Motley Fool vs Seeking Alpha – Which Investment Research Site Is Better?

The Internet is a gold mine of information, and stock market news, analysis, and research websites like The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha make it easy to invest and trade like the pros. Whether you’re looking for stock picks, ETFs to invest in, or broad investing and retirement strategies, both The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha can help.

Although both resources are geared toward audiences in a similar space, they are noticeably different from one another at even a quick glance at their homepages.

While The Motley Fool offers advice for new, intermediate, and advanced investors alike, Seeking Alpha generally targets the intermediate to advanced investor with in-depth, analytical news and market analysis.

Whether you’re just beginning to research stocks and investments or you’re an old pro, it’s worth considering both of these content-rich platforms. You can decide whether you want to browse each for free or spring for a paid subscription to an even richer trove of analysis and specific investment picks.

Key Features

Both The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha are packed with content, including much that’s available for free, as well as premium content behind a subscription paywall. Here’s a closer look at the platforms’ key features.

Audience and Voice

Although both are stock market news, analysis, and research websites, these two platforms differ markedly in their intended audiences and editorial voice.

Seeking Alpha provides in-depth analysis and a good deal of crowdsourced content from expert authors geared to intermediate and advanced retail and professional investors.

The Motley Fool caters to all types of investors, from beginners to advanced traders, broadening its appeal with a humorous bent to its content.

The Motley Fool’s Audience and Voice

The Motley Fool’s stated purpose is “to make the world smarter, happier, and richer.” To empower all types of investors, it takes a fun and lighthearted approach to financial education, investing ideas, and trending news.

The site’s content includes:

  • Articles about current stock picks
  • Investing basics
  • Stock and industry news and trackers
  • Retirement resources
  • Personal finance resources
  • Trending news
  • Podcasts

Visitors to The Motley Fool find relevant, targeted, and academic content laced with a bit of humor that makes the material more accessible to beginning and intermediate investors.

Seeking Alpha’s Audience and Voice

Seeking Alpha aggregates crowdsourced content to broadcast the latest stock news and analysis. That means a large number of individuals and companies submit content to the site, typically written by experienced analysts and investors.

Seeking Alpha, in general, seems to be geared more to traders who are already somewhat knowledgeable in stocks and investments.

Visit the Seeking Alpha website, and you’re greeted by a rather bland page that highlights the latest stock numbers, trending articles and news, dividend investing highlights, stock ideas, and links to several newsletters, without all the bells and whistles. The presentation is largely algorithm-driven, making it easier to get an overview of the entire market.


In addition to having different editorial tones and catering to different audiences, The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha contain different kinds of content and advertising. Seeking Alpha emphasizes the most current developments and analysis from Wall Street and always features the latest news and trending content.

Active investors and day traders may not find the content on The Motley Fool as timely or actionable as they need or want. However, the evergreen content and featured analysis and advice are high-quality and intelligent, and The Motley Fool has a solid history of performance with their investment picks.

The Motley Fool’s Content

What you won’t find at The Motley Fool are market-timing tricks or get-rich-quick schemes. Instead, you’ll learn how to invest for the long term.

Over time, The Motley Fool has recommended dozens of outperforming stocks that have delivered outstanding gains for investors, including Amazon, Starbucks, Mastercard, and Netflix. The content generally has the long term in mind when recommending when to buy or sell stocks or handing out advice.

No company can choose the right investments every time, and The Motley Fool is no exception. Investing in stocks is inherently risky. There are dozens of online reviews about The Fool’s picks that performed poorly. However, there are just as many that say the investment advice users received was right on the money.

Some users are turned off by The Motley Fool’s advertising of its premium services. It’s not shy when it comes to promoting its past successes through email or on-site ads that sometimes make it sound like anyone who uses their services will come out a winner. Although their advisory services can help make you a more successful investor, there are no guarantees of investing success.

Seeking Alpha’s Content

For the most part, Seeking Alpha’s content targets intermediate to advanced investors, with articles that provide an in-depth view of investment valuation theory and market opinion. The site is also a source for news on earning calls and news for individual companies

Unless you’re knowledgeable about investment strategies and market analysis, you may be a bit overwhelmed by the content and advice from Seeking Alpha’s industry analysts.

One of the best features of Seeking Alpha is the vast amount of financial data on the site, which spans years. You’ll find a wealth of suggestions and strategies stretched across multiple categories, detailed company information and earnings estimates, and a huge number of free news pieces and articles.

A handy tool that sets Seeking Alpha apart is its ETF screener, which is great for long-term investors building out a diversified portfolio in addition to trading individual stocks.

Seeking Alpha also allows you to create your own portfolios for filtering content by investments relevant to you. The site includes historical ratings for its authors and allows you to select and follow contributors with an excellent track record.

In the Terms of Use, Seeking Alpha does remind investors that not all investment strategies are best for all investors and that they should discuss decisions with a financial advisor before investing.

One major drawback of Seeking Alpha is the fact that its stock analysis is largely restricted to subscribers. It also requires a lot of reading and self-directed analysis to learn all you need to know about investing in the right stocks.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Seeking Alpha publishes content from a variety of authors, including both professional and individual investors. The variety of opinions is laudable, but it opens the door for the possibility of bias or lack of appropriate disclosures, with some commentators seeming to write in support of their own personal positions.

