I wish TMF would.......

I am a fan of TMF and recommend it often, usually at the entrance level for beginners-the people who need TMF the most. I am a member of Fool One and a Fool paid participant since about 2006. I offer this as background b/c I am not using this space to let off steam or be cranky about the market fall we have all witnessed this year.

In that context, here is my wish list about TMF.

  1. Over my years of participation there is no doubt that TMF has become much more complex and the costs of full participation have grown, as well. The question in my mind is whether the value added has grown proportionately. There are only so many excellent stocks to recommend. The TMF team has done a great job of finding them. But, no matter how you slice and dice them, ultimately there are only so many stocks to be enthusiastic about. So, my First Wish-I wish that TMF were a bit less complex and more convincingly delivering increased value with all of its gezillion choices. I suspect 1/2 gezillion would work just as well with no loss of value.
  2. When I first joined the TMF I was totally convinced that TMF as an organization really cared about me as an individual and was more focused on helping, teaching, and growing individual investors at very reasonable cost. As TMF has grown it has become much more corporate, feels much more distant from me as an individual, and the balance about helping and adding value for me seems to have shifted unfavorably. When David Gardner left, I felt that half the soul and conscience of TMF had left and while Tom Gardner is definitely on my short list of greatest decent people alive, it doesn’t feel the same. So, my second wish- I wish it was evident that Tom and David were managing to teach about the soul and conscience that drove them to make TMF the high value organization it was and hopefully will still be. But, this doesn’t come through to me as being transferred to their TMF colleagues and staff so far.
  3. I wish it were easier to contact by email someone who writes for the Fool to get an answer. Maybe it is still possible, but if so, I haven’t figured it out.
  4. I wish and hope that TMF will do more explaining about the foundational underpinnings of what is happening, especially when the market is crashing, or the signs of getting overheated are getting stronger. Buy and hold is great. But knowing when to take out some cash just in case is great too. Don’t see much of that from TMF.
  5. I wish that Tom Gardner never changes. I learn the most from his willingness to publiclly own and analyze things he could have done better. That honesty and transparency is the foundation of TMF’s greatness.
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Nice post. Nice wishlist. Have a Rec but…

2. When I first joined the TMF I was totally convinced that TMF as an organization really cared about me as an individual and was more focused on helping, teaching, and growing individual investors at very reasonable cost.

There are two parts to investing, one public and one private.

Stock picking is based on public information about stocks and the stocks go up and down irrespective of who owns them. This is a service TMF can and does provide.

Portfolio management is based on private information about the owner of the portfolio and this is NOT a service TMF can provide.

Kind hearted Fools may offer suggestions like “Be careful!” How do you go about being careful? Holding instead of panicking? Buying gold? Buying Treasury bills? Diversifying? Buying index funds? Buying bonds? It depends on the investors financial status and risk tolerance. TMF’s audience is too wide to be able to deal with it. Individual boards, like Saul’s, can do it.

There is another problem or reality, the Pareto or Power Law Distribution of wealth. Pareto discovered that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. This has been verified in other places. The Power Law Distribution of the stock market shows that 25% of investors beat the market averages while the other 75% underperform. One way to get into the top 25% is by great stock picking but if everyone were a stock picking genius the Power Law Distribution would STILL HOLD! 75% of the geniuses would underperform the market averages. I’m sure you have seen many market stars go bankrupt. I sure paid a huge price in the 2000 bust.

America is a place where everybody has opportunities but the Power Law Distribution makes sure only a few reach the top. The stock market is what is called in Complex Systems “an evolving fitness landscape.” It’s a good model to keep in mind.

https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q…

Denny Schlesinger

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Hi, rallen1947, thanks for posting. I don’t pretend to speak for Tom, David or anyone but myself.

. Over my years of participation there is no doubt that TMF has become much more complex and the costs of full participation have grown, as well. The question in my mind is whether the value added has grown proportionately. There are only so many excellent stocks to recommend. The TMF team has done a great job of finding them. But, no matter how you slice and dice them, ultimately there are only so many stocks to be enthusiastic about. So, my First Wish-I wish that TMF were a bit less complex and more convincingly delivering increased value with all of its gezillion choices. I suspect 1/2 gezillion would work just as well with no loss of value.

