Big news in the financial publishing industry this past week.
Beacon Street Group, the parent company of industry giants Stansberry Research and Legacy Research (among others) announced it is going public with a $3 billion SPAC merger with Ascendant Digital Acquisition Corp.
Why is a “newsletter” publisher able to do a $3 billion SPAC?
Pretty good numbers
(You can check out the full investor deck below. Notice they are a digital platform not a “newsletter” publisher).
I love seeing this.
To me it represents the convergence of the two biggest trends in our world.
I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with Mark Arnold, CEO of Beacon Street Group, a few times over the years.
He took a small group of us to dinner at FMS not that long ago.
And I consulted on one the first new publishing groups he launched when he came into the business.
He’s one of the smartest people I’ve met in the industry.
One conversation I had with him led directly to putting together one of the most productive business growth opportunities in the industry.
A growth machine Morgan Busby describes as having “… an ROI of about a bajillion percent.”
I’ll get to that in a second.
But Mark didn’t grow up in financial publishing.
His background was in mergers & acquisition when his old friend, Porter Stansberry, recruited him into the industry.
For years Stansberry Research has been slowly pulling itself away from the Agora mothership.
They’ve consistently added their own subsidiaries.
I believe Porter’s been working toward this day for quite some time. He probably saw the bigger opportunities for the industry before anyone else.
However, I don’t believe this kind of a deal would have happened if the company was now run solely by someone who came entirely from the publishing world.
Let’s take a second to hear Mark’s views on the industry opportunity.
This is word for word from the investor call announcing the SPAC:
MARK: “We believe the global addressable market for us is more than $190 billion, including asset managers, financial information services companies and investment research. Increasingly, the trend is for investors to want to manage their own money, and we think all three of these industry segments are in play for us.
For the last year I’ve felt like a voice crying out in the wilderness.
I’ve been telling everyone things like
“This trend will build companies bigger than Agora.”
” Our industry is on a collision course with the $1 trillion financial services industry.”
“Every major financial services sector is getting interested in financial publishing and marketing.”
After listening to this call, I now understand why another publisher at Agora told me, “You need to talk to Mark. You sound just like him.”
Think Jami and I could manage a billion-dollar SPAC for FMS?
Probably not… sigh.
Anyway, he had much more to say that you need to hear:
MARK: “Just in the U.S., there are over 60 million self-directed investors. On top of this already significant opportunity, we believe that as the Millennial generation ages and their investable assets increase, our addressable target market will grow even further.
“The market for self-directed investing is ripe for innovation and disruption, and in ways that strongly favor our business. As you can see on slide 11, personal investing is changing dramatically. First, we have a rapidly increasing retiree population, with 10,000 Americans retiring every day. This is an age group that has significant investable assets and very much wants investment education.
“As a result, baby boomers represent the majority of our customers today. However, the aging of Millennials is a significant future opportunity for our business and a key market opportunity given that 72% of this generation identify as self-directed investors.”
Those of you who came to the very first FMS waaaay back in Las Vegas might remember my insistence we were at the start of a multi-decade bull market in financial publishing.
Exactly what Mark laid out above.
Since my first prediction we’ve seen massive industry growth.
We’ve seen companies explode in size.
We went from a time when a USD 6 million backend promotion was a big deal to having USD 30 million backends.
We’ve seen an explosion in the number of trader educators and publishers.
And we’re not even half-way through this transformation yet.
My other major industry prediction: Financial publishing is on a collision course with the rest of financial services.
I presented the case in a 45 minute presentation on that at Content & Capital.
Mark’s comments about the BSG deal point in the same direction.
This collision is the first big trend I see playing out in these deals lately.
Just in the past month:
- We’ve seen TastyTrade, who used a content model to acquire brokerage customers get taken out a $1 billion.
- Then last week, we see Beacon Street Services announce it’s USD 3 billion SPAC merger to go public.
- And Ribbit Capital, the VC firm behind Wealthfront and Robinhood announced their partnership with WalMart on a new fintech startup.
What is Walmart planning on doing?
Building and BUYING fintech companies targeting financial services.
The big money is coming to digital financial media.
Over the next few years the amount of money that will be geared toward customer acquisition in digital channels will continue to explode.