Contributors to the site must be approved and vetted by the Seeking Alpha editors, but the sheer volume of aggregated content that flows through the site every day is difficult to manually police for adherence to compliance standards. This can make it hard — especially for beginners — to tell the difference between honest and expert advice and a one-sided viewpoint with an ulterior motive.

Free and Paid Subscriptions

Both sites offer a host of content for free but reserve some of their best content for paid subscribers. Both sites encourage you to register for a free account to get a taste of the paid content you could be receiving.

The sites have different tiers or types of subscriptions catering to different audiences.

The Motley Fool’s Subscriptions

The content on The Motley Fool’s website, YouTube channel, and podcasts is free, and they share portions of their premium newsletters with readers for free. You’ll also find some free investment advice with stock tips focusing on a particular industry or set of companies.

However, to access the latest stock picks and recommendations, retirement portfolios, Social Security tips, and access to the Options University (customized commentary and recommendations for immediate and advanced traders), you’ll have to sign up for a paid subscription. The Motley Fool’s premium subscriptions are tailored to different levels of expertise and interests.

The subscription packages are offered for as little as $149 per year up to $999 per year at full price. Frequent promotions can cut actual pricing by 50% or more during your first year, and sometimes longer.

The list of available paid subscriptions is a bit confusing, and many of the options are extremely pricey. For a beginner just starting out and exploring the world of investments, a paid yearly subscription might be too hefty of an outlay.

Also, even if you’re willing to dole out the big bucks for a paid subscription, many of the high-end options are no longer open to new members.

Here are some examples of paid Motley Fool subscription packages:

  • Stock Advisor (SA). SA offers the most current stock recommendations from The Fool community, analysts, and founders. SA costs new members $199 per year.
  • Rule Breakers (RB). RB focuses on high-growth stocks and gives members monthly access to current stock recommendations, community and investment resources. RB costs $299 per year.
  • Rule Your Retirement (RYR). RYR is for investors reaching retirement age. You’ll get mutual fund and ETF recommendations; Social Security tips, tricks, and strategies; and coverage of retirement topics trending today. RYR costs new subscribers $149 per year.
  • Options (OPT). OPT is geared to immediate and advanced traders with access to the Options University, options investment recommendations, and options trading news and commentary. OPT costs $999 per year, but this package is currently closed to new members.
  • Market Pass (MP). With MP, subscribers get the latest news and stock trades from both Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers, as well as exclusive research on long-term trends. MP costs $1,499 per year but is currently closed to new membership.

A dozen more advanced premium packages are also closed to new membership. Some, such as “Blast Off 2019,” were clearly designed to exist for a limited time and likely aren’t coming back. It’s worth checking the others periodically to see if they’re accepting new members again.

Premium packages range in cost from $1,499 per year to nearly $8,500 per year and offer hand-picked investments selected by Motley Fool analysts in addition to the premium content of the more modest tiers. Each comes with a different emphasis, such as an industry or type of portfolio construction.

Seeking Alpha’s Subscriptions

Seeking Alpha provides a large amount of content to users for free, including the ability to curate portfolios and customize your news feed. However, content that’s older than about 10 days is not available to free users. Plus, some of the information in some articles is hidden behind a paywall.

Seeking Alpha’s free service gives investors access to investing content on individual holdings and Wall Street insights, although the majority of content is focused around stock news.

Free users can see and read the articles, but paid subscribers get a wealth of additional analytical information. This includes charts and statistics about individual stocks and the average analyst rating on specific stocks across Seeking Alpha.

While stock news and articles are the backbones of Seeking Alpha, users can also access commentary and discussions through “StockTalk,” financial tweets that any user can contribute to. All of this equals a vast amount of free subject matter, which is good if you can leverage it but overwhelming if you cannot.

With a Premium subscription, Seeking Alpha grants unlimited access to its huge library of articles and allows you to follow your favorite authors. If you’re not certain whether you want all of the information in the top PRO tier, you can always subscribe to Premium and upgrade if and when you feel the need for more.

  • Seeking Alpha Basic. At this tier, you get stock news and analysis alerts, investing newsletters, new article alerts, the ability to save articles, the ability to leave comments, and access to Seeking Alpha blogs and StockTalk. Seeking Alpha Basic is free.
  • Seeking Alpha Premium. With Premium, you get everything included in the Basic service, plus unlimited access to the site’s roughly 1 million articles; access to Seeking Alpha author ratings, author performance numbers, quant ratings, dividend scores, and forecasts; and an ad-lite website experience. Premium costs $19.99 per month, billed annually, or $29.99 if billed monthly.
  • Seeking Alpha PRO. With their PRO subscription, you get everything offered in both the free and Premium tiers, plus access to Top Ideas content, PRO content and newsletters, a short-selling ideas portal, and an idea screener that lets you filter investing ideas by various parameters. You also gain access to a VIP Editorial Concierge, where PRO editors work directly with members to help find ideas matching their investing style and interests. PRO members also enjoy an ad-free website experience. PRO costs $199.99 per month, billed annually, or $299.99 if billed monthly.

