Scrolling through the stark black and white feed of the Instagram account Wall Street Confessions (“WSC”), a reader is quickly clued in to the darker side of the financial sector. Posts consist of anonymous submissions from employees in finance and range from describing banal struggles of the workplace, “saddest short story: the espresso machine is broken,” to exposing cases of harassment or discrimination, “...I was asked to participate in a meeting because it was ‘all-male’ and they needed me to make the room ‘prettier’...”
The Instagram page, now having amassed 121,000 followers since 2019, was founded by 22-year-old Ri Sharma to “open the conversation on Wall Street and around Wall Street about things like mental health, gender, equity, and the like,” and to make people feel less alone, she adds.
Ri began WSC while going through the cut-throat recruitment process for investment banking internships. Deeply discouraged by her experience and by how difficult it was for women and BIPOC individuals to break into the sector, Ri felt it was time to shed light on what happened behind closed doors in this industry. While in her freshman dorm at Marymount Manhattan College, Ri began to post twice daily and DM larger finance-focused Instagram accounts for shoutouts. Over the course of the following year, she quickly amassed a cult following.
Now with high levels of engagement on WSC’s page, Ri has had many opportunities to monetize her content although serving her audience, she says, always takes precedence over pursuing brand partnerships. Ri mentions that she was honored to recently partner with IEX, a U.S. equities exchange. Brian Hanly, the CEO of Bullish, a financial media company, additionally supports vetting her monetization opportunities in addition to providing guidance for brand decisions to shape WSC into, as Ri puts it, the “ultimate lifestyle brand in finance.”
Beyond WSC, Ri has additionally built up her personal account (@nycsadgirl) through Twitter and Instagram, “WSC is like Goop and I’m like Gwneyth Paltrow,” she adds when asked about how she sees her brand in relation to her main account. In terms of monetizing her personal content, Ri is doing so through her Snipfeed page, where she offers paid services such as “Let Me Fix Your Dating Profile” as well as advertising the opportunity to join her “close friends” on Instagram for a fee.
Building a personal brand, however, requires a creator to be “on” 24/7 and, when asked about the challenges of this, Ri advises:
"I think when you’re a creator, a lot of the time people fail to humanize you. And then you start to dehumanize yourself when your life is all about branding. And you’re always on, and you’re always witty, and you’re always thinking about what’s going to do well…And you forget that you’re a person.” She pauses. “I think what I’m trying to say here is that it’s important that you humanize yourself and remember you don’t always have to be on. You can’t take every brand deal, you can’t go to every party. Sometimes you just need to sleep."
The conversation naturally transitions from her struggles against burn-out to the exciting aspects of her career that are fueling her — including a recent feature in Forbes. She laughs as she adds, “I was also called a socialite by this South-Asian British publication, so I think that was a peak for me.” ★