Financial services as a whole already spends $42+ billion a year on advertising.
This. Is. Happening. Now.
We are staring down the biggest business opportunities our industry has ever seen.
And about to see the biggest increase in competition we’ve ever seen as an industry.
I’ve been sending emails.
I hosted a free virtual event, Content & Capital last year to open this conversation with everyone.
Yet, I’ve gotten a lot of nothing from most people in our space.
I suspect a lot of you don’t know how to position yourselves to take advantage of these opportunities.
I know some of the FMS universe sees the big picture.
I get random emails saying things like, “I’ve raised $20+ million in a fund. Need to grow it. Know anyone who can help?”
Or “John, you have to hear this. This exec from a $9 billion fund left and wants to partner with [Finpub name redacted].”
“John, can I introduce you to X? He has 8 million weekly viewers on his global financial shows. You two think the same way. You two need to know each other.”
“John, I’m trying to figure out which of the opportunities I have right now would be the easiest to raise VC funds for.”
A lot is happening right now.
Some of you are seeing the signs.
Some of you aren’t.
Below you’ll see where you can come join the conversation to figure out where your personal opportunities really are.
I’ll tell you who does see the signs.
The entrepreneurs in financial services I talk to.
Just a couple weeks ago I had the #1 investment banker in one of the hottest areas of cap raise call me up and practically beg me to come up with a 6-figure package he can refer to all of his clients.
“John, you could charge $10-$30k a month per client. I have 100 ready to go.” He tells me, “I’m urging you to seriously put some thought into this!” (I am.)
Darren Marble over at Issuance just raised $3 million to launch a tv show focused on companies going public.
Expect to see more venture backed companies coming to play in the investor information space.
A lot of them would back you with the right idea.
Or, create a strategic alliance.
Opportunity after opportunity.
It’s all coming from the rest of financial.
Jami and I partnered with a private equity firm to launch RevenueTree, the affiliate marketplace with built in A.I compliance.
We can track USD 5.2 billion in sales just in the financial services vertical in the network.
And one of our close clients who is chatting with Jami practically daily also went public this past year in a USD 9 billion SPAC.
I also spoke with that founder of the media company with 8 million weekly viewers – mostly made up of the global institutional and mainstream financial crowd.
He wants to brainstorm ways to possibly add publishing to his business model.
The business opportunities for you and I are flowing.
This is the #1 trend you can profit on.
That’s true if you’re a trader educator.
Or if you’re a newsletter publisher.
Or a financial media buyer. Or a copywriter. Or an affiliate marketer.
The big money opportunities are flowing in right now.
This brings me to the second big trend this deal represents to me.
Deal making – specifically around financing and strategic alliances – is becoming an increasingly critical business advantage.
For years we’ve all be “marketers”.
People preached “income businesses”. Then “outsourcing teams”. Then “building teams”. Then (finally) “building companies.”
Marketers to business owners to entrepreneurs and founders.
Now, you’re ability to pull off M&A deals. To raise capital. Even to go public will all become advantages.
Because it will change the way money moves in your business.
Your ability to build strategic alliances will change the fundamental business opportunities you face.
Create exclusive opportunities for you to acquire new customers.
I’m saying all this to tell you two things:
First, I’ll be talking more about this trend at The Financial Marketing Summit is happening on June 8th-9th in Orlando, Florida.
Yes, COVID is still a major issue – see final note below.
If you have tickets from last year then your tickets are VALID for this year’s event in June. If not, go here to register.
Don’t worry, if you can’t make it when June rolls around, then we’re happy to hold your reservation to next year or give you a refund.
Second, we are starting up in-person meetings at our small group FinPub Accelerator April 12-13th.
If you qualify for this then I’m going to invite you to the April meeting as my GUEST.
This group originally started because of a conversation I had with Mark Arnold. Basically, it went something like this
“There are four pillars I know I need,” he told me. “An editorial guy, a copywriter, a marketer, and an operations guy and I don’t even need them all to be great.
“If I can get one rockstar editor or marketer or copywriter then the other three people can be mediocre, and the business will do fine. Just look at X (name hidden for confidentiality). I’ve only got a rock start editor and the rest of that team is just okay, but that business unit makes millions and grew 30% year over year.
