The Rise of the Finfluencer – What are they and do they need to be regulated?

In recent months, social media has seen a boom in the “Finfluencer”. Finfluencers are social media influencers who use their platform and reach to discuss financial products and services with their followers.

In response to the growing popularity of the Finfluencer and the receptiveness of young people to the information they are receiving on financial products and services via social media, ASIC released Info Sheet 269 Discussing financial products and services online (INFO 269). The purpose of INFO 269 is to provide guidance to both Finfluencers and Australian Financial Service (AFS) Licensees who may authorise Finfluencers to provide financial services under their AFS Licence.

INFO 269 seeks to assist by:

FinfluencersAFS Licensees
Highlighting to Finfluencers that they may be acting in contravention of the law when discussing financial products and services. This includes engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct.

Reminding AFS Licensees who use Finfluencers to:

  • conduct appropriate due diligence prior to appointment
  • have adequate risk management procedures in place
  • have adequate monitoring and supervision procedures in place including having adequate compliance resourcing
  • consider the implications of the design and distribution obligations

Explaining issues that Finfluencers should consider including but not limited to:

  • the requirement to be appropriately authorised when engaging in financial services whether by holding an AFS Licence or being appointed as an Authorised Representative
  • being familiar with regulatory guidance
  • conducting appropriate due diligence on who they are being paid by (including through the receipt of non-monetary benefits)

ASIC’s concern with the reach that Finfluencers have and the influence they have on young people’s financial behaviours, has led to ASIC publishing a reminder in INFO 269 as to how consumers can report unlicensed financial services activity.

Background Information

In a recent media release, ASIC published results obtained in the 2021 ASIC young people and money survey. Interestingly, the survey found:

  • 33% of people aged 18–21 follow at least one Finfluencer
  • 64% of young people have changed at least one financial behaviour as a result of following a Finfluencer

Further Reading

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