The internet and the evolution of social media platforms makes it easy to find information — and misinformation — on almost any topic, including financial planning.Approximately 3.6 billion people worldwide access a growing array of social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.Although social media platforms can be sources of legitimate and useful financial tips and advice, they are also home to fake news and influencers of dubious credibility who offer financial advice based on nothing but their own point of view in order to gain followers.”People often accept information from social media influencers and assume it to be true without looking into their professional background and verifying their credibility,” according to CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals Shannah Compton Game, CFP® and Akeiva Ellis, CFP®.They recommend asking yourself these questions when considering advice from social media experts:
- Is their professional experience directly related to finance?
- Do they have education or certification in personal finance?
- If they themselves have no financial background, are they partnering with legitimate financial experts?
Unfortunately, many of the viral influencers on social media who share financial information have not undergone any sort of formal financial training. So you should be aware of other red flags from their advice, including:Touting their solution as the only solution. There is often no one “right” answer to every financial decision, so be alert if the influencer provides only one solution without considering alternatives.Looking at the small picture. Much of social media content is brief, aimed at short-attention spans. Influencers may not take the time to explain the context behind a tip or recommendation and how it might affect your larger financial planning goals.Seeking likes and shares. Just because someone has a large following on social media doesn’t mean they are experts. Many popular social media “gurus” are working with advertisers to create content that may not be relevant, accurate, or helpful.Just as you should be wary of medical advice from someone who is not a doctor, be wary of financial advice from someone without expertise in financial planning. Working with a CFP® professional ensures that you are getting the accurate and up-to-date information you need to plan for your financial well-being at any stage of life. Also, a CFP® professional is trained to offer advice tailored to your unique financial needs and goals.Be discerning when you see financial advice on social media and use it as a starting point for discussions with a financial advisor to make the right decisions for your financial future. Find your CFP® professional today using the “Find a CFP® professional” tool at LetsMakeAPlan.org.