Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Motley Fool Has Lost A Lot Of Credibility Over the Past Few Years

During the mid- to late 1990s I was a relative novice when it came to stock market investing. I read several books in the late 1990s to increase my investing knowledge base and frequented the Motley Fool website. The Motley Fool was a great resource at the time. The founders of the website would post various stock market-related articles daily and really seemed to be champions of the small investors.

The Motley Fool used to track several different portfolios on the website and would provide daily updates to inform readers as to how well their holdings did on a particular day. The portfolios were interesting because the Motley Fool would notify everyone before they purchased a stock and all purchases were made with real money. The portfolios were loaded with tech stocks and performed phenominally well throughout the 1990s. As I recall they started tracking the first of the portfolios in 1994 and continued tracking the portfolios until the 2001 or 2002 when the portfolios took major hits during the terrible bear market.

The Motley Fool writers often railed against the mutual fund industry for charging exorbitant fees relative to the returns they provided. They were also strong advocates of index funds and often explained why it was almost impossible to beat the various indices over time with an actively managed mutual fund.

Unfortunately, times have changed for the Motley Fool. For the past three or four years the Motley Fool seems to be more concerned with making money off advertsiing and selling its own products than educating investors. For example, the website's current view of mutual funds is radically different than it was in the 1990s - the Motley Fool now advocates investing in the actively managed mutual funds it once shunned and sells a product entitled "Champion Funds" for $149 that recommends various actively-mutual funds to be purchased.

The Motley Fool also has a nasty (and annoying) habit of recycling old articles. I check stock and mutual fund quotes on Yahoo! Finance every day. Yahoo! Finance lists the five or so most recent relevant articles for each of the stocks and mutual funds I check. To ensure that its website is in the top five, the Motley Fool often takes an article that first appeared on its website months ago and updates maybe one paragraph and links it to Yahoo! Finance as a new article. They frequently do this for articles relating to dividends.

It's really a shame that the Motely Fool website has gone downhill. Don't get me wrong - there's still a lot of good information on that website. However, one needs to take what is written over there with a grain of salt because it seems as though making money off of the website is now priority #1 for the Motley Fool.


Paul Meisel said...

I share your disappointment. I frequented the Fool site during the mid-1990s. From 1997 to 2005 some life issues took me away from active investing, and I just dollar averaged into my IRA. Coming back to the market last year, I found the fools much less interesting and friendly.

I now use Seeking Alpha much the same way I used Motley Fool -- as a vehicle to introduce me to different ideas and thoughts. It has led to my viewing many blogs I would never have found otherwise.

Bibhu said...

I echo your thoughts on Motley Fool. I get irritated on receiving the 10 page emails from them soliciting subscription to their services. I felt they are better writers than investment advisors...too much blah blah to digest.
Some of motley fool alumni have moved on to start their own ventures. One of them started the Complete Growth Investor - I am not sure how good that is.

Geebo Harris said...

I know this blog post is old, but in searching about why Motley Fool has decreased in quality I ran across it.

Put bluntly, Motley Fool reads like one of those Internet scam ads, i.e. "Get rich using this one weird trick" and such. I too remember back in the 1990s they actually had good practical advice, nowdays though I wouldn't pay attention to anything on that site. It's just complete garbage now. Sad!