There’s no shortage of websites and blogs for advisors who might want technical updates and practice management tips. But what’s surprising, based on my informal poll, is that there are only a handful of websites and blogs that might be called “must reads.”
“The challenge with the web is that there is too much information,” says Ed Gjertsen, CFP, the president of Mack Investment Securities, Inc. “Between websites, blogs, twitter updates, and the like ‘information overload’ may soon become a medical condition for those in finance. A financial professional really needs to narrow their reading list. I am still inundated with traditional paper publications, which only compounds my condition.”
Given the need to need to narrow things down a bit, here’s a snapshot of what we discovered about the blogs and authors that financial advisors tend to follow, as well as what they think is missing on the web.
The Must Reads
Michael Kitces’ blog, Nerd's Eye Viewis without question the most widely read blog among financial advisors who responded to my very informal survey. “Michael always starts a great conversation, often on "f-word" topics that very few people want to start: fees, fiduciary, f-cetera,” says Tom Duffy, CFP, a principal with Jersey Shore Financial Advisors.
Others, including Marty Kurtz, CFP, the president of The Planning Center, also regard Kitces’ blog high on the list of “must read” sites for financial advisors. “It’s a must for financial planning practitioners,” says Gjertsen. (See Gjertsen’s list of his favorite sites below.)
And, Tara Scottino, CFP, a senior vice president with Carter Financial Management, not only visits Kitces’ blog, but she also subscribes to his newsletter, The Kitces Report. “I trust the info is 100% completely researched and is always current and relevant,” says Scottino, who also subscribes to Stephen Leimberg’s newsletter service for estate planning.
Another favorite is, of course, Bob Veres, editor of Inside Information. For instance, Ron Rhoades, the chair of the financial planning program at Alfred State College and the current chair of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), both reads Kitces’ blog newsletter and subscribes to Veres’ newsletter. “Both offer insights into the financial planning profession, and often challenge traditional thinking,” says Rhoades.
LinkedIn Is Popular Among Advisors
Financial advisors are also very fond of LinkedIn where they tend to join and follow and participate in “groups” managed by various media companies or organized by various subjects.
For instance, Clint Struthers, AAMS of Struthers Financial Services, reads or skims everything he finds, but he doesn’t have a favorite website or blog or author. “I am from a generation that was raised on newspapers and magazines and so I probably obtain more information from the myriad newspapers and magazines to which I subscribe,” says Struthers.
But Struthers does monitor several financial advisor-oriented groups on LinkedIn (and he admits to reading the latest on Advisors4Advisors as well.) “This may seem like a lot but I spend an hour or two on Fridays reviewing current discussions or topics from each of the groups listed below,” says Struthers. “Many times there is nothing but I have found some real pearls of wisdom in them now and again. At the very least it keeps me sharp as I will often toss my two cents worth in and wait for the criticism or head nodding to begin.”
The LinkedIn groups that Struthers follows weekly include the College for Financial Planning Discussion Forum; Financial Advisor Network; Financial Insurance Resource Exchange; Financial Planning Association; Inspired Advisor; Linked Financial Professionals; Online Advisor Central; The Oechsli Institute; and Wealth Planning and Management.
Why does Struthers follow those groups? “I guess because I have found stimulating information or debate,” says he.
Others do the same. “Most of the blogs that I use are through either LinkedIn groups or one of my memberships, most notably the FPA and AICPA” says John Napolitano CFP, CPA, PFS, MST of US Wealth Management. “For me, it is primarily the practice management topics that get my interest. As a ‘financial head coach,’ it is more important that I build strong relationships, run a great business and build a process and team of subject matter experts that is capable of delivering high levels of service and responsiveness.”
Napolitano doesn’t, however, search far and wide on the web for technical updates. “For technical matters, I look for stuff when I need to,” says he. “I will use the AICPA PFP division web site for general planning matters or Wealth Counsel for estate planning matters. I don’t frequent many other technical blogs for my personal knowledge. Our firm has a few subject matter experts that I can rely on limiting my need to hunt down technical stuff beyond my wheelhouse.”
Jason Moore, CFP, of Moore Financial Strategies also relies on resources and information from his affiliation. He reads blogs from the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors group (ACA), which he receives as part of his membership with them. “Their members post blogs and notes on all types of financial planning topics, Moore says. Plus, he read Bert Whitehead’s blog.
For investment information, however, advisor such as Moore tend to favor Morningstar. “I use Morningstar all the time for investment research and to get analyst reviews,” says Moore. “I especially like the portfolio X-Ray function to break down the costs of a given portfolio of mutual funds.”
Many financial advisors also say, as did Napolitano, that they use the resources provided by the FPA. For instance, Joe Pitzl, CFP, the director of financial planning at Intelligent Financial Strategies, says he finds certain discussion forums, including the FPA NexGen Community on FPA Connect, and his study groups far more useful that most blogs and websites. That’s not to say Pitzl doesn’t have a list of favorites. (See the blogs and websites that Pitzl has bookmarked below.)
