With the internet such a huge part of our daily lives, many investors have access to a wide range of instant investment information.
Whether you’re into stocks, bonds, mutual funds, futures or options, there are tons of electronic investment newsletters offering to turn your small stake into a giant fortune. All you need to do is subscribe and watch your portfolio soar.
As a practicing investment advisor specializing in no load mutual funds, I have received my share of e-mails from disillusioned subscribers wanting to know how to better evaluate newsletter services.
While there are no absolutes, I can give you a few pointers that might help you make a better decision:
1. Stay away from the most obvious hype. Ads promising to turn your $10,000 into $1 million in 2 years by buying this incredible stock or hot commodity are not promoting investing — they are selling gambling. Follow the "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is" rule.
2. Most mutual fund newsletters won’t make those outlandish claims, but some of them are still pushing the truth as far as they can. So try to get a free issue or two to examine. If you can't get a sample, check if they have a trial period? How about a money back guarantee? If not, pay with your credit card. These days you’re pretty well protected by this payment method even if the newsletter doesn't offer a satisfaction guarantee.
3. Consider the editor as well as the disclaimer notes. Is he or she only publishing a newsletter? Or is he also an investment advisor with a practice?
Why would that last point matter? I may be biased, but I believe that you get far better advice from a writer who also is in the trenches every day investing their own as well as their clients’ portfolios. They would have far better insights as to what works and what doesn’t than someone who has the theory down but no practical experience.
4. Look at the investment recommendations. Are they suggesting you buy into a certain orientation such as mid cap, small cap or large value? Or are they picking specific investments based on a variety of technical indicators?
In my no-load mutual fund practice I use specific recommendations, even for my free newsletter subscribers. They are first based on my trend tracking indicator giving us the green light and secondarily on the selection of mutual funds based on momentum analysis.
The more specific the recommendations, the better, because that allows you to follow along either just on paper (which you should do at first) or with your actual portfolio.
5. Are they recommending when to sell a mutual fund either because of gains or to limit your losses? This to me is the most important issue. If there is no plan in place for getting out, how will you ever know when to sell? This has been the greatest downfall of most publishers (and investors!) since the bear market of 2000 — not selling even if market conditions dictate it would be in your best interest to do so.
The advice of most newsletter services can make you money in bull markets. However, with the continuation of the bear market still a distinct possibility; be sure to look at any newsletter's investment advice record since 2000.
For many people investing is an emotional issue. The pendulum swings between fear of loss and greed for greater returns. If a complete methodology for buying and selling is offered in a newsletter, such as one I advocate, be sure that it fits your emotional make up.
There is no sense in following an investment approach, which may have merits, if it means sleepless nights for you. You won’t stick with it for the long term — and long-term investing is essential for making your portfolio grow and prosper.
So, the bottom line is to look for a newsletter that:
- does not promise the moon,
- has a track record through up and down markets, and
- recommends an approach that not only is compatible for your investment style but also has an exit strategy so you can capitalize on your gains -- in the bank, not only on paper.
Following these guidelines may not make you rich, but it will help you avoid some bad advice.
Ulli Niemann is an investment advisor and has written about methodical approaches to investing for over 10 years. He avoided the bear market of 2000 and has helped countless people make better investment decisions. Subscribe to his free newsletter: www.successful-investment.com