Social Media Influencers vs. Financial Professionals

Social Media Influencers vs. Financial Professionals

August 31, 2023

One is based on personal experiences and the other is grounded in theories...

As the digital age reshapes traditional norms, a dramatic shift in the sources of financial advice is emerging among young investors. Betterment, a leading online investment company, recently surveyed 1,200 investors from Gen Z to baby boomers about their preferred sources of financial information. The study revealed a fascinating trend: more than half of Gen Z and millennial investors are receiving financial advice from social media.

Simultaneously, the survey found that financial professionals are the most trusted source of advice, with 67 percent of respondents ranking them in the top three. Meanwhile, social media influencers lagged, with only 22 percent ranking them within their top three. Interestingly, those who already had a financial professional were more likely to listen to social media influencers, at 58 percent, than those without one, at 15 percent.

This intriguing data prompts a deeper exploration into the risks and rewards of sourcing financial advice from social media influencers versus financial professionals, particularly for younger generations.

Social Media: New Face of Advice?

Social media influencers, with their enormous online presence, have emerged as a significant source of financial advice for young investors. Influencers often share personal anecdotes, strategies that have worked for them, or promote certain financial products, offering a more relatable and accessible source of financial wisdom.

However, despite their appeal, there are noteworthy perils associated with relying solely on influencers for financial counsel:

  1. Limited Accountability: Influencers don't face the regulatory scrutiny that certified financial professionals do. This absence of accountability can potentially lead to the dissemination of questionable advice, without any legal repercussions.
  2. Lack of Personalization: Financial advice is not 'one-size-fits-all.' Everyone has unique financial circumstances and goals. Influencers provide generic advice that may not align with an individual investor's particular financial situation or risk tolerance.
  3. Potential Conflicts of Interest: Some influencers promote financial products or stocks because they're paid to do so, creating a clear conflict of interest.

Financial Professionals: Reliable Counsel

Financial professionals have long been the go-to source for dependable, professional financial advice.

They're required to have extensive training, licenses, and operate under a fiduciary standard, helping them act in the best interest of their clients.

Key benefits of using a financial professional include:

Personalized Advice: Financial professionals take into account your financial situation, goals, risk tolerance, and more, offering guidance tailored specifically to you.

  1. Expertise and Experience: Financial professionals are equipped with deep understanding of market dynamics, financial strategies, risk management, and the effects of economic events on investments.
  2. Regulated by Financial Authorities: They're held accountable by regulatory bodies, ensuring they operate within the bounds of financial laws and ethical standards.
  3. Comprehensive Financial Strategizing: Financial professionals can look at the bigger financial picture, assisting with tax planning, retirement, and estate planning, which often aren't covered by influencers.

Personal Planning Matters

Interestingly, Betterment's survey highlighted that having a financial professional did not dissuade investors from also considering the advice of social media influencers. This dynamic might be seen as a desire to diversify sources of advice, not unlike diversifying an investment portfolio.

However, the onus remains on young investors to discern between advice that is based on personal experience, trends, or even speculation (as can be the case with influencers), and guidance that is personalized, grounded in financial theory, and comes from a fiduciary responsibility (as is the case with financial professionals).


Important Disclosures

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial professional prior to investing.

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

This article was prepared by FMeX.

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