and YC Continuity.
In total, Fivetran has raised $730m to date. And in tandem with its Series D funding round, the company also announced a $700m cash and stock deal to acquire data replication business HVR.
‘Without an always-on, accurate and reliable way to centralise data, global organisations aren’t maximising the use of data or data infrastructure’ – MARTIN CASADO, A16Z
For Fivetran’s mission to help businesses make use of the data they have, in a way that is quicker and requires fewer resources, HVR brings database replication performance along with enterprise-grade security.
“HVR is a recognised leader for enterprise database replication and shares our same vision – to make access to data as simple and reliable as electricity,” said Fivetran CEO George Fraser. “Their product is the perfect complement to our automated data integration technology and will be instrumental for us to help enterprise organisations that want to improve their analytics with a modern data stack.”
Fraser added that the latest injection of funding from investors will enable the company to expand its capabilities and accelerate its global growth.
Fivetran established its EMEA HQ in Dublin in 2018. The following year, fresh investment saw the company plan to double its Irish workforce. Last summer, a $100m funding round saw these expansion plans furthered.
In terms of market opportunity, Andreessen Horowitz general partner Martin Casado says Fivetran is a “critical component” of the modern data stack, which represents “a paradigm shift for global enterprises, with billions of dollars of revenue at stake”.
“Without an always-on, accurate and reliable way to centralise data, global organisations aren’t maximising the use of data or data infrastructure,” said Casado.
The acquisition deal has been approved by the boards of both companies and is expected to close in early October, subject to regular approvals.
Customers from both companies are expected to benefit from each of the business offerings. On the side of Fivetran, this client list includes Autodesk, DocuSign, Forever 21, Lionsgate and Square, while HVR services dozens of Fortune 500 brands.
“Combining HVR and Fivetran will enable a next-generation solution that will better inform business decisions by providing the freshest data available,” said HVR CEO Anthony Brooks-Williams.
“We’re thrilled to be joining forces with Fivetran and look forward to what this incredible opportunity will provide for our growing team, partners and customers.”
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The latest iteration of Amazon’s battery-powered Ring doorbell adds a new feature to capture the early details of events most competitors would miss without needing to be plugged in.
The Ring Video Doorbell 4 costs £179 ($199.99/$A329) and can be installed in any home with wifi. It tops Ring’s battery-powered range, which starts at £89.
The look and basic function of the Doorbell 4 is very similar to Ring’s older models. It has a camera with night vision, motion sensors and a large doorbell button.
When someone pushes the button Ring’s signature chime plays and an alert is sent to your phone. You can view a live feed and speak through the doorbell using the app from anywhere with internet. If you don’t answer, the new “quick replies” feature is like an answering machine for your door, recording caller’s messages. And it works as a motion-activated security camera too.
Four seconds of pre-roll
Most battery-powered doorbells sleep until motion is detected to save power, which means they typically only capture the second half of an event as it takes time for the camera to wake up and start recording.
Ring’s “pre-roll” system fills in the gap before the motion sensor is tripped. It takes a clip from a looping four-second lower-resolution colour recording that can be operated all the time without draining the battery too much.
It is a gamechanger for battery doorbells, giving you a much better idea of what has happened before the main camera fires up.
Video, motion and replay
The main 1080p HD video is clear and sharp enough to discern faces and name tags, and recorded HDR (high dynamic range) to better handle the sun shining straight at your door. The infrared night vision is bright and clear, too.
You can adjust the motion sensitivity and define areas you want monitored so that you only get notifications when something happens in the chosen zone, which is particularly useful for avoiding notification overload if your doorbell faces the street.
While standard motion and doorbell notifications, live view and pre-roll are free, you need to subscribe to Ring Protect to get the most out of the doorbell. A free 30-day trial is included so you can see what it does, and plans start at £2.50 a month, but it is essentially cloud recording for your videos as they are not stored locally.
You get up to 30-day event history, messages recorded by visitors from the quick replies feature and still snapshots taken every 14 minutes to fill in the gaps between events.
Ring Protect also enables smart motion alerts, to differentiate between people and other things such as cars, and rich notifications, which show an image of the motion or person within the alert on your phone.
Set up and battery life
Setting up the doorbell is very easy. It comes with screws and wall plugs, plus a bracket for angling the camera towards your door if needed and cables for attaching it to an existing doorbell wire and chime if you have one.
Once it is mounted you just slot the battery in the bottom, open up the Ring app on your smartphone and scan the QR code on the side of the bell. The app will run through the rest of the setup in about five minutes.
If you don’t have a traditional chime you can buy the wireless £29 Ring Chime or use any existing Amazon Alexa devices in your home to ring instead.
