Financial Advisors: Publish or Perish

Financial Advisors…I don’t know if you noticed it but something happened in our industry, particularly, within the financial blogosphere this last year:

  1. I quit blogging (or did I?)
  2. The bloggers who stayed have started becoming big. Like “household name” big

…Like, have a ‘Brand’ big…

I remember when Meb Faber first published his first trend-following paper on SSRN in 2006. To-date, it has been downloaded over 300,000 times. As a matter of fact, It’s still the #2 most downloaded paper on their entire network. Back then, I think he was managing like $7 million and everyone loved his work — and for good reason — It was a brilliant insight into risk management using ETFs.

Today? He runs one of the largest active ETFs in the country, has his own fund company, is the editor and curator for a widely successful newsletter business, he’s written two three books, and is speaking at conferences around the world, pretty much all the time. Today? Whenever I talk to anybody in the investment world, almost every single one of them knows who Meb Faber is. And if they don’t, I’m usually left wondering what rock they’ve been living under…

I also remember when Josh Brown was first coming out with The Reformed Broker in 2008, I think I met him about 2 months into the launch… he hated being at his old brokerage firm, I was trying to convince him to partner with me (that’s another post sometime, maybe). And, I was really excited for him about the reception to his posts. He was getting 5,000 visits in a day to his site, which was a huge deal for any of us trying to find a voice back then… but even then, you could tell he was going to be a powerhouse.

Today? He’s the CEO at his firm, and he’s everywhere….Two books, CNBC, Fortune, Yahoo, Business Insider, almost 100k followers on Twitter… and millions of visitors to his site.

And he’s not alone.

His friend, mentor, and ally, Barry Ritholtz, who in 1999 started hand-coding his Geocities site to do this web-logging thing just because he felt so strongly about voicing his ideas and insights… now also has millions of visitors… 30,000 posts later he’s landed at Bloomberg, writing as a columnist and with his own amazing Podcast show where industry heavyweights (like Paul Krugman, Robert Shiller, Mark Cuban, and more…) get unbelievably comfortable talking with him during some absolutely amazing long-form interviews — Barry has officially become the “Howard Stern of Finance” — that is, when he’s also not busy writing for the Washington Post or running portfolios as CIO and chairman of his firm…

Things-you-can-control

Carl Richards? Oh, you mean the guy who does witty charts and diagrams with a Sharpie pen? Yeah, that guy — Oh, he has a column at the New York Times. And a book.

Meanwhile within the advisory world, the more I talk to independent advisors and CEOs about the coming changes in our industry & mention they should follow Michael Kitces or Bill Winterberg for insights… Nowadays they look at me like… duh.

5 years ago, not so much.

On my year away from blogging I got busy living… you kept reading… and tweeting and sharing. And other new sites popped up too, which you also shared and read… And podcasts…and…

And, today more people than ever are reading, sharing, retweeting, seeing it on TV or their iDevices… at the gym, in the car, in bed — and they keep telling their friends on Facebook and Instagram, Linkedin, and Tumblr…and…of course, email — because we all subscribed to their free newsletters…

And here’s maybe the craziest part… almost no one saw it coming, I guess.

If you’re an advisor, you probably even shared some of these people’s insights, because they were good & smart, and so you wanted to be good and smart in sharing…

If you’re an individual investor, you’ve probably shared some of their work because some of their insights were timely or made you think, or laugh. And guess what? You’re now connected with these people — probably daily, or at least until they click send, again. Through any of the various mediums each of these people have now mastered…

And suddenly 6 years later, all these players are now “overnight” celebrities. They have a “brand”, context, history… they have a body of work… and EVERYONE is listening…

So Advisors, I imagine you’re seeing what I’m saying by now, but just in case, riddle me this:

If you aren’t communicating with your clients everyday somehow (like these people are), you better think long and hard about who is… because sh#t just got very real.

4 thoughts on “Financial Advisors: Publish or Perish

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  4. Cam

    Did you ever look at Ritholtz’s employment record? It’s a joke… so many firms in such a short time frame. How does anyone know his record as an investment manager. They can’t and don’t. Another huckster who doesn’t know very much about long term investing.

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