Could you walk away from a job that paid more than half a million a year? That's what Kathryn Cicoletti did when she created MakinSense Babe, a video-driven site that translates financial news and investment advice into language that everyone can understand. Described by Forbes as "The Daily Show, but swap out Jon Stewart for an attractive blonde using clever analogies and wry wit to simplify financial topics," Cicoletti's videos skewer the mainstream financial industry, while making savvy investors of her subscribers.
After 13 years of working in asset management—as a researcher at Meritus Researcher, a senior research analyst at Julius Baer and director of institutional sales at GAM—she was ready to move on. "I had a great experience working in the finance industry, but I was bored out of my mind and wanted to do something more creative. I started writing on the side and slowly plotted my exit," says Cicoletti, who took the site live in January. "I spent a lot of time looking at the landscape to see what is out there and what other people were doing. I wanted to be sure that I was coming at finance and money topics from a different angle. I love the idea of taking things that are generally boring—sorry, finance is really boring, let’s be honest—and making them entertaining."
Using a tagline that reads "The Money Site For Non-Finance People. Finance People Are Annoying," she breaks down the day's big new stories, financial and otherwise, explaining how they impact viewers’ money. "I take confusing business terms and topics that people throw around in the news and find the hidden truths people are missing and debunk myths. There are a bazillion news curation sites out there, but I layer the entertaining factor, a point of view and hidden truths, so it’s a totally different feel," says Cicoletti, who works with three contractors to produce and post her weekly videos. "I am focusing on empowering and entertaining, versus just explaining, because I quickly found that explainers don't stir enough emotion to build a long-term relationship with their audience. I love making people feel smarter in a nontraditional, non-text book-y way."
It's an approach that seems to be connecting with viewers, as more than a 1,000 people have already signed up for her weekly news roundup emails, and "The Best F@#king Investment Cheat Sheet" is growing at a steady 8% a month. For $10 a month, the newsletter summarizes the preceding four week's most important and impactful news, exposes and provides a solution to a common investing mistake, and shares sample portfolios to teach them how to make the most of their own money. They also have priority email access to ask Cicoletti pressing investment ask questions.
Next up, she's taking her brand of wit and wisdom on the virtual road, creating partnerships with other sites, including TastyTrade. She is also set to star in a daily, live 15-minute show on the online financial network. "I want to grow the concept and audience so the site is known as the most entertaining and informative no BS business content you can get anywhere," she says. "This is so fun for me you have no idea," she says. And that is worth more than any salary could provide.