As most of you probably know by now, Seeking Alpha has allowed contributors to begin providing premium content for a monthly or annual fee. After some consideration, I've decided that I won't be participating, for now.
Since the onset of the program, and even before its onset, some of you have messaged me asking if I would be offering "premium" income generating ideas or a platform - a couple have actually asked if I thought that any of the premium contributors were worth subscribing to.
Here are some of my thoughts on the program, why I won't be participating, and whether you should subscribe to one of the "vendors."
For one, my time commitment to Seeking Alpha has been diminishing and for someone to offer a premium product, they need to be available to constantly update and discuss their ideas. Right now, I simply don't want to be tied with a loose time commitment to something I don't know will be successful, fruitful, or meaningful for myself, but more importantly, you.
Second, my investment "advice" ethics won't allow me. There is no security that is right for every investment portfolio. Although the Seeking Alpha platform encourages scintillating titles that promote potential return gains or other near-term benefits, I have generally chosen to avoid such yellow journalism. My mantra has been to help investors - generally income investors - strategize and find their own way in an increasingly complicated and risky market.
Like most bloggers, some of my ideas have panned out, others haven't. I think I've provided solid macroeconomic guidance over the past few years on general allocations and values in the income space. I've pounded the table on some real losers - ARCP probably my most notable one - but have also identified values such as SUSQ and NorthStar (NRF) that have more than made up for the duds.
It pains me to think that someone with a low risk tolerance took a chance on ARCP and got burned, when they really should have looked for a lower income, under-the-radar, more conservative value play like SUSQ.
In any case, despite several decades of varied investment/fiscal experience under my belt, I possess no license or professional designation, although arguably my financial literacy and acumen may be superior to many that do. Still, while I may be qualified to produce a subscription product, until I have the time and a specific strategy to get it right, I won't.
Should You Subscribe?
My answer to those that have asked me about premium subscriptions and whether to buy them or not is usually "maybe." Just like any service - investment related or not - that you plunk money down for, there may be value to you, but perhaps not to others. I have been shocked to see some authors that are offering a service. Others that seem more worthy may have a price plan that evinces sticker shock.
Just like any security, you need to consider your own situation and evaluate the pros and cons of making an investment - small or large - in the service. One good recommendation that you follow could easily make up for the subscription cost. If the advice is poor, you're obviously flushing additional dollars down the drain for the recommendations. I would definitely ask the vendor for a back sample before engaging.
Seeking Alpha, like any smart company, is looking for ways to increase its revenue. Whether this becomes a more mainstream part of the platform is yet to be seen. Companies evolve. I am certainly not going to pass judgment, as I've been proud to be a contributor to the site for many years. This could be a ringing success for all those that take part. And perhaps in time I'll choose to participate.
For now, I will continue to contribute time-to-time as normal. The biggest compliment I can receive is to for you to refer me to someone you know, so I can build my following under the traditional platform and strategize/interact with you - free of charge!