TikTok Is the Place To Go for Financial Advice If You’re a Young Adult
Share Button

TikTok Is the Place To Go for Financial Advice If You’re a Young Adult

The short videos are ideal for many people. But is the advice any good?

By Cheryl Winokur Munk
Tue, May 4, 2021 10:23amGrey Clock 6 min

TikTok is the place to go for new dances, viral taco recipes—and, now, financial advice.

The big benefit of TikTok is that it allows users to dole out and obtain information in short, easily digestible video bites, also called TikToks. And that can make unfamiliar, complex topics, such as those related to personal finance and investing, more palatable to a younger audience.

But can TikTok users, many of whom are in their teens, 20s or early 30s, trust the financial advice that is increasingly being offered on the social-media platform?

That advice runs the gamut, from general information about home buying or retirement savings to specific stock picks and investment ideas. Rob Shields, a 22-year-old, self-taught options trader who has more than 163,000 followers on TikTok, posts TikToks under the username stock_genius on topics such as popular stocks to watch, how to find good stocks and basic trading strategies.

Most times, TikTok users don’t even have to search for information that might appeal to them—it comes right to their feed based on factors such as their user profile and usage.

To be sure, TikTok isn’t the only social-media platform popular with young people that features financial advice. YouTube and Instagram carry videos with financial content as well. But TikTok is a hit with younger generations in part because of its quick-hit videos, easily navigated swiping functions and highly personalized content suggestions. And the numbers of young TikTok users viewing financial-related content on the platform of late have surged, a trend that many users and industry professionals expect to continue.

A survey conducted in late January by LendingTree’s MagnifyMoney unit shows about 41% of Gen Zers, those born roughly beginning in 1997 up until a few years ago, reported turning to TikTok for investment information within the past month, versus 15% of millennials, often categorized as those born between 1981 and 1996. Recent research from Greenlight, an allowance and debit-card app that recently launched a financial-education and trading arm, shows that 35% of respondents age 13 through 20 have turned to TikTok for personal-finance and investing advice.

“There are very few educational resources about personal finance that are accessible and compelling to young people,” says Tim Sheehan, co-founder and CEO of Greenlight. “So it isn’t surprising that kids are turning to social media. TikTok, in particular, provides quick, digestible content that can instantly capture your attention,” says Mr. Sheehan. However, he adds, “Misinformation dominates social media and it can be very difficult to discern the facts.”

Dana Eble, a 25-year-old public-relations professional in Detroit, says she likes the idea that she’s learning things on TikTok from people who are close to her age and don’t come across as judgmental or preachy about what she should be doing with her money. Many of the finance articles she sees online, she says, target people in their 40s and 50s and the advice isn’t always pertinent to her.

“A lot of people my age are living on a shoestring budget, and the advice on TikTok seems to match where younger people are in life,” says Ms. Eble. “TikTok doesn’t make me feel bad if I buy a Starbucks once a month.”

But some financial professionals and TikTok users themselves express concern about the accuracy of financial advice sometimes given on TikTok and a lack of transparency, in some cases, regarding the identities and qualifications of people giving the information. While some trained investment professionals post TikToks, there are other so-called social-media influencers who post about financial matters on TikTok who have little or no formal financial background. In some cases, it is hard to find a TikToker’s real name, and it can take legwork to figure out their qualifications or whether they have a personal financial motivation for promoting themselves on TikTok. What’s more, some TikToks contain misleading or wrong information, make overly rosy claims about investment potential or include overly broad statements that could lead to significant financial missteps, according to financial professionals and users who have come across these types of TikToks.

Content related to general budgeting, saving money, cutting expenses and making smarter purchasing decisions is pretty innocuous, says Brian Walsh, senior manager of financial planning at SoFi, an online personal-finance company that offers products like loans and investments as well as free financial advice. But Mr. Walsh says there are other TikToks that concern him, such as the handful he saw that claimed that a fail-proof way to invest is by mimicking the holdings of top-performing actively managed mutual funds. Such lists of holdings are only historical snapshots, Mr. Walsh says, and the technical factors that might have led a fund manager to purchase those stocks might have changed in the meantime.

Mr. Walsh says he also is bothered by TikToks he has seen that proffer advice about buying rental properties and leveraging the risk, and that encourage home buyers to put down as little as possible up front. While these strategies might be appropriate for some viewers, he says he is worried about the possibility of younger people—who might be more naive or trusting—blindly following overly broad advice and being harmed financially as a result.

