The guru is at the heart of his or her publishing franchise.
His investment ideas -these are the nuts and bolts from which your products and promotions are built.
One persistent trend in the industry is the upgrading of gurus.
Years ago it was normal for newsletter gurus to have had zero professional financial expertise.
Today publishers are constantly looking for more credible, more effective, more sellable gurus.
I don’t see that trend changing.
In fact, I think it will accelerate.
The good news is, today there are more superstar gurus available in the marketplace than ever before.
Let me share four recent potential gurus I’ve come across in my travels to illustrate.
#1. “I’m hosting a dinner in New York next week with Steve Cohen.”
“Isn’t he worth like $10 billion or something?” I asked.
“Pretty sure it’s more like $14 billion and change,” said Jeff, a former elite hedge fund trader whose group went ten-years posting triple-digit returns without a losing quarter.
We were watching the sunset off Grand Cayman on a 65-foot sailing catamaran.
And chatting with Jawad.
Jawad is one of those financial super-connectors.
Specifically, between New York and Dubai.
He’s largely outside the public eye.
He was leaving the following morning to host a dinner for about 12 people.
One of whom was Steve Cohen.
It was part of a dinner series he calls, “The Most Interesting Dinner in the World”.
And each attendee brought what they felt was the most important financial chart in the world right now.
Then explained to the group why it was critical.
We were spending the day with him talking financial publishing and marketing.
His Oasis event was attended by legends like Jim Chanos.
Wall Street’s elite fly out to Dubai and travel three hours out into the desert to an oasis for his event.
Without knowing who the speakers are. Or what the content will be.
How he started it is a remarkable story I’ll leave for another time.
The important point today is that Jawad was interested in exploring financial publishing opportunities and marketing.
Few gurus in our industry today can lay claim to be more of an insider or better connected than Jawad.
#2: “We turned $5 million into close to $1 billion. It’s the greatest trading story never told.”
I worked with Jeff on a project about a two years ago.
He’s now one of my best friends.
And he is trading royalty.
He was part of a group of six traders who turned $5 million in initial seed money into around $1 billion purely though trading over a twelve-year period.
They never took outside or client money.
Went over a decade without having a single losing quarter.
They were the highest trading commission payers to Goldman Sachs for the entire continent of Europe.
The two owners of the company cashed out.
One bought a Ferrari Le Mans racing team as well as one of the largest sports betting companies in the world today.
The other bought up about a massive amount of Florida real estate.
Jeff also got very interested in financial publishing.
His trading credibility is stellar.
Jeff is a guy who was personally responsible for 50%-60% of the daily trading volume in the FXI – the China large cap ETF – during the BRIC run up.
Before trading he was an investment banker who was in the room for some of the greatest moments in IPO history. Like when Mark Cuban was pitching Broadcast to investors, when Vince McMahon IPO’d the WWE, and when Martha Stewart took her company public.
If you have a trading franchise, then clearly he’s a very sellable guru.
#3. “I was head of investment and macro economics for the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund.”
Mubadala is Abu Dhabi’s sovereign direct investment fund.
Today it has something like $290 billion under management.
When my friend Indranil was head of investment it “only” had $60 billion.
Guess what? He wants to be in financial publishing too.
Guy ran investment decisions for a $60 billion fund.
Is about as connected as you can get. One of our first calls was about the potential of he and I doing a little side hustle… with government of Saudi Arabia.
Since he was in charge of a direct investment sovereign wealth fund he specializes in private markets.
Private placements. Seed rounds.
He brought me a deal about a month ago that was put together by the Rockefellers.
Another we couldn’t get in on raised $750 million from two sovereign wealth funds.
#4. “Hey guys, I just got invited to a last minute dinner with a mining billionaire. Want to come?”
We were in London. It was the end of the first day of the Financial Marketing Summit.
“John, I just landed. Want to meet me for dinner?”
It was a text from Stan. Over the past decade or so he had built or acquired and then sold a series of companies.
Those sales combined were in the neighborhood of $10 billion.
He’d heard I was in London before he landed and wanted to get together.
I grabbed about 6 FMS attendees and we met up with Stan for dinner.
Stan has been very interested in financial publishing for a while now.
One of those attendees is now chatting with Stan about starting an investment newsletter.
Why are so many top tier investors and traders suddenly interested in financial publishing?
There are a lot of reasons.
- Main stream financial services are in the middle of a massive shake up.The traditional investment banking business model is dying. And no new model has emerged as the clear successor.
- Traditional investment research is near dead on Wall Street.First, because algorithmic trading and technology has shrunk the number of people actually making investment decisions.Second, because institutional financial research world was decimated with changes known as MiFID II.MiFID stands for Markets In Financial Instruments Directive.
Essentially the rule ended the practice of bundling financial research with financial services.
Companies would use soft dollars – trading commissions – to pay for expensive research packages for their clients. These are $20,000 to $50,000 subscriptions.
It turns out when clients had to pay out of pocket for the research – they didn’t want it.
- More broadly speaking, the financial services world is finally catching up to digital marketing opportunities.For instance, did you know Goldman Sachs has an eletter?And it’s not relegated to a junior content marketer either. CEO David Solomon delivers content regularly.
Content marketing is the rage on Wall Street.
Our world and their world is rapidly colliding.
Where do you find potential gurus?
New York is one place. I’ve helped clients find rockstar gurus simply by posting job ads targeted in New York City.
But more broadly I’ve spent the past two years expanding my network and opportunities in main stream financial.
I try to skate to where the puck is going and I believe we’re about to see an explosion in opportunities between financial publishing and marketing and the financial services industry.
Last November I helped an investment bank organize a private event in New York.
We had a bunch of bond executives from nearly every iconic Wall Street firms in the room.
They estimated the assets under management in the room was over $6 trillion.
What did we talk about in the back of the room?