Young women in color navigate the risky world of forex trading

For 21-year-old Lina Khalid, visiting Mecca is her grandmother’s dream that drives her forex trading.

« I’ll do it. Even if I have days when I don’t go to sleep, I’ll do it, » she says. A car for herself, a couple of Air Jordans for her sister and the opportunity to pamper her mother would be nice too, she adds.

The Wolf of Wall Street is what most people think of when they think of the world of high-stakes finance, but Khalid, who works as a dental assistant, says she is one of more and more young women in color to do it have managed to increase currency trading during the lockdown, taking the risks into account.

The risks are substantial and have led many to discourage young people from participating in forex trading, one of the riskiest forms of trading there is. While traders who work in banks are working with other people’s money, those who do it at home are playing with their own – and risking losing their savings.

Khalid and 20-year-old Cheila Gongo Balde, who took up currency trading after their vacation, and two other women appear in a Channel 4 online short called The Wolf of High Street. The short film follows the group as they navigate the risky world of forex trading and support each other in group chats, exchanging tips and advice.

The film explores how social media such as YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok have introduced a new generation into retail. Technology has simplified the process: users can now download an app and start trading from their phones.

Ayo Akinwolere, a broadcaster who jointly owns Milk First, the production company behind the short film with Alex Thomas, said they wanted to capture both the ups and downs of the industry. He describes women as part of a growing trend among young people to find “sideline jobs” in order to survive in the cities where they grew up.

« What is important … is that we tell an authentic story about the people we spoke to. These are all young women who grew up in areas where I and Alex grew up, » he says.

Kia Commodore, the 22-year-old founder of Pennies to Pounds, a financial literacy platform created to demystify the financial world for young people, agrees that interest in finance has skyrocketed. In addition to trading, many have also been interested in learning more about investing since the country first locked down coronavirus.

Commodore says those interested fall into two camps. « There are people who have lost jobs or incomes during the pandemic. They have to tighten their belts and try to get through this period as well as possible. Then there are some people who were not impressed or even managed to get salary increases during that time. Since they no longer travel to the office, they’ve cut costs and there’s that extra cash pool. « 

Prior to the lockdown, Pennies to Pounds had 4,000 followers on their social media accounts. It now has nearly 10,000 followers on Twitter and 20,000 on Instagram as well as a podcast. People seek advice on pensions, mortgages, and credit cards.

While Commodore has welcomed the increased interest, she stresses that there is an important difference between trading and investing and wants young people to focus on the latter. « We don’t want to return in the next half an hour, we want to return in the next five years. »

The women in the film speak openly of the predatory undercurrent that drives increased interest in forex trading. The Financial Conduct Authority has warned that people are increasingly being addressed by « unauthorized currency trading and brokerage firms that offer the ability to trade forex, CFDs, binary options, crypto assets and other commodities » and « very high returns and guarantees » become profits « .

It’s a subject Khalid is all too well aware of: a scammer on Instagram told her she could easily turn £ 200 into a huge profit, but disappeared shortly after she transferred the money.

« I was in my room and I was miserable and depressed, » says Khalid. But her experience of being betrayed didn’t deter her, and she decided to teach herself as much as possible about trading.

Balde did the same. « I’ve never seen anyone in my immediate family who just feels good. It’s always been a struggle and it showed me that you can feel good and be successful. »

As for Khalid, it is the support system around them that motivates them. She teamed up with a close friend to act together. “She writes me trades, I write her trades. We analyze the market together on FaceTime. « 

Both women want to emphasize that forex trading is not a quick program to get rich quick – despite what some have said on social media. They urge people not to part with money that they cannot afford to lose.

Commodore also warns people not to sign up for things advertised by influencers. “To find out if it’s good or not, you have to understand what they are actually going to give you. How does it work when they promise you money? Do you get money when you bring people in? Or do you get money based on it, like us Teach you how to act and how you act yourself? « 

Commodore added that there is a strong feeling for many to give back to their families and communities. « I think it’s the way we do it and make sure we do it in an ethical and long-lasting way. »

Young women in color navigate the risky world of forex trading
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