I admit, I had to look up how many zeros are in a gezillion. :slight_smile:

TMF has tried to add value to the Premium Fool experience beyond the recommendations and managed or real-money portfolios themselves. Motley Fool Live was just introduced a little over 2 years ago, and has grown tremendously from an experiment to a developing a loyal viewership. Backstage was introduced to all managed and real-money portfolio services, offering an additional free real-money portfolio, published articles and an exclusive version of MFL Live called Backstage Live.

In addition, TMF has introduced new allocation tools, improved screener tools, including the new Quant/5Y screen, mindset articles, and more. The new Backstage App is starting its rollout, the conversion of premium services to a new TMF Community platform has expanded to three premium services, and Advisor Notes adds additional commentary to both MF One and Backstage Fools.

I get that there is a desire for pandemic-proof, inflation-proof, correction-proof, and recession proof recommendations. But the stock market doesn’t work that way. The “gezillion” companies that TMF recommends across all its services are not immune from the market’s response to uncertain and volatile economic conditions. And not every company is going to be able to survive difficult business operating environments. But each analyst team believes they have recommended companies that are best positioned to do so and drive long-term (3-5 years or longer) business growth. It does not make them “low value” that they are impacted by the market mood swings.

When I first joined the TMF I was totally convinced that TMF as an organization really cared about me as an individual and was more focused on helping, teaching, and growing individual investors at very reasonable cost. As TMF has grown it has become much more corporate, feels much more distant from me as an individual, and the balance about helping and adding value for me seems to have shifted unfavorably. When David Gardner left, I felt that half the soul and conscience of TMF had left and while Tom Gardner is definitely on my short list of greatest decent people alive, it doesn’t feel the same. So, my second wish- I wish it was evident that Tom and David were managing to teach about the soul and conscience that drove them to make TMF the high value organization it was and hopefully will still be. But, this doesn’t come through to me as being transferred to their TMF colleagues and staff so far.

I have a unique position as a CMF that I am a member Fool like you, but I also have the opportunity to peek in from the sidelines to see what the TMF is doing. I can tell you unequivocally that the focus on serving members has never been stronger. Yes, TMF has grown, not just in terms of the number of premium services or staff, but in the number of Member Fools, and that has necessitated evolving processes and tools to enable the company to serve those member Fools.

Tom and David Gardner had different investing styles, but they shared the same “soul and conscience”. Yes, Tom was more into health and David more into board games, but I would suggest that any sense that TMF’s values were diminished due to David’s decision to focus on other priorities at TMF (the Fool Foundation). For over 20 years, David did infuse his Rule Breakers family of analysts with his investing Foolosophy, and they carry out those investing values today. It is easy to point to the coincidental timing of the market slide and David’s departure, but it really is just coincidental.

Mindset has long been a key focus of TMF messaging to member Fools, but until this year, it has largely been reserved for MF One members as a distinct concept. There has been a much stronger emphasis across all premium services for understanding what is an investing mindset and how to develop a Foolish mindset to investing. I believe the evidence is there if you want to see it. But for many Fools, the turbulence of the stock market makes it difficult.

3. I wish it were easier to contact by email someone who writes for the Fool to get an answer. Maybe it is still possible, but if so, I haven’t figured it out.

You can email help@fool.com to reach Member Services. I am sure you can understand why it might not be practical for every Fool to email Tom Gardner directly to address their concerns, but I do think TMF and CMF Fools try very hard to answer questions posed here on the boards, or through Slido on Motley Fool Live or Backstage Live. I know there are frequently FoolHQ virtual-office discussions raising member Fool questions and seeking appropriate responses.

4. I wish and hope that TMF will do more explaining about the foundational underpinnings of what is happening, especially when the market is crashing, or the signs of getting overheated are getting stronger. Buy and hold is great. But knowing when to take out some cash just in case is great too. Don’t see much of that from TMF.

I think TMF and CMF Fools has done this. I have heard conversations on Motley Fool Live and Backstage Live, and read posts here in the Premium and Service Communities that discussed the economic perfect storm of pandemic related issues (supply chain, shifts in the work force, etc.), inflation and an energy and food crisis resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

I think most Fools understand all this. What they really want to know is when will it end. When will their portfolios recover. And that’s not really a question that TMF can answer. The best we can say is that this bear market will not last forever, even if it seems like it will. It is a hard message to hear.

As for taking out cash, Fools generally tend to fall into two groups - those who maintain an investing cash reserve and those who seek to be fully invested. Both groups have solid reasons for their choice, but there are also consequences. If you have a cash reserve, then this market presents an opportunity. If you are fully invested with no cash reserve, this market presents a nightmare.

