‘Finfluencers’ may pose risks to investors


Financial influencers do not need a licence as they are seen as only sharing views or opinions on financial issues and not dishing out actual advice, unlike financial advisers who need a licence. Being unlicensed means they are not bound by Monetary Authority of Singapore regulations. — Bloomberg

SINGAPORE: The growing popularity of financial influencers or finfluencers has raised concerns about the risks they may pose to consumers who follow them for advice.

Most of these influencers share their knowledge, experience and views on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, while some also blog about investments.

They certainly make financial information more accessible to the man in the street, but therein lies the challenge as well.

There is so much content online that it becomes difficult for the average consumer to know where to start and who to trust.

Financial influencers do not need a licence as they are seen as only sharing views or opinions on financial issues and not dishing out actual advice, unlike financial advisers who need a licence.

Being unlicensed means they are not bound by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) regulations.

“You can complain against the errant licensed financial adviser. Their company or the regulator has the power to take action, but for a financial influencer, there is nothing you can do,” said SingCapital chief executive Alfred Chia.

Chia added that some influencers “do produce very interesting content” and can make financial matters more relatable to the public, but consumers should still “exercise their own due diligence”.

Because consumers have no recourse against errant financial influencers, they should not make investment decisions just by listening to them, and should do their own research as well, note experts.

Lorna Tan, head of financial planning literacy at DBS Bank, said influencers usually produce bite-sized content to engage consumers for a short period of time.

The content will likely lack key information such as the investment risks involved, making it harder for consumers to understand the consequences and arrive at an informed decision, Tan added. — The Straits Times/ANN

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