Hoping to create a standard around what determines social “success,” BrightScope released Tuesday its Social Influence Rank for financial advisors, recognizing the 100 advisors who the San Diego-based research firm believes are industry leaders that are influencing the online realm.
“We believe that more and more advisors are going to win more business online, so not having the standard of what ‘good’ is, or what ‘success’ is in terms of online marketing is a mistake,” Mike Alfred, co-founder and CEO of BrightScope, told ThinkAdvisor.
“By shining a light on social media best practices within the financial services industry, BrightScope hopes more professionals will actively use all types of communications tools to benefit themselves and investors,” Alfred says, especially in light of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent guidance clarifying advisors’ use of testimonials on social media.
The BrightScope Social Influence Rank aggregates information on advisors actively engaging with current and prospective clients using digital media channels and measures how their efforts stack up against their peers. Advisors who made the list “are models of how to use social media to grow a successful advisory business and a personal brand in the marketplace,” says BrightScope, which is best known for its rankings of retirement plans.
Alfred says that the proprietary algorithm takes into account all platforms used by advisors, such as Twitter, blogs and appearances at industry events, to determine “how influential” an advisor is.
“We tried to look across the spectrum of what we believe drives online influence,” Alfred said. “It’s our first stab at it; It’s our best foot forward on what we think has a real influence online.”
Log on to your Twitter pages and follow BrightScope’s top 10 social media influencers listed in the pages that follow.
10. Jeff Rose
Blog: Good Financial Cents
Twitter Handle: @jjeffrose
CEO of Alliance Wealth Management, Rose’s tell-all, no-nonsense and playful approach in describing himself on his blog should give clients a pretty good indication of the advisor they’re dealing with:
“Most financial advisors like to use BIG fancy words like beta, standard deviation, and upside capture ratio.
(rant: seriously… upside capture what?)
These BIG words make we want to puke because 99.9% of the population could care less.”
Says Rose: "I’m a self-proclaimed numbers geek. I even began the wooing of my future wife by offering to show her how to use a financial calculator. True story.
I talk about money issues A LOT on this blog. Do I have credentials? You betcha!”
9. Cullen Roche
Blog: Pragmatic Capitalism
Twitter Handle: @cullenroche
With 17,000 Twitter followers, Roche, founder of Orcam Financial Group, says that people often ask him why he writes. Here’s an excerpt of his answer:
"I think it’s important for you to know why I write it so here is why:
I learn a huge amount from writing. I don’t know everything and I write in large part because I am trying to solve what I view as a huge puzzle. I used to spend a lot of time engaged in office debates about the various facets of the markets, money and finance. I was always trying to find answers. Why does money matter? Why do we care about material wealth? Why do we idolize Warren Buffett? How does all of this fit into our lives and our search for happiness?I have an insatiable curiosity and a borderline obsessive compulsive mentality where, when I want an answer, I can’t stop until I find it."
8. George Papadopoulos
Blog: George Papadopoulos on WSJ
Twitter Handle: @feeonlyplanner
An independent fee-only certified financial planner and CPA based in Novi, Mich., Papadopoulos touts on his Twitter page that he provides “top quality personal finance advice” and that he’s a Wall Street Journal Expert panelist.
His most recent WSJ blog posts include Why You Should Be Wary of Investing 'Gurus' and Why I'm Skeptical About MyRAs. He also says not to lose sleep over high-frequency trading, as “in general, high-frequency trading mostly affects institutional investors.”
7. Charles Sizemore
Blog: Sizemore Insights
Twitter Handle: @CharlesSizemore
Based in Dallas, Sizemore is the founder and editor of Macro Trend Investor (formerly The Sizemore Investment Letter), and the chief investment officer of Sizemore Capital, an RIA.
In Sizemore’s most recent blog posts he tackles “China’s Mother Shortage.” In the immediate term, he writes:
“I am a major China bull and I am long China via the iShares MSCI China Large Cap ETF and the DB X-Trackers Harvest China ETF. But China’s future looks bleak. I would go so far as to say China has no future. …China’s population of women of prime childbearing age (25-29) goes into steep decline starting next year.”
6. Russ Thornton
Blog: Wealthcare for Women
Twitter Handle: @RussThornton
The tagline for Thornton’s blog, Wealthcare for Women, reads “Lifestyle Financial Planning — Because Life’s Not a Rehearsal.”