“If I can get strong people in two of those pillar positions then we’ve probably got a new $50+ million on our hands.”
That lead to the creation of the FinPub Accelerator which is our small group series focused on helping members improve those four pillars of building their publishing business.
I didn’t want to host a generic mastermind. Jami and I wanted to create a place for people serious about growing their business to meet and dig into the issues directly impacting financial publishing, media, and education businesses.
We’ve had members double their business revenue in 1-year by being a member.
We’ve had members form entirely new publishing companies that grew into the tens-of-millions in annual sales in four years.
We’ve had members get deals where they’re making $280k a month on contracts from introductions and connections I’ve given them.
You can hear to Morgan Busby, CEO of Financial Media Corp’s, talk about the ROI on the FinPub Accelerator.
I’ve begun to add more conversations, presentations, and connections specifically around these bigger business opportunities.
The goal is to speed up your ability to build a more successful business.
Increase your ability to generate bigger business opportunities.
And to give you the specific relationships you need to take advantage of all of it.
The next Accelerator will be focused on three areas:
The opportunities available for you to connect with financial services. Including bringing in our private equity partner to discuss acquisitions and how PE works.
Honestly, this group is where I’ve been putting most of these deals as they come across my desk.
If you’re not sure how you can benefit from these bigger trends then this is the place to discover how you can profit.
Compliance. We’ll have an industry lawyer speaking about compliance issues. An A-list copywriter whose promo has been singled out by some publishers as “the perfect example of how to write high-converting, highly compliant copy.”
He’s been a member of the Accelerator since the beginning.
He’ll be breaking down the promo. Showing you how to write stronger promos while leaning into compliance.
Talking through the reasons being more compliant can make your promo strong and answering questions.
Also, if you have a promo you’d like reviewed we can fit that in. (We do copy reviews for members fairly regularly.)
Deal making. We have some of the best strategic deal makers in the industry in the room. And we’re going to deep dive into strategic partnerships and alliances.
The big wins, the horror stories, the ones that got away.
And how best to position yourself to find and close key partnerships to grow your business.
When Jami and I partnered with a PE firm to launch RevenueTree that alliance opened up a series of increasingly bigger deals.
There is a Black Rock owned company already sniffing at our business as a possible acquisition.
Jami is deep in talks with them to connect RevenueTree directly into what is a several hundred thousand paid client base.
Your ability to do deals like that can change your business opportunities practically overnight.
We’re going to spend an entire day behind closed doors discussing this side of the business.
If you’re a publisher, trader educator, or media business over $500k in sales, then I’d like you can respond to the email that brought you here to schedule a call with us to talk about attending as my guest. Or you can connect directly with me by reaching out to me on Linkedin
I won’t guarantee everyone who asks can attend.
This is an invite only group. We’ve rarely even mentioned it in email. And never even opened it to the public at FMS.
This is one of the rare times we’re making an open invitation.
I know COVID is still here so no pressure to attend either event.
I’ve had a ton of conversations with people in the industry and so many of you have either already had COVID or are already vaccinated.
Jami and I are a perfect example. She’s already had COVID. I’m newly eligible for the vaccination and scheduling it now.
The current vaccine rollout is at about 2 million doses per day. And on track to hit 3 million per day in April.
The rollout is targeting having enough doses for the entire population by end of May.
The push is strong. The country is hopefully going to get back to normal soon.
That said, we are working with the hotels to implement in-room safety measures and social distancing.
If by the time June rolls around you’re not comfortable coming and have a ticket – don’t worry. We’ll be happy to hold your seat for the next event or give you a refund.
Times are changing – in the industry and in the country.
At FMS and the FinPub Accelerator we’re focused on keeping you at the forefront of how digital publishing and media are intersecting with the rest of financial.
On the home front, after a year-long lockdown.
With all 3 of my kids in virtual school since last March. (and their grandmother not being able to get a hug for a year).
Shutting down our events for a year (putting off a year of revenue).
We’re hopefully seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
The kids start up in school two- days a week next week.
Grandma got both her vaccinations and we ended the moratorium on grandkid hugs.
And now we’re starting slowly back into the in-person events.
I can’t wait to see you in person later this year.
P.S. You can review the full investor deck on the BSG deal by clicking here
And read the transcript of the full investor call here.