Editors' Note: This article is meant to introduce Nicholas Ward's Marketplace service, The Dividend Growth Club.
I can’t easily express how pleased I am to announce that The Dividend Growth Club is being launched on the Seeking Alpha Marketplace. This is an idea that I’ve had in my head for years now. Over time, that idea morphed into a project and now, it’s finally becoming a reality. In this introductory piece I’ll be highlighting my favorite aspects of the service. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a link to the welcome page where you can sign up to become a Club member.
When Seeking Alpha asked me to write this letter/article as a part of the launch process of my service, I wasn’t sure where to start. The editor I’m working with said that it should sound something like an excited email to friends or colleagues. Well, I’m certainly excited, but that description was still fairly broad. So, after mulling things over a bit, I decided to start at the beginning.
What Readers Can Expect From The Dividend Growth Club
But, this is a bit of a sales pitch, after all. So, before I introduce readers to myself, let me talk about what potential subscribers should expect out of the service. While I imagine that the content that I produce for The Dividend Growth Club will change and evolve over time to meet specific reader demand, here’s what I plan to offer to subscribers right away:
Subscribers will have exclusive, real-time access to my personal trades. Historically, I have posted there as stock talks for followers here at Seeking Alpha. I will continue to write my monthly portfolio recap pieces on the public side of the site here at SA, but I will only be posting and discussing my trades in real-time in the chat room of my subscription service.
Subscribers will access to exclusive access to certain focus ticker articles and they will be able to read all of the work that I produce for Seeking Alpha 72 hours before it’s posted to the public. As I said before, I still plan on posting public articles here and I will continue to be very active in the comment sections of those pieces, but I wanted to give subscribers a “sneak peak” of sorts, adding value to their subscription. My hope is to produce 4-5 articles throughout the week and then spend the weekend updating the data in the various spreadsheets that I will be providing.
Subscribers will have exclusive access to sample portfolios that I put together focused on varying yield and dividend growth thresholds. Right now, I’m working on putting together 3 sample portfolios to start: one with a 2% yield target and double digit dividend growth expectations, one with a 3% yield target and mid-high single digit dividend growth expectations, and a high yield portfolio (5%+ yield target) with expectations that all dividends within post annual growth that exceeds the rate of inflation. Once the service gets up and running, I’d be more than happy to create other sample portfolios as well, if subscribers feel that a need is not being met.
Subscribers will have exclusive access to my DGI sector watch lists, as well as updates to my personal watch list. As a dividend growth investor myself, I keep extensive watch lists covering the many high quality dividend companies in the market. I plan on re-formatting these, including a variety of fundamental data, dividend growth related metrics, and other useful information, including my personal fair value calculations. I’m never one to give advice in the market, though I do think that these lists can serve as a nice jumping off point for others who’re looking to do due diligence on high quality DGI stocks.
And lastly, Subscribers will gain access to Seeking Alpha’s real-time chat rooms, allowing Club members to discuss their DGI ideas, dreams, questions, or concerns with one another (including myself). These chat rooms will allow me to provide shorter, more quick to consume content as well. My typical article spans 1500-2500 words, yet throughout the day, there are numerous ideas or headlines that pop up that I deem to be important. I will post these in the chat rooms to facilitate interesting discussion throughout the day. At the end of the day, I think Seeking Alpha is a hybrid between social media and a news outlet. I know social media has a nasty connotation in the world today, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In a moderated area full of like-minded, intelligent Club members, I expect to see solid ideas spawn and flourish.
So, with all of that being said, I want to (re)introduce myself to everyone. Many of you probably know that I’m an English major. Therefore, I love books. But, it’s rare that I read something without checking out the author biography on the back cover. I want to feel some sort of attachment to the author as I consume his or her content. So, here’s my back cover.
This is an introduction of sorts and I figured that anyone potentially interested in signing up for my service should get to know me a bit better before they do so. Transparency has always been important to me as a contributor here. I’ve always made it clear that I’m more of an average Joe than a Wall Street wizard. I’m not a professional, yet I’ve found success in the markets. I’m not ashamed to have come from the school of hard knocks when it comes to my financial education. Actually, I’m thankful for that. It’s made for an interesting journey and an interesting life and I couldn’t hope for anything more.
I began contributing here at Seeking Alpha in 2013. So much has changed since then. Thankfully, so much of it has been for the better and it has all lead me to where I sit today, writing you this welcome letter to my premium Marketplace service.
Back in 2013, I was an underpaid post-grad working as a bell hop at the local country club carrying the bags of exceedingly wealthy individuals, making small talk, hoping for tips. I was inspired by the opulence of the place and although I’ve never had hopes or dreams to be exceedingly rich, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I’d have to improve my financial situation if I was ever going to have the freedom to truly pursue my passions in life (which are art and travel, not lugging around luggage, changing sheets, delivering room service, and even plunging the occasional toilet).
At the country club there was a men’s only smoking lounge (in the twenty-first century…crazy right?) that I had to clean up because the maids weren’t allowed in. When golf wasn’t on the television, CNBC was. I didn’t know a thing about investing, but I realized that it was quite important to the gentlemen's success, so I’d listen to them talk about stocks and bonds in between cigar puffs. A spark was born.
Growing up, my family lived paycheck to paycheck. My parents were honest, hard working people, but neither of them went to college. I lived in a small town and honestly, it wasn’t until I was an adult and had the perspective to look back onto my childhood that I realized just how poor we really were.
I thought things like Salisbury steak and gravy or fried cat fish were delicacies fit only for kings and queens. My brother and I rarely wanted for anything, yet a lot of this came down to perspective. When I went off to college, I realized that the lives we led were much different from many of my very well-to-do suite mates. Growing up, I learned a lot of things. I wouldn’t trade the lessons that my parents taught me for the world, but unfortunately, none of them had to do with equities or portfolio management.
