- The TikTok hashtag “#investing” has amassed over 2.8 billion views on the mobile video app as young people flock to the platform to learn about the stock market.
- While there’s plenty of helpful information, there’s also a lot of bad advice.
- Insider asked two financial experts to watch and review nine popular TikTok investing videos with questionable advice. Here’s what they had to say.
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The investing side of TikTok, better known as “StockTok”, is ballooning, with the TikTok hashtag “#investing” garnering over 2.8 billion views. Many videos with tagged with #investing are centered around investing tips, and novice traders on the app have said they often heed the advice.
Thirty-six-year-old Douglas Boneparth, who provides investing advice to Millennials through his firm Bone Fide Wealth, said he loves the greater attention given to the world of investing through social media. But with the democratization of the stock market comes a lot of misinformation and “cringe.”
“It can get loud and noisy, and if you follow the wrong thing you can make some mistakes you really regret,” he said.
Insider asked three market experts for their take on nine popular TikTok investing videos with questionable advice.
Boneparth, along with Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA, spoke with Insider for the story. Five of the TikTokers did not respond to Insider’s request for comment, and two couldn’t be reached through social media.
Kris Krohn, @kriskrohn, advised his 832,000 followers to avoid the “401K scam” in an August 2020 video. Krohn, known for his real estate-investing advice, said “max out your 401K could be the dumbest advice that I’ve ever heard for anyone that wants to take control of their financial future.”
“I admire his passion and love for real estate, but this is just factually incorrect,” Boneparth said. “A 401k is not a scam, it offers tax advantages.”
Sam Stoval said the advice is good “only if you like to throw away money, and if you are a believer in illogical conclusions.”
“Maxing your company’s 401K match will get you free money, since the company will give you – free of charge – all or some of your contributions,” Stovall said.
Plus he said stocks, which 401Ks can invest in, have delivered an 11% compound annual total return since 1946, not the 1% Krohn claimed in the video. The retirement accounts can ensure “the building of a substantial retirement nest egg,” he said.
The @teen.executive account, which has 187,500 followers, said people can make a million dollars or more if they use soap and shampoo samples from hotels, saving about $45 per month, and investing those savings into the S&P 500.
Stovall said that practically saving money whenever possible and investing those savings “is indeed useful advice toward becoming a millionaire by the time you retire.”
But, “who’s spending $45 a month on soap?” Boneparth said, “and you still have to pay for the hotel room.”
Boneparth, who wondered if the video was made as a joke, said penny pinching on the small things isn’t the path to financial independence.
“Soap alone isn’t going to get you a million dollars here.”
Video: “I see a stock going up, and I buy it“
The couple from the @chadandjenny account told their 116,000 followers that they make money by buying stocks that go up and then selling at the top.
The video’s advice reminded Stovall of a humorous quote from the Great Depression to buy stocks “that go up, and if they don’t go up, don’t buy them.”
Boneparth said the couple is actually describing momentum trading, in which investors have to time the market, which is “very difficult.”
“You can be very wrong trying to do momentum trading and guess when the stock is going to go up or down,” he said.
From a constructive perspective, the video “encourages novice investors to learn about technical analysis, focusing on: turnaround spotting, trend following, and topping patterns,” Stovall said.
In a response to Insider on TikTok, the user said, “The strategy I use specifically is referred to as scalping.” He said it’s “similar to momentum trading but much more short term.”
Amid the resurgence in meme-stock mania around AMC Entertainment, the @atomcash account, which has 1,400 followers, said, “Mathematically speaking, it is statistically possible that AMC can reach anywhere from 100k a share to 500 or even a million dollars a share.”
“There is a huge difference between being ‘statistically possible’ and ‘realistic,'” Stovall said.
At even just $1,000 per share, the company, which is currently trading at all-time highs around $45, would be a $500 billion business.
“It’s just absolutely ludicrous to think that AMC, a company that’s bleeding cash and trying to shore up its balance sheet and survive would be worth something slightly less than Tesla,” Boneparth said.
The creator behind @ceowatchlist publishes regular TikToks encouraging his 822,000 followers to track public investing records of CEO’s, senators, and other rich people and buy what they buy.
It’s a piece of advice that a lot of investors follow, seeing how many attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting and read Warren Buffett’s letter to investors, Stovall said.
“A problem with buying what rich people own, however, is that these rich people probably don’t publish a newsletter telling when to buy and sell, along with publishing a track record,” Stovall added. “Therefore, blindly buying what rich people own means you may get in late and never know when to get out.”
Tik Tok Creator @Chris.stocks detailed to his followers what a support and resistance level is, and said when you see a stock nearing it’s support or resistance level, you can predict what’s going to happen, and make money.
“That is much of the basis behind technical analysts. ‘The trend is your friend until it ends,'” said Stovall.
Boneparth said the video is a foray into how to use technical analysis for trading, but warned that the skill takes time to practice.
“There’s no secret formula to getting rich,” said Boneparth. “I’m glad people are getting interested but that’s not long-term investing. You just can’t watch this video and go buying and selling.
In another TikTok video slamming retirement accounts, @realitycheck2020 says that investors shouldn’t use retirement funds, as those charge fees while your money loses value. His solution is for investors to put money in an S&P 500 index fund, and then look for opportunities in new IPOs, cryptocurrencies, and real estate.
Stovall clarified that most retirement accounts allow you to invest in the S&P 500 at a low cost.
Boneparth summed up this video has “really broad financial advice from someone spouting their opinions about asset classes.”
“It’s not backed with any information that would help someone. It’s all predicated on FOMO, of a market that’s been treating investors well for taking risk,” he said.
Video: “SPACs only go up”
@tdorriz tells Tik Tok that investors can turn their $1,400 “stimmy” (stimulus) into $10,000 by buying SPACs that are about to acquire a target company.
“If these target companies are any good, these stocks will easily double or triple overnight,” @tdorriz said in a TikTok
Boneparth said this investor is incorrectly linking correlation and causation, and urged investors to do their own due diligence.
“To just go buy any SPAC and not understand is a disservice,” said Boneparth.
“This advice assumes that all SPACs make money. There are no investment guarantees!” Stovall added.
A TikTok from @rickrahim tells investors to take out a low interest loan, “plow it all into crypto,” and take out a tiny bit of profits each month to make monthly interest payments. Boneparth and Stovall both had strong reactions to this one.
“If he’s trolling, very funny. If he’s not, that’s an extremely dangerous, borderline stupid idea,” Boneparth said. ” Do not lever yourself to invest in any speculative assets. The risk is not worth the reward. Very dangerous, terrible, terrible financial advice.”
“Anyone who believes that a particular asset class ‘always goes up’ deserves to lose money,” Stovall said. “Also, why compound a possible mistake by taking out a loan (which carries its own cost) to purchase the investment you didn’t bother to research, or, worse yet, buying on margin? You’ll only end up losing more than you initially invested.”
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