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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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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