In March 2022, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) published an information sheet warning that social media influencers who offer investment advice without a financial license could face up to five years in jail or fines of more than $1 million.
This follows growing concerns that unlicensed financial influencers – or ‘finfluencers’ – are promoting investment products on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, in unscrupulous “pump and dump” schemes or in return for cash or stock compensations from various companies.
But what proportion of Australians consult ‘finfluencers’ when investing – and to what extent does social media content influence their investment decisions?
What information sources do Australians turn to when investing?
Latest RealTime Omnibus research by YouGov reveals that more than a third of Australians who currently use an investing app say they turn to both social media/‘finfluencers’ and online communities/forums to research and learn about investing (both 35%) – making them the joint second-most popular information sources.
Meanwhile, friends and family (44%) are the most popular source – over two in five say they turn to their loved ones for investing advice.
Among official information sources, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s (ASIC) MoneySmart website is most popular (33%), followed by the Australian Securities Exchange Ltd’s ASX website (27%), then the Australian Taxation Office’s ATO website (22%).
Notably, just over a quarter of Australians who currently use an investing app say they engage a professional financial planner/advisor (26%) to learn more about investing. Offline sources of information are the least popular, with less than a quarter saying they refer to newspapers and magazines (24%) and books (23%) for investing advice.
Do ‘finfluencers’ alter the investing behaviour of their followers?
Among Australian investment app users who use social media to research and learn about investing, a large majority say social media content on investing has shaped their choice of investment platforms (83%) as well as particular investment decisions they made (79%) – to at least some extent.
How do users of various investment apps and ages compare in their use of social media to research/learn about investing?
When analysed by age, Millennials (born 1981-1996) make up close to three-fifths of Australian investment app users who research and learn about investing through social media (58%). Gen X (born 1965-1980) and Gen Z (born 1997-2009) contribute about one-fifth each (21% and 18% respectively), while Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) make up the remaining 3%.
Among users of the top five investment apps (by usage), Millennials make up the clear majority of Spaceship, Superhero, Raiz and Swftyx users who turn to social media for investing advice (61-69%). But among CommSec Pocket users, Millennials make up less than half of social media consulters (44%) as Gen Z users take a relatively larger proportion of one-third (34%) compared to the other major platforms.
Of the five investment apps, Gen Z’s share of users who consult social media for investing advice is smallest for Superhero (4%), while Baby Boomers make up a noticeable proportion of social media consulters only for Swftyx (8%).
Gen X’s share of users who consult social media for investing advice is largest for Raiz (31%), and the smallest for Swftyx (17%).
Which social media platforms are most popularly used as sources of investing information?
Among Australians who use investment apps and follow social media content on investing, around five in seven use Meta’s Instagram (72%) and Google’s YouTube (70%) to research and learn about investing, compared to over two-thirds for Meta’s Facebook platform (68%) and just under half for ByteDance’s TikTok (49%).
What’s driving Australia’s microinvesting wave – and how do popular investment apps compare? Read our Part 1 article here.
Want a deeper understanding of how users of different investment apps in Australia vary in how they plan their investment decisions? Get in touch with us today.
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Methodology: YouGov RealTime Omnibus provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on 7 March 2022, with a nationally representative sample of 1,045 Australians (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender and region to be representative of all adults residing in Australia (18 years or older) and reflect the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) population estimates. Learn more about YouGov RealTime Omnibus.