The financial blogosphere was a friendly place.
I'd like to point out that I did not start with a good general impression of some of my fellows financial bloggers such as Tim Ho from Dollars & Sense because, at that time, I harboured some doubts about whether Dollars and Sense can be unbiased in light of their commercial interests. Over time, my respect for them grew and they seem earnest about giving the best possible advice to the readers. I should also mention that they often organise free events for bloggers to come together to give an unbiased look at some developments in the industry. It should also be noted that Dinesh's investment writings on investing in Singapore are amongst the sharpest you can find on the Internet.
Yesterday, it dawned upon me that a three anonymous insurance agents started a Facebook group that effectively declared war on us financial bloggers. In some of their articles, they attempted in their own clumsy way to challenge some of the ideas shared on blogs like Dollars & Sense and Budget Babe, subsequently going as far to declare that keyboard warriors should not be dishing out financial advice.
Like most financial bloggers, the victims in this saga felt that the Facebook group should be ignored. However, I think that we're are in a precarious position. Commissioned agents have a strong incentive to cause harm to business interests of financial education provides or information portals because the insurance industry simply attracts too much controversy from their sales tactics. For the most part, financial bloggers are unbiased and the Internet allows us to pool our wisdom together. For example, Budget Babe has an excellent expose on agent commissions here.
So this is what I did :
I challenged three of them to a public debate.
I suggested that the topic was about general ethical standards of the insurance industry. I think folks would want to see a no-holds-barred debate between a team of unbiased financial bloggers and a team of commissioned sales agents and we might even be able to charge a decent amount for it.
As it stands, the majority of financial bloggers just want to ignore these agents. But we know that given the attractive incentives to sell ILPs and Whole Life policies, they will not stop discrediting bloggers who propose alternatives like Buy term invest the rest and the cheaper ETF strategies.
So I'm going to take the opposite tack:
They call themselves "The truth and nothing but the truth".
Subscribe to their group on Facebook.
You can lurk and just enjoy the popcorn.
But chances are that, they being merely commissioned agents, they will make mistakes when they talk about finance.
It is a good opportunity to point out their mistakes and show them up for the clowns that they are !!!
I for one, am itching for a spirited debate !