“BOOYAH!” “Sell,” screamed Jim Cramer, the host of “Mad Money.” “Exit Hewlett Packard and Best Buy immediately.” Ironically, both companies surged upward in the opposite direction, more than 100 percent, six months after Cramer’s call in 2012.
“One thing I know, that I know nothing. This is the source of my wisdom,” stated Socrates in fifth century BC. If only the talking heads in the financial media outlets lived by this quote. Regardless, there’s a whole new set of social media tools that can help you combat the hype.
A few weeks ago, my office phone was ringing off the hook during the “Greek tragedy” referendum. “What should we do about Greece,” stated stressed clients on the other end of the phone. It’s fascinating how a tiny country with less than a fraction of the world’s economy, half way across the globe can spark panic in global markets. Talking heads on TV, or as I like to say, the “Doctors of Doom,” just add fuel to the fire.
An entire industry has emerged to engage the fears of individual investors. The predictions are often inaccurate, but they certainly have an impact. News networks need to fill 24 hours a day with stories from the Federal Reserve, The White House, earnings reports, Caitlyn Jenner, and, yes, rampant speculation.
Like “Mad Money’s” Cramer, Marc Faber is another influential “Doctor of Doom.” Faber is a regular television guest and publishes a report called “Gloom, Boom & Doom.” The title alone causes one to take pause. In 2014, he predicted a stock market crash greater than the 1987 crash. Fortunately, it never happened.
Television news has become scripted entertainment, while social media outlets offer a live interchange of information. As social media tools get more sophisticated, television should become less of a medium for financial news. For the first time, personal investors have information parity with the news networks, and more importantly, Wall Street firms. Sources still need to be verified, regardless of the news outlet these days, sadly.
In 2008, Howard Lindzon and Soren Macbeth created one of the first financial social media platforms called StockTwits. Now, investors, market professionals, and public companies can share information and ideas about the market and individual stocks. StockTwits has a colossal database that creates limitless information streams for a massive audience that is estimated to be greater than greater than 40 million users. StockTwits coined the “Cashtag” moniker. It’s a “$” symbol placed before a ticker, which enables conversations about any stock. Cashtags became so popular that Twitter has adopted its usage.
Another influential social media site is Openfolio. Think about the impact TripAdvisor has had on travel and you will understand the impact Openfolio is having on investing. Openfolio is the TripAdvisor of investing. It allows personal investors and professional traders to share their portfolio(s) and gain insight from others on the platform. On Openfolio, investors share the stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs that they are holding, buying and/or selling. Dollar amounts are never discussed, and transparency is everything.
Another cool platform is Tiingo (the name alone is worth mentioning). Its philosophy is simplicity, but it’s jam-packed with information. A 26-year-old, by the name of Rishi Singh, is a former chemist, quant trader and web developer who created this platform. His vision is to provide retail traders with a platform that offers the same functionality huge institutions use. What’s the pricing for Tiingo you ask? Pay-what-you-want! Tiingo is disruptive technology to Wall Street. Keep an eye on this one.
You are wondering whom you should trust. TipRanks is a platform that ranks financial advice published online and it assesses the accuracy and credibility of all the pundits and analysts. The site uses advanced algorithms to scan and interpret financial text and stock recommendations across the entire Internet. TipRanks tracks performance and ranks both professional and non-professionals.
The adoption rate of financial social media has been meteoric, and it’s is here to stay. Even the SEC is allowing companies to release key financial information via social media sites now.
I am a user of some of the aforementioned platforms. Also, I confess, I get a kick out of Jim Cramer. I find him one of the most entertaining talking heads on television, although I never take his advice. I also know the host of “Mad Money” is dedicated to financial education. As Cramer said, “For years I have been trying to help people like you, who own stocks and feel like they’re on the outside looking in, become better investors.”
The goal of this column is to help people like you, who own stocks and feel like they’re on the outside looking in, become better investors. BOO-YAH!
Bill Harris is a certified financial planner practitioner. He is a member of the board of directors for the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts and an Ed Slott Elite IRA Advisor. He is a co-founder and principal of WH Cornerstone Investments in Duxbury and Kingston. Bill is passionate about empowering widows with their financial future and his award-winning email newsletter offers helpful advice and articles for widows looking to rebuild their financial and personal life. He can be reached at www.whcornerstone.com or 888-797-9009.
This article originally appeared in the Old Colony Memorial on July 26, 2015