By Elizabeth Dilts
NEW YORK (Reuters) - An anonymous group has started a blog to criticize popular wealth management gossip website AdvisorHUB.com, which it says posts false and damaging information about brokers.
AdvisorHUB has gained widespread popularity among brokers with posts it labels as "rumors" from anonymous tipsters.
Andrew Parish, a former broker who started the website in 2014, has said he works to confirm the information he gets. But the site has rankled some for posting details about companies' hiring offers and rumors about brokers' departures.
Contributors to the site post under the nom de plume "Yoda."
The lead founder of the rival startup blog, AdvisorSpoke.com, writes under the name Clark Kent and declined to give his or her real name to Reuters in an email exchange. Kent said the site had four other contributors, but all must remain anonymous or they would lose their jobs at financial service companies.
AdvisorHUB's Parish and his lawyer did not respond to calls and emails for comment.
Kent described AdvisorSpoke.com's five founders as industry professionals who work at three financial firms, along with one individual who is partly retired. Some have also participated in industry roundtables for recruiters, and one was named a top adviser by Barron's, Kent said.
All have signed non-disclosure agreements and contributed their own money to a "penalty pool," Kent said. If one of the contributors breaks the secrecy pact, they lose their money.
Posted on July 6, AdvisorSpoke's first article channeled the unusual syntax of the "Star Wars" character Yoda with the headline "Tell the Facts I Do Not."
"(AdvisorHUB's Yoda) is a purveyor of smut, who created a gossip site that he uses to bully the 'big boys' of the wealth management industry," the AdvisorSpoke founder wrote.
Parish has said he intended AdvisorHUB to be a place for advisers to speak openly to one another. It requires that sources be anonymous because most brokerages will penalize employees for speaking to the media, he said.
Reuters reported last year that Parish previously attempted to use his website to sell information about readers to major Wall Street securities brokerages.
In June, Parish pleaded guilty to not paying federal employment taxes for his workers at a separate business in 2009.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)