Finfluencers are a rapidly growing phenomenon, reflecting the increased interest in investing – especially among younger people. However, finfluencers do not always comply with the rules, for instance because they make ill-considered recommendations and provide investment advice. They also promote risky products and are not always transparent about their own interests and the remuneration they receive. These are the conclusions of an exploratory study into more than 150 finfluencers by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM).
- Finfluencers make investing more accessible, but do not always put the interests of their followers first
- There are few finfluencers who post neutrally, and transparency is often lacking
- There is a risk that investment advice is provided without a licence to do so
- Some finfluencers promote risky products
- The AFM has reminded finfluencers and brokers of the rules
Finfluencers make investing more accessible, but do not always put the interests of their followers first
Finfluencers are influencers who post on social media, specifically on investing. They create podcasts, write blogs and are active on channels such as Instagram, YouTube or Facebook. In principle, it is a good thing that information on investing is becoming more accessible. However, the interests of investors must be the main priority. Despite good intentions on the part of many finfluencers, this is not always the case. Moreover, most of them have no relevant financial education or work experience, even though their followers regard them as experts.
There are few finfluencers who post neutrally, and transparency is often lacking
There are a few finfluencers who post neutrally. Usually, they focus on their own experiences and have a personal interest as well. Some sell training courses and self-authored books, or access to a restricted online community. It also happens that finfluencers promote products in which they have a personal interest. They are not always transparent about this. Furthermore, some have been known to advise followers to open an account with a particular investment firm, receiving a remuneration for each client that they introduce. This is not allowed in the Netherlands.
There is a risk that investment advice is provided without a licence to do so
Many finfluencers post a disclaimer stating that they do not give financial advice. The provision of financial advice is not permitted without a licence from the AFM. Nevertheless, some still do this, for example in Q&A sessions on Instagram. There is also a risk that this happens in closed courses and online groups, although the AFM has not investigated this.
Some finfluencers promote risky products
Some finfluencers promote investment firms that offer highly risky products such as CFDs, forex and cryptocurrencies. In some cases, this involves providers without a licence. The AFM has received dozens of complaints from consumers who have lost a lot of money as a result of tips from finfluencers. Recently, the AFM issued a warning for an illegal firm that uses Dutch finfluencers.
The AFM has reminded finfluencers and investment firms of the rules
The AFM has contacted known finfluencers to provide a clear explanation of the rules that apply to them and with which they must comply. The AFM has also reminded investment firms that referral fees are not permitted, as this is a violation of the Dutch ban on inducements. The activities of finfluencers will continue to be on the AFM’s radar in the coming period.
The survey and more information on finfluencing is available at www.afm.nl/finfluencers.
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