When people talk about investing online they often say "this is not financial advice" after giving financial advice. Sometimes they use it as a twitter bio in an attempt to immunize themselves for all future utterances of financial advice.

Does that disclaimer offer any actual legal protection? If so, what does it protect against? I find it hard to believe that you can avoid legal consequences for your actions simply by slapping on a false label. If you point a gun at someone and demand money, you can't avoid criminal charges by saying "this is not robbery."

1 Answer 1


Financial Advice is more than information about finance

The Australian Securities and Investments Corporation (ASIC) distinguishes between general information, and personal and scaled advice. The former can be done by anyone; the others require a licence.

You can tailor factual information to someone about whom you have specific information (such as someone who asked a question on Money SE) without crossing into advice. The examples in the ASIC document are illustrative:


An organisation without an AFS licence includes on its website a list of financial products of a particular class available from third-party product providers, together with some objectively ascertainable factual information about specific product characteristics, with the aim of providing useful information for consumers to assist them to make a decision about the class of financial product.


Because the information is factual and does not involve a qualitative judgement about, or an evaluation or assessment of, the features of the products, it is not financial product advice.


A client contacts an insurer’s call centre and requests a quote for comprehensive car insurance. Noting the client’s car is old and of low value, the call centre operator mentions the possibility of third party property damage cover and explains the difference between it and comprehensive cover. At the client’s request, the call centre operator provides a quote for the annual premiums for each product.


This is factual information. Although the call centre operator has been provided with some personal information about the client, and has used this information to provide relevant information to the client about an alternative product, the operator has not given an opinion or made a recommendation that is intended to, or that could be reasonably regarded as being intended to, influence a decision about a financial product.


A superannuation fund would like to provide a brochure containing general advice about retirement planning issues to some of its members via a mailout. The general advice would be most relevant to members aged 55 and over.


The fund can use personal information that they have about their members’ age to send the brochure to members who are 55 and over. Using the personal information about fund members in this way does not mean that the fund is providing personal advice. Instead, the fund is using personal information to provide general advice to a particular audience.

The disclaimer will not turn what is clearly advice into information but it makes clear that what is being presented is and is intended to be factual information. And, since the “advice” is considered as a whole in a prosecution the disclaimer can make a big difference.

  • So basically you're saying this might help in a borderline case, but in a clear cut case (e.g. "XYZ stock is going to the moon!") it does nothing, right? Aug 17, 2022 at 3:52
  • @MattKorostoff “XYZ stock is going to the moon” is not financial advice. “You, Matt, should buy $10,000 of XYZ stock today” is. Financial advice must be directed at an individual or an identifiable class (e.g. a prospectus).
    – Dale M
    Aug 17, 2022 at 4:37
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    @MattKorostoff Here’s a detailed but concise breakdown of a relatively recent case: hoganlovells.com/en/publications/…. I don’t see a jurisdiction tag for your question, but I hope you don’t mind this info comes from South Africa.
    – A.fm.
    Aug 17, 2022 at 16:05

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