Recently, a friend asked me if she should invest in a particular municipal bond. I've covered munis numerous times over the years, but I don't think that qualifies me to give financial advice. Instead, I sent her a couple of links and some excerpts from stories in which financial pros point out red flags.
I was thinking about that today when I saw a survey from the Opinion Research Corp (on behalf of TD Ameritrade), in which nearly a quarter of respondents said their friends give the best financial advice. I wonder if some of the new social-networking features offered by online brokerages contribute to that. My feeling is that it's one thing to swap ideas about stock picks and funds you and your friends like, but it's quite another to act on that information based solely on what your friends say. Researching is a no-brainer [see 5 Ways to Track Your Stocks] when it comes to investing.
The survey also revealed that 40 percent of people prefer to get advice from a financial planner. Nearly 20 percent said accountants give the best advice.