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Avoid “FOMO” when seeking financial advice online

By Jennifer Empey, CFPⓇ 22 March 2022 1 min read

Social media is a quick and easy way to learn about any topic under the sun, including financial planning. While there is plenty of information available to increase your investing IQ, there’s also no quality control, so it’s critical to check the credibility of the source. Can the author back up their financial advice with real professional training and experience in the field? Do they make their money working with clients on financial planning, or by getting followers? Have they disclosed if they are being paid to promote a particular product or service?

We recommend starting with a financial advisor to create a financial plan and budget that will help you turn your earning power into capital to meet your financial goals. But like social media, there are things you should watch out for in the real world as well.

Job titles like ‘financial advisor’ and ‘financial planner’ are used broadly in Canada, and in most provinces, the use of these titles is not fully regulated. Ensure any advisor you are seeking advice from has the right education, training and experience in the field. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has published guidelines on how to choose a financial advisor.

When searching for information on social media don't fall into the FOMO (fear of missing out) trap. In a recent interview with Investment Executive1, Neil Gross, chair of the Ontario Securities Commission’s Investor Advisory Panel, said that investing in a popular stock to avoid being left behind is not a new phenomenon, but “social media puts FOMO on steroids.” The meteoric rise and fall of GameStop and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. shares are recent examples. He cautions that social media is “mostly just gossip.” So exercise a healthy amount of skepticism if you are reading financial advice posted on less credible sources.

If you’re not yet ready to meet with an advisor but want to continue some self-directed exploration of financial advice online, you may want to check out learning and tools available on the websites of regulatory bodies that govern industry professionals, such as Canadian Securities Administrators, or FP Canada's website dedicated to Financial Planning for Canadians.

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