Nathan Worden's avatar
$332.6m follower assets
Should You Trust People Who Don't Connect A Brokerage?
@growthinvesting asked a great question today:

Post media
For me, the question about trusting people who don't have a connected portfolio has two answers: one answer for today, and another answer for the world that will exist in 10 years.

Disclaimer: I don't know the future. But there's an ideal future I think we as community are actively trying to build.

Let's start by looking at today
As of April 21st, 2022, transparently sharing what is in your portfolio is still a novel concept to most of the world. There are three main (totally legitimate) reasons why someone who is active in the community wouldn't have a connected brokerage:

1) They want to get more comfortable with the tech and security aspect of linking a brokerage
2) They want to connect, but their brokerage account isn't supported yet
3) They have professional constraints (the financial industry has a lot of disclosure red tape)

So if I'm just answering this question for today, I'd say:
"Yes. You can still trust people who don't connect a brokerage. Judge them on the quality of their ideas, and use the connected portfolios as a bonus data point."

BUT, here's the future I think we're building:

Verified portfolio holdings will capture the public imagination.

Imagine CNBC calling up Commonstock and saying "can you give us someone to interview who sold all their Netflix in the days leading up to the 37% drop and wrote a memo about why?"

Why get a random talking head when you can talk with the person who verifiably made the right call?

I think "the conversation" belongs to people who have skin in the game. The people who have legitimacy.

Imaging going to a basketball game where all the cameras are pointed at some random people in the audience who are just talking about what the players should be doing.

There's a reason why we watch the people actually playing the game. The audience and commentators play a role— but we are here to watch the action.

Attention and interest will flow to those who have legitimacy.

And legitimacy is earned.

You can earn legitimacy in two ways:

1) By being great at explaining the 'why' (this is why Commonstock will always be a place for thoughtful and kind people)

2) By backing up your words with your actions (this is why the ability to connect brokerages is important)

Both are important! But linking brokerages is new. It's not understood yet how important this will be. It's early days. People are still trying to wrap their minds around all the second-order effects of transparent sharing (there are a lot.)

As the tech and security become better understood, the professional constraints will also begin to shift. Many professionals will realize they are at a disadvantage if they're not open about the 'what' and 'why' of their investment decisions.

Commonstock is the first platform to offer a verifiable way to earn, quantify, and document legitimacy.

So, to wrap this up: I think it's too early to say "I don't trust people who don't connect a brokerage..."

But in the future?

I think it will be weird if most of the attention doesn't naturally go to the people with verified skin in the game.
Fat Baby Funds's avatar
My thoughts: don’t throw shade to those that don’t, do throw love to those that do
Nathan Worden's avatar
@fatbaby This is a genius way to put it and I wish I had said it like that 😄
Conor Mac's avatar
@fatbaby so well put haha
Jensen Butler's avatar
@fatbaby amen to this!
Beaver Capital's avatar
Wish I could connect my account, but I’m not in the US so currently can’t.

I still post my portfolio for my own accountability and to better myself. It’s up to others if they want to trust it and that’s fine if they don’t because I’m not here to sell anything to anyone. I’m also not here to try to prove I’m better than anyone else. Just here to share knowledge, collaborate, give and receive feedback, and hope that we all succeed in our investing endeavours! :)
Nathan Worden's avatar
@beaver_cap That's what it's all about! At the end of the day it's more important to have good people and a collaborative culture than it is to have cool tech.

The cool tech can help support transparency, but the people have to want to give and receive quality feedback for the platform to have value. Great points.
So, this sucks.'s avatar
I’m not here to give anybody advice or sweet DD. I am a rookie at times in my third year of trading. Sometimes I make a trade and say “ahh shit need to get out of it” and I hope people aren’t being judgmental. I like seeing people’s ports and trades, but don’t blame them if they don’t want to be on a pedestal during these times. Like literally half my stocks I feel like a dumbass right now but I’m hoping I’m right in the end. Also, this CS account is tracking one margin account and two custodial accounts for my girls. Sometimes the same ticker is in multiple accounts and buys and sells might seem confusing if not contradictory. I just think not enough context comes with seeing a portfolio.
Nathan Worden's avatar
@wardamn Yep, there's a lot of nuance needed. Seeing portfolios and trades can be informative, but its often a conversation starter, not the end.
Eric Messenger's avatar
@wardamn it’s doing a good job of combining my & both custodial accounts and keeping it clear so far, just wanted to share so I could track aspects of my portfolio in one place.

