breaking news

Final: Oklahoma State 13, Texas 10 (OT)

Our ongoing search for the best financial advice


Some of you have been wondering: What’s the deal with the recent parade of personal finance columnists in the American-Statesman’s Sunday Business section?

It’s a fair question, so here’s a deeper explanation for what are we doing with our Sunday Business section, why we are doing it — and what we are trying to accomplish.

First, some background. Scott Burns, our longtime personal finance columnist, retired in January after decades as one of the nation’s best personal finance writers. Burns was a syndicated columnist, which means that — although he lives in Dripping Springs — he didn’t work directly for the Statesman, but for a provider of syndicated content.

At Burns’ recommendation and with his endorsement, his syndicate transferred the personal finance column to Laurence Kotlikoff. As a Boston University economist and co-author of a number of books on personal finance, Kotlikoff has strong credentials. With that in mind, we decided to pick up his column for the Statesman, at least in the short-term, and see how our readers liked him.

After more than two months of publishing Kotlikoff’s work, the response from our readers has been mixed. I’ve received hundreds of emails, and the breakdown has been almost dead even between “Keep Kotlikoff” and “Anybody but Kotlikoff.”

That mixed response tells us we should at least consider some additional personal finance columnists, and we are continuing our tryout below, with columns from Kotlikoff, Liz Weston and Jill Schlesinger.

Some of ours readers’ biggest concerns about Kotlikoff came from his Feb. 13 column, when he advised readers to get out of the stock market “until the dust settles.” As one reader put it in a note to me: “This seems like incredibly rash advice to me… It’s one thing to tell people to take some profits and reduce their allocation to stocks, which they definitely should do, but advising people to get out altogether is almost malpractice.”

Of course, on the other side of the ledger I’ve heard from a number of readers who like what they’ve seen from Kotlikoff, and – based in no small part on an endorsement from Scott Burns – have urged us to stick with Kotlikoff as our main personal finance columnist.

Voicing the sentiment of many, one reader wrote: “I like (Kotlikoff’s) honesty and independence. I have great respect for Scott Burns, and this was his recommendation as a successor finance columnist.”

Setting aside the rhetoric, the ultimate goal for the Statesman is to provide our readers a personal finance columnist – or multiple columnists, perhaps – with the vision to know what aspects of personal finance are most relevant to our readers, the expertise to address those issues, and the ability to write in a clear, engaging style that both informs and entertains.

As we continue that search, we’ll continue to ask for your feedback. Email me at bharrell@statesman.com and share your thoughts, and we’ll do everything we can to make the right choice.

And no, before you ask: That choice won’t be trying to talk Scott Burns into resuming his column. The man has earned the right to enjoy his retirement.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Business week in review: HQ2 bid; home sales dip; Aldi’s coming
Business week in review: HQ2 bid; home sales dip; Aldi’s coming

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Austin submits HQ2 bid: For the past month, hundreds of cities have scrambled to prepare proposals to win Amazon’s second company headquarters after the online retailer announced plans for the $5 billion project. Austin, considered a contender by industry analysts, has been among those preparing bids. Now, Austin enters the...
Virtual house calls rise as doctors embrace new Texas telemedicine law
Virtual house calls rise as doctors embrace new Texas telemedicine law

Doctors in Austin and statewide are gearing up to make house calls again — at least digitally. The field known as telemedicine — in which patients can use their computers or smartphones to see doctors via videoconferencing without leaving their homes — is poised to take off in Texas, fueled by recent changes to state law that lifted...
Tight labor market heightens premium on startups, education, exports
Tight labor market heightens premium on startups, education, exports

Austin’s rapid business and population growth have started to stretch its capacity, snarling highways, slowing job growth and making the region less affordable for many of its residents. Yet, the metro area’s ability to sustain its entrepreneurial spark has allowed employers to continue adding jobs, and the region’s potential for...
Plan would demolish Arbor cinema, Manuel’s to build apartments, shops
Plan would demolish Arbor cinema, Manuel’s to build apartments, shops

The Great Hills Market shopping center in Austin’s Arboretum area is slated to be redeveloped over time into a mixed-use project that would replace a popular arthouse theater and Manuel’s Mexican restaurant. The project is proposed for 17.2 acres bounded by U.S. 183, Great Hills Trail and Jollyville Road, site of Great Hills Market. Manuel&rsquo...
Business digest: Texas to receive $7.35 million in GM settlement

AUTO SAFETY Texas to receive $7.35 million in multi-state GM settlement Texas will receive $7.35 million of a $120 million multi-state settlement with General Motors over allegations that the company hid safety issues stemming from defective ignition switches in some of its vehicles, Attorney General Ken Paxton said Thursday. The settlement with attorneys...
More Stories