You can compare each plan on the Seeking Alpha website to get a better idea of which works best for you. Both Premium and PRO subscriptions come with 14-day free trials.

The Verdict: Should You Choose The Motley Fool or Seeking Alpha?

The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha appeal to distinct audiences and offer different paid products, yet they have a fair amount in common.

Both appeal to intermediate and advanced investors, include a wealth of market and trend analysis, and maintain paid subscriptions seasoned investors are likely to find valuable.

You Should Choose The Motley Fool If…

  • You Want a Wide Range of Subscription Choices. The Motley Fool offers at least a dozen subscription packages like Stock Advisor and Rule Breakers. Some have broad appeal, while others are tailored to fairly narrow audiences, but all deliver real value for serious investors.
  • You Prefer Curated Financial Content. The Motley Fool’s market content is largely produced by subject matter experts and veteran investors. This is especially true behind its vast paywall, where subscribers willingly pay hundreds of dollars per year for insights they can’t find anywhere else. By contrast, Seeking Alpha’s mix of wire stories, amateur analysis, and expert-produced content feels less organized and more uneven.
  • You Value Access to a Lively Investor Community. The Motley Fool’s curated content is only part of the story. Its members-only discussion boards and CAPS stock-picking community have long defined the platform’s relationship with the investing community and remain a vibrant, insight-rich resource for serious (and not-so-serious) investors.

You Should Choose Seeking Alpha If…

  • You Like News, Opinion, and Analysis From a Mix of Experts and Amateurs. Seeking Alpha published content from a wider array of sources, including newswires and other straight-news publishers, credentialed investing experts (such as CFPs and money managers), industry experts (including corporate executives and analysts), and non-experts whose input may nevertheless be valuable. If you like having as wide a variety of viewpoints as possible before making investing decisions, Seeking Alpha is a great fit.
  • You Want Hands-On Guidance. Though pricey, Seeking Alpha PRO is indispensable for investors seeking personalized advice and guidance — even if they prefer to make their own investment decisions at the end of the day. The Motley Fool’s approach, by contrast, is more “take it or leave it.”
  • You Want a Free Stock Screener and Other Helpful Market Research Tools. Seeking Alpha has some useful market research tools that are absent from the Motley Fool, including a free stock screener.

Both Are Great If…

  • You Want Access to Free, Ungated Market News and Analysis. Although they both use it to push their paid products, the Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha still offer plenty of free, open-access market news and analysis. You’re under no obligation to upgrade in either case.
  • You Have an Insatiable Appetite for Market-Related Content. You could spend all day on either site and still not consume all of its original content. If you’re of the opinion that more market information is always better, you can’t go wrong here.
  • You Prefer DIY Investing (And All That Entails). Neither Seeking Alpha nor the Motley Fool provide formal investing advice or manage investments on behalf of members. For better or worse, both appeal exclusively to DIYers.

Final Word

Despite its reputation as a long-term source of growth, the stock market is highly complex and unpredictable. Having financial advisors available to lean on from the comfort of your sofa is pretty amazing.

The Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha are similar, but they have enough differences to set them apart from one another and their competitors.

During the past few years, both have seen an increase in competition from the likes of Robinhood, MetaTrader, MarketWatch, eToro, AlphaStreet, CityFALCON, TIM ALERTS, and other stock market analysis and research websites. But Seeking Alpha and The Motley Fool are holding their own.

As the popularity of DIY online stock accessibility ramps up, services like theirs will continue to be relevant to investors of many stripes looking to level the playing field.


The Wrong Way to Achieve Wealth

“Mr. Beaver, I am finally starting to earn real money in my medical practice but don’t know the first thing about investing. I need concrete advice on handling money, building wealth, but don’t want to become a slave to money.

“I have met with financial advisers, but lack a grasp of the terms they use and, frankly, am afraid of looking stupid, so I don’t ask them to explain. Do you know of a book that is meant for people like me, who need a basic education in personal finance, but that has a ‘human’ touch as well? Thanks, Karl.”

I just finished reading the answer to what Karl is searching for.  It’s Your Total Wealth: The Heart and Soul of Financial Literacy, by former university business professors Lyle Sussman, Ph.D. and David Dubofsky, Ph.D., CFA.

For anyone starting out in life, Your Total Wealth is the ideal read. It is the most unique and accessible financial advice resource I’ve ever seen and goes well beyond how to make money.

The authors give us a window into what “total wealth” means, how to achieve it, and demonstrate that it is much more than mere numbers. Total wealth is greater than the “stuff” we own or the balance in an investment account.

I wish that I had this book years ago, or as I tell my friends, “When I had hair.”

Applying Financial Definitions to the Real World – An Emotional Annuity

Your Total Wealth has a feature that I’ve never seen before. Pages on the left provide definitions, such as, Margin, Short Selling, Dollar Cost Averaging, Leverage – terms that most people do not understand, with examples. Pages on the right give readers a life lesson connected to the term just defined.  Here’s an example from the book:

Annuity: A financial annuity is a predictable payment stream, such as a retirement annuity offered by insurance companies, designed to pay for as long as you live.

