RIABiz has its second birthday and reaches new milestones

The strategy remains the same - growth by good articles

Tuesday 8.16.11 by Brooke Southall

It says something that two weeks ago when RIABiz marked its official second anniversary that there was no article to inform you of the event. We’re not above a little self promotion, but there were simply bigger things going on in the world of registered investment advisors. Last year, we partied. See: Happy [First] Birthday RIABiz.

The news from here in Mill Valley, Calif. – where we are now headquartered after starting off in the living room of my houseboat – is that last month we had more than 27,000 unique visitors and 91,000 page views: That’s up from 14,650 unique visitors and 48,937 page views in July of 2010. We now have 21 advertisers, up from seven at this time last year. In that same time, the RIABiz Directory has grown from 150 listings to 373.

Double trouble

This near doubling of our size has allowed us to approximately double our staff. Lisa Shidler now writes several articles a week, as do I. Nevin Freeman, our chief technology officer is working fulltime as is Frank Noto, our chief of business affairs. Dina Hampton has filled the editing role in the last few months and, when she finishes her book, will write and edit for us on a full-time basis. Steve Garmhausen has become a reader favorite for his Advisor Spotlight series of RIA profiles. Heather Underwood does well-appreciated technology reviews from Colorado. John and Dawn Kodin are bringing their considerable marketing and sales prowess to building our directory from their home in Seattle.

We continue to rely on our guest columnists. The industry owes a particular debt of gratitude to Les Abromovitz of National Compliance Services, Inc. for his timely columns on compliance issues and to Ron Rhoades for his comprehensive coverage of legislative and legal matters. Ron won the Tamar Frankel Fiduciary of the Year award but regular readers know that even with that, he is still underrated.

Another big round of thanks goes out to Timothy Welsh who criss-crosses the United States, covering industry events in a colorful and informative manner. Marie Swift has also puts tremendous effort into writing and organizing bloggers at conferences.

Other key contributors to RIABiz this year include: Brent Burns, Mike Byrnes, Frank Pizzichillo, Ben Valore-Caplan, Rob Isbitts, Steve Huxley, Fred St. Laurent, Gerri Leder, Pat Allen, Elizabeth Ostrander, Elmer Rich, Jeff Spears, Andy Rachleff, Mindy Diamond, Justin Meise, Dorie Rosenband, Maria Marsala and Jason Lahita.

No less valuable are the contributions of Mark Hurley and Bob Veres who engage in lively debates in these (virtual) pages about whether advisors are building enterprise value in their companies. See the full debate.

None of these contributors are paid for writing their columns.

What we do best

The business plan of this publication continues to be the un-plan. I started with the modest premise that if I posted articles with important, focused and previously unreported information about the RIA industry on a website on a regular basis, that good things could happen. The plan hasn’t changed despite temptations to veer from this course that arise weekly as we see opportunities to become conference organizers, webinar hosts, content sellers or purveyors of syndicated content. We have also been tempted to stray into all manner of financial articles that might muddy our focus but would be certain to draw searchers from Google. We have even thought about adding a print product.

But for now we have eschewed all these temptations because we believe they dilute our efforts to do what we do best. Any inclination we may have to force readers to click more or to litter our website with more advertisements – especially ones that blot out the screen – are also short-lived with Nevin as our web developer. He won’t stomach it and Frank and I have come to share his indigestion on such matters. See: How we have leveraged Google services to jumpstart RIABiz. We are also careful not to add the kind of overhead that would put pressure on us to make changes at readers’ expense.

Instead of being the Walmart of financial news, RIABiz focuses on providing a select number of informative and enjoyable news, feature and opinion pieces for and about RIAs. We are not afraid to be a little nerdy. We cover back-office technology, TAMPs, compliance matters and asset custody as bread-and-butter subject matter. RIAs care about these things and so do we. This, however, doesn’t distract us from covering – and not infrequently breaking – the big deals, hot trends and the latest breakaways.

Looking ahead

We believe that by sticking to this rudimentary, content-forward and RIA-centric plan that we can best serve our two constituencies: readers and advertisers. Readers get a manageable intravenous drip of essential information. Advertisers get a pure stream of readers – RIAs and the supporting industry. The un-plan also serves a third constituency: Us. See: Welcome to RIABiz on day one.

We’re starting to make a living at this business and your reaction to our simple plan has been a wave of steady and heartfelt support. It makes us feel like we’re a force for good in the RIA industry, which is made up of great people who we believe are changing the advisory world for the better. We hope that with your continued support – and just enough luck – that on Aug. 3, 2012 we’ll be celebrating a third anniversary. It’s also our hope that we’ll be so consumed with breaking stories of industry interest that we won’t have time to tell you about it until a few days later.

Editor’s Note: We didn’t want this article to become one long string of expressions of gratitude but there are so many more people we would like to thank. I’d start with Elizabeth MacBride who left RIABiz in May but was a big part of our efforts. Julie Cooling contributed some key RIA industry data that showed up in this article: Six things to know about how and where RIAs are growing. We dearly miss a popular writer of first-rate tales of wirehouse breakaways, Bob Margolis, who died in December. See: Goodbye to Bob Margolis, true friend of independent advisors. Other friends of RIABiz, month in and month out, are Brian Hamburger and his staff and Marcel Dawson of RIA Marketplace. Last but not least are all the excellent PR people in this industry who work diligently to get good stories and good sources and deliver key bits of information by deadline.

Brooke Southall

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