For its part, TikTok, on its financial-related hashtag pages, warns users to be careful of the financial advice they see on the platform and to report behavior that might fall short of community guidelines. On its #fintok page, with more than 296 million views, it states, “Before following any financial advice, keep in mind that all investments involve risks and consider doing your own research.” The company places similar notes of caution on pages for terms such as #stocktips, #cryptotrading and others. TikTok also has consumer guidelines against fraud and scams, including multilevel marketing operations. In addition, many TikTokers add disclaimers to their profiles saying things like “my opinions” and “not advice.”

“TikTok aims to promote a welcoming atmosphere for people to learn and find entertainment,” a company spokesperson says. “We’ve seen our community embrace a range of enriching ideas and content, and we’re focused on supporting that with both creative tools and safety features to help that authenticity thrive.”

Potential concerns aside, many young people in their 20s and 30s say they find TikTok’s medium appealing and use it to help educate themselves about pertinent financial-related topics that they often haven’t learned in school or from their parents.

“Many millennials don’t want to sit through a 30-minute or an hour or full-day seminar on finance,” says Amanda Israel, a 35-year-old certified pediatric sleep consultant in Philadelphia, who uses TikTok to learn about various financial topics she’s unfamiliar with, such as teaching children to be savers, buying investment properties and business financing.

The platform is a good starting-off point for learning about topics such as budgeting and retirement, says Lindsey Tayne, a 23-year-old senior at Northeastern University in Boston. If something catches her eye on TikTok, she says she makes sure to read posters’ bios and Google the topics to learn more.

“It’s a very fun, easy way to digest and eat all this content up,” says Taylor Price, a 21-year-old influencer with one million TikTok followers. Ms. Price is also chief executive at TAP Intuit, a financial-education platform that focuses on Gen Z. Ms. Price, who majored in finance and management in college, posts on a variety of basic investing topics that many young people aren’t learning in school; recent subjects include debunking common money myths, renting vs. leasing, summer side hustles, her current investment strategy and how taxes work.

Before posting a money-related video, Ms. Price says she does “extensive research” about the topics. “However, just because I do my own research does not mean viewers shouldn’t do their own due diligence, too,” she adds.

Several TikTok users also say they’ve made financial decisions based on TikToks they’ve watched.

Kim Bayle, a 30-year-old footwear-company sales director in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., says she was recently inundated with TikToks about cryptocurrency and she decided to invest $100.

“I have no idea why I bought what I bought,” she says. “They just said buy ethereum, so I did. It feels kind of stupid saying that. But I find myself getting influenced on TikTok all the time.” Still, she says she feels comfortable with her small purchase. “Anything more than that, I probably would have been uncomfortable with it,” she says. She has also bought a number of stocks based on investment strategies she has seen on TikTok.

The best thing to do when considering advice seen on TikTok, experts say, is to double-check everything with a reputable source, such as a financial adviser or accountant, before acting. “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is,” says Ivan Knauer, a securities enforcement and litigation attorney in Ballard Spahr’s Washington, D.C., office. “When you hear someone spouting their personal opinions from the TikTok mountaintop, you should take whatever they say with a hefty grain of salt.”

Several TikTok influencers say that young people should be encouraged to educate themselves financially and that they should not take influencers’ recommendations blindly. “It’s hard to tell what is real since there are so many people out there,” says Mr. Shields, the options trader and TikToker. While Mr. Shields feels confident in his expertise, he says others need to do their own research to make sure they are making solid financial choices for their circumstances. “Wouldn’t you want to research it yourself because it’s your money?” he asks. “I’m still a dude on the internet.”


What a quarter-million dollars gets you in the western capital.

Alexandre de Betak and his wife are focusing on their most personal project yet.

Related Stories
To Find Winning Stocks, Investors Often Focus on the Laggards. They Shouldn’t.
By KEN SHREVE 12/06/2024
Louis Vuitton Unveils Its Most Extravagant High-Jewellery Collection Ahead of Olympics
By LAURIE KAHLE 09/06/2024
Sylvester Stallone Sells His Knockout Watch Collection, Including the Most Valuable Modern Timepiece Sold in Sotheby’s History
By ERIC GROSSMAN 08/06/2024

These stocks are getting hit for a reason. Instead, focus on stocks that show ‘relative strength.’ Here’s how.

