The headline of this Daily Mail article promises you’ll “boost your savings” by following the advice of a 25-year-old “finance guru” and “expert” with “savvy skills”. Yet the subject of the article, Sydney-based marketing manager turned YouTuber and TikTok-er Queenie Tan, readily admits she doesn’t have finance qualifications and is not a licensed financial adviser.
Ms Tan is upfront about disclosing this in disclaimers in her social media posts, and says her goal is to inspire young people and to remove taboos around discussing money. She’s one of a new movement of ‘finfluencers’ (financial influencers) operating on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. Finfluencer content primarily targets the “digital native” generations of Millennials and Gen Z, who are turning to online platforms for trading and investment.
During the past two pandemic-affected years, a record number of consumers have dipped their toes into investing online, many for the first time. It’s during this period that finfluencers have gained increasing prominence; yet some content creators have been operating in murky legal waters, with government bodies now taking an increasingly dim view of those who provide investment advice to their followers, without the qualifications and accreditation to back up their claims.
Corporate watchdog ASIC (the Australian Securities and Investments Commission) is now putting unlicensed financial advisors on notice. ASIC warns social media influencers need to consider whether the content they are providing constitutes financial product advice; for example, when providing tips on which stocks to buy.
ASIC’s crackdown provides a reminder to consumers to carefully consider where investment or financial advice is coming from.MoneySmart suggests, “Make sure your financial adviser has an Australian financial services (AFS) licence or is an authorised representative. Check their qualifications on the Financial Advisers Register.”
In New Zealand, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) released a guide for finfluencers in June 2021. The guide emphasises that talking about money or investing can sometimes cross over into providing financial advice, for which social media influencers are required to have a licence from the FMA. All providers of financial advice are subject to a Code of Conduct, which requires them to act with integrity and place the interests of their clients first.
Australia’s financial advice laws are currently under review by Treasury and the Australian Law Reform Commission, so we’ll be watching this space for further developments.
Don’t risk dodgy information, make sure you’re getting advice tailored to your circumstances. Heritage has teamed up with Bridges, one of Australia’s largest, national financial planning organisations, to offer you professional financial advice.