One of the issues we regularly address at Women Take Stock is: Who is an expert? We certainly aren't, although we believe that anyone can apply themselves, learn and benefit from investment. One of the sources we frequently use to educate ourselves (and that has a similar philosophy) is Motley Fool but this naturally has us asking, Can you trust Motley Fool?
Why beginning investors need to think about trust
The issue of who to trust is an important one, especially as a new investor. In Episode 14 of Women Take Stock, we share our reference list of some of our favourite books, sites and podcasts. These are resources that we've found valuable as we learn, grown and invest more.
Our experience with Motley Fool
I personally love the Motley Fool Money podcast, just one of many they have. It's got pithy analysis, some good stock stories and just enough optimism and skepticism to expand my understanding of the market and selected companies.
I have heard varying things about the site and the premium version of its service. I've only ever read the free articles and my response has ranged from "Wow, really!?" to "I don't think so...."I think it's important to retain that skepticism with *everything* you read about companies and stocks. We don't need to go back far to find examples of groupthink, shoddy reporting, dodgy practices and outright lies when it comes to company coverage, internal practices or oversight.
New information about Motley Fool...
Then I recently saw a posting on LinkedIn for a writing position at the site. I was intrigued to see what kind of positions they were looking to fill and what kind of skill sets they were looking for. What I saw reinforced our view that one of your best investing skills is that healthy sense of skepticism. (This is a shortened version of their ad, with italics and bold mine.)
There's nothing wrong with harnessing the energy of hungry young reporters/writers. Three of us at Women Take Stock once were hungry young writers. But I was surprised at such a low rate for what is actually quite sophisticated work.
Analyzing and keeping up with:
developments in the sector
and, well, just about anything else that can turn a solid investment into something iffy
So, that piece of advice on Motley Fool that's feeding into your choices of where to put your hard-earned money? It might have been created by someone churning out copy for $45 for 300 to 400 words. For those not in publishing, this is a VERY low fee. Most freelancers I know would expect to be paid at least $100 per article. And having worked at a financial news website in New York, I've seen firsthand how many hours go into a solidly reported, insightful article -- not just in one go but over time.
How Motley Fool answers the question (partially)
The company itself answers this question about trust, in regards to the conversations in its community (which are written by users, not employees of the company). It's smart to read through this statement as it applies to any online conversations about investing and who you choose to believe. Note that this particular statement does not refer to content commissioned or paid for by the company. And note that here at Women Take Stock, we're not impugning the value of Motley Fool's insights and opinions, methods, nor taking issue with employees or freelancers of the company, individually or collectively. As we say, we read it and use it.
So...in the end can you trust Motley Fool?
For me, Motley Fool (and its podcast) will remain a valuable part of my toolbox when researching stocks and keeping up with financial news. To be honest, I love its non-jargony, accessible style. But seeing this want ad provides an important lesson about investing sources, whether they are sites, long-trusted newspapers and magazines or top podcasts and blogs. Ultimately this ad also reminds me that it's not just the brand-name source I need to keep in mind but the actual person doing the analysis, writing the commentary or providing advice. Do your research...and stay skeptical!
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