Battery life varies depending on how many features such as snapshot and pre-roll you have on and the number of motion events and live views. With everything active and capturing roughly 45 events a day, the battery lasts about a month. I would buy a second £20 battery as it takes at least five hours to fully charge the battery via microUSB.
You can block the recording of certain parts of the camera’s view such as your neighbour’s drive using privacy zones. Ring has recently added options to limit how long recorded videos are stored on a camera-by-camera basis, strengthened account security with two-factor authentication and, in addition to standard encryption, has enabled the activation of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for videos.
E2EE offers the strongest protection and means only the mobile devices you select can decrypt and watch captured videos. No one else can see the video, not even Ring. But with E2EE turned on some more advanced features such as pre-roll, snapshots, the event timeline, rich notifications and Alexa integration for watching a live feed from an Echo Show cannot be used.
The Ring Video Doorbell 4 is generally repairable and a range of spare parts, including the rechargeable battery, are available at reasonable cost. Most parts are also interchangeable with older models. The company will support its devices with software updates for least four years from the point it stops selling the device on its site, and continues to support all of the devices it has sold so far.
The response time to live view requests through the app is shorter than previous Ring models, but it can still take a few seconds to answer the door, so Ring has a separate stripped-down Rapid Ring app that is faster to load, which can be used for answering rings alongside the main Ring app.
Alexa smart displays can show a live feed on demand or automatically when the doorbell rings.
The Ring Video Doorbell 4 costs £179 ($199.99/$A329) and Ring Protect costs from £2.50 a month.
For comparison, the Ring Video Doorbell (2nd gen) costs £89, the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 costs £219, the Google Nest Doorbell costs £179.99 and the Arlo Video Doorbell Wire-Free costs £179.
The Ring Video Doorbell 4 is yet another great battery-powered smart doorbell from Amazon.
It intentionally doesn’t look any different from previous versions, so that parts are interchangeable and the older models don’t look dated. But it wakes up faster, the colour pre-roll captures much more of each event and its night vision is really good.
It can be installed almost anywhere but it needs good wifi so you might need a booster. You’ll probably need the extra £29 Chime too, which brings the real cost to £189 as a bundle, plus the £2.50 a month subscription to really make the most out of it as it doesn’t have local video storage.
Note the Ring Android app has an extremely annoying hard-coded pattern of four strong and long vibrations for every motion alert. It cannot be changed, which forced me to disable motion alerts entirely and lost the Doorbell 4 a star. Ring said it is working to fix the problem by the end of the year. This issue does not exist for the Ring iPhone app, however.
Pros: easy to install, clear video, great colour pre-roll, lots of accessories, solid iPhone app, faster, quick replies, snapshots, Alexa device integration, great as a regular doorbell replacement, end-to-end encryption available.
Cons: no local storage means you need Protect subscription for event review, no constant video recording, fairly wide for some door frames, battery needs charging once a month, Chime likely needed.
Linus Torvalds has revealed that winding back the decision to default to -Werror – and therefore make all warnings into errors – has made for another messy week of work on the Linux kernel.
“So I’ve spent a fair amount of this week trying to sort out all the odd warnings, and I want to particularly thank Guenter Roeck for his work on tracking where the build failures due to -Werror come from,” Torvalds wrote in his weekly missive about the state of kernel development.
“Is it done?” he asked rhetorically. “No. But on the whole I’m feeling fairly good about this all, even if it has meant that I’ve been looking at some really odd and grotty code. Who knew I’d still worry about some odd EISA driver on alpha, after all these years? A slight change of pace ;)”
Torvalds expressed his annoyance that his efforts have seen him enter “fix one odd corner case, three others rear their ugly heads” territory.
But he’s willing to wear the pain. “I remain convinced that it’s all for a good cause, and that we really do want to have a clean build even for the crazy odd cases,” he wrote.
And if he must handle this sort of thing in any week of the kernel production cycle, it might as well be the week of rc2.
“I hope this release will turn more normal soon – but the rc2 week tends to be fairly quiet for me, so the fact that I then ended up looking at reports of odd warnings-turned-errors this week wasn’t too bad,” he wrote.
Late last week, Torvalds also took some time to share what he described as “the true 30th anniversary date” of Linux.
On September 17th he wrote “a random note to let people know that today is actually one of the core 30-year anniversary dates: 0.01 was uploaded Sept 17, 1991.
“Now, that 0.01 release was never publicly announced, and I only emailed a handful of people in private about the upload (and I don’t have old emails from those days), so there’s no real record of that,” he wrote. “The only record of the date is in the Linux-0.01 tar-file itself, I suspect.
“Just thought I’d mention it, since while unannounced, in many ways this is the true 30th anniversary date of the actual code.”
So The Register though it worthy of mention, too. ®