Smartphone with finance and market icons and symbols concept

For some Canadian investors, YouTubers and TikTokers supply investment insights at least as valuable — if not more so — than the information they get from financial advisors, according to a new survey from the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO).

The self-regulatory organization’s new Office of the Investor published the results of its first investor survey on Tuesday. Conducted in early January, the online survey of nearly 3,500 Canadian adults examined a variety of trends in the retail investor space.

The survey found that 28% of Canadians rely on so-called finfluencers, social media and other online forums for financial information and advice.

Among investors that get their advice online, 44% said the information they get from finfluencers is just as valuable as the wisdom dispensed by actual financial advisors and 12% said finfluencer advice is more valuable.

Only 17% rated the information from professional advisors as more valuable. Another 21% said the sources aren’t comparable.

YouTube was the most popular platform for investors seeking finfluencer advice (cited by 59%), followed by Facebook (34%), the survey found.

While most respondents said they rely on an advisor or their bank for financial advice (64%), and a large share also get information from their friends and family (38%), the survey noted that the reliance on social media is greater for do-it-yourself investors and investors with higher risk tolerance.

Conversely, those with a low risk tolerance are more likely to defer to their bank or advisor and less likely to look to other sources of information, the survey noted.

Moreover, the survey found that only 21% of respondents are confident about their ability to achieve their financial goals, particularly amid high inflation and interest rates.

“Among those who reported not feeling confident, 66% cited inflation and the rising cost of living as one of the main things holding them back,” CIRO said, adding that some investors pointed to these rising financial pressures as the reason for scaling back their own investing activity in the past year.

The research also assessed investors’ experience with attempted investment fraud, noting that of the investors who said they’d been approached with an apparent fraud, more than half (55%) said these schemes involved crypto assets.

Most of the attempted fraud (81%) was not reported to regulatory or law enforcement authorities based on the assumption that reporting it would be a waste of time or that nothing would come of it.

CIRO said the survey represents the first in a series of its efforts to track investor trends and issues.

“This survey provides invaluable insights into the evolving landscape of investor concerns and behaviours in Canada,” said Karen McGuinness, senior vice-president, Office of the Investor, member intake and innovation with CIRO, in a release.

“By understanding these trends, CIRO is better positioned to support investors in navigating financial challenges and making informed decisions. Our goal is to enhance investor confidence and ensure they have access to reliable, regulated financial advice,” she said.

The survey of 3,497 Canadian adults was conducted by the Innovative Research Group and CIRO between Jan. 4 and Jan. 15. It included an oversample of 2,147 investors.