The Life Lesson: An emotional annuity is a predictable, human bond of caring, commitment and concern. It says, “I’m here for you.” The next time you see an elderly couple walking down the street with smiles on their faces, holding hands, you are witnessing an emotional annuity payment.

When adult children take care of aging parents, those children are making an emotional annuity payment.

Your Total Wealth is filled with insights like that, financial terms and life lessons that get you thinking about living a richer life.

The Search for Monetary Wealth Has Its Own Costs

I asked the authors to discuss some of the things people do in the pursuit of financial wealth that lead to disappointment and failure in life.

Sussman: Failure to understand the cost of obsessively focusing on monetary wealth.

Consequences: Think of the Midas touch parable. If you are consumed by making money and greed, realize the cost you’ll pay. You lose family, self-esteem, happiness. These things often become unintended consequences of acquiring financial wealth.

Yes, we need money to live comfortably, but studies show that when our basic needs are met, more income does not mean greater happiness. I have met millionaires who admit missing something despite their great monetary wealth.

Dubofsky: Failure to be happy in your job and constantly chasing higher-paying jobs.

Consequences: You will pray for Fridays and hate Mondays! People with total wealth understand they must actively earn money in a way that does not result in losing the things they enjoy, friends and family.  If you are madly working just to pay one bill, another will be due later in life. 

It is the one that asks, “Did you achieve a balance between acquiring financial wealth and personal fulfilment? Did you wake up every day happy to go to work”?

It is the fortunate person who realizes early in life what results from being dedicated to income alone. They have the wisdom to look into the future, when they are older. And they ask, “What will be my legacy?”  

Sussman: Using credit for the wrong purposes. Borrowing money to go on an expensive vacation. Buying something unnecessary that you can’t afford.

Consequences: You will forgo future financial security. Borrowing money for a house is a sound use of credit, but not for an unaffordable vacation.  Leasing a car is fine – but don’t go overboard and lease something well beyond your means just to look successful. There are lots of “successful” people in bankruptcy court.

After reading the book, I can see it has a lot of sound advice that can help many types of people. Your Total Wealth is about living and how to use money to improve our lives and the people we care about. Giving a copy to young, new clients, would be a great way for a financial adviser to begin a professional relationship.

Attorney at Law, Author of “You and the Law”

After attending Loyola University School of Law, H. Dennis Beaver joined California’s Kern County District Attorney’s Office, where he established a Consumer Fraud section. He is in the general practice of law and writes a syndicated newspaper column, “You and the Law.” Through his column he offers readers in need of down-to-earth advice his help free of charge. “I know it sounds corny, but I just love to be able to use my education and experience to help, simply to help. When a reader contacts me, it is a gift.” 


The Perfect Storm for Retirees

Today’s retirees are unlike any other retirees in history: They’re living longer, and many of them want to spend more in retirement than previous generations. At the same time, the fear of running out of money is incredibly common, and for good reason.

The bargain made decades ago in the transition from defined benefit pension plans to the modern 401(k) gave workers control over their savings but also transferred longevity risk from the employer to the worker. As such, these days few retirees can rely on a significant pension and must make their savings last for decades. This may be even more difficult considering that we could see persistently low interest rates, higher inflation and market volatility in the coming years.

The result? Today’s retirees could face a perfect storm, and they may have to use different financial planning strategies than retirees of the past.

Low Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve recently announced that it would maintain the target federal funds rate (the benchmark for most interest rates) at a range of 0% to 0.25%. The Fed cut rates down to this level in March of last year in hopes of combating the crippling economic effects of the pandemic, and it may not raise them for years. Interest rates are expected to stay where they are until 2023. Even when they rise, they could stay relatively low for some time.

As the U.S. government borrowings increase dramatically, the motivation for holding rates down increases. This combination works in favor of immense government borrowing, but for retirees it creates an intrinsic tax in the form of persistently low rates paid on savings. Borrowers love low rates as much as savers detest them. This truth is very much in play today. This poses a problem to retirees who want to earn a reasonable rate of return while minimizing their investment risk.

The Potential for Inflation

Coupled with persistently low interest rates, retirees could face increased inflation in the coming years. Government spending increased significantly due to COVID, with the CARES Act costing $2.2 trillion and the American Rescue Plan Act costing $1.9 trillion alone. The Federal Reserve has said that there is potential for “transient” inflation in the coming months and that it would allow inflation to rise above 2% for some time. While most experts don’t think it’s likely that we’ll return to the high inflation rates of the 1970s, even a normal inflation rate is cause for concern among those nearing and in retirement. Over the course of a long retirement, inflation can eat away at savings significantly.

Consider this: After 20 years with a 2% inflation rate (the Fed’s “target” interest rate), $1 million would only have the buying power of $672,971.

The combination of low interest rates and higher inflation may drive many retirees to take on more market risk than they normally would to account for that.

