Hearing your interview on AFB was one of my first forays into this whole world of FIRE and it’s been life changing. Your material, content and now podcasts are so greatly appreciated mate. I do hope you don’t pull up stumps on it all.
March 29, 2022
“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” ―
You might’ve heard about the crackdown on financial content from ‘unlicensed’ people like myself. And I understand why.
Apparently, there are clowns out there pumping up penny stocks and various crypto shitcoins to cash in and sell when the price rises.
Or, telling people precisely what to invest in for monster gains and charging for unquestionably harmful advice.
The regulator feels compelled to take action. But as I’ll explain, the new rules are heavy-handed and go as far as suppressing freedom of speech for anyone with an online following.
In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on these new rules and explain what this means for my content going forward.
After numerous reports of dodgy content creators, ASIC (Australian Securities & Investment Commission) has created some interesting new guidelines.
The new guidelines are far broader and wide-reaching than many will assume. And these laws need to be followed or content creators risk large penalties and apparently, even jail time. Pretty exciting, right?
Before we get into the details, if you want to read more about these issues, you can find more information below:
Here’s the short version: If a content creator says anything that could possibly ‘influence’ someone’s decision about using a financial product or making an investment, then it’s illegal.
If you think that sounds all-encompassing, you’re right. But let’s flesh out some examples of what ASIC has said and what this means in practice.
Wow. Writing almost anything could influence someone to invest or use any financial product.
So, if someone asks who we insured our house with, I can’t answer that. If someone asks what super fund or bank I use, I can’t answer that either.
If someone comes to me and says “there are so many brokerage accounts to start investing, do you have any recommendations?” I now have to say, “sorry, go see a professional.”
And I can definitely no longer share what I’m investing in or give thoughts on certain options and approaches.
Bank accounts, insurance policies, brokerage accounts, superannuation, home loans and investments are all forms of financial products and are now off limits.
You probably think I’m being over the top. I’m not.
Any comment I make on one of those things could influence someone’s decision to invest or use a financial product.
So, sharing my opinion on those things is now illegal. Anything else?
We’re not even talking ‘which stocks to buy’ type stuff. This covers general classes of products. That means any investments, index funds included.
So I can’t even do simple comparisons and make vague and general suggestions on what a sensible choice might be. Nor can I help narrow down the options by suggesting certain choices are worth avoiding.
What is acceptable to say? Luckily they’ve defined it for me.
Ahh, excellent. So basically, I’m allowed to be a walking PDS or a robotic fact-sheet.
I can talk about investments and financial products, as long as I make absolutely no indication whether I think one is better than another.
Why would I bother parroting what you can read elsewhere? How does that help you wade through the sea of information and nonsense out there?
It’s looking a little restrictive so far. Surely there’s some leeway for those who are genuinely trying to provide reasonable and sensible information?
Because apparently being a licensed professional is so attractive that thousands are leaving the industry, due to the mountain of compliance and legalities they have to wade through.
Despite not having a license, the amount of people who’ve written to me expressing gratitude for the simple information on this website… well, there’s been a lot.
Add to that, the emails I’ve received from a surprising number of disgruntled ex-advisor clients who were frankly being taken for a ride:
So I should go through a comprehensive training program, pay thousands each year in licensing fees, compliance and running costs, jump through countless administrative hoops, only to turn around and provide exactly the same information as I do now for free?
My writing and the thoughts I share wouldn’t change. The financial products and services I recommend wouldn’t change. And nothing I speak favourably or unfavourably about wouldn’t change.
Of course, I could then offer high-priced courses, coaching and all sorts of other fancy stuff. But the idea behind starting this blog was to provide helpful information by sharing my journey, and what I’ve learned (and continue to learn).
The whole point is to have people NOT pay for it.
And sure, if I can make a few bucks along the way by recommending things I use and genuinely like, then great. But that’s just a bonus.
If you think this helps stop people receiving poor advice or being scammed, think again.
There’s enough stories of both licensed and unlicensed operators misleading and screwing people over in recent years. We should know better than to think we can eradicate bad behaviour, or fix the issue with ever-more regulation.
It also creates another problem. The newbies who are just starting and want to learn about investing and do it themselves. Where do they go now?
People want to do it themselves to be self sufficient and master of their own destiny. Because traditional advice is too expensive and they’re interested in managing their own finances.
And because the trust is broken in the financial industry. Why do you think people are trusting bloggers and content creators in the first place?
They want to learn how finance works from someone who seems more approachable, more transparent, and more forthcoming with helpful information and sharing experiences.
None of this is to speak badly of advisors. It’s to highlight the reality of underserved people who benefit from sensible financial discussion online.
Financial literacy is already a problem. Among society in general, not just young people.
The new rules make it harder, by effectively gating off investment knowledge and any form of guidance on what a decent financial product might look like, to those in suit-and-tie holding a magical license.
People should be able to learn about this stuff from simple online content.
Why? Because this shit is not that difficult. Sensible long term investing is not complex.
But no, let’s have people wade through the murky sea of garbage financial products and funds (which somehow get the green light), and figure it out on their own.
Unless they pay up for help that is. Which is likely to be out of their budget if they’re just started out and trying to learn.
One of my readers came up with a great analogy: “It’s like telling someone who loves to bake that they can’t share their recipe because they haven’t been through years of culinary school and someone could end up with a cake that they don’t like. Ultimately, it’s oppressive.”
