Once a year, Barron’s publishes its “The Top 100 Financial Advisers List.” Much of the research for the article is done by an outfit known as “Winner’s Circle”, based in Boca Raton.
Most of the advisers on the list work at large firms like JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER), and UBS (NYSE:UBS).
The list may well be useful for looking at who does well giving advise to investors and how they think about the market. But, this year, in a full-page advertisement, Morgan Stanley congratulates each of it employees on the list. Even a casual observer would have to assume that the investment bank’s advertising and PR department saw the article well before it went to press.
News organizations are supposed to keep their advertising departments away from content until after it is published. Otherwise, it at least appears that commerce can influence content. That may not be true at Barron’s, but one would have hoped that the magazine would have seen fit to turn the Morgan Stanley ad down because it looks bad.
To make things a bit worse. Barron’s ran another section of stories about corporate jets. The articles were written by staff at Business Jet magazine and edited at Barron’s. Since the old Dow Jones publication is about investing and not the flying habits of the rich, the section looks like a way to pick up private aircraft ads. It seems to have worked. FlexJet, Falcon, and Jet Aviation all took ads.
Douglas A. McIntyre