Market Risk

Those nearing retirement and recently retired can expose themselves to sequence-of-returns risk if they take on too much market risk. This is when a portfolio experiences a significant drop in value while the owner is withdrawing funds, owing to nothing more than unlucky timing. This risk is actuated by the timing of the age of the individual retiree and when they plan to retire, not something anyone usually times around market levels or investment performance but rather around lifestyle or even health factors. As a result, often the portfolio cannot fully recover as the market bounces back, due to the burden of regular withdrawals, and may be left significantly reduced.

Today’s retirees live in an uncertain world with an uncertain market. No one could have predicted the pandemic or its economic effects, and similarly, no one can predict where the market will be next year, in five years or in 10 years. While younger investors can ride out periods of volatility, retirees who are relying on their investments for income may have significantly lower risk tolerance and need to rethink their retirement investment strategy.

Is There a Solution?

This leaves many retirees in a perfect storm. They need to make their savings last longer than any previous generation, but with interest rates at historic lows, they may feel pressured to subject their savings to too much market risk in hopes of earning a reasonable rate of return. The most fundamental step to take is committing to regularized, frequent reviews with your financial adviser. Depending on portfolio size and complexity, this is most often quarterly, but should be no less frequent than every six months. This time investment keeps retirees attuned to shifts in the portfolio that will sustain them for decades to come.

Finally, consider the breadth of options available to your adviser, or on the retail platform you use if you are self-managed. Sometimes having the right tool is everything in getting the job done.  Often advisers have a greater breadth of options available that can more than offset their cost. Remember there are options beyond equities. The best advisers have access to guaranteed income insurance products, market linked certificates of deposits and other “structured assets.” This basket of solutions can provide downside protection ranging from a buffer of say 10%-20% all the way to being fully guaranteed by the issuing insurer or commercial bank. Even within the markets themselves, there are asset managers who create stock and bond portfolios that focus on a specific downside target first, emphasizing downside protection above growth right from the start.

Although market risk remains, it’s true that by focusing on acceptable downside first, those portfolios are likely to weather downturns better even if they do surrender some upside as an offset. And while none of these approaches is perfect, they can work as a component to offset a portion of the market risk retirees probably need to endure for decades to come.

The article and opinions in this publication are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. We suggest that you consult your accountant, tax, or legal advisor with regard to your individual situation. Securities offered through Kalos Capital Inc. and Investment Advisory Services offered through Kalos Management Inc., both at 11525 Park Woods Circle, Alpharetta GA 30005, (678) 356-1100. SouthPark Capital is not an affiliate or subsidiary of Kalos Capital or Kalos Management.

CEO, SouthPark Capital

George Terlizzi has worked in business for more than 25 years as an entrepreneur, consultant, dealmaker and executive for early and mid-stage companies. He has substantial concentrations in finance, technology, consulting and numerous forms of transaction work. Today George advises wealth clients individually and sets the strategic vision for SouthPark Capital. George’s insatiable curiosity, action-oriented approach, and broad-ranging interests are invaluable to those he advises.


Are Financial Advisors Worth it for Medium Income Families?

Financial advice is mostly regarded as a service needed by the affluent in society. The argument is that with more money, one needs guidance on how and when to invest. However true that might be, it’s good to consider that even people with low to medium incomes have to contend with college fees, mortgages and eventual retirement among other financial obligations. So,

How much does Financial Advice Cost?

The input that financial advisors bring to the table does not come cheap. The usual fee ranges from 1% to 2% of a client’s portfolio, these kinds of charges works best for people with established wealth and assets north of $250,000. To cater to the middle class, financial planners charge hourly fees depending on the complexity of the service required.

Financial Advisors for Middle ClassFinancial Advisors for Middle Class

It’s hard to quantify financial advice because it is difficult to standardize its pricing. Some advisors charge a minimum or an initial set up fee that can be as low as $70 for budgetary advice.

A sound financial or investment plan can go for up to $400 hourly. There are firms or planners who charge a fee for ongoing service, this can be as low as $20 monthly. Others will charge a retainer and an annual fee of $600.

Middle-income earners can also take advantage of Digital Advisors; these are websites that offer financial advice at a fee. Routine monetary questions are answered for a couple of dollars. On the other hand, queries that require a great deal of effort is charged hourly at between $150 and $250 per hour.

Importance of Financial Advisors

While middle-income earners may not have vast amounts to plan for, it doesn’t make their financial decisions less sophisticated. They have to manage debts, decide on new purchases and plan on new investments. All this has to be done within the time of probably working two jobs or racking up overtime to boost the take home. This is where financial advisors come in.

  1. Steering a financial plan

They help you keep track of how and where your money is being invested. It is within their expertise to predict how such investments may change with time. They get to come up with changes that can be done to your portfolio so as to position yourself better.

With complete knowledge to your current expenses and income, your advisor can keep you from overspending on a given investment. This allows clients to free more of their income to go towards saving for future expenditures like college fees or a new car.

The investment market is riddled with new and never-ending opportunities. Some are good but not all amount to profits. A financial advisor helps in sifting through the buzz to keep clients off bad investments like pyramid schemes that plague the middle class.

  1. Protecting Client’s Investments

Every investment comes with a risk. Fidelity postulates that a safe investment is one that strikes a balance between different classes of assets. These include bonds, cash, mutual funds, and stocks. Advisors help clients to pick the right mix of products, this, in turn, diversifies their portfolio to minimize individual risks.

