Engaging. Vibrant. Diverse. Accessible.
These words are not often associated with financial planning and wealth management professionals. But a new guard, armed with the same certifications as your grandfather’s wealth managers but with an air of accessibility he’d never dreamed of, has arrived.
Different roads led Tyrone Ross and Andrew Wang to the same destination: a passion for spreading financial literacy. Both men credit their parents, to some length, for their work ethic and drive. Ross’s parents immigrated from Guyana, one as a teen mother and one with a middle school education. His parents worked hard to provide for the family, but they “opted out of the American Dream and into survival.” Getting Ross to graduate high school became a top priority. When he did, he became the first in his family to do so.
Wang was born into a family with financial acumen. His father Samson started Runnymede Capital in 1993 and was previously with the Bank of New York, first as director of research in the 1970s and then as president of its money management subsidiary in the 1980s. Barron’s once called him one of the magazine’s favorite financial investors. Money matters are in Wang’s blood.
Despite the difference in their origin stories, the men play similar roles in the lives of their clients – Wang as managing partner at Runnymede Capital in Mendham and Ross as chief executive officer at Onramp Invest in Princeton – as well as in the lives of their fans and followers, people they reach on social media and through podcasting.
Ross and Wang, along with Wang’s brother Chris, made Investopedia’s list of the 100 most influential financial advisors for making significant contributions to critical conversations about financial literacy, investing strategies, life-stage planning, and wealth management.
Ross hosts the Human Advisor podcast for Altruist, an app focused on financial wellbeing. Human Advisor is a series dedicated to changing the conversation from how big a financial advisor’s book of business is to one about how to take care of clients and actually help people.
But Ross’s main classroom is his Twitter account, filled with selfie pep talk videos and anecdotes of cryptocurrency investment – he’s one just a handful of advisors in the country who helps clients with their bitcoin assets according to the Inside Information service. When Ross was named to Wang in an interview for this story, Wang chirped, “Oh, he’s the one who posts videos on Twitter, right?” His unscripted videos rack up 1,000 or so views each, and many get closer to 10,000.
Ross is in the process of launching a back-to-basics Learn to Money video series. It’s an answer to traditional financial media, which Ross described as “full of jargon and not easy to watch.”
“The first episode is ‘what is money?’ Everyone should be able to understand every word that comes out of my mouth,” he said. He started a GoFundMe to raise capital to produce the program, which he hopes to bring to schools as a permanent aspect of their curricula.
A decade and a half in the financial services industry hasn’t erased his experiences growing up in an unbanked home and seeing how his parents struggled. It became clear to him when he joined the industry in 2006 that financial services has “just no reason” to want to help the marginalized.
“[The industry spends] $17 billion on marketing and less than 1% on education,” Ross said. “They’re complicit, they’re all in cahoots, and I get it. It comes down to that we live in capitalist society where people don’t speak the language, and the language is money. The ones who [speak money] are the haves, the ones who don’t are the have nots.”
With his podcast Inspired Money, Wang aims to approach financial topics in a positive way, alongside guests that have made their money out through passion and purpose. Guests like Tony Horton, creator of popular workout P90X, and Ryan Serhant, host of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing, discuss what got them to where they are.
“Most of us don’t talk about money enough and when we do it’s often not in a positive way. That’s the basis of Inspired Money,” Wang said. “I like having discussions that will inspire people to open their financial statements or look at their 401k and say’ ‘maybe I should take some time to look at my statements and see if I’m participating or need to make changes.’”
Podcasts and social media work as a self-advertisement tools, demonstrating not only their financial expertise but engaging personalities.
Clients find Ross through Twitter “all the time,” he said, and it’s been helpful to expand his book of business since leaving Merrill Lynch in 2017. An advisor can do more as independently rather than working with a big firm, he noted, because there are fewer rules.
“It’s interesting because podcasting as a medium is pretty intimate, because oftentimes it’s your voice in someone’s earbuds [and] right in their house every week. It’s a unique opportunity to establish ideas and establish a relationship,” Wang said. “[There’s a] relationship that’s built between me as a host of an audio show and a listener because through my show they get to know me a little bit and hear my voice. Then when somebody who has learned of my company through the podcast, when they call into the office, it’s funny, they say ‘I’ve listened to your show many times, I feel as if I know you already.”
That relationship, where a potential client has already grown not only to know him, but to like and trust him, before ever meeting him, helps the first conversations along. Because of the securities laws, neither Wang nor Ross can give client testimonials, talk about performance, or use the word “guarantee” but that’s not the purpose of their shows anyway. They both talk the language of money, and they want others—and not just their clients—to talk the language, too.
Giving a nod to Investopedia, Ross said he probably wouldn’t be where he is now without it as a resource, which he’s now working on Learn to Money with.
“It’s saved a lot of us who didn’t know terms … it’s the Google for financial terms. It’s been awesome to work with them and such an honor to be included [on their list],” Ross said. “I love the fact that my work has been acknowledged by them, especially in regard to financial education.”
“Most of us don’t talk about money enough and when we do it’s often not in a positive way. That’s the basis of Inspired Money.”
– Andrew Wang