By all means, if people are pushing dangerous recipes with clearly dodgy ingredients, shut them down! But for the sake of sharing opinions, healthy discourse and maintaining free speech, there shouldn’t be a problem.
Some parts of the legislation actually make for a good laugh. Here’s a cracker:
So, tips on saving money and budgeting that don’t involve financial products considered “unlikely to be financial product advice.”
Unlikely! So it could be… somehow?
Now, there are some helpful examples. But overall, the guidelines have been scripted with a nice blend of all-encompassing sentences and uncertain generalities (may be, could be, probably) to provide maximum leverage for the regulator over the interpretation of the rules.
One supporter of the changes is Stockspot CEO, Chris Brycki. Unsurprisingly, Stockspot is a robo-advisor who’s business model is hardly helped by a growing number of do-it-yourself index fund investors like those in the financial independence retire early (FIRE) community.
The more people that learn to confidently start investing on their own, the less they need a robo-advisor. So the muffling of content creators who share examples of do-it-yourself investing is a convenient win for Stockspot.
Brycki has also been a long-serving member of ASIC Financial Advisers Consultative Committee (FACC) and member of ASIC Digital Finance Advisory Committee (DFAC).
I can only imagine the unanimous echo-chamber of agreement among Aussie advisors, as they celebrate what a great idea this is.
But yeah, the only conflict of interest is with the content creators 😉
Of course, all this is done “in the best interest of the consumer.” But isn’t it better when the consumer has more access to information? More insights and ideas to draw from? More examples of what others with similar goals are doing? And more people sharing their personal experience and what they’ve learned?
I guess not. Apparently it’s better if the gatekeepers control the information flow. But that hardly seems in the ‘best interests’ of Australians in 2022, does it?
I’m sure if ASIC reached out to a bunch of online creators, most of us would’ve been happy to talk to them about it. There could’ve even been a Online Content Creator Committee (OCCC) to balance out the opinions on the advisor side.
We could all come to a healthy middle-ground on what is and isn’t okay to say. But apparently it’s just easier and cheaper to simply shut the conversation down. Especially since we don’t have a fee-paying relationship with ASIC.
Curiously, this ruling seems to be unique to whoever is deemed an ‘influencer’.
If you’re a journalist covering stocks and market moves, you reporting on and interpreting company results can easily influence whether someone invests in that stock.
What you report about a new trading platform, investment offering, changes to bank home loans or super funds will also influence whether people sign up or avoid those things.
Then there’s stock forecasts and market commentary by analysts and banks. Neither of which are considered ‘advice’ but both can have a huge influence on what actions an investor might take.
What about investment newsletters and chat forums? Prominent writers or commenters can potentially influence thousands of people.
Do we pull Barefoot Investor books off the shelves for mentioning certain super funds, bank accounts and investments? Where does this end?
While the idea might make sense on the surface, we’re now on a slippery slope to stomping out free speech.
Shouldn’t we be able to read and consume freely, then decide what to do? Where’s the personal accountability for making our own decisions?
Crypto and property. These assets seem to fall outside the scope of ASIC and these new guidelines. So it’s only the little corner of the internet where we talk about share investing that’s under the microscope.
It’s alright, I’m sure there’s nothing suspect going on in crypto-land or with the property spruikers.
The taboo topic. There’s no issue with content creators of any other kind providing tips and sharing their stories about every other aspect of life we deal with. Health. Home buying. Cooking. Cars. Travel. Fitness. And so on.
But somehow when money and investments are involved, we want to rope it off like a secret part of society.
Aussie only. Interestingly, these guidelines can only apply to Aussie-made content. The US has no such restrictions on free speech and investment content and can say what they like. So the Aussie population is able to get guidance from American content but not from locals.
That will make it even more confusing when they can’t get access to the same investments they’ve seen mentioned in the content they’re consuming.
Don’t get me wrong, I can totally see why ASIC has chosen to take action.
But these deliberately broad and expansive rules seem a bit lazy and heavy-handed.
Let’s zoom out for a minute.
In the last five years, there has been a growing number of people educating themselves by reading, watching, or listening to financial content creators.
These people are getting started investing when they otherwise wouldn’t have, due to lack of accessible and relatable information.
Think about it this way. There’s likely only a small percentage which are dodgy content creators. A few bad guys, lots of good guys.
The ‘followers’ of the good guys would have created tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in wealth. Just by learning simple principles and a few general investment ideas. I know because I hear from people like this all the time.
The ‘followers” of the bad guys may end up losing thousands, then become jaded and likely give up. So, the overall wealth generated in society would absolutely dwarf the losses from poor ‘advice’.
Anyone who stops to think about the big picture for a minute would agree. To shut it all down is like forgoing $30 to save $1.
I love writing about what I’ve learned and trying to help others.
I want to provide value and help people navigate the world of finance and investing.
But if I can’t be as helpful because I’m restricted in what I can say, then this becomes less enjoyable. And if it’s less enjoyable, I’ll naturally want to do less of it.
If I sound mildly annoyed, it’s because I am. Take away the affiliate links, that’s not a problem. But don’t take away the ability to share opinions and have open discussions about money for everyday people.
These rules impinge on my freedom to say what I would say to a friend. Which is what I consider my blog readers. It feels like I’m just a friend who’s maybe a little further along the financial journey, who you can ask questions and get some insights and ideas from. But the restrictions start making it a weird and unnatural conversation.
