Humphrey Yang

Illustration by Matt Chessco

    Prompted by a number of friends who regularly asked him for financial advice, Humphrey Yang started his YouTube channel in 2019 with a clear goal in mind: create and share videos offering personal finance guidance for the everyday person. While the channel initially didn’t do as well as he’d hoped, the former Merrill Lynch adviser wasn’t deterred—and he’d noticed a curious lack of personal finance–focused content on TikTok, which had begun to blow up in exponential fashion. In late 2019, Yang began to focus his efforts on the platform: He posted one video each day for 30 days, and then another 30, until he eventually hit 1 million subscribers. His timing was perfect: Between the absence of finance accounts on the app and the influx of new users who joined at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic—young people who were bored or financially strapped during lockdown—Yang’s star began to rise. His first viral video was a now-infamous takedown of the Hydro Flask, a beloved Gen Z staple: The 34-year-old gained the trust of his users by blending his incisive insider knowledge with humorous editing techniques, and made a clear case that fans of the popular water bottle were mostly paying for the branding. While TikTok helped build his audience (at present, he has 2.3 million followers and counting), his YouTube channel is what became a gold mine of informative, longer videos: Think portfolio reveals wherein he divulges details from his own personal finances and Personal Finance Starter Packs that offer financial product reviews and key advice for newer viewers. The driving magic behind Yang’s success on social media lies in his ability to make you feel as if he’s one of your friends—just one who happens to be an ex–Series 7 and 66 adviser whose counsel is actually good. To read more, see Yang’s op-ed, “Why I give financial advice for free on TikTok.”