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Some Excellent Online Financial Resources

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English: Taken from the internet, public teach...

I use social media to interact with other financial advisors, to keep up with the latest financial and business news, and to share my thoughts with others.  Here are some excellent financial blogs and websites that I follow via social media that you should check out.

Websites and Media 

Market Watch is one of the best all around financial sites; I especially like their RetireMentors section which includes a variety of writers on topics useful to retirees and those planning for retirement.  Robert Powell (twitter @RJPIII) provides some great insights on retirement-related topics.

Morningstar is still one of the best investing sites and their columnists provide some excellent insights into a variety of topics.  I especially enjoy articles from their retirement guru Christine Benz (twitter @christine_benz) and John Rekenthaler.

US News Money provides a variety of articles on retirement, investing, and careers written by their staff writers and outside authors including yours truly.  My posts appear on their Smarter Investor Blog.   Columnist Kimberly Palmer’s Alpha Consumer articles are excellent as are Emily Brandon’s posts on the Planning to Retire blog.

Financial Bloggers

Fellow financial advisor Jim Blankenship’s (twitter @BlankenshipFP) Getting Your Financial Ducks in a Row is a must read blog for information on topics relating to retirement.  Jim is an expert on Social Security and also provides great information on IRAs, taxes, and a variety of essential financial planning topics.  Jim’s book 0n Social Security is a must read.

Mike Piper’s blog Oblivious Investor does a great job discussing a variety of investing and retirement related topics.  Mike is also a published author on retirement, Social Security and several other topics.

Frugal Rules is an excellent personal finance blog offering practical tips on investing, frugality, and a range of useful personal financial topics.

Robert Farrington’s blog The College Investor does a great job of discussing investing and a range of financial topics geared to younger investors.

Fellow financial advisor Russ Thornton (twitter @RussThornton) focuses his practice on women clients and his blog Wealth Care for Women provides sound financial planning tips for women.

The Dollar Stretcher is one of the oldest but still one of the best all-purpose financial blogs out there.  Gary Foreman (twitter @Gary_Foreman) covers the full spectrum of personal financial topics.

The websites and blogs listed above are some of my favorites, but this is not meant to be an exhaustive list.  Are there financial sites or online resources that you would recommend?  Please feel free add to this list by leaving a comment.

Please contact me at 847-506-9827 for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss all of your investing and financial planning questions. Check out our Financial Planning and Investment Advice for Individuals page to learn more about our services.   

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Vanguard and the Power of Twitter

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Two upfront disclaimers:

1.      Nothing in this post or on this blog should be construed as financial advice or a recommendation to take any action of any kind.  Financial decisions should be made only after a careful review of your personal situation and in consultation with your tax and financial advisor.
2.      I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the Vanguard organization.  Across my base of individual and institutional clients I use a number of Vanguard mutual funds and ETFs.
That said Vanguard recently made a decision to lower the investment minimums on its Admiral Share class of funds for investors in these funds who hold their shares at Vanguard.  The Admiral shares offer an even lower expense ratio than Vanguard’s Investor Share class which already has very low expenses.  This is a great gesture on Vanguard’s part because they are essentially earning less by doing this.  Other than the expense ratios, the fund portfolios are the same across all Vanguard share classes.
However, Vanguard did not initially extend this opportunity to Vanguard fund shareholders at other custodians such as Schwab or Fidelity.  Though this did not impact a large number of my clients, I viewed this as unfair to clients of many financial advisors.  Like many advisors, I use Schwab as my primary custodian for most of my individual clients and one of my larger retirement plan clients.  There we hold mutual funds and ETFs from a variety of fund companies, including Vanguard. 
The idea of Vanguard treating the clients of financial advisors holding their funds elsewhere differently (and worse) than shareholders who dealt directly with Vanguard really bothered me.  This seemed very “un-Vanguard-like.”  Most of my institutional clients are already in lower cost share classes; additionally I have tended to use Vanguard’s ETFs for most of my individual clients which carry a very low expense ratio that is generally comparable to Vanguard’s lowest expense mutual fund share class.
None-the-less I sent several Twitter messages to Vanguard saying in effect that it was wrong to treat our clients as second class shareholders and also asking them why they were anti-advisor.  Evidently so did a number of my fellow advisors and consultants because a short time later I received an email saying that a similar opportunity would be made available to advisor clients at other custodians.  The social media activity was mentioned to me in a conversation with a Vanguard rep.
The point is that Twitter and social media can be a powerful communications tool for financial advisors.  In this case it proved to be an excellent vehicle for us to pressure Vanguard to do the right thing for our clients.  Many mutual fund companies are using social media as a vehicle to engage advisors and shareholders.  That’s great, the more we know the better able we are to make intelligent investment choices for our clients.  The flip side is that the fund companies should expect to be called out when they do something as short-sighted as what Vanguard did recently. 
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Financial Advisors and Twitter

