Meet Mandy, your money-smart friend

By Laura Fernandez

‘Mandy’ short for ‘Money-AND-You’ is exactly that: the money-smart brainchild of three BCom students (Babs, Ben, and Joey) – and your new best friend.

Since launching in April 2020, Mandy has taken on Instagram, Facebook, and the world wide web. As one follower described, Mandy has filled the gap in providing ‘non-political, concise and informative financial media… finally.’

By dissecting complex financial topics into ‘bite-sized’ educational content, Mandy is breaking down barriers to education, and the personified approach is, well, a whole lot more ‘digestible’ than a textbook.

An image of a joke greeting card
An example of meme culture in action.

Taking a look at their own education experiences and those of their friends, Babs, Ben, and Joey became increasingly aware of a financial literacy gap in the market. Many young Australians were completing high school with a lack of practical financial education – a sentiment that was being echoed in meme culture.

Enter Mandy.

But who is Mandy, really?

Mandy was founded by a team of BCom students who participated in the University of Melbourne’s International Case Competition program (ICC), which provides students with an unparalleled development experience to train for, and compete in case competitions with some of the best universities around the globe.

Meet the team:

Barbara (Babs) Van der Merwe: Founder – Branding; Marketing; Content Production

Joey Moshinsky: Co-Founder – Operations; Marketing; Content Development

Ben Toohey: Co-Founder – Strategy; Financial Brains Trust; Content Development

Mandy Banner
Mandy's founders, (L-R) Joey, Ben and Babs

Mandy’s founders shared their thoughts, learnings, and plans for their passion project with us.

What inspired you to start Mandy?

The concept of being the money-smart friend resonated with us. As the go-to commerce friend in our circles, we always found ourselves answering personal finance/investment questions. We were excited by the idea of sharing, on a larger scale, the university learnings that we have found so empowering.

Which university experiences have contributed to the inception or development of Mandy?

  1. ICC taught us a range of skills that have been incredibly useful throughout the process. For example, the skill of communicating complex topics and ideas visually and in an easy-to-understand way. The program also helped us develop strategic development capabilities, identify market opportunities, and formulate an action plan for delivery. Most importantly; however, ICC taught us how to develop a narrative, a skill that guides our content production.

  2. Our leadership positions in various Clubs and Societies have built up skills in project and people management.

  3. Street Finance, a for-credit subject enabling finance students to deliver lessons on finance topics of interest and relevance to secondary school students in Melbourne. The subject has allowed us to understand how to apply our content to a classroom context. We’ve just delivered our first school workshop and have developed a series of classroom resources ready to distribute to Aussie schools!

Other than a wealth of money-related content, what have you learnt so far?

  • Ideas are easy, implementation is hard.
  • It’s much easier to remain motivated when you’re passionate.
  • How big the market gap really is… We expected there to be an opportunity in the space of teaching digestible, personal finance content to our peers, but we didn’t quite expect the number of people who have let us know how much they’ve needed Mandy, and how useful they’ve found it.
  • The only way to figure out whether an idea is going to work or not… is to simply do it! One can plan and propose and develop an idea until the cows come home, but there comes a certain point where the only way to further your progress is to actually implement the idea and brace for impact.

Are there any particular challenges you’ve had to overcome?

  • Building an audience and a brand following is really hard. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is an Instagram profile. Growing on Insta can be a tough slog at times, as it doesn’t have the greatest organic growth opportunities.
  • The workload of taking this on was a surprise – there just keeps being more and more to do. There is a finite amount of time and energy that one is able to dedicate as a team and deciding where that time is dedicated is extremely difficult.

The Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) equips students with the skills and knowledge to understand and solve key business challenges. Make a difference to society, policy, and organisations while forging a pathway to a global career. Choose from majors including Accounting, Actuarial Studies, Economics, Finance, Management and Marketing.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Commerce now.

What’s next for Mandy?

Grow, grow, grow. Financial education is important for all young people – ultimately, we want to become the money-smart friend that people go to and will reliably be there for their financial questions. We’ve got a series of very exciting projects in the works, that deliver our content in true Mandy-fashion in a number of different ways beyond simply Instagram.

A collection of Mandy's social media
A collection of Mandy's social media posts.

Some of the tough questions Mandy’s been tackling recently:

Does ethical investing actually work?
Is accessing your super early a good idea?
Is smashed avo back on the menu?
How did artificial intelligence get a quarter of the world on Tik Tok?

Want more?

Listen to the Students’ Association of Management and Marketing’s podcast with Mandy Money or get in touch with Mandy directly:
Instagram: @_mandy_money
Facebook: @moneysmartfriend