At the University of Virginia, I followed my heart, studying the arts rather than finance or economics like many of my more practical pals. Once again, I wouldn’t trade the time I had at Mr. Jefferson’s University for anything. The English department there is top-notch and I met painters in the Studio Art building that made dramatic impacts on my life. However, upon graduation I had a rude awakening, quickly realizing that the path I took probably hadn’t set me up for a ton of success in the “real world.”
My friends were in big cities working at promising start-ups or fortune 500 companies while I was hopping around from crap job from crap job in the shadow of the Blue Ridge, working on manuscripts and trying to get my paintings into galleries. My paychecks were always disappointing and I knew that if I was ever going to reach financial freedom, I’d have to take matters into my own hands.
Well, along the way I found Seeking Alpha, the dividend growth community here, and learned so much from the contributors and the readership alike. I gravitated towards the concept of compounding associated with dividend growth. I might not have had much money back then, but I did have time on my side and when it comes to a long-term dividend growth portfolio, I realized that time is the most importance asset there is.
After finding my footing, I began to have success in the markets. As I gained confidence and a better understanding of the dividend growth strategy and the evaluation process of individual equities, I began contributing myself. One thing led to another and eventually, I found myself in my current situation where I have thousands of followers and work remotely, essentially managing money full-time, which has afforded me the freedom to pursue my passions with much time and energy than I could before.
Over the years, readers here have watched as my portfolio developed and evolved. This service will give anyone who is interested greater access to me and the process that I’ve put into place to identify potential high quality dividend growth investments.
I’m not financially free yet; however, I’m well on my way with the passive income that my portfolio generates trending in the right direction, ahead of schedule. Without a doubt, dividend growth investing has changed my life in a very positive way. Because of this, I’ve always been happy to talk about my trades, my ideas, and offer my opinions (for whatever they might be worth) to Seeking Alpha’s income oriented community because I’ve felt like it’s the least that I can do in return for all of the knowledge and guidance that I’ve received here over the years.
So, Why The Subscription Model?
Now, something else that has changed since 2013 is the way that blogging and journalism works on the internet. Mobile viewership and increase penetration worldwide has changed the game for contributors like myself and publishers like Seeking Alpha. And while I know that many cringe at the idea of paying for content on the internet, I have recently felt that it was necessary for me to latch onto the premium subscription trend, rather than be left behind. That’s one reason why I’ve decided to launch this service.
I know many of my readers probably aren’t going to happy about yet another paywall between them and my work. Honestly, I don’t blame you. When making investment decisions, I’ve always been clear that avoiding unnecessary fees and taxes is important because as a dividend growth manager, you want as much of your money taking part in the compounding process as possible. Yet, due to the changing landscape of journalism in the digital age, I feel compelled to try my hand at a subscription service because fees aside, I see a lot of positives to the premium platform model as well.
But, before I go on to talk about the pros to this decision, I want to make it clear that not only I will continue to post free content here at Seeking Alpha, but I am pricing my Marketplace service at the cheapest possible price point and offering discounts to new subscribers.
My goal here isn’t to break anyone’s bank. Sure, I want to make money. I do my fair share of volunteer work at the local high school as a cross country and track & field coach and if I’m to pay my bills, support my family, and eventually reach my ultimate goal of financial freedom, I need to make a little bit of money with the content that I produce here. But, I want the service to be as affordable as possible given the restraints of Seeking Alpha’s Marketplace and I’m hoping that my entry price, combined with discounts, will represent an attractive value to readers.
And speaking of content, making this shift to Seeking Alpha’s premium Marketplace will potentially allow me to dedicate more time to producing it, assuming a thriving community forms and it becomes more economically viable for me and my family. I view the Seeking Alpha Marketplace as the Twitch and/or Patreon of the investment world. I think that patronage system is an interesting one. I like the idea of being rewarded for compelling content by readers. Not only does this motivate me to create more of it, but if enough readers sign up for subscriptions, it will enable me to dedicate more time and energy towards writing for Seeking Alpha rather than other endeavors that I’m currently participating in. And lastly, opening the subscription gives me more freedom when producing content since I will be the editor-in-chief of my service. I believe that it will give me the opportunity to better communicate with readers and create content that best meets their desires.
My hope is that The Dividend Growth Club can serve as a gathering place for dividend growth and income oriented investors here at Seeking Alpha. The community here has always meant so much to me and I love the idea of creating a space where the income oriented can come together to learn and grow.
The toxic nature of online forums has been all over the news as of late. Seeking Alpha is a social media platform at heart, and while I think it’s important to bring together a wide variety of viewpoints and mindsets when discussing ideas, I acknowledge the fact that a lot of unnecessary and unproductive noise oftentimes seeps into discussions.
I’m hoping that the premium nature of the platform will help to reduce many of the distractions that often come along with the internet these days. Debate is healthy so long as it is civil and professional and as moderator of the Club, that is the type of atmosphere that I plan on creating/maintaining.
I’ve been a huge beneficiary of the collective consciousness of the Seeking Alpha Dividend and Income community and readership. I’ve taken leaps and bounds forward towards financial freedom since I began reading/contributing to Seeking Alpha ~7 years ago. Frankly put, without this website, I’m not sure that I’d be on a path towards financial freedom.
With that in mind, I wanted to attempt to foster an environment when others can come together to learn and grow as I have. We’re all interested in financial freedom. My hope is that The Dividend Growth Investing Club can be an asset for you in your journey towards that ultimate goal.
I want to thank all readers, whether you end up subscribing or not, for all the the support I’ve received throughout the years here. It’s been one heck of a journey and I’m excited to see where this new direction takes me (us). If you're interested in joining, you can start a free trial here.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.