The Surprising History of Investment Newsletters

You can thank the U.S. Supreme Court for investment newsletters.

At first, “What is an investment newsletter?” may seem like an obvious question. But there’s actually a bit more to it than first meets the eye.

On our site, we use the terms “stock newsletter”, “investing newsletter”, and “newsletter” interchangeably.

While newsletters covering stocks are the most popular, all our advice can just as easily be applied to investing newsletters that cover mutual funds, options, ETFs, and other securities.

Every investing newsletter is essentially a financial publication (like a newspaper or magazine) that anyone can subscribe to for educational purposes.

On its website, the Securities and Exchange Commission states that “publishers of bona fide newspapers, news magazines, and business or financial publications of general and regular circulation” are not considered investment advisors.

“Under a decision of the United States Supreme Court, to enable a publisher to qualify for this exclusion, a publication must satisfy three elements: 

(1) the publication must offer only impersonal advice, i.e., advice not tailored to the individual needs of a specific client, group of clients, or portfolio; 

(2) the publication must be ‘bona fide,’ containing disinterested commentary and analysis rather than promotional material disseminated by someone touting particular securities, advertised lists of stocks ‘sure to go up,’ or information distributed as an incident to personalized investment services; and 

(3) the publication must be of general and regular circulation rather than issued from time to time in response to episodic market activity or events affecting the securities industry.”

Essentially an investment newsletter must act like a newspaper or magazine, publishing general advice on a regular publication schedule for the education of its subscribers.

A newsletter should not be offering you personalized investing advice or answering your investment-related questions. That would be acting like an investment advisor. 

The bottom line is that according to the SEC there is a right way and a wrong way to operate an investing newsletter. So if you spot any of the behaviors above or any warning signs from our “red flags” section, you should be suspicious.

NOTE: Above is a sample excerpt. For the full article and more, download the free 25-page report, “How to Pick the Best Stock Newsletter: 7 Must-Read Secrets Before You Invest a Penny


Todd Lincoln


Passionate stock market investor with deep experience trading small cap, dividend, and growth stocks.

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