5 Red Flags From Personal Finance 'Influencers'

Trent Bradshaw CFP®, AIF® & Brandon Rogers CFP®, AIF® |

For every social media influencer offering prudent financial advice, it seems there is a scammer or know-nothing (or five) whose “wisdom” could drive you into bankruptcy. The problem is, it can be hard to tell the two apart. Here are some of the biggest red flags of bad, incompetent, and predatory “influencers” to look out for.

1. If it sounds too good to be true

There is no investment without some degree of risk, so if anyone promises a guaranteed return on your money, stop listening to them immediately. No matter how elaborate a tale is spun around a financial vehicle, there is no foolproof, surefire way of getting rich, and any trustworthy financial advisor will make this clear. Offering empty assurances should only assure you the person isn’t worth trusting with your financial future.

2. If they focus solely on short-term investments & day trading

It’s possible to make quick money investing, but it’s also possible to win the lottery. Realistically, neither of these things is going to happen to you, so if a financial influencer touts short-term, high return investments, stop listening. It’s estimated that 95 percent of day traders ultimately lose money. Sensible investments take time to pay off, and unless you have fun money to play around with, investments should be made as part of a long-term strategy.

3. If they tout “secret” ways to build wealth

If someone really has a secret way of making money, they will not tell you about it. They will not sell a course or ebook that explains it. They will use their secret to make money and keep their mouth shut. Be very wary of anyone who asks you to pay anything for “secret” or “insider” information.

4. If they are private messaging you

No good financial opportunity ever came from a random message from a stranger. Even if a financial influencer you like and follow sends you a message, don’t trust it. Unscrupulous operators are spoofing the identity of financial influencers to hawk shady schemes.

5. If they don’t seem to follow their own strategy

There are way more people who try to sell plans to get rich than people who actually get rich from them, so do what you can to determine whether the person is actually following the advice they profess is so valuable.


As fun as social media can be, make sure the people whose advice you’re following are certified professionals. Ask your advisor about any strategy you’ve heard of before choosing to take action with your finances.


Adapted from LifeHacker