Should analysts and bloggers be required to disclose their stock holdings?

Posted on February 1, 2016

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An interesting discussion came up that is just now beginning to gain some traction in the social media world.

It started as a comment exchange on my post regarding PayStream and Coupa, in which Kelly Barner talked about the best source of information when selecting a possible service provider.

Besides a direct one-to-one dialogue between end user clients, she had also suggested that associations could evolve into a potential information resource.

I had indicated that upon first glance this made a good deal of sense, however I cautioned that we should not forget the #CodeGate scandal, and all that entailed.

I then wrote the following:

In situations where service providers have a significant stake in an association or an association-related service, how likely are you to get a truly unbiased and transparent assessment?

It is no different than for example someone from an analyst firm or even a blogger, owning shares in a company they are covering.

With the last statement, a light bulb went off for both of us, leading to my Tweeting the question; should industry analysts or bloggers own stocks in the service providers they cover?

This of course leads to another question – which is the title of this post – should analysts and bloggers be required to disclose their stock holdings?

If you think about it, owning stock in a company you cover as @bobmango1 put it, creates the potential for serious conflict.

stock conflict Mango

Just to get it on the record, I have never owned stock in any – and I mean any – of the companies that I have covered in this blog. Although I might have at one point had IBM stock 17 years ago. Of course having 4 young children, RRSPs, education funds and everything “safe” is usually the order of the day. I am after all, the keeper of their inheritance.

All kidding aside i.e. my childrens’ inheritance, Mr. Mango’s observation regarding the potential impact of a “subconscious favorable post,” begs the question; do we need greater transparency in our industry?

Should analysts and bloggers be required to disclose their personal holdings if said holdings pose a potential conflict of interest or, is this an unwarranted invasion of privacy.

Share your thoughts, as I am sure that this will be a very interesting discussion.

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Posted in: Commentary