Wed, Jun 12, 2024 4 min

A lot of investors get stock-picking wrong before they even get started: Instead of targeting the top-performing stocks in the market, they focus on the laggards—widely known companies that look as if they are on sale after a period of stock-price weakness.

But these weak performers usually are going down for good reasons, such as for deteriorating sales and earnings, market-share losses or mutual-fund managers who are unwinding positions.

Decades of Investor’s Business Daily research shows these aren’t the stocks that tend to become stock-market leaders. The stocks that reward investors with handsome gains for months or years are more often  already  the strongest price performers, usually because of outstanding earnings and sales growth and increasing fund ownership.

Of course, many investors already chase performance and pour money into winning stocks. So how can a discerning investor find the winning stocks that have more room to run?

Enter “relative strength”—the notion that strength begets more strength. Relative strength measures stocks’ recent performance relative to the overall market. Investing in stocks with high relative strength means going with the winners, rather than picking stocks in hopes of a rebound. Why bet on a last-place team when you can wager on the leader?

One of the easiest ways to identify the strongest price performers is with IBD’s Relative Strength Rating. Ranked on a scale of 1-99, a stock with an RS rating of 99 has outperformed 99% of all stocks based on 12-month price performance.

How to use the metric

To capitalise on relative strength, an investor’s search should be focused on stocks with RS ratings of at least 80.

But beware: While the goal is to buy stocks that are performing better than the overall market, stocks with the highest RS ratings aren’t  always  the best to buy. No doubt, some stocks extend rallies for years. But others will be too far into their price run-up and ready to start a longer-term price decline.

Thus, there is a limit to chasing performance. To avoid this pitfall, investors should focus on stocks that have strong relative strength but have seen a moderate price decline and are just coming out of weeks or months of trading within a limited range. This range will vary by stock, but IBD research shows that most good trading patterns can show declines of up to one-third.

Here, a relative strength line on a chart may be helpful for confirming an RS rating’s buy signal. Offered on some stock-charting tools, including IBD’s, the line is a way to visualise relative strength by comparing a stock’s price performance relative to the movement of the S&P 500 or other benchmark.

When the line is sloping upward, it means the stock is outperforming the benchmark. When it is sloping downward, the stock is lagging behind the benchmark. One reason the RS line is helpful is that the line can rise even when a stock price is falling, meaning its value is falling at a slower pace than the benchmark.

A case study

The value of relative strength could be seen in Google parent Alphabet in January 2020, when its RS rating was 89 before it started a 10-month run when the stock rose 64%. Meta Platforms ’ RS rating was 96 before the Facebook parent hit new highs in March 2023 and ran up 65% in four months. Abercrombie & Fitch , one of 2023’s best-performing stocks, had a 94 rating before it soared 342% in nine months starting in June 2023.

Those stocks weren’t flukes. In a study of the biggest stock-market winners from the early 1950s through 2008, the average RS rating of the best performers before they began their major price runs was 87.

To see relative strength in action, consider Nvidia . The chip stock was an established leader, having shot up 365% from its October 2022 low to its high of $504.48 in late August 2023.

But then it spent the next four months rangebound—giving up some ground, then gaining some back. Through this period, shares held between $392.30 and the August peak, declining no more than 22% from top to bottom.

On Jan. 8, Nvidia broke out of its trading range to new highs. The previous session, Nvidia’s RS rating was 97. And that week, the stock’s relative strength line hit new highs. The catalyst: Investors cheered the company’s update on its latest advancements in artificial intelligence.

Nvidia then rose 16% on Feb. 22 after the company said earnings for the January-ended quarter soared 486% year over year to $5.16 a share. Revenue more than tripled to $22.1 billion. It also significantly raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the quarter that was to end in April. In all, Nvidia climbed 89% from Jan. 5 to its March 7 close.

And the stock has continued to run up, surging past $1,000 a share in late May after the company exceeded that guidance for the April-ended quarter and delivered record revenue of $26 billion and record net profit of $14.88 billion.

Ken Shreve  is a senior markets writer at Investor’s Business Daily. Follow him on X  @IBD_KShreve  for more stock-market analysis and insights, or contact him at  ken.shreve@investors.com .