Financial influencers, or fin-fluencers, offer a wide variety of advice but may not have the credentials to back it up (Getty Images/filadendron)
If there’s one thing CPAs have embedded in their professional DNA, it’s the importance of thoughtful, qualified advice and reasoned decision-making. We apply that to the sphere of money at every level.
And then there’s the internet, that great information equalizer, rife with, well, pretty much everything. Online influencers have been around since online tools eliminated barriers to mass communication. From choosing your wardrobe to building obstacle courses for your cat, there’s someone with advice to spare. That includes the growing ranks of online celebrities promoting money.
Introducing the fin-fluencer—the financial influencer—offering every flavour of financial “advice.” And while online research can support good financial decision-making, it can also lead down a rabbit hole of ill advice. Think GameStop. That was fun…unless you were among the last people buying at a high.
Here are some red flags to assess fin-fluencers.
- Can you identify the fin-fluencer’s credentials? Have they shared their own financial journey?
- How is the fin-fluencer paid? Most have an income stream (think ads, affiliated products, course fees) they want you to be part of.
- How do they explain risk? Is it all upside returns without addressing the potential for losses?
- Do they encourage risky behaviour by playing on FOMO (fear of missing out)? Whether it’s penny stocks, crypto or the latest meme stock, is it all “secrets to being a millionaire by acting urgently?”
It takes time to build financial security, and schemes that sound too good to be true almost certainly are. When assessing fin-fluencers, look for the ones who understand that.
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