(Image courtesy of TheApprovedCard.com)
To: Personal Finance Bloggers
From: Bobby Lee – Host, 2 Minute Finance
Date: January 12, 2012
Re: #OrmanGate2012 & Disclosing Profits (Call to Action)
What a week it’s been so far in the Personal Finance (PF) blogsophere! Suze Orman vs. our #FinFam…what an interesting series of tweets. (If you missed all the action, check out a recap by from Briana from ‘20 and Engaged’)
I wanted to chime in with my two cents. Frankly, it doesn’t serve anyone’s best interests to bash personal financial bloggers or on-air personal finance experts alike. Most of us have the best of intentions; to serve our readers’ financial needs. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for constructive criticism.
Suze’s product may be lighter in fees than most, but there are still fees. On the other hand, Suze has made strides in trying to affect change for consumers by asking TransUnion to track spending data in order to potentially include it in consumer’s credit reports two or more years down the road (whether or not it actually happens is a different story).
However, #OrmanGate2012 proves that there is a bigger issue at hand that has yet to be addressed: the transparency of how those who dispense personal finance advice make their money. I would agree with the common sentiment that Suze is probably making money hand-over-fist with “The Approved Card.” To put it bluntly, it’s not wrong to make money from our blog or other projects we’re working on, but it’s wrong to do so in a not-so-upfront manner off the backs of our readers. #OrmanGate2012 is a great example.
This should serve as a wake up call to our industry to become more transparent about the way we make our money. Although I have not yet personally faced an issue where I needed to disclose a conflict or relationship, I have decided that I will create a disclosure policy on my blog. Furthermore, in compliance with FTC truth-in-blogging rules, I will more explicitly disclose any relationships/editorial influences on blog posts, if needed. The details of which are still being worked out.
I would challenge you to be transparent about your moneymaking projects as it relates to your blogs by posting a disclosure statement. It’s the correct action to take, morally and ethically. And it will only serve to increase the level of trust and credibility given to us by our readers.