Why You Should Take the Media With a Grain of Salt

The media can be a powerful tool in shaping our opinions and beliefs. Financial planning and investing are important topics, but the information out there is often contradictory and confusing. It is hard to know what you should believe when it seems like everything has been said about the subject already. Luckily, we are here to help you overcome this dilemma!

We can start by taking the media with a grain of salt. It is often easier to sell sensationalism than facts and evidence, so many outlets push these kinds of stories due to their ability to grab attention. However, this only makes it more difficult for all parties involved – both those trying to seek out advice and those offering it. Financial planning is a serious matter, but it has become increasingly difficult to find information that can be trusted. Financial planning is not just about the here and now – it guides our future selves.

We need to be wary about the media’s motivations. For example, have you experienced people on social media giving you stock tips and predictions? The unfortunate thing about many of these talking heads is that they are not qualified or licensed to be giving advice to other people. It is like me googling symptoms of what I have and self-diagnosing rather than going to a doctor to get their professional help.

What you should be asking yourself is “What does this person have to gain from my attention?” In this media driven age, the answer to this question is usually your attention, your clicks, your subscriptions, and your likes. We have seen people blow up their wealth based on tips and tricks they hear from media personalities. Even though some of them are trying to help you, I would consider them the exception rather than the norm.

With a lot of misinformation comes bad decisions and confusion. This often leaves us feeling overwhelmed by the noise. This often keeps us from making meaningful progress toward the goals that matter to us. The worst-case scenario in all of this is that we make a mistake that jeopardizes our financial future. In understanding how to see through the noise and overwhelm, we can make better decisions with a framework of understanding and clarity.

The competition for our attention is exhausting. It is hard to move forward when we do not know what is true. From our perspective as portfolio managers, anything that does not have significant and robust evidence simply cannot be used to make decisions about our client’s financial futures.

There are three simple questions we should be asking ourselves:

  • What does this person/company/movement/idea have to gain from my attention?
  • Is the person providing this information qualified and licensed to give this advice?
  • Is this person in a situation where they are putting my interests ahead of their own? Or the reverse?

Imagine having the confidence to achieve the goals that matter to you because you know how to evaluate all the information that is being thrown at you. Another important part of this equation is also having a trusted, qualified source where you can get further information and clarity in the times when you just do not know. 

We know you want to grow your money and achieve the goals that matter to you. But it can be difficult to tell if the information is true, accurate, and based on facts – or just flashy marketing trying to steal our attention. The “You Might Be Wondering” section of our website provides answers to the most frequent questions we get about how we work with clients. Hopefully, this helps to clear up any confusion you might have as well as dispel some myths along the way. If there is anything else we can do for you, please let us know!