Where Do You Get Your Financial Information?

Earlier this week I read an article on Advisor.Ca that talked about where Canadians were obtaining their financial information.  The article quoted a survey conducted by Investors Group that found 42% of Canadians who save and invest are using online and social media to guide their decisions.

The author goes on to express concerns about how inaccurate some information on the internet can be, and that it’s “scary” that 6% of Canadians said they use information gleaned from blogs, Facebook and Twitter as a preferred source of financial information.

Financial Information: Looking For Alternatives

Like all personal finance blogs, we have a disclaimer stating that the financial information presented here is for entertainment purposes only and that you should consult a professional investment manager before making any major financial decisions.

Most people are smart enough to understand that concept, but they are likely seeking affirmation on their approach or else they are looking for non-mainstream opinions on personal finance.

The author who views that 6% of Canadians are getting their financial information through blogs and social media as “scary stuff” will probably be more frightened in a few years, since that number is likely to substantially increase over time.

The fact that mainstream media are using Facebook, Twitter, and their own personal blogs to engage with their audience proves that this growing trend is not going to go away anytime soon.

I would guess that the majority of the survey respondents were most likely looking at mainstream media or regulated financial websites and social media accounts rather than just some guy’s personal blog.

Mainstream Media All Sounds The Same

There are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part the information you get from the mainstream media and financial services firms all sounds the same.  It’s a cycle of RRSP articles and tax season tips, mixed in with your typical fear based messages about not saving enough for retirement, sky-rocketing inflation, peak oil, and real estate bubbles.

Speaking of real estate, how many articles have you read since late 2008/early 2009 telling you to lock in your mortgage before rates start shooting up?  Those types of articles grab people’s attention and sell newspapers for sure, but should they be taken as solid advice?

For people who were interested in a different opinion on that subject, they could find some good financial information on Canadian personal finance blogs telling you some reasons not to lock in your rate.  Reading opposing views is healthy and helps people form their own opinions about what is right for their own personal situation.

Where Do You Get Your Financial Information?

For me personally, I’m an information sponge and I try to absorb everything I can on the subject of personal finance.  From the more mainstream books, magazines, television programs and newspapers to alternative sources like personal finance blogs, podcasts, online forums, and social media sites there is a plethora of information to help you form your own decisions.

With all of this information at our fingertips it is becoming easier to take a do-it-yourself approach to personal finance, certainly when it comes to investing.  But if/when I require financial advice on taxes, small business, real estate, and even retirement I would absolutely consult with a professional before making major decisions.  You can’t do everything on your own, but you owe it to yourself to be as informed as possible.

So where do you get your financial information from?

  1. Financial Advisor
  2. Financial Services Websites
  3. Traditional Mainstream Media (TV/Newspaper/Radio)
  4. Books and Magazines
  5. Personal Finance Blogs
  6. Facebook and Twitter
  7. Family and Friends
  8. Paid Subscription Newsletter
  9. Other

Leave a comment and let me know your trusted sources of financial information and if you like to DIY or rely on professional advice when it comes to your finances.


19 Responses to Where Do You Get Your Financial Information?

  1. I read the same article and the article clearly has an industry bias.

    I will admit that I too am a sponge and try to read as much as I can. There have been times where I have seen some really bad and wrong information on some personal finance blogs. At the same time, I have found some great blogs with great information with some really interesting perspectives (like Boomer and Echo).

    That all being said, being part of the financial industry for the past 20 years in different roles, I also see the problem with advisors. The article failed to mention that just because you are a financial advisor doesn’t mean you know personal finance. I’ve seen some really bad advice and wrong information given by financial advisors too.

    To answer your question echo . . . I get my info from all of the above! Thanks for the great post!
    Jim

    • Thanks Jim, I definitely saw the industry bias in that article…although the fact that I have a blog might make me bias as well :)

      I just didn’t like the “scary stuff” comment when it comes to people obtaining their financial information on the internet.

      Now Investors Group commissions…that’s scary stuff!

  2. I would say my top 3 are yahoo finance, bloomberg and google finance. It’s amazing how much information search engines have these days. I do buy the occasional financial book as well. I used to get Smartmoney however it’s mostly stuffed with advertising these days and every article it seems is about maximizing your 401k.

    • Hi Prudent Planner, thanks for stopping by. I agree, there is a lot of information out there and as long as people use that information to help shape their own ideas, rather than just taking everything they read as gospel, it shouldn’t matter where they obtain it.

  3. I’ll tell you where I don’t get my financial advice- Boomer and Echo! That site is crap! :)

    Seriously though, the advisor writing that is scared because he knows the advice given on blogs and stuff is generally pretty good. Blogs post stuff about the evils of mutual funds, the bias of advisors, and all sorts of other things that give investors the tools to invest without an advisor. This is good for investors and bad for advisors.

