Josh Brown, Blogging’s Bomb Thrower: The 2014 IA 25 Profile

Doing ‘the things you’re not supposed to do’ is what keeps Brown going

Josh Brown credits the success of his writings to his outspokenness and frank, forthright approach. Josh Brown credits the success of his writings to his outspokenness and frank, forthright approach.

Many enthusiastic bloggers, financial or otherwise, have fallen and will continue to fall by the wayside, but not New York-based financial blogger par excellence, Josh Brown. He launched his blog, The Reformed Broker, in 2008 as “a place to vent and give people an idea of what it felt like to be a broker in a financial crisis.”

Brown believes a blog is a beast that must be fed, and today, he is as prolific as ever in the blogosphere. The issues he’s writing (or venting) about might have changed since 2008, but the blog’s readership is as strong as ever, and Brown continues to inform and entertain his readers with his market-related insights and thoughts on various events as they unfold.

“Most of the feedback I get is from other advisors who say ‘thanks for doing what you do,’ or ‘hey, you just said out loud what I’ve been thinking all day,’” Brown said.

He credits the success of his writings to his outspokenness and frank, forthright approach.

“I do all the things you’re not supposed to do: I talk about politics, I curse, you name it,” he said. “I pull no punches, and I don’t care if I offend anyone – they just don’t have to agree with me. But all of that results in an authenticity that I think is unique, and that’s what keeps this going.”

Brown cited a recent post, “The Relentless Bid, Explained,” as one of the best examples of the kind of interactive discussion his blog generates. The post – which, he said, went viral – discussed Brown’s view on the nation’s largest traditional advisory firms having accelerated their push toward fee-based management and away from transactional brokerage, which in turn has a huge impact on how the money itself is managed and also affects the performance of the stock market.

“I spent most of 2009, 2010 and 2011 predicting that Wall Street would end up looking like more investment advisories and less like brokerage firms, and I couldn’t have been more right. I said that firms would have to adapt to the fact that clients want holistic services or leave the business,” he said.

Last September, Brown launched his own fee-based investment advisory firm, Ritholtz Wealth Management in New York. He also serves on the board of BrightScope, a financial information company that aims to bring transparency to opaque markets. Delivered through web-based software, BrightScope data provides decision-making information to individual investors, corporate plan sponsors, asset managers, broker-dealers and financial advisors in the area of retirement planning and wealth management.

Brown also wrote “Backstage Wall Street: An Insider’s Guide to Knowing Who to Trust, Who to Run From and How to Maximize your Investments” (Mcgraw-Hill 2012).

(Check out Investment Advisor's full IA 25 for 2014 list on ThinkAdvisor.)

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