Most importantly, don’t think just because your stocks are down, that you’re a dumbass; Mr Market is the dumbass most of the time😉
So, this sucks.'s avatar
Next, I follow you and @fatbaby on Twitter. Y’all have far more of a following than me and I wouldn’t blame y’all if y’all didnt disclose your trades. Sometimes fintwit is nasty. Fintwit migrates over here now. Literally one fintwit fight between furus was over who was holding less cash during the bull market. If they’ll get pissy about that then they’ll call you out on anything. Just my sincere .02
Nathan Worden's avatar
@wardamn I just followed you on Commonstock— you're one away from hitting 30 and unlocking 'follower assets'!
Nathan Worden's avatar
@wardamn Good point regarding how some people are just looking for a fight. My hope is that community culture can help direct what and _how "_fights' develop. Collaborative disagreement can provide a safe way to "fight" where no one feels threatened and we all learn from the exchange.

We'll see if I'm too much of an idealist, but I do think Twitter wasn't built for investors. Allowing the space for nuance and discussion can help reduce misunderstanding. The future is still being written!
Nathan Worden's avatar
@scorebdinvestor Wohoo! Achievement unlocked @wardamn! Thanks Scoreboard Investor!

Post media
Nathan Worden's avatar
@wardamn YEAH 😄🤌

See what I mean about capturing the public imagination? Did you ever think someone following you would have tens of millions? Thats statistically likely here. Congrats on unlocking follower assets 😁
AverageInvestor's avatar
I don’t have my account posted in part because it’s a hot mess. I’m wresting between some different strategies and figuring investing out. I use posts to provide indication of my thinking in hopes that someone will benefit from the question or the stocks/etf I found.
Nathan Worden's avatar
@averageinvestor Completely legitimate 😀

Thanks for sharing your thinking in posts!
ParrotStock's avatar
If you are not sharing your portfolio on CS, are you really even investing? 🤣🤣

Seriously though, if I wasn't anonymous I would have had reservations sharing my portfolio publicly. But now that I've seen how CS uses and presents the data, I wouldn't have any problem at all.

So to your point, I think it will be much more telling in 10 years once it becomes more common practice.
Nathan Worden's avatar
@parrot Exactly— it takes time to get used to it! And you and I are super users and 'early adopters.' The vast majority of people don't even have this on their radar yet. The big inflection moments are ahead of us.
Modern Growth Investing's avatar
@nathanworden @parrot Totally agree with sentiment!
Modern Growth Investing's avatar
I am a growth investor, and by nature my thinking is forward-looking and your thoughts make sense to me.

I will practice the @fatbaby policy from now on!

Thanks for throwing light on this, I will keep an open mind for everyone irrespective of them sharing their portfolios.

Post media
Nathan Worden's avatar
@growthinvesting 😄 love the “Fat Baby Policy” 😂😅
Conor Mac's avatar
It depends what you want as a consumer of content I guess. I read @tsoh_investing twice a week, and I don't really care what his returns are, I just like the research. Its idea generation for me, and seeing the things that great analysts look at, pick out, or deduct, to help my own process.
Nathan Worden's avatar
@investmenttalk agree— if you forced me to choose between thoughtful research and verified holdings, I would probably go with high quality research. But it’d be close. Sometimes I do find myself asking “Don’t tell me what you think, show me what you own!”
Dissecting the Markets's avatar
I only post things off the top of my head that I find to be unique. Sometimes my words might make someone think I hold it when really I've never touched it.

Plus, it hasn't been easy connecting my Merrill Edge portfolio onto Commonstock. I had to change passwords numerous times and even when I knew my password, Plaid somehow makes it impossible for me to connect it.
Nathan Worden's avatar
@dissectmarkets you do add a ton of unique thoughts and I love it 😃 And of course it’s always nice to be able to check your portfolio to see if you own something you’re talking about.

