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Be wary of financial advice from social media stars

Financial advice seems to be available just about anywhere these days — on television, online, and increasingly, on social media. It’s even becoming popular on TikTok and Instagram Reels. That’s right — platforms featuring very short-form videos are home to a bevy of content creators delivering financial advice. On TikTok, the trend even has its own nickname: “FinTok.”

Of course, TikTok and Reels are not the only social media platform where people share their thoughts about the best ways to invest and manage money. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube all feature content creators who claim to have figured out various “hacks” that will allegedly help their followers find their way to a financial nirvana.

As with almost everything on social media, however, it’s not wise to put too much stock into the financial advice of self-proclaimed “experts” whose credentials may only include the ability to upload short videos recorded on their phones.

To give a sense of the kinds of advice being given on social media, and whether it holds up under scrutiny, we consulted with Vijay Brahmbhatt, a financial advisor and assistant vice president with Commerce Financial Advisors.* Brahmbhatt’s first piece of advice is to take any financial advice offered on social media — or in any form of media — with a grain of salt.

There’s a very simple reason why he believes this. “Everyone’s situation is different,” he says. “No two people have the same financial position, and advice that may work extremely well for one person may not be suitable at all for someone else. You have to remember that people on social media are trying to get more ‘Likes’ and subscribers, and that’s what they’re trying to do when they create content. Whether or not their advice works is almost beside the point.”

With that in mind, we asked him to share his thoughts on a few popular theories that have been shared on social media recently.

“Just invest in the same stocks as famous rich people.”

“Following anyone else’s path is extremely risky,” says Brahmbhatt. “Just because certain investments worked for others doesn’t mean they will work for you. Someone who’s wealthy may take more risks with their investments than others might. Their position is different from yours, and they may have different goals and objectives.”

“If you copy exactly what worked well in the past, you’ll get the same results.”

“As any investment professional will tell you, historical performance doesn’t guarantee future results,” says Brahmbhatt. “It’s an ever-changing world. Look at Enron, Blockbuster and Borders. They were all among the biggest companies in America and they don’t even exist today. You have to adjust your portfolio for today’s conditions, and those are always going to evolve.”

“Do this and you’ll get rich almost overnight.”

“Chasing any type of get-rich-quick idea tends to come with an extreme amount of risk,” notes Brahmbhatt. “Building wealth shouldn’t be the same as gambling, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a long-term outlook and a long-term approach. It takes discipline and consistency. Look at Warren Buffett — he didn’t just wake up one day as a billionaire. It took him decades to get there.”

“Day trading — either of stocks or cryptocurrency — is a gold mine. If you aren’t doing it, you’re missing out on easy money.”

“One thing we always advise our clients never to have when it comes to investing is FOMO — the fear of missing out,” Brahmbhatt says. “It’s important to devise a plan and stick to it, because that plan is tied to your personal goals and objectives. Keep in mind that when you hear something online or from friends who say they’re making money from stocks or crypto is that you will usually only hear about it if they made money. They never talk about all the times they lost money. You have no idea what’s actually going on with them.”

In general, Brahmbhatt adds, it’s always a good idea to do your homework on the source of any information you may hear, and to make sure it’s coming from someone trustworthy and knowledgeable. “Titles, accolades and those sorts of things are all important, but they don’t always let you know about someone’s character or how they operate their business,” he says.

Brahmbhatt also notes that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all financial advice. “The best approach is to find a financial advisor you like and trust who will take your entire financial picture into consideration, as well as your goals and objectives,” he says. “And as part of that process, don’t be afraid to interview multiple financial advisors. Figure out who best fits with you.”

When in doubt about financial advice, says Brahmbhatt, ask someone you can trust. “Anything you hear online that sounds a bit too good to be true probably is,” he says. “Take the time to find someone knowledgeable about finance and investing who will gladly answer your questions. That will always be the smartest approach you can take.”

To find a trusted financial advisor of your own, visit Commerce Financial Advisors* at
https://www.commercefinancialadvisors.com/find-an-advisor.

For smart online financial advice that makes sense, visit Commerce Bank on Instagram at
www.instagram.com/commercebank.


*Securities and Advisory services provided through Commerce Brokerage Services, Inc., member FINRA, SIPC and a registered investment advisor. Insurance services offered through Commerce Insurance Services, Inc. Both entities are subsidiaries of Commerce Bank.

Investment and Insurance Products: Not FDIC Insured | May Lose Value | Not Bank Guaranteed | Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency

This material is not a recommendation of any particular investment or insurance strategy, is not based on any particular financial situation or need, and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified tax advisor or investment professional. While Commerce may provide information or express opinions from time to time, such information or opinions are subject to change, are not offered as professional tax, insurance or legal advice, and may not be relied on as such.