Simran Kaur: optometry graduate focuses on a different vision
01 November 2022
Forget skipping your flat white. Simran Kaur shares better ideas to grow wealth in her top-rating financial podcast that targets women. Danelle Clayton finds out more.
On her Instagram, Simran Kaur describes herself as a “kickass Punjabi girl”, and the 25-year-old social media identity certainly seems that.
The Bachelor of Optometry graduate is an unlikely ‘millennial investor’ guru but has one of the most popular financial podcasts in the world.
Simran co-hosts Girls That Invest with best friend Sonya Gupthan, who used to work in health insurance. It’s an online phenomenon with more than 190,000 monthly subscribers and 1.8 million downloads to date.
In recent months, Simran has added to that with a book, Girls That Invest, Your Guide to Financial Independence Through Shares and Stocks, picked up by global publishing house Wiley, and a six-week investing master class.
“Girls That Invest was founded on the principle that investing should be for everyone. We want to demystify the jargon and offer a step‐by‐step pathway that women everywhere can follow to start growing their hard‐earned money,” Simran says.
“Basically, we felt as though minorities and women were being excluded from the world of investing. We’ve been taught to associate money with evil and guilt, that it is something you have to step over other people to obtain, while men are taught it is a marker of success. We want to change that.”
I wasn’t terrible with money, but I wasn’t great, either. I graduated with a student loan and a backlog of parking tickets, and a few letters from Baycorp.
Simran and Sonya are also behind the popular Instagram page @the_indian_feminist, which Simran started while studying. It calls out misogyny faced by South Asian women living in Western cultures, and has more than 350,000 followers.
Becoming a social media identity, podcast creator and author wasn’t Simran’s plan. She began working as an optometrist two years ago, before Covid saw her stuck at home in 2020, just a few months into her career.
“Graduates my age entered the job market during a pandemic. It has been tough and intense for us; this isn’t what we expected,” Simran says.
“But it did give me time to focus on my social media platforms. They took off, and now it’s my full-time job.”
While growing The Indian Feminist brand from home, Simran realised she was advocating for women to be savvy and independent, but this was undermined by a lack of financial literacy among her followers and peers, and even herself.
“It occurred to me how important financial independence is. I had the privilege of attending the best public schooling in my country, and yet the concepts of personal finance and investing were never introduced to us at school. The only financial education I had was when a bank visited our school to hand out free piggy banks.
“I wasn’t terrible with money, but I wasn’t great, either. I graduated with a student loan and a backlog of parking tickets, and a few letters from Baycorp.”
We’ve been taught to associate money with evil and guilt, that it is something you have to step over other people to obtain, while men are taught it is a marker of success. We want to change that.
Simran decided to lead by example and took a certificate in financial markets through Yale.
“It wasn’t long and intensive, it just gave me a good understanding of financial markets in the US and Canada, and once I applied that to New Zealand, I realised how simple it all was.”
Simran, unapologetically, made her first million by the age of 26 through savvy investments and by purchasing property in her hometown of Hamilton.
“A lot of people say they want to be a millionaire, but what I really think they are saying is they want the freedom that money allows, like choosing to work from home, knocking off at 2pm, leaving a relationship or moving overseas. Having an emergency fund is a vital tool for women, and anyone, really.”
Simran cringes when her generation is told to cut out the flat whites to get ahead. Or when women think they must have a crafty side-hustle to make money, or are targeted with low-brow financial advice like the latest hack to save $10 on groceries.
“We want to focus the conversation on how to grow your wealth, whether that’s through upskilling or having tough conversations about pay and salary with your employer.”
Girls That Invest promises to make the powerful tool of growing wealth accessible, with chapters such as Stockmarket 101; Unlearning your money mindsets; Choosing where to invest; and How to buy shares.
But that degree in optometry didn’t go to waste.
“In healthcare, you spend your whole day explaining complex information to patients in an easy-to-understand way.
“I’ve always been that friend in class that you go to when you don’t understand something. It’s a natural fit for me and I think not having a degree in finance means I don’t overcomplicate things.”
This story is from the University of Auckland's alumni and friends publication Ingenio, Spring 2022 issue.
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