  1. Ensuring Investments Follow Regulations

When it comes to financial matters, it’s not easy to keep abreast of all the dos and don’ts contained in the fine print. Advisors help in navigating through the rules and regulations that govern different aspects of investments.

Apart from ensuring the client’s money is safe, the rules also lay out the expected taxation on different ventures. A planner will assist in choosing the most tax-efficient financial products.

Some financial matters may input from not only a financial planner but also attorneys. Without a qualified advisor to bring this to a client’s knowledge, they may find themselves in the murky waters of litigations all in the name of healthy finances.

In conclusion, everyone needs some financial advice at one point or another. It may be in the form of long-term rapport or independent sessions. This requires you to incur some costs. As a medium-income family, you may not afford to have an on-going relationship with a financial advisor but you can get some much-needed advice that can be accessed in sessions either online or in person.


Obama Slashes Costs for FHA Streamline Refinances to Boost Market

Last updated on August 29th, 2018

In another effort to buoy the flagging housing market, the Obama administration announced today that it would essentially be removing the upfront mortgage insurance premium on streamlined FHA refinances.

So homeowners who currently hold an FHA loan, looking to refinance into another FHA loan to lower their mortgage rate, will pay just 0.01% in upfront mortgage insurance premiums.

This represents a huge discount compared to the 1% upfront premium currently charged.

The annual mortgage insurance premium will also be slashed in half to 0.55%, which together with the upfront premium reduction is estimated to save the average FHA borrower roughly a thousand dollars annually.

In order to qualify for the new program, your FHA loan must have been originated prior to June 1, 2009.

The Obama administration believes about 2-3 million FHA borrowers will be eligible to benefit from this initiative, but only time will tell how many are really helped.

Are Future Homeowners Eating the Cost?

While this is great news for those who currently hold FHA loans, it makes you wonder if future homeowners will wind up paying for it.

Last week, the FHA announced that it would be raising upfront mortgage insurance premiums from 1% to 1.75%, beginning in April.

Additionally, the agency said it would raise the annual mortgage insurance premium by 0.10 percent for loan amounts under $625,500, and 0.35 percent for loans between $625,500 and $729,750.

The measures were taken to meet the congressionally mandated minimum for the FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) fund, which has been depleted thanks to all the recent losses on bad loans. It is expected to boost the fund by $1 billion through fiscal year 2013.

So essentially first-time homebuyers and other current homeowners who do not hold FHA loans will pay a premium to take out an FHA loan.

It seems like a bit of a shift in wealth, though it will likely result in fewer new homeowners going to the FHA for mortgage financing, which is probably the end goal.

The FHA exploded in popularity in recent years as subprime lending fell by the wayside, but the agency bit off more than it could chew. So this is likely a bid to return to a more normalized mortgage market funded by private capital.

[FHA loan vs. conventional loan]

Still, it seems a little unfair for those who don’t hold FHA loans, regardless of what good it may do.

But if you have an FHA loan, this is a great time to inquire about a streamline refinance to lower your mortgage rate and your monthly mortgage payment, without being subject to steep closing costs.

Reviewing Servicemember Foreclosures

The White House also announced that it will conduct a review of all servicemembers foreclosed on since 2006 to identify any wrongdoings.

Those found to be wrongly foreclosed on will receive compensation equal to a minimum of lost home equity, plus interest and $116,785, paid for by the nation’s top loan servicers, who were involved in the National Mortgage Settlement.

Additionally, those who were wrongfully denied a refinance will be refunded any money lost as a result.

And those who were forced to sell their homes for less than the mortgage balance due to a Permanent Change in Station will also be provided with some form of relief.

Finally, the major loan servicers will pay $10 million into the Veteran Affairs fund, which guarantees funding for the VA loan program, and certain foreclosure protections will be extended to prevent future failings.

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.


10 Best Health Care ETFs of 2021

Technological innovation is everywhere you look, especially in health care. New technologies are making simple work of some of the most pressing medical conditions known to man.

Even the COVID-19 pandemic has been proof that the health care sector is evolving, with vaccines being created and marketed within a year of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Of course, the health care industry is massive. Well-researched investments in a variety of health care stocks and bonds have proven to be lucrative moves. But what if you don’t have the time or expertise to do the research it takes to make individual health care investments?

That’s where health care exchange-traded funds (ETFs) come in.

Best Health Care ETFs

Health care ETFs are funds that pool money from a large group of investors and then invest in health care stocks and other health care-focused investments.

As with any investment vehicle, not all health care ETFs are created equal. Some will come with higher costs than others, and returns on your investment will vary wildly from one fund to another.

With so many options available, it can be difficult to pin down which ETFs you should invest in. Here are some of the best options on the market today:

1. Vanguard Health Care Index Fund ETF (VHT)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.10%
  • One-Year Return: 29.89%
  • Five-Year Annualized Return: 15.10%
  • Dividend Yield: 1.42%
  • Morningstar Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Top Holdings Include: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), UnitedHealth Group (UHC), Abbott Laboratories (ABT), Thermo Fisher Scientific (TOM), Pfizer (PFE)
  • Years Up Since Inception: 14
  • Years Down Since Inception: 2

Vanguard is one of the best-known wealth managers on Wall Street. So, you can rest assured that when you invest in a health care ETF or any other Vanguard fund, your money is in good hands.

