Be Wary Of Sponsored Content

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As advertisers have found it harder and harder to reach consumers, they are continually seeking ways to gain your attention.

They eyes of registered investment advisors are an attractive set for advertisers. I read several financial planning magazines and journals. Those publications are filled with advertisements for various funds in hopes that they can get us to purchase some for our clients. The incentives for the fund companies are large. If we were to select a fund with an expense ratio at the industry average of 0.65% and invest $20 million across hundreds of client accounts, it would be worth $130,000 to that fund company.

The incentives for us to find a lower cost fund as fiduciaries are also large. With $350 million under management, if we can reduce our client’s expense ratio from the average of 0.65% to a lower 0.24%, we earn an additional $1.435 million for our clients.

Financial magazines often provide incentives to read certain articles. They offer an hour of continuing education for CFP® professionals. The accompanying quiz asks questions based on several of the articles in the magazine. Some of these articles are sponsored content, meaning the author paid to have their article featured there.

Often, one of the articles will be an interview with some fund manager about their fund. The accompanying questions will often ask what the return of that fund was over some very short time period or some other perceived selling point of the fund.

The online versions of financial content aimed at investment advisors is no different. Some of the sites are so filled with ads that it is difficult to find the content. Furthermore, the content is stretched over multiple pages in order to multiply the number of ads that can be presented.

It is good that we are as cynical as we are. It helps to be wary of all that we read, even in financial journals. Many articles are just manipulative marketing. One of the most common sponsored content is an annuity salesmen writing about fixed annuities.

The more respect the journal or website has, the more sponsored content or link requests they will receive.

Our site, Marotta On Money, has become respected enough that we are regularly solicited with requests. We are very highly ranked in Google and Alexa. We have become known for our objective and highly technical advice. Many of our subscribers are other financial advisors who use our expertise and research ideas in their own financial planning practices. We have become know for pushing the knowledge of the financial planning practice.

As a result of our industry recognition, we receive weekly and sometimes daily requests asking for our “rates for a one-off sponsored post or link on our site.” Or they offer to write a “relevant, well-research, informative article.” Alternately, all they want is a “permanent (minimum 1 year) backlink on an indexed page.”

But we always say no.

The money offered is significant. Many other financial advice websites make their entire living from sponsored content. In fact, if you run even a semi-popular financial blog you can make money by having other people write your content and place a single link in the article they write. You get paid for other people writing your content.

Other financial planners subscribe to a service that runs their website and fills their website with financial articles, including articles by advertisers seeking to place sponsored content.

We don’t do that at Marotta On Money. We write everything we publish and refuse all sponsored content requests.

We believe that readers and subscribers notice the difference between sites that are cluttered and biased by such advertising and sites which are not.

As you read other financial advice sites, be wary of the sponsored content.

Photo by Erik Eastman on Unsplash

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David John Marotta is the Founder and President of Marotta Wealth Management. He played for the State Department chess team at age 11, graduated from Stanford, taught Computer and Information Science, and still loves math and strategy games. Favorite number: e (2.7182818...)