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Beware influencers plugging the financial advice gap

Do you want to be financially free, build your wealth and retire at age 30? Judging by the growing numbers of people who watch and “like” video content of this nature on TikTok and Instagram, the cost of living crisis has boosted the supply of those seeking a quick fix for their finances.

Follow some “finfluencers” and you’ll invariably find the route to riches involves borrowing money and investing it in high-risk assets, or paying for a course to teach you trading secrets (spoiler: the only person generating a passive income is the influencer flogging all the affiliate marketing). Think this sounds more like gambling than investing? Bro, you’ll be poor forever if you don’t change that toxic mindset!

Social media platforms are increasingly the place where people educate themselves about money — even if much of what they “learn” is likely to end in disaster. But should the conventional finance world see this as a threat, or an opportunity?

This week, the UK took strides to change the financial advice landscape for the better. The Financial Conduct Authority has proposed new measures to better police the online promotion of high-risk investments.

“Social media and online advertising mean consumers are taking less time between seeing a promotion, and making a financial decision,” says Sarah Pritchard, the FCA’s executive director of markets, noting the increased potential for harm as price rises panic consumers into making snap decisions.

The regulator has removed or amended more than 5,000 unsuitable financial promotions by FCA-authorised firms this year — about 10 times the number it took down in 2021. Greater screening powers will allow it to more firmly rap the knuckles of unregulated firms and influencers whose promotions “gamify” investing without clearly flagging the risks….

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