So at the moment, I’m not really sure how I want to proceed. I could retreat back into anonymity, which is actually pretty appealing.
It would also be nice to free up time for other activities. I can think of a few things I’d enjoy doing. At the same time, I like writing and I don’t want to let anyone down who enjoys my content. I’ll keep thinking about it.
I’ve said enough for today.
I’ll leave the last words to the Minister for Financial Services, Jane Hume. In a recent article on this issue, Money Magazine reported:
Jane Hume said the government will not help those consumers that do fall victim to a finfluencer’s advice, saying that would be “perpetuating a nanny state culture”.
“There’s never an excuse for that [misleading or scamming]. But the existence of a small number of unscrupulous actors doesn’t justify wholesale constraints and policing and freedom of expression for everyone.”
Let me know what you think of the new rules in the comments below. In the meantime, I better go see what I look like in orange!
If you would like to take action on this issue, the only thing I can think of is reaching out to the Minister for Financial Services. Explain how online financial content has helped improve countless lives. Urge that these guidelines are re-considered.
Hearing your interview on AFB was one of my first forays into this whole world of FIRE and it’s been life changing. Your material, content and now podcasts are so greatly appreciated mate. I do hope you don’t pull up stumps on it all.
Well written mate. I’m sad to hear of your ambivalence. A lot of these restrictions have been in place since the “general advice” legislation was enacted. This policy singles out influencers but the arbitrary and backward rules for “general financial advice” have been in for a long time.
I’m one of the ‘experts’ who are licensed to provide advice. Yet, I believe the current system is failing generations of Aussies by (as you say) making it taboo to talk about finance, entrenching a select few who can provide advice, denying innovators who could solve 80%+ of the population’s financial needs and goals with new solutions.
There are heaps of arguments for and against change, with some valid points on either side. But fundamentally, the system seems broken.
Good luck mate.
Thanks for the insight on this Dave! It really does become disheartening that the results of the few bad eggs has led to these changes that unnecessarily affect the many!
I am a listener of your podcast and definitely one of the few that I began listening to that allowed me to enter the journey into FI!
Mate I’m heaps greatfull and really look forward to listening to fire and chill and reading new articles. I’ve never thought you guys offered anymore then general advice, and practical common sense opinions. I don’t even invest in the same things that you or Aussie fire bug or other people in the space invest in. This move feels like trying to take us back into the financial dark ages like what was happening with AMP. It’s ok for warren Buffett in America to tell us to invest into index funds but not a
An Aussie. Thanks for all the effort you’ve been putting in to help educate Aussies. This really makes me angry, it’s ok to speculate and pump and dump property but not talk about high quality products like ETFS and LICS. This also seems like it was pushed for by vested interests. Back to the amp type days.. STFU Chris Brycki, you just won’t more business.. but where’s your value? I can write an asset allocation down on a piece of paper and just set up pearler to do my own.. where’s your value added? It comes from hiding great information like what is provided here.. then charging people for your secret privileged knowledge.. ! Guess this means I have to pull down my pearler page thing now!
What about people who influence me to invest in a new pair if jeans or art? I still use money to ‘invest’ in these?
Reading your blogs and listening to your podcasts has been so incredibly helpful. If it wasn’t for people like you I would still be stuck in the grind passed 65. I now have an understanding on FI and also have clear goals for the future for myself and my family.
I hope you are able to keep providing insights to us as you have a great gift of knowledge and you also know how to convey it in the most simplest of ways.
I also now have an understanding of FI and now have clear goals to reach semi-FI at the end of next year. This is due to your blog and podcasts, and the fact that it comes from an Australian perspective. Thankyou so much for providing such amazing insights and information!
I generally respect your opinions above all other financial bloggers and identify strongly with your outlook on life and investing.
On my reading of the ASIC fact sheet, giving thoughtful outlines of the investing landscape, as know you do, is not being targeted.
However, affiliate marketing such as sponsored messages with referral codes clearly is being targeted.
But as you say above, “Take away the affiliate links, that’s not a problem” and that is probably all you need to do to comply without getting a stupid AFSL
If monetisation of content via paid endorsement is the key reason content is created, then perhaps it is conflicted by nature and needs to change? (Speaking generally, not specifically about your content.)
Quality content creators like yourself can probably still sell ads if they keep their content independent from the ads.
I agree when you say, “We could all come to a healthy middle-ground on what is and isn’t okay to say,” but I think the guidelines have pretty much landed at a healthy middle-ground. I might be wrong!
If it gets the proponents of the ‘Bogleheads total stock market index ETF is all you need’ dogma in the FIRE community to be a bit more circumspect about the risks involved, that is a good thing in my opinion.
Personally, I learned the fundamentals of investing and FIRE about a decade ago before finfluencers were a thing by borrowing library books and discovering Colin Nicholson and Pete Wargent resonated with my idea of financial independence and how to get here.
Life will go on if you choose to walk away. You don’t owe your readers and listeners anything – your time is yours to allocate as you choose – but hopefully you have the motivation to stay.
I’m rather annoyed with this. I love getting financial (product) advice from different sources including you, and I’m very happy to get them from somebody who is unlicensed. Of course, what I don’t want to see is inaccurate, misleading or deceptive.
In some cases, I prefer to get the information from somebody who is unlicensed and just gives me their real-world experience. For example insurance. If I keep reading from different real-people sources that a certain insurance company is difficult to deal with and another one is great and really helpful. Yes, that will influence me. Along with coverage, price, location etc. I can make an informed decision. Would I trust a financial planner and their recommendation on who to choose? Nope, because I would question their true motives.
