Inflation: Many Canadians Turn to Financial Influencers

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Inflation: Many Canadians are turning to financial influencers

Kathleen Cassidy is an expert in collecting coupons and has been sharing her tips on social media for just over a year.

Faced with the rising cost of living, many Canadians are turning to social media to find advice and improve the management of their personal finances. While some types of content are harmless, experts warn against ill-advised and sometimes even fraudulent advice.

Kathleen Cassidy is what you might call a couponing expert. In a decade, she has mastered the art of hoarding coupons, a strategy that has saved her tens of thousands of dollars.

For the past year, she has been sharing her advice on social networks, where she is followed by nearly 400,000 people.

One day, when I had only posted a few videos on Tik Tok and I had no idea what I was doing, I realized that I had more than 100,000 subscribers, says the creator of Living on a loonie.

She attributes this sudden popularity to the pandemic and inflation that hurt Canadians' wallets. They are therefore looking for new ways to save money, according to her.

Couponing saves money on everyday basics that cost hundreds of dollars per week or per grocery store. Getting them at a fraction of the price allows you to invest a little more in your family vacation or even a dinner at the restaurant, she explains, pointing to the shelves full of products of all kinds that cover the wall of her office.

“It's a way to regain control of your finances. »

— Kathleen Cassidy, creator of Living on a loonie

Jessica Moorhouse, she is one of those young millennials who are passionate about finance. For 10 years, she has made it her mission to improve the financial literacy of young adults by creating content on social networks.

She says that in two years, the number of influencers in finance has exploded. On Tik Tok, for example, the keyword stock tok has been used more than two and a half billion times to find content on this theme.

If some content is harmless, it puts warns against scams, especially in terms of cryptocurrency.

Jessica Moorhouse is on a mission to help young adults achieve their financial goals.

The fact that this information is more accessible than ever is great. On the other hand, anyone can create a Tik Tok or Instagram account and you will not be able to know their level of experience and expertise, says the influencer and certified financial adviser.

She adds that some influencers lack transparency and promote financial products in which they have personal interests, without clearly informing their audience.

This is also what Danica Nelson notices. On her social networks, the young influencer from Toronto offers, among other things, tips for going out and traveling at low prices and reducing your daily expenses.

A very small one-bedroom apartment can cost $2,000 in Toronto. Paying your rent or mortgage in addition to groceries while having an active social life and continuing to travel is therefore very difficult without advice on how to save money, says the young woman who is also senior product manager at a large technology company.

She points out, however, that to make money, content creators sometimes agree to promote products that are not suited to the needs of their audience.

< p class="e-p">If you are subscribed to the account of a financial influencer, do your own research […] and do not believe the people who guarantee you results, she recommends.

Danica Nelson wants to help her subscribers, mostly women of color, save money.

Faced with the proliferation of financial influencers, the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) proposed new rules last year.

If they are passed, they would, among other things, force people who promote specific securities to disclose whether they receive financial compensation for doing so and whether they hold shares or financial derivatives related to the company or the investment fund concerned.

Violators could face fines of up to $1 million. BCSC hopes that these rules will also be adopted by other provinces.

People should know whether an individual who promotes shares has a personal or other financial interest in do it. This would allow them to assess how much weight to place on these promotions and make more informed investment decisions, says BCSC Managing Director Peter Brady.

For its part, the Financial Markets Authority calls on consumers to exercise caution. She points out, however, that regulating this kind of online activity is complicated given the proliferation of this type of content.

The danger would be to set the bar much too high and to believe that all influencers on social networks will comply and respect any regulation, however, believes Sylvain Théberge, director of media relations and public affairs at the Autorité des marchés financiers.

“We consider that awareness and caution remain the best tools at this time”

— Sylvain Théberge, director of media relations, Autorité des marchés financiers< /blockquote>

Whether it's collecting coupons, tips for finding discount airline tickets or stock market investing, Jessica Moorhouse reminds consumers that cookie-cutter solutions aren't for everyone.

If you make the wrong decision with your money after listening to someone's advice, it's you who will have to live with the consequences. […] Take advice with a grain of salt, pick what suits your lifestyle and needs, and listen to your instincts, she says.

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