Like Pitzl, Tom Duffy, CFP, a principal with Jersey Shore Financial Advisors LLC, is fond of the FPA’s offerings, including the FPA national practice management blog. “I like the FPA blog because it is written from the perspective of a peer,” says Duffy. Kurtz also uses the FPA's website for advisors. The FPA Connect has some great conversations and it's the first thing I read now," says Kurtz, who also notes that he like the life planning discussions on Money Quotient. "It's self serving but true." he says.
Despite the many websites and blogs that advisors seemingly use, there are advisors who just don’t have a favorite blog, author or website. Time doesn’t permit it, or so it would seem.
“I tend to receive far too many 'alerts' from most our industry magazines,” Duffy says. “Those include Investment News, AdvisorOne, Financial Planning magazine and the like. I click through to these articles most often. I suppose I should bookmark or subscribe to those blogs that I like, but then I'd be consumed with reading all of them.”
Others are in Duffy’s camp. Sean Ciemiewicz, CIMC, AIFA, RMA, a financial consultant and principal at the Retirement Benefits Group doesn’t follow any blogs, nor does he go to specific websites. “I am so inundated with email information, I usually do not have the time to conduct additional research,” he says. “I also have a hard time reading blogs and the strings of comments that follow.”
Twitter Becoming Used More And More
Advisors are inundated to be sure and one website that might not be helping matters is Twitter. Then again, some advisors do see value in the service. “By following several journalists and several financial publications, I find it easier to identify articles of interest, and to share with others” says Rhoades, who also visits and read academic articles relating to investments at the Social Science Research Network.
An Overview Of The Industry
Meanwhile, one executive at a large independent broker-dealer relies mostly on one media outlet for his news and information. “The only website I use on a regular basis is Investment News because I feel it gives me a pretty good overview of what is going on in the industry,” says Zach Parker, MBA, CFP, a first vice president at Securities America.
Still, Parker reports that he can’t get all the news that he wants on his tablet. “I’ve been trying to identify where I can get good information especially on my iPad device,” he says. “At Securities America we have a program called AdvisorPod or AdvisorPod.com with several practice management tips and we also blog there.”
Some, though not all, advisors say the web could use more information about certain topics.
Kurtz also sees an unmet need in the marketplace. “We still need more voices on true financial planning,” he says. “Giving people facts and information is adding to the confusion and fear. We need people deciding to find someone they can work with and someone they will listen to an objective review of where they are and where they are going. People do not know how to handle their money and are afraid to talk to anyone about it. Even business executives are afraid to talk about their money because they don’t know what they don’t know. The situation is only getting worse. Soon we will be totally on abstract cash basis with no dollar bills or coins. I don’t believe we are prepared for that transition.”
Rhoades says there ought to be a blog on how to conduct due diligence on various different kinds of investments. “The content out there currently is mostly superficial and intermittent,” he says.
Meanwhile, Paul Fichera, RMA, associate financial representative with Northwestern Mutual sees a need for a specific type of content; he’s wants a website that “simplifies all the complexity surrounding healthcare and decisions thereof.”
For his part, Jason Moore, CFP, EA, of Moore Financial Strategies wishes that there were more resources available online for fee-only financial planners. “Too many articles and postings are directed towards AUM, commissioned, or broker/dealer advisors,” he says.
Phil Dyer, CFP, RLP, CPCC, the chief financial educator of Dyer Financial Advisory also has a sense of what’s missing on the web. “Probably the biggest thing missing for me are good sites that effectively merge financial planning mechanics with more holistic behavioral finance,” says Dyer.
By the way, Dyer’s favorite site/blog that does this doesn't even come from the financial industry, but is a pretty cool site is The Simple Dollar. (See Dyer’s list of his favorite blogs and websites below.)
Other advisors meanwhile don’t see a need for any more content on the web. “Overall I feel that there is more than enough information out there and there isn’t anything I can think of off the top of my head that I would like to see more of,” says Scottino.
Below please find a list of favorite websites and blogs from various advisors. Add your favorites in the comment field.
Joe Pitzl’s Favorite Websites And Blogs
· Michael Kitces - www.kitces.com (Nerd’s Eye View and The Kitces Report)
· Ed Slott – www.irahelp.com and IRAtv, http://www.youtube.com/user/EdSlottandCompanyIRA
· Bob Keebler -- http://keeblerandassociates.com/education and newsletter http://keeblerandassociates.com/e-newsletter
· Natalie Choate -- http://www.ataxplan.com/choatesNotes/notes.cfm
Economics / Behavioral Economics:
· http://visualizingeconomics.com/ (Visualizing Economics)
· http://www.cornerofberkshireandfairfax.org (discussion forum)
Practice Management / Professional Development:
Ed Gjertsen’s Favorite Websites
· The Big Picture, Barry Ritholtz, http://www.Ritholtz.com. Great market information
· Financial Times, http://www.ft.com. The best information regarding everything Euro. Their blogs are real time analyzing unfolding events in the EU.
· Arthur Hill's blog, http://www.stock charts.com. This is a terrific site for technical charts and observations of markets. Hill blogs daily and has great insights.
· Horsesmouth.com. An invaluable website for advisers in all stages of their business.
Phil Dyer’s Favorite Sites
Dana Anspach’s Favorite Websites