For me, I’m more likely to listen to (and possibly act upon) information from open and honest people For example, if they use affiliate links etc. tell us up-front and tell us why they choose those companies.
Do people really want a world where we can’t provide any advice on anything – travel destinations, product, exercise, longevity of flowers etc.? I better not recommend you travel to Uluru in case you get sun burnt….
You just made the perfect case for why this legislation needs to exist. You have clearly stated that you take his thoughts and opinions as advice and act on it. Enough said.
Having followed the Bogleheads and Mr Money Moustache back in the day it was so refreshing to see the growth of Australians providing our perspective. This legislation sounds too heavy handed.
I think you are spot on with your comments about the one-eyed perspective of ASICs stakeholders
Great article and perspective, thank you.
I really hope you can find some middle ground when the dust settles and keep on blogging.
What a shame. Just as I was starting to work towards building a website and blogging about my thoughts on personal finance, this comes out. What a heavy-handed and scary ruling. I feel unsafe talking about finances as a result of this.
I genuinely believe that there are market risks if retail investors continue taking their money into their own hands. Without funnelling money into financial advisors and huge investment funds with shocking fees, the status quo may be feeling threatened as a result. There’s a reason retail investors are referred to as “dumb money” after all, but finfluencers and bloggers sharing personal finance thoughts are a massive boon for general financial knowledge. Retail is no longer dumb money, and that is apparently a problem.
I fear that the ultimate goal of this is to restrict access to financial knowledge, not to protect people from finfluencers and bogus financial advice. If that was the real goal, why haven’t they cracked down on financial advisors charging extortionate fees, or cold calls from “super funds” wanting you to join their overpriced product?
The landscape is changing, and they want us firmly under the boot. Personal finance knowledge is knowledge of how to attain freedom from the system. I suppose it’s only inevitable that they want to make this as hard to access as possible.
Thank you for this insight. It’s incredibly unfair to put everyone in the same basket regarding ‘finfluencers’. It seems like not a lot of thought or consultation has gone into their decision. You always make it clear that it is general advice and people should do their own research. Your content makes sense and is easy to understand. It was refreshing to have some Australian related content as opposed to everything being US focused. I want to thank you for renewing my interest in investing and finance in general. Your writing has helped me formulate a clear plan for my future and made me aware of an alternative path. I enjoy reading your blog and newsletters and listening to your podcasts. I love your relaxed outlook on life and can resonate with your reasons to FIRE. I really hope that you will continue to write and be able to provide valuable content.
So so so fkn disappointed and dislusioned by this incoming constraint aka restraint on or freedom to learn and manage our very own financial decisions and learning. .i have tried mulitiple times different setvices and never found one that is honestly not trying to screw most of us into products not required or worse blantedly being managed to flow back to them…its out of control and these people are licenced to do that. Freedom to learn and act on any form of information should not be removed…merely warnings are on instititions and licenced providers. I cannot believe this is happening. Please dont stop with your advice and support, there must be a way to supoort this ongoing community of like minded people who freely choose to soak up your information ..acting on anything is always the risk one accepts when one is happy to engage in learning or any other association for that matter. What are our options petitions, class action for freedom of speach?? Fk fk fkry
It would be such a shame to miss out on valuable and useful content from yourself and others Dave. Is there anyway we the public can have our day on the potential new rules? Keep up the great work for as long as they let you!
Hit them up on Twitter or other social media, maybe? If enough people tag them and comment on their tweets, it might generate some discussion and draw their attention.
I’ve always enjoyed your blog and found reading about your journey, choices, investments, and all of it to be very interesting. I’ve certainly learned a lot from you too. Personally, I find it a bit disheartening the lengths Australia seems to be going to to try to insulate people from responsibility for their own choices. Sure, shut down the scammers who are breaking the already existing laws. Don’t try to shut down everyone.
When it comes right down to it, if you were making absolutely zero money from any source (affiliate links, ads, paid subscription, sponsors, direct payment from companies, etc) for the creation of this blog and writing your posts, then I seriously doubt ASIC would have any legal authority over what you write.
Of course, they could come after you anyway and make your life hell, and it would likely need to end up in court to be resolved. But I just can’t see how ASIC could legally stop you writing whatever you want so long as no money was coming your way.
And I wouldn’t blame you in the slightest if you didn’t think it was worth going through all that for the sake of a passion project blog.
I enjoy your work. I think the content you have shared over the years has been both factually accurate and not intentionally misleading. I would hope that your work doesn’t fall under the spirit of these changes.
Anything that we write can be influential, that is exactly why we write! I get that working under these intentionally vague rules and the possible threat of penalties would take the wind out of your sails. Look after yourself.
I agree with you, this is crazy. As an accountant, I used to work in public practice doing tax returns and financial accounts for small to medium businesses and individuals. People were always asking for advice but as we were not financial advisers we were not allowed to give any, despite being experts in areas such as taxation and business structures. I didn’t want to tell people what shares to buy, but was restricted so much it was safer not to say anything.
Giving people information is so important and sites like yours give people knowledge. With two kids at school I know they are not learning it there and so many people need that.
There’s a big difference between an informative and educational site such as yours and some airhead promoting dodgy share tips on Instagram but ASIC seem to have sided with those with a vested interest once again and want to shut it all down.
