Beware of “useful tips” that are not


We’ve all had this friend who volunteered to help with a chore or task and whose “helping” only made it worse.

It’s the boyfriend who says he’s going to help you move, but whose back problem mostly limits him to complaining. By the time you understand the cost of accepting his help, it is too late to ease your burden.

I’m very concerned these days that consumers and investors have a lot of “those friends” when it comes to how and where they get their financial advice.

That’s because, according to a new Marcus survey by Goldman Sachs, a quarter of millennials get their investment advice from podcasts and social media.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise – and not just because Edison Research says some 80 million Americans now listen to podcasts every week – because the same Marcus survey found that large numbers of Americans find that investing, saving and managing their debts is “overwhelming,” mainly because they feel uninformed and have difficulty making decisions.

But if you’re having trouble matching your personal level of expertise to your financial tasks, you may also have a hard time deciding what advice to take.

This column for the past few weeks has attempted to resolve trust issues with the news you read ( and the advisers you hire (

But deciding whether you can trust a blogger, podcaster, celebrity financial advisor, or journalist turned favorite radio host – and, yes, that means me – is muddled by the modern world and the changing technologies we are accepting into our lives.

It wasn’t that long ago when the mainstream media was the dominant news source and people got information about personal finances from the local newspaper, business radio show, or a source. Trusted TV, there was a separation between advertising and information, and advertisements were clearly delineated. .

For decades as an online newspaper and financial columnist for what are now considered old media organizations, I have never been offered money in return for a mention in my column. I wasn’t even offered mutual back scratching, the promise of a plug in their work if I mentioned them in mine.

My employers sold advertisements and paid my wages without influencing my work; I covered everything I thought the audience should know, regardless of offending / supporting advertisers.

I still do it today. Financial journalists (I am a past president of the Society for the Advancement of Business Editing and Writing) remain passionate about ethics and ideals; I can’t stop this.

These standards are not the norm, as blogs and podcasts are becoming vital sources of financial information, with associated personalities – including many now established money celebrities – primarily concerned with how to increase. hearing and line their pockets.

If you’re looking to overcome debt problems, retire at 40 or 50, invest in cryptocurrencies, become a trader, find the next big dividend-paying stock, or just about anything from financial, there is someone on the internet telling you to follow their role model / example to do it.

It is undeniable that there is a lot of great content, inspiring, entertaining, fun and very informative content.

But there is a dark side to these rarely talked about success stories, the behind-the-scenes cross-promotion deals, back scratching and influence peddling that are often a stepping stone to financial success in new media.

I do an hour-long podcast on weekdays to talk about all things financial with some of the brightest minds in the money world, but I’m constantly approached to ‘trade appearances’ with newbies and virtual strangers. – someone looking to be on my show and have an appearance on theirs – and on ‘affiliate marketing’ offers, where I could earn payouts to get people to try a product, subscribe to a newsletter or simply follow certain links.

There is nothing inherently wrong with affiliate marketing; know what to look for and you’ll find it on podcasts run by National Public Radio and virtually every major news organization. Many affiliate offers are simple, benign links in traditional advertising.

Likewise, I appear on podcasts hosted by others – and I’ve had some of these people on my own – although for me it’s about the quality of the guest (and their schedule) , rather than doing things for the sake of being known.

But I also understand what drives me to appear in new and different circles, as each appearance seems to bring me people who hope to hire me as a financial advisor (which I don’t), or join my audience. show hoping to learn more.

And affiliate agreements can cross a line as well: There have been cases where podcast hosts have directed audiences to everything from unnecessary bad services to Ponzi schemes. Even when it is clear that an endorsement is being purchased and paid for, consumers should be extremely careful.

It’s one thing if your favorite podcast host saves you money by directing you to a site he believes in – where he thinks you can get real help – but quite another if his motivation is all the financial reward. that it gets from your click.

Forget the “fake news” for a moment and think about the “fake news” made to appear so real that the experts often can’t tell the difference.

I admit that this may sound like the pot talking about the color of the kettle.

I am talking about money to make money. While I live by traditional journalistic standards, my show – Money Life with Chuck Jaffe – cannot succeed without sponsors. We’re picky about the few people we work with; we do not make any affiliate marketing offers. I’ve found that the marketers who offer the biggest affiliate payouts are trying to persuade bloggers and podcasters to sell trash that’s bad for consumers. My ethics and my morals are not for sale.

But the more Americans rely on emerging sources of financial information, the more these sites, shows and individuals will be forced to confuse and cross the lines.

If you’re relying on financial news you’ve heard or read somewhere, think about the source. Trust but verify, because it won’t be the person giving bad advice that will suffer the financial consequences, it will be you.


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