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New web-series from Jonathan Torrens offers financial advice for 20-somethings

Elaine Robertson, a branch manager with East Coast Credit Union, offers viewers financial advice on the newly-launched web-series Your Two Cents. Television star Jonathan Torrens created the show.
Elaine Robertson, a branch manager with East Coast Credit Union, offers viewers financial advice on the newly-launched web-series Your Two Cents. Television star Jonathan Torrens created the show. - Contributed

Television star Jonathan Torrens is returning to his roots in a web-series launched Friday called “Your Two Cents.”

The show hearkens back to the popular ’90s consumer affairs show “Street Cents,” in which Torrens starred.

Your Two Cents” blends pop culture and parody with practical financial advice in fast-paced, 10-minute episodes that will appeal to young Gen-Z and millennial viewers.

The first episode parodied “Game of Thrones” in a feature on cellphone plans called Game of Phones, included an interview with band The Arkells, and offered tips on paying off student loan debt.

The webisodes will air roughly every two weeks and can be viewed on YouTube.

They’ll address a range of financial topics relevant to young adults, including budgeting, filing taxes, saving, and buying a car.

Torrens and financial expert Elaine Robertson, a branch manager with East Coast Credit Union, spoke with The Telegram’s Juanita Mercer shortly after the first episode launched on Friday.

Telegram: How did the idea for the show come about?

Torrens: It was kind of serendipitous – a chocolate and peanut butter story, if you will. I have a company called Canadianity Content Studios, and we have been generating content for the internet. Our strategy is we make something that we really like, and then take it to an appropriate sponsor. So, we had a show that was for financial advice and smart consumers in our pipeline when we were approached by an agency called National that represents Atlantic credit unions, and said we have a client that’s looking at making a show aimed at millennials about being a savvy financial person. So, it was just a perfect fit. I used to work on a show called “Street Cents” years ago –  it was sponsored by the Royal Canadian Mint, which was a perfect sponsor for that show because it didn’t dictate any of the content, and Atlantic Credit Unions is kind of the perfect sponsor in the same way because they don’t represent a specific product or it’s not a conflict of interest in any way. Their only vested interest, or dog in the hunt, is knowing that the young people of today get some sound financial advice.

Telegram: Is it fair to say “Your Two Cents” is like “Street Cents” for Gen Z and young millennials?

Torrens: It depends who you’re asking. If you’re asking CBC, that is not fair to say. If you’re asking me, I think it’s a long overdue resource because I know from having worked on that show that there’s a real audience for it, and people are clambering to have this real information. I know that nothing like it exists now, especially because you get a bit of financial education in high school, but then there’s really nothing until you sort of figure it out in your 30s. So, especially these days with the added pressure of the internet service and trying to keep up with the cyber Joneses, there’s this whole extra layer –  at a time in our history when things cost more than they ever have –  of wanting to go to Ibiza while you’re working a minimum wage job and those two just don’t jive.

Telegram: Can you describe the show in a sentence?

Torrens: Your Two Cents is a blend of pop culture and parody, marinated in financial information reduction sauce, and served with a side salad of sass. It was a run-on sentence, but it was a sentence.

Telegram: Jonathan, I watched the first episode, and I don’t think I saw you in it?

Torrens: Well, the discerning ear would have heard me do the voiceovers at the start and finish of the show, but one of the things that we wanted to do out of the gate was suggest that this is a brand-new show, it’s a brand-new format, it’s for this generation. I don’t think anybody needs a 46-year-old middle-aged white guy talking to the children about money. So, I will appear in future episodes in kind of small cameo roles, but we wanted to start fresh.

Telegram: Elaine, you tackled student loan payments in the first episode. Will you be a recurring guest in future episodes, and if so, what other topics will you discuss?

Robertson: There’s one more episode that I’ll be in. I’ll be talking about the reality of home ownership. Especially in rural Atlantic Canada, home ownership is actually a possibility for young people – and it might be a smarter possibility, in some cases, than renting.

Telegram: Why do you think a show about financial literacy is important for young Canadians?

Robertson: There’s such a lack of financial education. I remember my first day in business class at Dalhousie University, I went to a fundamental corporate finance class. At the end of the hour and a half class, I took my professor aside and I said, ‘At what point in the syllabus do we talk about my finances?’ And he laughed at me. And I said, ‘OK, what class talks about my finances?’ He said there’s no class for personal finances. So, it’s something that young people have to find on their own, it’s not often in a classroom, and sometimes it’s not well-taught at home. So, it’s so important that somebody’s advocating for smart consumerism.

This interview has been edited for length.

juanita.mercer@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @juanitamercer_


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