Let’s hope you can keep going and these rules are amended in someway.
You can’t just give it all away, there must be away the you can keep this wonderful blog going, no one wants to see you in any type of legal strife, maybe set up a blog via a US site, just a thought. Keep going Dave, there’s a way around everything, look at all the corporations that don’t pay tax here!
First of all Dave, thanks for all your help and advice (*wink*) over the years. It’s been invaluable. So if you decide to cave and get licensed, please feel free to invoice me!
Next up, surely this is all easily resolved. You self-disclose to ASIC that you want to continue to run a website that publishes unlicensed financial information, and ASIC endorses the site on the condition it is allowed to put a standard disclaimer at the top of the page. Similar to what they do for cigarettes, only the impact of your content is unlikely to lead to the death or suffering of thousands.
Alternatively, keep pumping out your stuff but host it overseas? Or have a ‘guest writer’ from overseas ‘author’ every post from now on. J Money or Mad Fientist or someone like that.
And finally, ASIC, if you’re reading this, removing useful content from the internet will most likely lead to a proliferation of junk. It’s not difficult to imagine scammers from overseas targeting Aussies because of the lack of your ability to do anything about them. So the overseas scammers target more and more Aussies with more and more scams, and because everyone suddenly has their guard down (“Because, you know, ASIC is protecting us from dodgy content”), the scammers become more successful.
The whole thing seems genuinely half-assed, and anyone with time and money (anyone FI around here?) could easily defend themselves from any ASIC prosecution given you could drive a truck through the gaps in their information.
I vote you keep doing what you’re doing, and let ASIC come after you. At the very worst, think of the publicity! 😉
Good grief. What is the world (no wait, Australia) coming to?? If this isn’t the Nanny State in operation I don’t know what is… So what, influencing media for things like alcohol and gambling are perfectly fine, but not for increasing one’s financial literacy?? What the actual f**k?
One suggestion for you Dave is to talk to your local, Federal MP about this matter. Try to meet with them in person, face-to-face and follow up with a letter. This is a clear example of over-reach by a federal regulator. It’s unacceptable and only serves the interests of a narrow few who would rather the general populace remain in the dark about topics like Financial Independence.
I think there are a few things at play with regard to this outside of the blatant self-interest of the financial industry.
1. There are a lot of people out there now offering commentary or advice who don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about and who may be disingenuous about whether they’re getting paid affiliate fees for recommendations. The general public does need some level of protection against them (not your good self, obviously – your content is quality stuff!). But there’s a massive difference in the level of harm between baking a cake you end up not liking and potentially screwing up your finances and losing everything you have.
2. A lot of people will not make the time to look into a product properly to determine whether it suits their needs because they “don’t have the time, they just want someone they trust to tell them what to do.” Whether they genuinely don’t have time is neither here nor there; these days pretty much everyone sees themselves as being time-poor. And often “don’t have the time” is just a euphemism for “I don’t understand it enough to trust myself to make these decisions” and/or “I don’t have the motivation to learn” and “I want someone to make it easier for me.” This is part of why the Barefoot Investor book sells so well – it does make personal finance simple and straightforward (and at least he was a licensed financial advisor when he wrote it).
3. Sadly, as we’re all well aware, not everyone is actually literate enough to be able to differentiate between good and bad information. (When I say ‘literate’, I don’t mean ‘intelligent’ – these are two different things.) I find it quite interesting that, in the articles you linked, they’re referring specifically to Instagrammers and TikTokers – platforms that are used extensively by the younger generations who should actually be far more literate in this regard than the generations previous to them because critical literacy is embedded into pretty much every single subject in high school (at least, it is in Queensland). Those generations should be far more resistant to being influenced by social media. I guess the social aspect of social media overcomes the critical mind.
There’s probably several other factors as well, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.
Spot on. Free speech in Australia is a relic of the past. The health industry recently did something similar in relation to product endorsements (https://www.tga.gov.au/media-release/new-therapeutic-goods-advertising-code-1-january-2022) for similar reasons you described.
The question I have is: who’s regulating the regulators? This is an important question. Investors all know about the biases and incentives which drive behaviour. The same wind blows on us all. Regulators too… We don’t have to cast our mind too far back to Facebook ‘Fact Checkers’ error’s around a certain virus and a certain lab. Countless examples through out history.
This is not good for society. Blanket policy and censoring speech is not a solution. The solution is more conversation and letting the market decide what’s valuable.
The old buyer beware has stood the test of time for good reason.
If the past two years has taught us anything it’s the inherent conflict of interest and down right corruption that is rife in so called “regulatory” agencies that are funded by the very industry participants they purport to regulate.
Dave you are a champ and your advice has enriched countless individuals and their families. The wealth of knowledge and money will no doubt compound into the future.
Hey Dave, I have really enjoyed all your content and will greatly miss your wisdom if you decide to give it up, though will totally understand! At the end of the day you have to do what suits you but please know your commentary on all things financial has been extremely helpful and I sincerely hope you can find a way to work around overbearing rules 🙂
Just wanna say how wonderful and thoughtful the content both you and Pat make. It can be life changing so I hope you can find a way to keep making it. I thought maybe you could look at sharing a general licence with the Aussie firebug and maybe a few other similarly minded creators, and pay for it with sponsorship money (but only products/services you would personally use).