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Recently an article entitled The Top 10 Twitter Feeds for Career Minded Advisors was published in the FINS section of the online Wall Street Journal. The article listed the top 10 Twitter feeds for financial advisors to follow. I was fortunate enough to be included in this list. I heartily recommend that anyone even remotely interested in personal finance follow the other nine folks listed.

Beyond the good natured ribbing that I am taking from some of my fellow advisors on Twitter about my new “celebrity” status, this article has made me stop and think about why financial advisors in general and me in particular are on Twitter.

I suppose the initial thought was that I would get on Twitter and clients would flock to me. That hasn’t happened and I think most other advisors on Twitter have had the same experience. However I think Twitter is a very worthwhile tool for several reasons:

I have met (in person and online) a number of fellow financial advisors from whose Tweets (posts for you non-Twitter users) I learn something new every day. Whether from their blogs or article links Twitter is a great source of information. Additionally I feel that I have greatly expanded my network of experts to whom I can turn with questions in areas where I may not have the direct expertise.

I do think Twitter is an excellent PR tool and I feel that my name is out there much more than it was when I first signed onto Twitter this past April.

Twitter allows you to follow and participate in the “conversation” about any number of topics. I am particularly interested in the Fiduciary movement; 401(k) plans, investing, and financial planning. Twitter is filled with information about thousands of topics and companies, plus politics, entertainment, culture, and sports to name a few.

As a financial advisor I am always careful not to recommend specific investment vehicles or courses of action. Twitter to me is just not a medium to provide specific advice. Financial advice is best given in a one-on-one situation, each client and their situation is different.

Lastly let me share some of the folks that I follow in addition to those listed in the article above. Some are fellow financial types, some not. This is a Twitter idea inspired by Gini Dietrich ginidietrich a Twitter superstar and a bright young Chicago CEO. If you follow Gini you will move up the social media learning curve very quickly. Below is a great “Follow Friday” list:

My “Core Favorites” List

davegalanis Dave is one of the sharpest financial and business consultants I know. Dave is the one who turned me on to Twitter in the first place. We were cubicle neighbors back in the day at our first jobs out of school. Dave is a connoisseur of most foods served on a bun.
gtiadvisors Greg is into due diligence, corporate security, espionage, and also maintains a cooking recipe blog. When my daughter was traveling to Russia he indicated that he had contacts that could be of help if she found herself in a bad situation, Greg is a great guy to know.
IKE_DEVJI Ike is an attorney and advisor focusing on asset protection. Really knows his stuff.
venturepopulist Jeff is a private equity and hedge fund guy with some interesting opinions on investing.
dgvelaw Danielle is the mother of three, a really sharp estate planning attorney, plus she is a Packer fan by marriage.

Other folks I suggest following listed by Twitter name

Brightscope
CurtisASmithCFP
feeonlyplanner
TeriTornroos
williger
RussellDunkin
susanweiner
KristenLuke
TheMoneyGeek
mlimbacher
smart401k
Vantage401k
BeManaged
onlymoney
RockTheBoatMktg
FiduciaryNews
nevinesq
obliviousinvest
JonChevreau
wisebread
DianeKennedyCPA
FernCFP
RussThornton

If you are new to Twitter or have been on for awhile, this list plus the folks listed in the article are a great group to follow.

There are many other people and organizations that I enjoy following on Twitter as well. One tip that helped me early on was to look at the followers and those followed by the people I was following. I still do this to this day. The new Twitter list function is another way to do this as well.

Check out Twitter and join the conversation. You’ll meet some interesting people and you might learn something in the process.

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