ASIC puts finfluencers on notice

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The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has published an information sheet to guide the 'finfluencers'-financial social media influencers-and Australian financial services (AFS) licensees who walk the tightrope between content generation about personal finance and providing financial advice to retail clients.

Young people have revealed a strong desire to learn more about their finances with 57% of young people surveyed wanting to learn more about how to invest money, ways to invest, types of investments and possible risks and returns. Those that have investments monitor them frequently with 53% monitoring at least weekly.

ASIC chair Joe Longo has acknowledged that everyday Australians who require access to quality financial advice are heading online and educating themselves via financial influencers or finfluencers. [In a speech given at an Association of Financial Advisers Conference in September 2021] Longo acknowledged that ASIC is aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has "created the perfect conditions for finfluencers to flourish and the result is the conflation of general and personal advice".

The rise of social media influencers has had an impact on these people. Twenty-eight percent of young people have indicated that they follow at least one finfluencer on social media, the top three categories of finfluencers being 'financial popstars', entrepreneurs and celebrities. Sixty-four percent of those that follow a finfluencer have indicated that they changed their financial behaviours based on information provided by the finfluencer.