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The lack of financial literacy in our society and growing economic uncertainty have given rise to financial influencers aka “fin-fluencers.” As popular and entertaining as they are, should you rely on their advice and share their content? 

In this article, we will unpack what a fin-fluencer is and provide three ways to make sure the advice you are consuming, or sharing is trustworthy.  

What is a social media fin-fluencer?

According to Kelsey Rolfe from the Globe and Mail, “Fin-fluencers use social media platforms to share advice on everything from personal finance to specific financial products and investments. Many do not have designations or licenses, and the sector is currently largely unregulated.” Outside of Canada, fin-fluencers have also sparked international discussions and debates.

In the USA, celebrity Kim Kardashian was fined around 1.26 million US dollars for promoting a cryptocurrency company without disclosing that she was being paid to advertise it.

This past summer, Australia’s Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) threatened social media influencers with up to five years of jail time if they were found to be providing unlicensed investment advice online.

Most recently, the Financial Services Commissioner of the European Union, Mairead McGuinness warned citizens of the risks associated with taking financial advice from platforms such as TikTok, calling for “social media companies to help authorities ensure people have access to reliable information”. 

At Financial Literacy Counsel, we advocate for innovative ways to increase the financial fluency of Canadians. As with any innovation that influences financial decision-making, it should be approached with a level of awareness, caution, and common sense.  

How to validate the reliability of a fin-fluencer’s advice?

Here are three ways to evaluate if the advice you are consuming, and sharing is reliable and trustworthy.

1. Are they qualified to give advice?

The credibility of a fin-fluencer can be determined based on their qualifications. Do they have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation? Their qualifications can give you a level of confidence that they are experienced, have received a formal education, and are held to a higher standard of accountability.

2. What is their motive?

If you find a fin-fluencer that you would like to follow, it is important to determine their true motives. Are they simply giving advice, or are they trying to sell a service or product? It is also important to be aware if they are receiving payment or type of sponsorship for the products they are recommending.

If they are in fact selling or promoting a product, it is your responsibility to assess the suitability and risks associated with that investment product.

3. Get a second opinion

A good practice is to seek a second opinion with a qualified financial professional who can evaluate if the fin-fluencer’s recommendation aligns with your financial plan. By working with someone who understands your life goals and has your best interest in mind, you will feel more confident about your financial decisions.

Are you being fin-fluenced?

With the rise of social media influencers, it is not always clear that you are being fin-fluenced. If you want to apply or share something you learned from a fin-fluencer, remember to review it with your financial planner. As a CFP, it is their responsibility to familiarize themself with your individual circumstance and financial goals. At the end of the day, your CFP has a fiduciary duty to you, meaning they must act solely in your best interest. Effectively, you are protected from receiving misleading information and will be informed of the risks associated with your decisions.

At FLC, we believe in making your money work hard for you as part of a financial plan. However, anything that entails hard work also takes discipline and time. Have you read or watched any content lately that you weren’t sure about? Send it our way and we can help you determine if it is reliable.

Financial Literacy Counsel (FLC) is a boutique financial education and financial planning company committed to “building financially literate communities and moving Canadians financially forward.”

The comments contained herein are a general discussion of certain issues intended as general information only and should not be relied upon as tax or legal advice. Please obtain independent professional advice, in the context of your particular circumstances. This article was written, designed and produced by Financial Literacy Counsel, a registered trade name with Investia Financial Services Inc., and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Investia Financial Services Inc. The information contained in this article comes from sources we believe reliable, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy or reliability. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities.

Mutual Funds are offered through Investia Financial Services Inc. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments.  Please read the prospectus before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently, and past performance may not be repeated.

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