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TMFGetFit, let me intercede for the moment on behalf of jps, who may be indisposed, sitting in a bistro sipping a Lillet Rouge as I type:

Our mission is, and will always be, to encourage people to take charge of their own financial future and make their own decisions. In doing so we have ALWAYS provided a point-of-view in our editorial voice and premium products to facilitate this process.

And the Wise? The Wise tell you that you cannot make your own decisions. They attempt to sell you underperforming mutual funds and charge brokerage sales fees for transactions that serve competing interests.


First up, this whole Fool v. Wise thing: let's just recognize it for what it is: contrarian marketing. Commodify your dissent, start the Revolution in your Nikes, etc. Please, let's not get too serious about it. It's as wrong to take the Fool v. Wise thing seriously as it is to take a Mutual Fund slick seriously. It's part of your value proposition to your customers, and it's exactly that, no more, no less. Only your hairdresser knows for sure. It's the real thing. As hollow as that. But you're missing a point, and I'll get to that point later.

But even while we're playing with the pose of contrarianism, it's at least our duty to keep the facts straight. This is the marketing of a real financial services product, after all. Codes of professional conduct apply. Men in black are at the ready, scrutinizing. It's wrong to say the Wise don't take crit; indeed, heat, every day via the telephone. A customer also has the supreme crit available to you of taking your money elsewhere. You have your pick of information, of brokers. The old model of depending on one broker for all your information is completely bye-bye in the Information Age. You are stabbing at a windmill here, when you say The Wise don't take crit.

Secondly, not many of the so-called Wise try to sell you "underperforming" mutual funds deliberately. (I guess my 401k lucked into five good ones last year--lucky me!) It's dumb for a broker to do this, and it's very bad for business.

Thirdly, while you blast The Wise with conflict of interest charges, you happen to be covering a disproportionately large amount of companies with whom you have long-standing contracts and agreements, say, AOL and AMZN. Is there the possibility of conflict of interest here? Is generating an investment in a company with whom you have a page-view-generating agreement a potential conflict of interest?

Or, let me put it this Socratic way: does generating a page view make a web company more profitable? (Yes--it's how you can sell more advertising). Are you covering companies with which you have agreements and contracts, the purpose of which is to generate page views?(Yes.) Can you sell completely "unbiased" research on companies you generate page views for/make more profitable? (Rhetorical--but you get the gist).

The Wise do not give you an open forum for criticizing their works.

Again, the Wise do not give you an open forum? How's the telephone? How's a direct line? Every research report I've ever received (or sent--I worked in research for a spell) has a name and a phone number right at the top, and if the analyst herself doesn't answer, a full research staff is standing by. Just try it sometime.

Uh...you're kidding [that the Fool is not a primary source of financial information], right? Our newspaper columns, radio show, books, TV appearances, daily editorial content, public portfolios, magazine...

Probably not kidding. He even says that the Fool is good at delivering entry-level financial information. But as a source of primary information? I think he has a point.

GetFit, JPS got started on this, I think, when he read Dave's article on the Fool's first foray into the research world. Is that article still around? He quoted from it liberally...

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?id=1331725000289000&sort=postdate

I think the idea that got jps started on this was that Dave was criticising The Wise for bringing bias to their reports, and this was something jps found possibly illegal as a marketing tactic. (Certainly, JPS would be fired if he were to do this kind of thing himself at his bank for any financial product, and probably never be allowed to work for any of The Wise again).

When we were talking about 13 steps and mutual funds, it was fun in a groovy kind of marketing way to think that Mother Merrill et al. had actually been f&ing with us all these years!--and that was that. That was OK as long as there were no true financial products here that the Fool was offering, and no real financial products marketing compliance issues with which to deal. But when we're watching Tomdave paste the Wise as they try to distinguish their own financial products in the marketplace, well, I think jps was actually politely doing you the services of trying to head off a potential fictitious claims lawsuit against the Fool. Note he originally raised the issue on an out of the way board nobody but a small bunch of ginsoaked folk read, when they're not being brainwashed by the Wise at Barron's and the WSJ, which also happens to be read by an equally small handful of TMFers.

I think jps wants more interactivity, and definitely wants to keep all the good primer stuff around--but I think he's also simply saying that it's a big mistake to sell a conventional financial institutional product here at the Fool; and he thinks it's an especially large mistake to sell this stuff as the only "unbiased" financial reporting around.

laopera
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