In introducing himself on his blog, Thornton tells visitors that he’s been delivering personal financial advice for over 20 years, and that he “helps women live the life they want without fear of ever running out of money.”
“Let me tell you about my mom,” Thornton writes in his blog on why he believes helping women with their finances “is important” to him. After his parents divorced, his mother’s “financial advisor” was with a big brokerage firm. “I can’t help but wonder how things might have turned out if my Mom had received advice from a professional that was interested in building a relationship with her,” he says.
5. Michael Kitces
Blog: Nerd’s Eye View
Twitter Handle: @MichaelKitces
“Providing effective financial advice fundamentally comes down to a relationship of trust between an advisor and their client, yet most financial advisors do not have the budget and resources to advertise and build a large, national brand of trust,” according to Kitces, a partner and director of research for Pinnacle Advisory Group.
“Social media and blogging provide a unique opportunity in today’s world to build a strong personal brand and establish trust with prospective clients, at a fraction of the investment of time and dollars that traditional market required.”
Also named to Investment Advisor’s IA 25 list for 2014, Kitces told IA that helping advisors “stay ahead” is really the catalyst for him reviving his popular Nerd’s Eye View blog about three years ago. Since “reinventing himself” in the fall of 2010 and getting “active on social media,” his blog, website and Twitter following has experienced “incredible growth.”
Kitces.com gets 50,000 unique visits per month, and he has more than 14,000 Twitter followers.
No. 4: Jason Hull
Blog: Hull Financial Planning
Twitter Handle: @hull_j
A Fort Worth, Texas, financial planner, CFP candidate as well as a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Hull writes in his blog’s most recent commentary, titled “Being Born as an American Doesn’t Make You Exceptional,” that having gone to West Point and served in the Army for five years, as well as spending a year and a half of that time in Bosnia, he’s fortunate to have been born in the U.S., but that “while I may have been born in an extraordinary country, I am not extraordinary by birthright, not any more extraordinary than anyone else who is born, no matter where they’re born. We’re all people, after all. What you do is what makes you exceptional, or not exceptional.”
Hull teaches the Winning with Money Course, in which he declares that his strategy works to help clients get their money under control. “You could spend hundreds of hours learning everything there is to know about personal finance,” Hull says. Here’s the problem with that approach, though: 80% of it doesn’t apply to you, but you don’t know which 20% does. I do.”
No. 3: Roger Wohlner
Blog: The Chicago Financial Planner
Twitter Handle: @rwohlner
A fee-only financial planner for individuals, as well as an advisor to 401(k)s, foundations and endowments, Wohler is based in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs and has close to 7,000 twitter followers.
Wohlner is what you would call really active on Twitter, having tweeted more than 37,000 times.
While his blog also points to interesting reads from around the web, Wohlner pens a lot of the articles himself. Recent posts include “Is Your Mutual Fund Bloated and Should You Care?” and “A Pre-Retirement Financial Checklist.”
No. 2: Barry Ritholtz
Blog: The Big Picture
Twitter Handle: @ritholtz
The chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management in New York has more than 53,000 Twitter followers and writes the popular Big Picture blog, which proffers advice on asset management and also gives advisors a daily rundown of article Ritholtz believes are worth reading.
Ritholtz’s blog notes that he’s been observing capital markets with a critical eye for 20 years. With a background in math and sciences and a law school degree, “he is not your typical Wall St. persona," according to the bio on his blog. "He left law for finance, working as a trader, researcher and strategist before graduating to asset management.”
1. Josh Brown
Blog: The Reformed Broker
Twitter Handle: @ReformedBroker
Ritholtz Wealth Management CEO Josh Brown “seems to be everywhere,” says BrightScope’s Alfred, with a “very influential” blog known as The Reformed Broker and a Twitter following that surpasses 75,000.
Named to Investment Advisor’s IA 25 list in 2014 as well, Brown says that he launched his blog in 2008 as “a place to vent and give people an idea of what it felt like to be a broker in a financial crisis.”
Noting the interactive discussion that his blog generates, Brown told IA that “Most of the feedback I get is from other advisors who say, ‘Thanks for doing what you do,’ or ‘You just said out loud what I’ve been thinking all day.’”
See BrightScope's full list of the 100 most influential advisors on social media.
Check out these related stories on ThinkAdvisor: