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Financial News, Who Can You Trust?6/16/2016
News print, Internet, Radio, Television. All forms of media flooded with financial news, financial education and financial sales pitches. All designed to motivate you to purchase, or sell something that may, or may not be in your best interest. How can you tell if the financial information you are absorbing is sound, or valid. With all the different forms of media it’s difficult to dissect who is really providing sound information, and who has your best interest at heart.
One of the quickest and easiest ways when reading articles to determine if someone is reliable, trustworthy or just making a sales pitch, is to first see who the author is. Check their bio or link to their bio. This will provide more insight to their reasons for writing or presenting the information. Always look for their certifications, or professional associations. This can provide insight, or indicate if they are looking out for you, or the interest of their company. How old is the writer, or presenter? Often this is a dead giveaway. When you see a cub writer, age 25 giving retirement investment advice, smile and take it with a grain of salt. When you see a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) recommending a particular brand/type of mutual funds, or whole life insurance, understand this is a sales pitch. Today there are so many financial certifications and designations it would be impossible to list them all. Passing an exam doesn’t make you an expert.
Most financial professionals put food on their table by selling, simple really, if they don’t sell they don’t get paid. Most are “appointed” by small, large and major financial companies with products or services to sell. To be appointed they must have a certification, which is a good thing. We all must earn a living, don’t get us wrong, but it’s up to you to figure out if the information you are reading or hearing is good, bad, ugly, or snake oil. 99% of what you read or hear from a for-profit financial company is a sales pitch, even when it’s labeled “Education” or News.
There are a few ways to increase your odds of knowing if the financial information you read or listen to is safe, and not a sales pitch, but nothing is 100%. Your nonprofit financial education companies usually provide valid financial education. But, even then be careful to double check. Usually your local, State and Federal governments provide good financial education designed to help. Always check the Federal Trade Commission, (FTC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and your States Attorney General for scams and false sales pitches.
We must emphasize that too often a presenter unknowingly, or knowingly presents or gives information they have no clue what it is, or how the financial product works. They are paid to talk, or write about financial products they themselves have little, or no experience with. This is very common with younger presenters or writers. Always double and triple check information you consider as valid. You would be surprised that many of the financial experts on radio and television have no professional financial certifications, some never have. This doesn’t mean their information is bad, it just means you need to be aware of whom you are believing and ask yourself, “What is their motivation.”
Always verify, validate and triple check first before you ever consider trusting anyone. Even then you must continue to verify and validate.
Phillip Day, President
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