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Film and Panel to Explore Risks, Rewards of Modern Investing

Experts Discuss Rise of 'Finfluencers' on College Tour
Film and Panel to Explore Risks, Rewards of Modern Investing
The College of Business and the Nebraska Council on Economic Education will show the documentary "This is Not Financial Advice" at an event on April 18 that also features a panel of financial experts, the documentary's co-director and a parent of a former business student.

A screening of the 2023 award-winning documentary "This is Not Financial Advice" will begin at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, in the Ostergard Family Auditorium, room 002 in the lower level of Howard L. Hawks Hall. The panel discussion with the film's director and finance experts will immediately follow at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The documentary exposes the startling risks and rewards of today’s market through expert commentary and the anxiety-inducing stories of real people trying to make millions.

"The world of finance is becoming ever more complicated and at the same time ever more accessible with individuals having easy access to trade on cryptocurrencies and meme stocks and coins, which are shares and digital currencies that have gained a cult-like following on social media. The rise of 'Finfluencers' and people giving financial advice on TikTok and other social media platforms is a concern. A FINRA report found that 60% of people under age 35 get investing advice from social media. Finfluencers often don’t have the experience or qualifications to guide people on what’s best for them. We want people, especially college-age students, to have more information and a better understanding of these issues," said Jennifer Davidson, associate professor of practice in economics, Nebraska Council on Economic Education president and Nebraska Bankers Association Faculty Fellow.

As part of Nebraska Financial Wellness Month programming, the Nebraska Council on Economic Education and College of Business partnered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Optimist, a documentary film studio, to host the event at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Participants in the panel discussion, moderated by Davidson, include:

  • Sarah Green, FINRA Senior Director of Special Initiatives
  • Claire McHenry, North American Securities Administrators Association president, deputy director of the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance, and head of Nebraska’s Bureau of Securities
  • Dan Kearns, father of Alex Kearns, a former University of Nebraska–Lincoln student
  • Zach Ingrasci, co-founder of Optimist and co-director of the documentary, "This is Not Financial Advice"

The program is part of a 20-event college tour to talk with college students about the risks and rewards of investing in the age of social media, a landscape that can be rife with FOMO, scams and substandard financial advice.

“Our research shows that half of Gen Z investors in the U.S. have made an investment based on FOMO — a fear of missing out. In addition, many new investors say they started investing because of the information available on social media and other online platforms,” said Gerri Walsh, president of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. “The storytelling and themes explored in the documentary 'This is Not Financial Advice' provide an engaging vehicle for us to discuss fundamental concepts with new investors, including the benefits and risks of investing, and the importance of doing their research and considering their own risk tolerance before investing, as well as getting their information from informed and trusted sources.”

FINRA and Optimist chose Nebraska as an early stop in the tour because they knew about what happened to management major Alex Kearns of Naperville, Illinois, who died by suicide in 2020 after seeing an inaccurate negative $730,000 balance on his online brokerage account. Kearns' involvement on campus included serving as a member of Air Force ROTC and preparing to be a student strengths coach for the PrEP I: Investing in Strengths (BSAD 111) course for first-year business students.

"Our team and FINRA were both particularly interested in engaging with the community at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln because of Alex's story. We want to honor his legacy and continue the conversation about the intersection of financial wellness and mental health. We are so grateful to have his parents, Dan and Dorothy Kearns, be part of this event," said Samantha Dols, director of impact at Optimist.

The Kearns family is doing what they can to prevent the loss of lives to suicide and helping to share the important message about resources for help when young people find themselves in seemingly impossible situations. They started the Alex Kearns Memorial Fund with the Chicago Community Trust to "empower and inspire young people who may lack the emotional maturity or skills to cope with life's everyday difficulties to effectively face their mental health challenges." In 2023, the fund established a transformative endowment in support of the Big Red Resilience and Well-Being and the REACH student suicide prevention programs at the university.

Watch the documentary trailer. The NCEE will also host events to show the documentary at the University of Nebraska at Kearney on April 17, Southeast Community College earlier in the day on April 18, and University of Nebraska at Omaha on April 19.

Published: April 9, 2024