Most everyone has heard the old saying, “Knowledge is power.”
In the financial world, the adage should read: “Knowledge is power — and money.”
Leaders in the financial sector will almost invariably agree that the vast majority of superstar financiers on Wall Street and elsewhere are usually voracious consumers of the latest business and financial news, industry and company data, analyst reports, business books and relevant websites.
“It is critical for finance people to be well read and stay up with the news,” says Robert C. Pozen, the former president of Fidelity Investments, former chairman of MFS Investment Management and today a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School. “Current events heavily impact markets, and more in-depth reading is needed to understand many companies and issues.”
Asked if he ever met a financial industry star who didn’t read a lot, Pozen’s blunt response is: “No.”
With that mind, here are some key websites that Pozen and leading venture capitalists, investment advisors and other top players recommend as essential places visit regularly for news and information. Some of these are familiar names, some aren’t.
Keep in mind: There are numerous finance sectors and subsectors — and with so many niche trade publications and sites trying to serve their very specific needs — it’s almost impossible to list the literally thousands of websites, blogs and other online places where financiers individually go to get their information.
But if you don’t bookmark and regularly visit some of the following sites, you’ll have virtually no chance of reaching the big-time.
Don’t Dismiss the Freebies
There are loads of sometimes very expensive subscription services — ranging from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars per year — for those who want to bore down into detailed information and analytics. More on this in a moment.
But don’t dismiss the freebie sites. Why pay for basic information when it’s free at your fingertips, literally?
Some of the free finance information sites that industry leaders say they regularly visit include Google Finance, Yahoo Finance, CNBC, CNN Money and The Street, among others.
Depending on the site, they can be great resources for stock quotes, quarterly and annual financial data, breaking news, company press releases, SEC filings, analyst rankings and even some analytic tools to help break down data and information.
The popular Seeking Alpha, founded by former Wall Street analyst David Jackson, is a stock market analysis website that derives its content from independent contributors.
Another free site is Real Clear Markets, which provides morning and afternoon round-ups of the top business- and finance-related op-eds, analysis pieces, research reports, blog posts and other materials from around the web.
Most of the content at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private, nonprofit economic research outfit in Cambridge, is available only to qualified subscribers. But summaries and digests of its academic research reports are available free online. NBER focuses on a wide variety of areas, including general economics, corporate finance, international finance and macroeconomics, and monetary economics.
Bloomberg and Reuters (a unit of Thomson Reuters), two powerhouse business-information entities, also provide a surprisingly large amount of free business news stories and other services online, even though they make most of their money via paid subscriptions.
Best Sites for Private Equity, Venture Capital and Investment Banking
Ok, now we’re getting into the paid stuff, which, as previously mentioned, can easily run into the hundreds and thousands of dollars a year for subscriptions.
If you’re already in the private equity, venture capital or investment banking sector, there’s a good chance your employer already subscribes to some of these sites — or might consider subscribing to them if pressed.
One is Mattermark, which touts itself as a site for venture capitalists and other investors for “prospecting, tracking and benchmarking more than 200,000 startups around the world.” Some of its content is free, but most of it is subscription only. Mattermark has quickly become a must within some venture capital and private-equity circles.
CB Insights is a popular database website aimed at venture capitalists, private equity firms, investment bankers, angels and other investors who want to track high-value private companies.
Other popular paid sites include Private Equity News, which covers Europe’s private equity market, and The Deal, which tracks transaction information for investment bank, private equity, hedge fund and other investors through its Deal Pipeline products.
Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist and principal at Union Square Ventures, hosts a popular blog about the VC industry, one of many venture capitalists with their own blogs.
http://www.avc.com/ (Fred Wilson)
Mainstream Media (Sort Of)
They may have been around for a while, but older mainstream media outlets and their websites are also must-reads for most successful financiers, according to industry leaders.
Though they charge subscriptions for full access to their sites, these mainstream players include the Wall Street Journal (and its related other Dow Jones services), the New York Times (it’s been expanding its business coverage in recent years), the Financial Times (very respected for its international finance coverage), and The Economist (the venerable weekly magazine that just keeps on ticking).
Though it offers some free content, Bloomberg, which just about every Wall Street hot shot subscribes to — usually paid for by their employers — charges tens of thousands of dollars a year to get all of its rich array of data, analytic tools and content. But most financiers say it’s worth every penny to have one those now-famous desktop Bloomberg terminals.
Public Service Announcement: Just Read!
The bottom line for those aspiring to be finance rock stars: Just read. Find sites you like, ask others what they read, bookmark the sites, and get moving in your career.
“The more information you seek out, the more reference points you have to make sound investment decisions,” says Lowell Thomas, who has worked at a number of Wall Street firms and other investment companies and today is a partner at South Shore Capital Advisors in Newport, R.I. “If you ask Warren Buffett what he does all the time, he says he reads. A lot. That tells you something.”
About the Author: Jay Fitzgerald is a business journalist based in Boston. Over the years, his articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Herald and other publications.