There are podcasts and blogs that purchase a general licence, but it seems to come at a cost to the quality of their content and advice. They take sponsorship from financial products who I bet the creators wouldn’t use personally, either because their fees are too high, or another major issue with the product. Often they have whole episodes that are paid for by the products, where the entire content is a giant ad. Infomercial, podcast style. I think this is dangerous for new investors. Some of these podcasts also charge excessive amounts (sometimes hundreds of dollars) for budgeting or investing courses. No one needs to pay hundreds to learn how to invest, but there may be more of this crap with the asic regulations.
I don’t believe any of the above is done out of need to pay for the licence, but to make as much cash as possible out of ‘educating’ people about money. I think you and afb and others could make a real difference here.
Barefoot investor was actually a licensed financial advisor and has sold millions of books. So any suggestion to take off shelves is not a correct analogy.
If I recall correctly he gave some very specific product recommendations in at least one of those books, and some potentially terrible advice with regards to insurance as well. Every financial adviser I know personally thought it was absolutely amazing that ASIC hadn’t come after him for some of what he wrote.
Dave, this is extremely worrying news. When stuff like this happens, I always wonder “who benefits?” – well it’s clear that this muppet Chris Brycki and his mates have set all this up.
Could you potentially create a private facebook profile/group (i.e. Dave FIRE) which discusses all the stuff you do now, share the profile on here and then whoever is interested can add you as a “friend”?
That way the conversations can continue behind closed doors? Probably a rubbish idea but thinking how we can get around these loopholes.
Freedom of speech is dead. You cant even say “men can’t be women” without getting cancelled these days.
Firstly I would like to say thanks Dave for your content, opinions, ideas and approach to finance and living a great life, I have found them very useful and it would be a shame to loose Aussie content from yourself and others.
Saying that I was pissed off with this move is an understatement like everyone has already said there is no point going on about it.
Maybe: Strong Money New Zealand……….
I first stumbled on FIRE via American sites and the delight & relief when I found you & Aussie Firebug was …. immense 🙂 O was so excited that I could learn from fellow Aussies who have translated the info into Aussie context. THANK YOU
This means Aussies in future will only have info from overseas websites. And have to work out the Aussie context by themselves.
I totally understand that there are dodgy online content creators out there. But if such heavy handedness by ASIC leaves a vacuum of genuine commentary & education on investing in the share market by ordinary people, then the public are the real losers.
Most people I know just cannot afford the thousands of dollars required to consult a financial advisor.
Hey Dave, this censorship goes way beyond sharing financial information.
It’s time you know that the world is at war. It’s Global Governments against the people of the planet as the controllers want to bring in the “New World Order” having complete control over our lives.
Every media source and social media is being fully censored. For the past 2 years doctors, scientists, nurses funeral directors, police offices, embalmers etc … have all been trying to bring awareness to what is going on in regards to the pandemic and the jibbyjab. They’ve been silenced by every means possible except through Telegram, Rumble, Bitchute etc.
Do you use telegram? It’s an app you can download that doesn’t censor. Your followers
can then follow and connect with you there.
Also at the next election we must not let liberal or Labor get in. Both are in favour of NWO. To get our freedom back, follow Richardo Bossi from Australia One Party. He knows what’s going on and is very informative.
Dave, thanks for all of the wonderful and informative content. Strong Money Australia was my first in introduction to FIRE and living a better life. I’m sure there are thousands of Australians as grateful as I am for your personal insight and lived experience. I hope that we can continue to benefit from what you have to give.
Outrageous. Misinformation and deception on the internet aren’t going away and, as you say, are unique neither to financial content nor Australia. Instead of shutting down financial content creation altogether we ought to focus on fostering both freedom of speech and critical thinking from an early age.
Now, whether it is going to be Strong Money Maldives, more time for your other hobbies, or something in between, you have changed this reader’s life for the better. Thank you, Dave (and Pat). I owe you.
This is just really such a sad situation, and unfortunately to say it, classic Australian bureaucracy. I love all your content, as well as similar creators work. I know and understand everything that you guys are going on about, but it is an absolute shame that this knowledge cannot be passed on to people who are maybe not as good with their finances, or want to get better to create a better life for themselves. Like you say, licenced financial advisors are not a great fit for most people, especially those starting out. Thanks for everything.
Agreement from me with many of the sentiments here. If bloggers like yourself get shut down by ASIC, then the landscape actually gets worse rather than better for financial information available to the public.
And here is a key example of the important contribution of unlicensed bloggers: investment bonds. Strong Money Australia and a few other bloggers, and even threads on Whirlpool, have done quite detailed investigation and analysis of investment bonds pros and cons, and generally what poor value they provide. This information is not available anywhere from licensed advisors (as far as I can tell).
Another key example which sort of does my head in: the following link published by Macquarie Bank https://www.macquarie.com.au/advisers/strategic-fit-of-investment-bonds-part-1.html and subsequent Parts 2 & 3, talk in detail about investment bonds. But before you can access the page, you need to click through the following warning:
Restricted to financial services professionals
The information on this website is provided for the use of financial services professionals only. In no circumstances is it to be used by a potential investor for the purposes of making a decision about a financial product or class of products.
In order to proceed, please confirm that you are a financial services professional by clicking ‘I accept’.
But that is exactly the kind of detailed information finance nerds are looking for, rather than the vague marketing stuff, which lacks real details, that most financial product sites publish.
I asked a question on the ASIC website yesterday on how they defined ‘social media influencer’ since everyone could be defined as one if they simply have friends on facebook.