The Vanguard Health Care Index Fund ETF is focused on investing in companies that sell medical products, services, equipment, and technologies using a highly diversified portfolio.

As a Vanguard fund, the VHT comes with an incredibly low expense ratio and a strong history of providing compelling returns for investors.

Pro tip: Have you considered hiring a financial advisor but don’t want to pay the high fees? Enter Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. When you sign up, you’ll work closely with an advisor to create a custom investment plan that can help you meet your financial goals.

2. Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.12%
  • One-Year Return: 23.75%
  • Five-Year Annualized Return: 13.15%
  • Dividend Yield: 1.49%
  • Morningstar Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Top Holdings Include: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Abbott Laboratories (ABT), AbbVie (ABBV), Pfizer (PFE)
  • Years Up Since Inception: 17
  • Years Down Since Inception: 5

The Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund is offered by State Street Global Advisors, one of the largest asset management companies on Wall Street. The firm behind this health care ETF is one with pedigree.

As a passively-managed fund, the XLV was designed to track the returns of the Health Care Select Sector Index, which provides a representation of the health care sector of the S&P 500.

As a result, the XLV ETF provides diversified exposure to some of the largest U.S. health care companies. The fund provides compelling returns and relatively strong dividends for the health care industry.

As is the case with most funds provided by State Street Global Advisors, this ETF comes with incredibly low fees, far below the industry average.

3. ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (ARKG)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.75%
  • One-Year Return: 174.19%
  • Five-Year Annualized Return: 43.78%
  • Dividend Yield: 0.93%
  • Morningstar Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Top Holdings Include: Teladoc Health (TDOC), Twist Bioscience (TWST), Pacific Biosciences of California (PACB), Exact Sciences (EXAS), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN)
  • Years Up Since Inception: 4
  • Years Down Since Inception: 2

The ARK Genomic Revolution ETF is offered by ARK Invest, yet another highly trusted fund manager on Wall Street.

The ETF is designed to provide diversified exposure to companies that are working to extend the length and improve the quality of life for consumers with debilitating conditions through technological and scientific innovations in genomics.

Essentially, this fund invests in companies focused on the editing of genomes, or base units within DNA, to solve some of the most pressing problems in medical science.

With genomics being a relatively new concept that’s showing incredible promise in the field of medicine, companies in the space are experiencing compelling growth, making the ARKG ETF one of the best performers on this list.

However, it’s also worth mentioning that this is one of the higher-volatility ETFs on the list, which adds to the risk of investing.

4. Fidelity MSCI Health Care Index ETF (FHLC)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.08%
  • One-Year Return: 29.76%
  • Five-Year Annualized Return: 15.11%
  • Dividend Yield: 1.46%
  • Morningstar Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Top Holdings Include: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Abbott Laboratories (ABT), AbbVie (ABBV), Pfizer (PFE)
  • Years Up Since Inception: 6
  • Years Down Since Inception: 1

Fidelity is a massive company that has grown to become a household name thanks to its insurance division. It’s also one of the biggest and most well-trusted fund managers on Wall Street.

The company’s MSCI Health Care Index ETF has become a prime option for retail investors who want to gain diversified exposure to the U.S. health care industry.

The ETF was designed to track the MSCI USA IMI Health Care Index, which represents the universe of investable large-cap, mid-cap, and small-cap U.S. equities in the health care sector.

As can be expected from the vast majority of Fidelity funds, the FHLC is a top performer on the market with a relatively low expense ratio.

5. iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.46%
  • One-Year Return: 38.14%
  • Five-Year Annualized Return: 13.38%
  • Dividend Yield: 0.19%
  • Morningstar Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Top Holdings Include: Amgen (AMGN), Gilead Sciences (GILD), Illumina (ILMN), Moderna (MRNA), Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX)
  • Years Up Since Inception: 15
  • Years Down Since Inception: 4

iShares has become yet another leading fund manager on Wall Street, and the firm’s Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF is yet another strong option to consider if you’re looking for diversified exposure to the U.S. health care sector.

The fund was specifically designed to provide exposure to the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals subsectors of the health care industry. It does so by investing in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies listed on the Nasdaq.

As an iShares fund, investors will enjoy market-leading returns through a diversified portfolio of investments selected by some of the most trusted professionals on Wall Street.

The IBB expense ratio is around the industry-average ETF expense ratio of 0.44%, according to The Wall Street Journal, but the fund’s expenses are justified by its outsize returns.

6. iShares U.S. Healthcare Providers ETF (IHF)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.42%
  • One-Year Return: 31.67%
  • Five-Year Annualized Return: 16.5%
  • Dividend Yield: 0.54%
  • Morningstar Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Top Holdings Include: UnitedHealth Group (UNH), CVS Health (CVS), Anthem (ANTM), HCA Healthcare (HCA), Teladoc Health (TDOC)
  • Years Up Since Inception: 13
  • Years Down Since Inception: 1

The iShares U.S. Healthcare Providers ETF is designed to provide exposure to a different area of the health care industry.

