Women are better investors than men, a 2021 Fidelity study found. Yet some estimates suggest that as few as 26% of women have invested in the stock market, a staggering statistic alongside the persistent gender pay gap, which held steady in 2020 and is expected to widen in the wake of the pandemic.
Why are women so hesitant to join the investing world? According to Her First $100K founder Tori Dunlap, it’s because they’re so often excluded from financial conversations. “The world of the stock market and the world of investing is super white finance bro-y, and it’s all about the next sexy investment,” Dunlap says. “So many of our community members have gotten educated or are starting to get educated about how to save and pay off debt, but they’re still feeling intimidated by investing.”
With its “fighting the patriarchy by making you rich” tagline, Dunlap’s Her First $100K is on a mission to change the status quo by getting more money into women’s hands. And Dunlap’s fast rise to social-media stardom and staunch advocacy of financial feminism have paved the way for her next exciting venture: partnering with Treasury co-founders Elias Rothblatt and Ivar Vong to launch the Treasury app, an education platform revolutionizing the way women invest.
Dunlap, Rothblatt and Vong all want to bring these important financial conversations into the mainstream — and a serendipitous series of events helped the trio realize that teaming up was the way to make that happen.
“We want to find places where there is a really open conversation about money happening on a larger scale”
While Rothblatt and Vong were building media company The Outline, which sold to Bustle Digital Group in 2019, they bonded over the struggles of startup life. “We had a very honest conversation about money,” Rothblatt says, “and we were like, ‘Wow, we want to find places where there is a really open conversation about money happening on a larger scale, somewhere we can have a more real, inclusive conversation about it.’” Rothblatt and Vong began to ask people in their network how they like to learn about money, and they spoke to one woman who said her “financial life was a mess” before she found Her First $100K on Instagram. It was a turning point. Rothblatt DM’d Dunlap requesting a meeting, and the idea for Treasury was born.
Image Credit: Elias Rothblatt, left, and Ivar Vong. Courtesy of Treasury.
Joining the app starts with a virtual Investing 101 workshop; users pay $99 to participate and learn investing fundamentals — and can even make their first investment during the event. Treasury’s beta version launched in December, and during the inaugural workshop, a couple of hundred participants invested $102,000. Currently, there are nearly $5 million in assets linked to the app. “Just over three-quarters of users on Treasury’s beta platform are first-time investors,” Rothblatt says, “and they’re wildly improving what their life’s trajectory will be.”
Those who attend the workshop have the option to link their investment accounts to the platform, so while they’re watching and learning, they can invest with the click of a button. After the event, attendees will have continued access to the app. Not only can Treasury users track their own investments, but they can also see where other users are putting their money. The function doesn’t reveal dollar amounts or personal information — just what people are investing in and the percentages of those investments within their portfolios.
“It’s a question I get all the time: What are you investing in?”
“We find that people are very voyeuristic with money,” Dunlap says. “We all like knowing what everybody else is up to. And so I think that’s going to be part of the draw — to see what people are up to. It’s a question I get all the time: What are you investing in? My actual investments are linked within Treasury.”
Treasury also gives users the option to schedule their investments. “I can make an investment plan,” Rothblatt says, “which is basically a reminder that I want to regularly, say every two weeks, invest in a certain set of things.” Users can view — and copy — other users’ investment plans, and Dunlap believes a lot of people will model their own plans after hers.
As users view investments, they can click on a given fund — VTI, for example — and quickly find the three things Dunlap says are most important when researching investments: the fund’s performance over time, its holdings and its fees. It’s a strategy Dunlap introduces new members to during the first workshop.
“If you go to a platform like Yahoo Finance, there are so many graphs and charts, and it’s super intimidating,” Dunlap says. “And I remember doing that when I was 22 because my dad told me to do some research, and it felt like a completely different language. And so that’s the other part of this: providing a really simple interface where you have the information you need in order to make a smart investment. You’re not getting overwhelmed; you’re not feeling intimidated.”
Image Credit: Tori Dunlap. Courtesy of Her First $100K.
“One of the big things, along with education, is the accountability needed to keep being consistent”
Beyond gaining access to the app’s helpful, easy-to-navigate features, Treasury users join a supportive community that’s having the life-changing conversations about investing that are at the heart of Dunlap, Rothblatt and Vong’s mission. “We see this as a Patreon community as well,” Dunlap says. “We want to be able to give people access. Maybe it’s the podcast episodes we’re releasing either a day early or ad-free, or more workshops, or more what we like to call money parties — accountability sessions, where you can come in and grab a drink if you want, and it’s an hour designated to sit, look at your money, set goals, get that accountability, but also get that support. We’ve seen, especially from women, that one of the big things, along with education, is the accountability needed to keep being consistent.”
Treasury officially launched on January 24. You can snag a spot in one of Dunlap’s February workshops here.