Regarding Marrill Lynch and Plaid— yep that’s the tech piece that will take a while to get better (but will!). Plaid was founded in 2013 and originally was trying to be a book keeping app, but they pivoted when they had such a hard time connecting to banks and brokerages and realized that this was a problem they could help solve for others.

Anyway, the point is, the ability to build a community around transparency like this has only existed for less than 10 years (and really more like five when you think about when Plaid actually was able to offer viable services)

I’m predicting the ease of connection will get a lot better in the coming years, both on the Plaid side and on the direct connection side.

To be honest, even if it's a connected account it can also be a 1 unit purchase kind of account. Of course not all 1 unit purchase are insignificant. But what I have learn in the past from connected live FX accounts can be fake trades as well to make their portfolio looks good. For those who is not based in US there are just too many brokerages that cannot be connect through. Even for me when my account is connected I am also worried that there are folks who blindly pick-up some of my rubbish buy. Which I had a couple.
Nathan Worden's avatar
@kckc it’s a great point— connected brokerages also present their own challenges. One suggestion I’ve heard to counter the ‘1 unit purchase’ accounts is to give people the option to show the range of portfolio value they fall into. (i.e. “My portfolio has > $100k” for example).

This would change the culture a lot and put more emphasis on how much money someone has, which I don’t love. But it’s an option.

I guess it depends how bad of a problem we think ‘1 unit purchase’ accounts might become. I tend to think that it’s a lot of work to open up a brokerage and transfer money in and then decide what to buy— even if it is one share . It’s not scalable to open a bunch of different brokerages and buy small amounts of everything just so that one brokerage does well.

So if people are trying to look good by doing this, they’d still have to decide what to buy that would outperform the market. So there is some skill there.

Additionally, in order to get a large following I personally think you need both good returns AND the ability to explain your investment thesis. So as long as someone is doing both of those well, they’re adding value to the community and it probably isn’t a huge deal that their account size is small.

My opinions on all of this may shift over time, but it’s an extremely interesting area to think about because we’re literally defining the game theory that dictates how the platform functions. There’s a lot of ways this could potentially evolve and I’m just thankful to be on the journey with y’all ☺️🙌

Valerie Jones's avatar
I am nervous about adding in more content for many reasons. I don’t trust any platform and I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I try to research and learn from reading from this community. But for sure this is my happy place.
Conor Mac's avatar
@backyardbuddy Totally respect that. Not everyone has to connect a brokerage, but we are always super happy to have people like yourself who engage either way.

Also, hearing that this is your happy place, is amazing.
Nathan Worden's avatar
@backyardbuddy appreciate you! Just knowing that you're researching and learning is huge. And when you upvote posts you found interesting or ask questions in the comments, that helps the community improve as well. There's still a lot you can contribute to the community without connecting a brokerage. Glad that you're here!
Ayesha Tariq, CFA's avatar
I think there's always more than one way to look at things. I cannot share my portfolio because of CFA's ethical standards. But, if someone calls into question another's integrity for not sharing their portfolio, you could always call into question someone's integrity for not sharing their true identity. But, some of our good friends on this platform and on Twitter are anonymous and I've found them to be great people. I don't think integrity is defined by how much one shares, but rather by the principles one has.
Nathan Worden's avatar
@ayeshatariq this is a great take. Integrity is defined by the principles one has.
My Weekly Stock's avatar
Would love to share, hope commonstock will expand the feature to european brokers!
Nathan Worden's avatar
@myweeklystock +1 to this^
Irritable Investor's avatar
Late to this discussion, but +1 to @fatbaby's take. Also, I'd like to add that what separates this community from Twitter for me are the verified investors posting research/takes and being able to show their skin in the game. I don't think this is the only platform to consume investing research, but this is the only platform to connect with the investing community beyond just anonymous social media handles.

For this reason, eventually as the linkages are figured out, I think a required brokerage link will be great for this community. The level of trust and honesty will be high, and will minimize the entry of bad actors, trollers etc.
Conor Mac's avatar
@irritableinvestor saw someone else comment something about $ values, that would be an interest optional badge to display as well. No plans for it atm, but number if people gave requested it.