My general advice, since I cannot offer individual or specific investing advice, is if you have the cash, the market is presenting some great discount opportunities to invest in or add to companies on your Buy Watch List, starting with those in which you have the most conviction in the long-term (3-5 years or longer) business growth potential.

If you don’t have the cash, then don’t sell unless you have lost conviction in a company’s potential for long-term (3-5 years or longer) business growth. For this, you should have a Sell Watch List in which you prioritize those companies in which you have the least conviction. In other words, don’t change your investment strategy just because the market has shifted.

5. I wish that Tom Gardner never changes. I learn the most from his willingness to publiclly own and analyze things he could have done better. That honesty and transparency is the foundation of TMF’s greatness.

I agree. I am reminded of the Billy Joel song, “Don’t go changing to try and please me”. That’s the Foolish message - stay the course, don’t change the course. I don’t think Tom Gardner has changed. I don’t think David Gardner has changed. I think David felt that he could do more to fulfill the larger mission of The Motley Fool by focusing on the Fool Foundation, but that did not mean an abandonment of the values and mission of the company.

I think, reading between the lines, that you believe that many of the companies that have been recommended over the last year or so are mistakes and should not have been recommended. If so, that is certainly your prerogative. TMF gives you their case for investing, and then each Fool has to decide for themselves whether to invest or remain invested in an individual company.

If TMF believes that their investing thesis is broken, they have and will issue a Sell recommendation. If they do not do so for a company you feel should be sold, it is because they do not believe that investment thesis is fundamentally broken. TMF has made it clear that they do not make investment decisions based on market performance but on business performance. That investment Foolosophy doesn’t change with the market winds.

I think if you want an excellent example of transparency, check out TMFTortoise’s post on the Netflix Premium Community board in which he explains the reasons he sold and recommended the sale of Netflix, not because of any market movements, but because of the company’s business operations, their inability to anticipate subscriber losses and their lack of a plan in place to address these concerns given their dependence on subscriber revenue to support production costs.

I do appreciate your thoughts and I wanted to make sure you know that your post was read, not just by me, but by others that I know read this board as well.

Fuskie
Who thinks many of the messages you seek and expect have been out there, including an email he just saw sent to Stock Advisor members, and think Fools who are open to the message will power through this moment in time and come out the other side stronger and more Foolish…


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So, basically the boards are now a sales pitch.

14 Likes

I prefer to see the TMF Community as a forum to answer questions and share information.

Fuskie
Who is sorry if you felt he was pitching premium service subscriptions…


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3 Likes

So, basically the boards are now a sales pitch.

Certainly not the TMF of 20 years ago.

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"I prefer to see the TMF Community as a forum to answer questions and share information.

Fuskie
Who is sorry if you felt he was pitching premium service subscriptions…"


Sorry to throw in this qualifier - but only approved questions and only information
TMF allows.

Howie52
While these stipulations are the always the discretion of the owner/operator of a site,
the limitation is just that - a limitation. The limitation makes the site less diverse
and less interesting to folks who have interests beyond investing.

Hope this does not offend.

10 Likes

My experience, both from the position asking and answering, is that you can ask anything you want, and nobody has ever told me what I can answer, or how to answer, though admittedly there has been an occasion when I have learned of a new service prior to the public and kept it confidential until the official release.

Fuskie
Whose responses across the TMF Community have always represented his personal views, and while his views have been influenced by 20+ years of Foolishness, nobody has ever put words in his fingertips…


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My experience, both from the position asking and answering, is that you can ask anything you want,

Not any more. You want to ask people’s opinions of the political topic of the day? Sorry, Charlie. That’s no longer allowed.

or how to answer,

Nope again. Someone ask a question that involves a political answer? Sorry, can’t answer that one at TMF any more. Here’s one: Why are dividends taxed differently from wages? You can give a simple answer of “because that’s the way the tax laws were written.” But that is an extremely unsatisfying answer. As a 2 year old, you didn’t settle for mom’s “because” as a response, and you shouldn’t have to settle for this grown up version of “because” as an adult. But that’s about all we’re allowed to say because the answer is inherently political. It was political machinations that resulted in the current law - political solutions to perceived issues of the day (when the law was written).

Want to discuss macroeconomic issues? That’s fine. But better not discuss solutions to macroeconomic problems. That almost certainly involves more politics than is allowed.

