Written by Ola Szaran

Chief Marketing Officer

Our Founder, Vivi Friedgut, is attending the ISANA/ANZSAA National Higher Education Conference in the Gold Coast this week. We asked her to tell us more about how she ended up leaving sunny Sydney to hustle in drizzly London. And how she found her way back home as a successful business owner.

by Vivi Friedgut, Founder & CEO of Blackbullion

The last time I was on the gold coast it was for schoolies. Mine was a far more sedate affair than for most. That was almost exactly 20 years ago.

The sun is still shining, the beaches are still beautiful and the people are still chill. But there are a few changes. The buildings are bigger and there are far more of them. Having left as a slightly tipsy teen, post HSC, I return as the CEO of an award-winning edtech company, Blackbullion.

“15 years ago I left Australia and moved to the UK.”

I qualified in wealth management and helped rich people get richer. I learned the intricacies of derivatives and interest rates swaps and all those other financial instruments we heard about during the global financial crisis.

I loved my work, and my clients, but my heart and passion was always with those who couldn’t afford the kind of service I provided.

The wealthy call on financial professionals to generate income, reduce loss, mitigate risk, take calculated chances and protect their money. The rest of us bumble along.

Therein lay the challenge and the opportunity.

“I believed then, as I do now, that everyone wins when everyone is financially literate.”

I believe that financially literate people are more engaged citizens and more responsible consumers of financial services. The only losers when a population are financially literate are companies that gain their revenue from gambling and high interest loans.

In 2014 student loans were being ramped up and the collective student debt of Americans had just crossed $1 trillion. Global concerns over the lack of retirement savings (and savings in general) was moving from the business pages to the front pages. Words like “national debt” and “indebtedness” were entering the daily lexicon.

Fintech was gaining traction, trust in financial services was at an all-time high. So I took a punt. I bet the house that I could make a difference.

I left banking and set up Blackbullion with the sole purpose of helping young people get smarter about money. If you are going to make financial changes that will resonate throughout peoples lives, you have to start young.

“Fast forward 3 years. The Blackbullion eLearning platform is now deployed on over 20 campuses in the UK and over 450k students have access to our learning platform. And this is just the start.”

We are beginning to spread the message of financial literacy beyond the UK’s borders. We are excited to be working with Victoria University, the University of South Australia and The University of Sydney who are our innovation partners in Australia.

We look forward to welcoming their students, and many more, to join those thousands of Brits who have already completed tens of thousands of lessons via our online learning platform. Covering topics such as budgeting, saving, debt, risk and a myriad other subjects we take our users on financial learning journeys. Students message to thank us for helping them take control of their money, think differently about their spending, learn and circumvent their triggers.

Universities tell us they are saving time and money that can be better used to proactively support students. They tell us that they can streamline processes and help disadvantaged students make sense of the financial labyrinth that is university life. Opportunity is everywhere but it’s not yet spread evenly.

In our fast changing world, millennials will have jobs that haven’t yet been invented. Working for the same company for life will be as rare as a defined benefit pension. Having a “side hustle” will be the only way to ensure sufficient income.

It is through this prism that we view the world. It is this world that Blackbullion was built to serve.

We are so excited to be on the Gold Coast this week and we look forward to discussing how we can help enhance the student experience on campuses cross the world.

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