Online influencers are a big deal these days, building up hugely devoted audiences as they offer their insights on everything from fashion and interior design to parenting and travel.
But many are also proffering financial advice and sharing their tips on how to save, spend and invest your hard-earned money.
On the one hand, it’s easy to understand why so many are seeking and taking advice from influencers on the likes of YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. After all, they often position themselves as relatable, yet aspirational figures, and engage with viewers in a way that makes them feel they’re having a one-to-one conversation with an online best friend.
But on the other hand, how qualified are these people to give financial advice? Well, to put it bluntly, the vast majority aren’t – and that presents a big problem.
If you’re a devoted follower of a particular online personality, you might buy the products they endorse, take a holiday in the destinations they’ve visited and copy their fashion sense. You might even do any or all of these simply because everybody else seems to be – and you don’t want to be the one missing out on the current trends. But if you apply this principle to real money, you could find yourself making decisions that aren’t right for you, don’t reflect your circumstances or financial goals and can cost you far more in the long run.
You should also bear in mind that influencers have a vested interest in posting content that grabs people’s attention, so they can boost engagement and attract more followers. For many, that will be their priority, far more than making sure you get financial advice that’s right for you personally.
It should also be pointed out that you can’t always be sure whether online influencers really believe in the products they promote. They make a living by endorsing products in exchange for money, so some YouTubers might not be too fussy about which ones they promote if there’s a generous sum in it for themselves.
We’ve seen a number of influencer scandals over the years, including sting operations where online stars were led to believe that fake brands were genuine, and then happily promoted them on their platforms without any checks or due diligence.
Of course, we’re not here to tar all financial influencers with the same brush, as there will certainly be some who really do know what they’re talking about. But the point is that you can’t be sure.
That’s why it’s far better for you to turn to a professional financial adviser instead. Not only will they be genuine specialists in their field, they’ll be regulated and required to adhere to a minimum set of standards. They’ll also be likely to have a strong track record of success, and it’ll be easy to find testimonials from previous clients who can attest to the experience they’ve had.
Finally, professional financial advisers will be there to speak to you individually and take a holistic look at your personal financial situation and objectives. As a result, they’ll offer advice and guidance that’s genuinely in your best interests and reflects your specific circumstances. An online influencer can’t do that, so if you want financial guidance and support, a regulated professional that you can speak to face-to-face should always be your first port of call.
If you have any questions about how you can make your money work harder for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be happy to speak with you.
It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. Information within this article does not provide individual tailored investment advice and is for guidance only. We cannot assume legal liability for any errors or omissions it might contain. Ethical Futures llp is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.