- Many people turn to TikTok and Instagram Reels for financial literacy content.
- It’s hard to know who to trust online, so we asked a former financial advisor how to spot real experts.
- Humphrey Yang says there are three green flags to look out for.
Many Gen Zers and millennials first turn to TikTok and Instagram Reels for financial literacy before contacting a professional, like a financial advisor or financial planner. On TikTok alone, videos that use the hashtag #MoneyTok have collectively earned 12.7 billion views (and counting).
There are typically two groups of personal finance influencers: First, there are financial professionals who have left the field to make a bigger impact online. Then, there are people who have achieved large financial milestones, like paying off all of their student loans or building a six-figure investment portofolio in a short amount of time.
Personal finance influencer, former financial advisor, and TurboTax investing expert Humphrey Yang belongs to the first group. After building a following of 3.3 million on TikTok and 508,000 on Instagram, Yang knows how to spot an influencer who actually knows what they’re talking about.
Yang tells Insider there are three green flags to look out for when assessing whether or not a personal finance influencer is legitimate.
1. They respond to their community’s comments
“A green flag is really listening to their audience and understanding their problems,” says Yang. On TikTok, it’s relatively easy to see if influencers are creating new videos to respond to commonly asked questions in the comments. On TikTok and Instagram, you can simply scroll down to see if the influencer has responded to some or most of the comments.
However, Yang warns, “There are some financial creators who just hire an agency to post a bunch of content for them. They’ll chop up the content and that creator will not even be replying to the comments.”
2. They have a long-term mindset
Yang says that an influencer claiming they know how to get rich fast is a major red flag. He adds, “Make sure they’re not trying to sell you a product, like, ‘Check out my sales funnel, my course, my one-on-one consultations!” There are also people who claim, ‘This is how you’re gonna make 10x your money today!”
Influencers with a long-term mindset are more likely to explain larger financial concepts, like Roth IRAs or 401(k)s, or daily habits that can help you become better with money.
3. Their past experiences match their expertise
Yang encourages people to Google personal finance influencers and find out what their past experiences are. He says, “The first thing I’d do is probably look at their work history on LinkedIn.”
For financial planners or financial advisors who have left the industry to serve a larger audience, it should be relatively easy to find whether or not they’re lying about their expertise and credentials. On the other hand, influencers who have paid off large amounts of debt or are high-earning, self-taught investors typically post screenshots of their accomplishments to prove they’re legitimate.