They did not answer the question, saying:
Our services are here to help you, however, they do not constitute legal or other professional advice.
Our regulatory guides explain how ASIC interprets the law and give practical guidance to regulated entities.
We encourage you to seek your own professional advice to find out how the Corporations Act and other applicable laws apply to you
I did not want legal advice, simply asking what a phrase meant.
So we have guides to help you on our website, but any words we use in those guides we are not going to define for you, so they might as well be in another language.
This is a real shame and I can’t help but think that the industry is being threatened by those fin-fluences and have cracked the shits and now ASIC is responding to try and make them happy.
If it wasn’t for some of my favourite mentors, I wouldn’t be as educated and confident in my finances as I am now. Thank god this didn’t happen years ago or else who knows how out of pocket I would be by having to see a ‘professional’.
This doesn’t really exist in any other industries so why the crackdown?
I’m really confused, and I think it’s going to hurt a lot more people then they realize… just makes no sense :/
it does exist in other industries, I can’t perform open heart surgery on you as I am not licensed to do so.
This is some grade A bullshit Dave. I can say that you have literally changed my life for the better with your insight and knowledge, which isn’t financial advice. I really hope you can find clarity and keep going. Your blog and podcast are fantastic. I don’t want to imagine an Aussie scene without yourself, AFB and Pat. Go well mate.
Hi Dave, I am lost for words, which is rare for me. I feel devastated reading this. Your blog has helped me out so much over the years and I am very great-full for what you have done not only for me but for others.
I am hoping the situation will pan out as follows. ASIC probably has someone in mind that they are looking to take action against. They need these changes to make it happen. The case will go to court. A judge will make a ruling and this will be the ultimate test of the changes. The test case and courts then will give some more clearer guidelines on how the changes will be interpreted as law.
Great article mate, echoes much of what I’ve been feeling ever since this whole fiasco was released.
Honestly the whole thing feels like the result of financial advice lobbyist groups lobbying ASIC behind the scenes because people are gradually starting to realise their services are increasingly irrelevant/overpriced.
Their losing money as a result of it & prompting the regulator is a massive conflict of interest… they just want to be able to exclusively sell their convoluted and expensive ‘funds’ to uneducated people who have no idea about personal finance.
I’ve said it before but the whole thing feels like when taxi drivers cried about regulation when Uber came on the scene as they wanted to be able to continue to overcharge & treat customers like dirt instead of actually adapting/evolving.
Your content is always great and no-BS, and all the best regardless of how things shake out.
Appreciate your thoughts.
Can see the need for some regulation in this space but this broadbrush, heavy handed approach is probably going to knock out the legitimate content providers like yourself who do the right thing and are genuinely here to help people while the cowboys will try and find loopholes to continue to scam people or will test ASIC’s resources by ignoring them. The fact that overseas content providers are immune from the changes and will remain unregulated is troubling and will potentially push Australians to seek education and information from persons entirely inappropriate for their circumstances.
In my view the more that can be done to demystify personal finance and break down taboos around discussing finances needs to be encouraged and supported. Rightly or wrongly, many traditional financial advisory services are distrusted, are perceived to be costly or people are cynical about the motivations of the advisors.
I have found the ‘no bullshit’ approach of many of the Australian/New Zealand online personal financial information pages refreshing and the transparency of most of their personal circumstances gives people genuine hope, encouragement and inspiration that they can also work towards financial freedom in their own way for themselves and their families.
The reality online is that it doesn’t matter what the subject matter there are ‘experts’ everywhere qualified and unqualified, helpful and harmful. Sometimes a little common sense also needs to prevail.
As an aside, I have been reading your blog for some time and listening to your pod with Pat and thoroughly enjoy both. In particular the pod has helped me through many hours of mowing on my ride on 🙂 and I am constantly learning something new – hope you are determined to keep it up as I believe you are making a difference.
All the best.
I’ve been stewing over this matter over the past few days Dave… It strikes me that unless you get slapped with a Cease & Desist Notice from ASIC, you should just continue as you are. Granted, you may wish to ‘re-calibrate’ some of your future content in your blog-posts and podcasts. Maybe you put even bigger disclaimer notices on your historical posts and pods! I always found it interesting how Peter Thornhill never mentioned any specific investment vehicles in his Motivated Money book. He just talks about ‘Industrials’. Even for his face-to-face seminars, he doesn’t mention any of his LICs, except at the very end when people quiz him. Maybe contact Peter and ask him for his advice. Oh wait…You know what I mean!
I have just read an article on this topic. Interesting article in the AFR. Wow these rules are very far reaching…to quote ‘ASIC officials warned that any past content should be reviewed and any potential breaches amended or removed’.
“[discussing] your own investment decisions or strategies could, in fact, influence one of your followers or be reasonably regarded as intending to influence one of your followers to buy or sell a financial product.”
While I agree we need some rules around what ‘finfluencers say…some content is absolutely shocking (thinking of Crypto) It seems unfair to ‘tar’ everyone with the same brush. The content you produce is clearly so genuine, ethical and honest. It would be a shame not travel with you on your journey.
Under these new rules are finfluencers are even allowed to display their stock portfolios on Pearler? Just how far will the ASIC go?
In respect of my holdings and investment strategy this is how I do it. I suggest you should consider [redacted.]
My holdings are [redacted] allocated as follows [redacted] which will achieve [redacted]. As a result, my investment position is now [redacted] which generates an income of [redacted] each [redacted.]