    An advisor like Jim will do well no matter what, because he’s a smart guy who realizes the industry is changing. Everyone else has their head in the sand, just complaining about how things are different and therefore are bad.

    • I knew I would get a comment like that, and should have known it would come from you, Financial Uproar. From now on I’m just going to refer to you as ‘FU’ :)

      As for the rest of your comment, I think you’re right…the industry is changing and advisors are grasping at whatever they can to prevent these changes. The internet is full of lies argument doesn’t really hold a lot of water…is Encyclopedia Britannica still saying that about Wikipedia?

  4. @Uproar – well said, except for the B&E slam! :)

    Kidding side, I use # 4, #5 and #7 for my research. The first 3 in your list are largely biased, unless you have a great FA in your court. Even media is too sensational.

    • Thanks Mark, that’s great that you have friends and family to talk to about personal finances. Since money is such a taboo subject, most people don’t have real in-depth discussions with friends and family.

  5. I also get my information from 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 but I read the annual reports from the companies. I do have 1 friend to discuss investment with and my parents for number 7.

    Financial Information is so broad though … I am quite beyond the point of having to be told to save and do RRSP or RESP and all that. I actually need good value investments and possibly tax advice. The challenge is keeping up with the news of the many corporation I find.

    I am finding that the reports from banks are quite good. I get Scotia Bank and TD from a friend. The goal is to have enough friends with a different Bank discount broker to get the different reports. :)

    I see a financial advisor being different than a stock broker … What about you? Stock brokers do exist, but I am not sure if you need a minimum portfolio to access them. Most fanancial advisor I have met are mutual funds and life insurance focused.

    • Defining what the survey meant by “financial information” is tough, since I think that people who are interested in personal finance will try and absorb just about everything from all mediums (good or bad, right or wrong).

      But when it comes to getting financial information in order to make major decisions, that’s a different story. As I mentioned, I would seek advice from a professional for taxes and other investments. I don’t think I’ll ever have a portfolio large enough to get wealth management advice though :)

  6. I would probably flip 1 and 2 since industry and government financial services websites tend to be unbiased and can be very educational. One example that comes to mind is getsmarteraboutmoney.ca. Financial advisors aren’t created equally, but if you’re able to find a really good one then you can make the case for the number one spot.

  7. I’ve been asking myself this same exact question recently, which is what led me here.

    I have one more issue with the main stream media in addition to those already mentioned in the posts and comments: it all seems to be written for people that never heard of a savings account before, or for people that have eight figures to invest. There’s very little offered for those that are in the middle of their investment/personal finance education. That’s why I’m moving to the blogosphere and hoping to find some thought provoking sites like this one.

    • Hi ITWOP, thanks for stopping by and thank you for your kind words!

      I agree that there is not a lot of information out there for folks in the middle. There are lots of great financial blogs out there, and while we are definitely not advisor’s, most of us try and offer a different perspective than you’ll get from mainstream media or your traditional bank rep.

      I appreciate your comments, thanks again!

    • I used to use number 1 – Financial Advisor but a few years ago I found out that I could practically do my own research and come up with just as good suggestions as the advisor (without any kick backs being paid to them).

      So now I use 4, 5 and more importantly number 7, although I only talk to friends and family members who are financially savvy and not people who think that sticking you money in the bank is a sound investment.

  8. Mainly I have been self taught. However in the last seven years, I have been totally disabled physically and emotionally and therefore, unable to work on any finances. My husband, who had never had to worry about our money, the taxes, or investments; now, he had to learn by the total immersion plan! Fortunately, our youngest daughter had gone to college and majored in Family Finance with plans to be a Financial Adviser. She has given us counsel over the years that has been extremely beneficial. She has told us to create and budget and stick to it. Save something every month. She advised on investments for my retirement portfolio. Those changes became very important within a few short years when I had to quit work because of disability. The information that I have learned over the years has come from a variety of sources. I think that the knowledge that I gained has been useful, no matter from where it came. Mostly though, the advice from my daughter, who now is a stock broker/financial adviser, was and is the most helpful!

  9. Books, courses, and the Internet are where I get my information from. These places, and a lot of mulling — weeks or months at a time.

    I have also taken a paid investing course from the local university, as well as attending a handful of free Options Education days, put on by the Options Industry Council.

    I’m sorry to say that the investing course amounted to an investment advisor prospecting for new clients. The Options Education Days have been good, but quite fast-paced, and wouldn’t be a lot of help for novice investors.

    Finding beginner books is easy. Finding highly detailed and advanced books is easy. What is not so easy is finding books that assume some background knowledge, but not a degree in finance.

    I’m open to suggestions. Anyone..?

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