Instead of investing in companies that create treatments and therapeutic options, the IHF fund invests in companies that provide health insurance, specialized care, and diagnostics services.

To do so, the ETF invests in an index designed to track large U.S. health care providers.

The fund comes with an expense ratio that’s slightly lower than the average for ETFs while providing performance that’s hard to ignore. While IHF isn’t the best dividend payer, the iShares U.S. Healthcare Providers ETF does provide compelling returns, making it a strong pick for any health care investor’s portfolio.

7. iShares U.S. Medical Devices ETF (IHI)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.42%
  • One-Year Return: 36.77%
  • Five-Year Annualized Return: 23.60%
  • Dividend Yield: 0.50%
  • Morningstar Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Top Holdings Include: Abbott Laboratories (ABT), Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO), Medtronic (MDT), Danaher (DHR), Stryker (SYK)
  • Years Up Since Inception: 12
  • Years Down Since Inception: 2

The iShares U.S. Medical Devices ETF gives investors access to a diversified portfolio of stocks in the medical device subsector.

Investments in the company center around products like glucose monitoring devices, robotics-assisted surgery technology, and devices that improve clinical outcomes for back surgery patients.

In order to provide this exposure, the iShares U.S. Medical Devices ETF tracks an index composed of domestic medical devices companies.

While the expense ratio on the fund is about average, its performance over the past 10 years has been anything but, with annualized returns throughout the period of more than 18%, earning it a perfect five-star rating from Morningstar.

8. iShares Global Healthcare ETF (IXJ)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.46%
  • One-Year Return: 19.93%
  • Five-Year Annualized Return: 11.51%
  • Dividend Yield: 1.27%
  • Morningstar Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Top Holdings Include: Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Roche Holdings (ROG), Novartis (NOVN), Abbott Laboratories (ABT)
  • Years Up Since Inception: 12
  • Years Down Since Inception: 3

If you’re not interested in choosing subsectors of the health care industry to invest in and would rather have widespread exposure to all sectors of health care in all economies, whether developed or emerging, the iShares Global Healthcare ETF is a strong pick.

The ETF comes with an expense ratio that’s nearly in line with the industry average, but its holdings are some of the most diverse in the health care ETF space.

Moreover, the IXJ ETF is known to produce relatively reliable gains year after year, closing in the green in 12 of the past 15 years.

9. Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight Health Care ETF (RYH)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.40%
  • One-Year Return: 27.93%
  • Five-Year Annualized Return: 13.81%
  • Dividend Yield: 0.51%
  • Morningstar Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Top Holdings Include: Illumina (ILMN), Eli Lilly (LLY), Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN), Abiomed (ABMD), Catalent (CTLT)
  • Years Up Since Inception: 11
  • Years Down Since Inception: 3

Founded in 1935, Invesco is a fund manager that’s been around the block more than a few times. It’s all but expected that the firm would make an appearance in just about any “top ETF” list.

Based on the S&P 500 Equal Weight Health Care Index, the ETF provides diversified exposure to all health care stocks listed on the S&P 500. That means when you purchase shares of RYH, you’ll be tapping into a wide range of health care stocks.

In fact, the S&P 500 represents more than 70% of the market cap of the entire U.S. stock market, which is why it’s often used as a benchmark. So, by tapping into every health care stock listed on the index, you’ll be tapping into some of the highest quality U.S. companies in the space.

10. SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.35%
  • One-Year Return: 66.31%
  • Five-Year Annualized Return: 22.56%
  • Dividend Yield: 0.2%
  • Morningstar Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Top Holdings Include: Vir Biotechnology (VIR), Novavax (NVAX), Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND), Agios Pharmaceuticals (AGIO), BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX)
  • Years Up Since Inception: 11
  • Years Down Since Inception: 3

Another fund offered up by State Street Advisors, the SPDR S&P 500 Biotech ETF is an impressive option. While it’s the last on this list, it’s also been the top performer on this list over the past year and the third-best performer in terms of annualized returns.

The XBI ETF was designed to track the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index, an index designed to track the biotechnology subsector of the health care industry. As a result, an investment in this fund means you’ll be investing in all biotechnology companies listed on the S&P 500.

Not to mention, while returns on the XBIO have been impressive, to say the least, the expense ratio on the fund is below the industry average.

While the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF isn’t the biggest income earner on this list, it is a strong play with a relatively consistent history of producing gains far beyond those seen across the wider market.

Final Word

Health care ETFs are a great option for investors who are interested in using their investments to create some good in the world.

Not only are the top ETFs in this space known for producing incredible returns, it feels good knowing that your investment dollars are helping companies produce medications, devices, and services designed to improve quality of life and extend the length of the lives of your fellow man.

Although investing in health care ETFs is a promising way to go about building your wealth in the stock market, it’s important to remember not all ETFs are created equal. So, it’s best to do your research, looking into key stats surrounding historic performance and expenses before diving into any fund.

Nonetheless, the ETFs listed above are some of the strongest performers in the health care industry and make a great first watchlist for the newcomer to health care ETF investing.