I am sure all will agree this is a splendid result achieved in [redacted] time-frame.
Now to wonder if the all-seeing, all dancing ASIC guidance extends to comments on a post or podcast.
I hear ya. I’ve been reading your blog from pretty much day one and love it ….. I don’t always 100% agree on ever topic, but still love it enormously 😉
I have removed about 60 posts from my blog this week but given how much I weave observations about money and products through most of my writings, I’m thinking it might be easier to just delete the damn thing.
Onwards and upwards, I’ve got so much great positive stuff I can be doing, a sabbatical probably will not hurt.
Is being a Money Coach an option? I am not sure if they are captured by these new laws?
They publish content as paid courses on investing, finance and super. They also provide one on one finance coaching.
If your content is restructured as paid financial courses then does this comply with the laws? Otherwise wouldn’t University finance courses also be not allowed?
If you google search “money coach canberra” there is one that doesnt appear to be licensed and has good reviews.
Just a thought!
Strong Money’s Baking Tips and Tricks coming mid 2022!!
Dave, have you considered inviting ASIC to do a check of your content? Voluntarily engage with them.
So teenagers on YouTube running pump and dump crypto and NFT scams are carrying on while someone who reached financial independence is being gagged? Dave you have helped me to feel more confident in making my own financial decisions. Thanks for everything!
The heavy handed approach by ASIC ‘to fit the one glove to cover all areas approach in Australia’ in what they deem as financial advice and recommendations. In this instance is so plainly wrong and pathetically beurocratic. ASIC seems as though it’s a public service, stick weilding nightmare. Sure shut down the plain outright scammers, but do not damage the online plain English content contributors such as SMA, who consistently and correctly use disclaimers as warnings.
Up until about five years ago my personal finances were a mess and I had no idea what I was doing and no clear direction. It’s exactly because of the easy access to podcasts and blogs like yours that I was motivated to get my shit sorted out. I came across concepts and products (ETFs, for example) that I never even knew about. Without access to these blog posts and podcast conversations I would have never known what I didn’t know and wouldn’t have known what was out there to help me. I definitely didn’t go and make specific decisions because you told me to. It’s like anything else in life from buying a house to eating healthier – you take other people’s ideas and knowledge and you do your own research and make your own decisions. From the several key changes I made to my financial habits I’m quite literally several hundred thousand dollars better off now compared to five years ago and I’m saving and investing aggressively with a solid plan and clear goals. Although I wouldn’t consider myself specifically on a FIRE journey I’m taking quite a few of the FIRE concepts and mixing them with other things I’ve learnt to make my own journey how it works for me. Thanks again for your great work and I hope you’re able to keep doing your thing.
I just listened to your latest podcast with Pat on this topic. This whole situation is incredibly disappointing.
You have done so much good in such a short time. You, Pat, and a small handful of other Australian based financial independence “content creators” have truly led the way over the last decade in democratizing sensible financial information. You’re not the only ones to have figured it out, but it does take skill and dedication to assemble and communicate this information in a way that is accessible for most people.
A truly remarkable contribution. Thank you.
you’re content has been on incredible.
Being born in Australia could have lead ke to take things for granted, but from a young age I saved hard, and was keep on shares and any other opportunities that arise.
I foolishly ‘invested’ in a company that eventually was horse race betting, and being scammed woth this Gold Coast Company taught me even stronger to be wary of online helpers. But this resulted in me being much more cautious, and aware when I came across other websites/ information / investment ideas, so in fact, the $2-3k loss, helped me learn a very valuable lesson.
When I came across your content late 2018, I was impressed, but needed to see that it was real (as everyone should). we finally plunged and commenced investing in January 2020, which was a perfect time to be in the market before a crash (crashes will always come, we just don’t know when).
What I want to say, is that if it wasn’t for your blog, I wouldn’t even know a logical way to invest is via an Index Fund ETF. Thank you for providing real-life options, examples, and relevant content.
We are currently overseas (FIRE’d) I guess, with no intention to need to work thanks to you.
I wish you success however this goes.
A possibility effective solution, is to be based overseas (through your VPN), and you’re new branding, and remain anonymous. Would love to continue reading your content.
I’ve listened to your pod and it sounds alarming.
Have the FI bloggers considered obtaining legal advice about what you can and cannot say?
I will do it pro bono (lawyer here)
So what about the “Ask Paul” articles on Money Magazine? Or their articles in general? Does Money Magazine have some kind of license to write?
Thanks for sharing your journey and FIRE content over the years. This is so ridiculous. It removes individuals to engage in financial discourse and have any agency. There should be at least room to discuss your own experiences at the very least like what investment you prefer and just provide a disclaimer.
Hi Dave …
As a natural born Fireist , please allow me to make a comment .
l am not at all surprized by the latest onslaught on the erstwhile
freedoms enjoyed by the ” common man ” .
Over the last fifty years or so there has been , it would seem , a drift
towards different forms of state control over our everyday lives .
The latest real example is in the West , namely the new legislation wherein
real estate developers are allowed ” to kick a granny out of her flat ” !!!
in the very early part of my life l was bombed to buggery in the London
blitz , courtesy of you know who .
So who do you think ” won the war ” ? It certainly was not the so-called
” liberal democracies ” , n’est pas ?
Apologies for the rant , but l just could not resist the temptation in the
face of another example of the kind faced by your good self .
BEST WISHES . Ramon .