Gifs, memes and Money Mentors – the era of the expert is here

This week over at Daily Fintech we launched our book an expert service, allowing our readers to go one layer below the research we provide for free, in the public domain. It’s one more string to what I can confirm are many stringed bows for each of us in the team.

I like to think this initiative is a perfect microcosm representation of the emerging workplace – niche subject matter experts that can now monetise their skills via low barrier, digital service marketplaces. It’s that next evolution beyond more traditional freelance platforms like UpWork and its ilk.

Leveraging knowledge imbalances has always been at the heart of the service economy. While some types of knowledge are now readily available at our fingertips, complex decision-making processes still require a helping hand. Like navigating the US student loan system.

NextGenVest, which just this week announced it had been acquired by CommonBond, connects wannabe students with Money Mentors: current undergrad college students, sophomore and higher (but not graduate students) who have previously applied for financial aid and scholarships. Via text message, Money Mentors are ready, between classes and beer pong, to answer questions and provide guidance on how incoming students can negotiate and access the best student loan deals possible. As detailed in the job description, Money Mentors must:

Create a friendly environment for conversations with students over text using gifs and memes. Be available for shifts at least 16hrs/week (over 3-4 days) between 8am-12am (but you get to choose your shifts according to your schedule!)

Money Mentors are paid based on the amount of times they ‘deliver value to a student’, with the average mentor making upwards of US$400 every fortnight. Not bad going for a student with a few hours to kill. And we all know they have plenty of those.

3 or 4 years ago, who would have thought this would have been a job? It’s a reminder of the scope and untapped economic opportunity in the knowledge economy. While NextGenVest might be exploiting a surprisingly niche area, there are plenty of other sites you can head to for more typical advice, served up online, in micro-bites. For example, if you’re a doctor or a vet, try Just Answer, or if you want startup advice, head to Clarity. If you’re a bit of generalist, head to Maven, who’s tagline is ‘Everybody Knows Something’. Well at least they think they do, in my experience.

Portfolio careers are blossoming, and NextGenVest and co are just one of the ecosystem enablers. Financial services that support this new ‘work’ paradigm aren’t really keeping up. As the line between work and personal life gets even more blurred, this idea of business and personal banking being ‘separate’, starts to break down. It’s one of my core theses, and something I’m yet to see anyone really tackle, in a serious way. ‘Next Gen Banking’ shouldn’t be about digitising existing banking processes, or making them faster. B-o-r-i-n-g. It should be about inventing completely new ways of thinking about money and lifestyle, or reassembling the constituent parts into novel and fresh experiences. I guess we’ll just have to keep waiting a little longer…

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia.

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