News, Vision & Voice for the Advisory Community


RIABiz gets some intense third-party feedback loaded with affirmations and a few wake-up calls

A Huffington Post column and our first-ever survey help define just what a pure online publication for RIAs should look like

Monday, June 23, 2014 – 4:29 AM by Brooke Southall
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Brooke Southall: We all live in glass houses and RIABiz is no exception -- especially when you ask for criticism.

Brooke’s Note: To the 500 of you who filled out our survey, even with Obamacare-style web hang-ups for a few, our biggest thank you. It was intended mostly as a means of quantifying the quality of our readership for advertisers but it ended up doing so much more. The criticisms, approbations and hard data will help us adjust course where needed and reminds us just how chock full our audience is of the biggest, most dedicated RIAs. Still, we’d like to know more about how non-subscribers feel about us as well to see if there is any difference in your composition. You, too, will help assure that our economic model works without charging subscription fees or imposing hideous advertisements that make us rich but make hell out of your reader experience.

We asked for it. We got it.

RIABiz sent out its first-ever survey to verify the quality of our readership in RIA terms and to find out what we’re doing right and wrong.

A good 75% of our subscribers, based on the early returns of nearly 500 responses, either own RIAs or are principals of firms serving RIAs. About 50% of those readers are associated with RIAs and the majority of those are firms with $200 million or more in managed assets.

Huff-Po takes note

So it didn’t come as a surprise that the critical remarks we asked for and received all fell under the category of staying true to all that it means to be a trade publication for RIAs. People appreciate our coverage of high-level events and people in the corporate-provider industry but especially appreciate when we get inside advisor minds and practices at a more granular RIA level.

Our approach has attracted notice beyond the industry sphere: RIABiz was recently featured in an article in The Huffington Post entitled Wall St West? What You Can Learn From A Financial Services New Media Start-Up In Silicon Valley. The article commended our RIA-centric approach — a focus we intend to keep and intensify as opposed to sliding away from it as other industry publications have done.

But as we stick to the basics, you encouraged us to write more articles on starting an RIA and on the use of technology — two things we have neglected a bit of late. See: How I picked technology — from Black Diamond-in-SSG to Dudamobile — to use in my startup RIA.

You asked that we aggregate more key data, naming companies like Cerulli Associates as data providers.

Readers asked us to broaden the pool of sources we use in our articles and applauded our efforts to bring in fresh columnists with different voices and standpoints.

In depth … but shorter

There were also some technical requests that we set about tackling right away. While not one person complained that RIABiz has no print version — something we used to hear occasionally — we did hear from people asking why it’s difficult to print out our articles. (When we upgraded last year, some functions got ground up and we have yet to retrieve them all.)

Another complaint is that RIABiz Today, our daily e-mail, only displays the lead story unless the readers scrolls down — and many people just don’t want to do that. We are adapting by creating better visibility of all headlines.

Readers approvingly noted the depth we bring to subjects. But we did hear from people who would like the articles to be shorter. We take those seemingly contradictory critiques seriously. We err on the side of making pieces comprehensive but we owe it to our time-strapped readers to keep brevity in mind.

RIA chat stew?

RIABiz won universal praise for keeping takeover advertisements off our pages and for limiting our daily output to one or two articles tailored to our readership rather than a cavalcade of articles of financially tangential interest.

Some readers wondered why we have not delved into video, bringing some of the flavor of our editorial notes to short videos with industry players. People also asked why we don’t have a job board related to RIAs.

Nobody asked, however, why we don’t have a chat room, something we have considered.

Mind the glare

On Friday, we published an article that made a little fun of the sunglasses Bill Gross wore at the Morningstar conference keynote speech, a humorous attempt to ward off the glare of criticism he is getting in the wake of his company’s recent hiccups. See: Bill Gross’s stage antics leave Morningstar conference-goers gobsmacked.

But we all live in glass houses and RIABiz is no exception — especially when you ask for criticism.

So Bill, in a fit of sympathy and as a fellow recipient of criticism, I am publishing this article with a headshot of myself wearing shades.

Mentioned in this article:

RIA Publication, Blog/Social Networking Tool
Top Executive: Brooke Southall

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