I’m far from a believer that everything involves politics. But there are political components to many things of import to investors. Whenever you want to discuss the future of a company, political issues can become part of that future. How will the makers of “plan b” pills react to a very recent supreme court decision? Politics. Will there be legislative changes because of this decision, and how likely is it that those potential legislative changes would be enacted? Politics. How will large medical providers be affected? Politics. How will the travel industry be affected? Politics.

What politicians do now and in the future can have an impact on how our investments perform. But those politics are now off-limits.

To be clear, I understand that this is TMF’s playground, so TMF gets to set the rules. But don’t complain when TMF sees the results that follow from these rule changes. I know that my participation has already changed, and will likely change further. Whether that’s good or bad for TMF is up to TMF to decide. And one user more or less is, frankly, insignificant. But users will go where the discussions are that they want to participate in. If that is somewhere other than TMF, then the discussion that TMF might still want will follow those users. If a user switches platforms, they’re probably going to switch all of their participation to that new platform.

–Peter

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What you can ask is, “How do I join the Motley Fool Stock Advisor?”

3 Likes

And one user more or less is, frankly, insignificant. But users will go where the discussions are that they want to participate in. - ptheland


Exactly…

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My family doesn’t even allow political questions at the dinner table.

Yes, TMF has decided that partisan posts are not within the terms of service unless related to investing or specific companies. Otherwise, such posts simply are too divisive to contribute to civil discussion in the TMF Community. Even well meaning posts always seem to devolve into tribal battery. You can be upset or you can accept it, but it’s not going to change.

Fuskie
Who thinks Fools who simply want to shout at each other have plenty of other places to go…


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Fuskie
Who thinks Fools who simply want to shout at each other have plenty of other places to go…


You are making a false equivalency between political discussion and "simply wanting to shout at each other.’

True, there is some shouting that shouldn’t be but there also is exposure to new and useful information and perspective inherent in the discussion.

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My family doesn’t even allow political questions at the dinner table.

Too bad. If you can’t discuss politics in a civil and respectful way with your family, who can you have such conversations with? Granted, it’s possible that one person is responsible for such a policy. And with family, it may be necessary to take such steps because you don’t want to exclude a family member.

With a discussion board, disruptive and uncivil posters can be banned from participation. I would have preferred that TMF took that route. But it’s their boards and their decision, not mine.

My main contention here is that it is perfectly possible to have respectful and civil political discussions. Even on the internet. But to do so requires a lot of work by the board sponsors. The sponsors may prefer not to spend money on such an effort. Again, that is their choice.

You can be upset or you can accept it,

Let me be perfectly clear: I am not upset, and I have accepted it. But the policy will make the discussions here less useful for investing.

That is because people will be less inclined to bring up the subject in a way that might be acceptable to TMF. And some people will choose to stop there participation here - enough so that the quality of the remaining discussions drop.

You can be upset about that, or you can accept it.

–Peter

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You are making a false equivalency between political discussion and "simply wanting to shout at each other.’

There are a lot of things about which I do not agree with BHM. But this is a point of clear agreement. You got it exactly right.

–Peter

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The problem is that people cannot have a civil political discussion anymore. It always devolves into partisan bickering and attacks, which violate the Fool Terms of Service. Every time. And the back and forth vitriol pushes other Fools into not posting out of fear of being attacked themselves. They don’t participate because there is no oxygen.

I think when Fools contribute constructively to a conversation, there is always room for them. The quality of that conversation is enhanced when the same Fools are not simply posting your wrong, no you’re wrong, no you’re wrong.

Fuskie
Politics on the boards does not improve the Fool; it makes community impossible…


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The problem is that people cannot have a civil political discussion anymore. It always devolves into partisan bickering and attacks, which violate the Fool Terms of Service. Every time.

That is a very dangerous thing to say. I only have to find a single counter example to prove this statement wrong.

Do you care to rephrase it?

—Peter

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Do you care to rephrase it?


May I enhance on the phrase you quoted, maybe? "*The anonymity of the web devolves humans into things that are abhorred...*" - PL

[ww.GBF.pl/btw.Itotallyagree/](http://ww.GBF.pl/btw.Itotallyagree/)
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less interesting to folks who have interests beyond investing.

But, TMF is in the business of providing a resource for investing, not in the business of providing resources for diverse unspecified interests.

1 Like

True, there is some shouting that shouldn’t be

In theory, one could have reasonable conversations about various political perspectives and actions and even relate them to investing issues. In practice, such discussions degrade into shouting matches on forums such as these. It isn’t that the relevance is not understood, but just that the disruption is predictable and detrimental.