Register For Our Mailing List

Register to receive our free weekly newsletter including editorials.

Home / 328

The Cuffelinks to Firstlinks to Morningstar journey

In 2012, Graham Hand and I sat down for a catch-up lunch. During the wide-ranging chat, we noted that due to budget cuts at mainstream publishers, experienced finance journalists were leaving and much media had become a reproduction of PR releases or quick-grab quotes.

The superannuation and investment industry needed a forum where market experts provided the insights, with editing and curating resources delivering the opinions in a newsletter and website. Bringing together his two interests of writing and investing, Graham said he would do it. We needed a catchy name, and since I was well-known in the industry, we liked the quirky ‘Cuffelinks’.

I don’t think Graham knew what he was getting into. He designed a website, and started a mailing list by contacting the people we thought might be interested. We invited experts to write articles with two basic goals in mind:

  1. Make the content useful, interesting and independent with a focus on investing and related subjects such as superannuation, demographics and financial advice.
  2. Grow our reader base to benefit as many people as possible.

We decided at an early stage that the weekly newsletter and website should be free. We didn’t want a subscription model as a barrier to accessing the content. In fact, at the start, there was no business model and no real plan for revenue.

It did not take long to realise the venture would soon be a major undertaking, requiring staff resources to manage the workload including a social media presence and liaising with hundreds of people in the industry.

At the end of the first year, we had about 5,000 subscribers, some fantastic content, and a steady stream of new writers wanting to provide articles and reach our audience. People approached us to advertise on the website, but we preferred a long-term sponsorship model where we worked with respected brands to share their ideas with our rapidly-growing audience.

Over the years, Cuffelinks has become a major financial newsletter, but with that, the demands of running a substantial business. I know Graham never intended to build an empire. It was always about the best content to an engaged audience rather than making money.

Now, people want conferences, podcasts, videos, social media, perhaps new mastheads and a wide range of ways the business can grow. And with all this potential, a priority was to make Cuffelinks sustainable, as it has published thousands of articles which help people with their investing and it has built a community wanting to share ideas.

For the last couple of years, Graham has wanted to focus more on the quality of the content and his own writing, but with the assistance of Deputy Editor, Leisa Bell, he spends much of his time running the business. It is not sustainable when a business relies so much on the energy and commitment of one person.

A substantial partner was needed with the same independent philosophy to take over the growth and management of the business, while Graham transitions more into editing and writing. We must maintain close relationships with the sponsors who are committed to investor education and making the business viable, and develop contacts with the people who supply the content. And we need to offer new ways to communicate with our audience in ways we simply cannot achieve in the current structure.

It was recognised with this likely change that I would be less involved, maybe writing an occasional article, and for the long term, the association of the name Cuffelinks with Chris Cuffe should be addressed. The new name, Firstlinks, retained the ‘links’ to the previous name, and recognised the content as the ‘first link’ between our readers and the ideas. There was a connection with the charitable business I manage, Third Link, and the time when Graham and I worked together at First State. So over the course of 2019, the publication transitioned to Firstlinks, which has been well accepted.

It also meant the business could be acquired by a substantial new owner with the resources to develop it further with a new name.

Separately, Graham will describe why he feels Morningstar is the best company to take the business to its next level, and how he and his assistant, Leisa, will remain closely involved in producing the content.

I welcome Morningstar’s acquisition, and thanks for joining us on the journey. Long may it continue.

 

Regards, Chris Cuffe

 

5 Comments
D Ramsay
October 27, 2019

I have been a subscriber for a long time (since inception I think) and having had 3 decades working in the corporate world I just hope Chris's guiding light/mantra/ethic - namely - "Make the content useful, interesting and independent with a focus on investing and related subjects" stays foremost in the new look Firstlinks.
Like others, I also have enjoyed the content and learned a lot - even if it was only to come to a contrary position to a given article(s), those articles helped me decide my own path greatly.

Guy Brindley
October 22, 2019

Having been an early subscriber (and initial Third Link Fund investor too), Chris and Graham you have done an incredible job with this newsletter making it an email I have always been happy to receive with so many relevant and interesting articles. At no cost too makes it all the more amazing.
Fingers crossed it continues!

Robert
October 20, 2019

Have been with this news letter from the start lots of wonderful free information which you must be proud to have brought to a range of people over the years thanks for so many interesting articles and looking forward to many more years of the same from Morningstar thanks Graham Chris and all involved to make this possible.

Denis - SMSF Trustee
October 17, 2019

This publication has always been excellent and has been a great source of meaningful information for investing and particularly for management of our SMSF. The quality of the articles are timely and first class and I commend you for the approach taken in delivering such a much needed service. It particularly served as a great source of factual information during the recent franking credit debacle. I hope that the quality continues under Morningstar. Thanks so much.

Liam Shorte @SMSFCoach
October 17, 2019

Thank you both for launching and guiding this great service. I have enjoyed the content and learned a lot, had a few arguments, put forward a few ideas and especially appreciated the comments section. Look forward to more quality articles from Graham and the odd one from yourself too please.

 

Leave a Comment:

     
banner

Most viewed in recent weeks

Lessons when a fund manager of the year is down 25%

Every successful fund manager suffers periods of underperformance, and investors who jump from fund to fund chasing results are likely to do badly. Selecting a manager is a long-term decision but what else?

2022 election survey results: disillusion and disappointment

In almost 1,000 responses, our readers differ in voting intentions versus polling of the general population, but they have little doubt who will win and there is widespread disappointment with our politics.

Now you can earn 5% on bonds but stay with quality

Conservative investors who want the greater capital security of bonds can now lock in 5% but they should stay at the higher end of credit quality. Rises in rates and defaults mean it's not as easy as it looks.

30 ETFs in one ecosystem but is there a favourite?

In the last decade, ETFs have become a mainstay of many portfolios, with broad market access to most asset types, as well as a wide array of sectors and themes. Is there a favourite of a CEO who oversees 30 funds?

Australia’s bounty: is it just diversified luck?

Increases in commodity prices have fuelled global inflation while benefiting commodities exporters like Australia. Oftentimes, booms lead to busts and investors need to get the timing right on pricing cycles to be successful.

Meg on SMSFs – More on future-proofing your fund

Single-member SMSFs face challenges where the eventual beneficiaries (or support team in the event of incapacity) will be the member’s adult children. Even worse, what happens if one or more of the children live overseas?

Latest Updates

Investment strategies

Five features of a fair performance fee, including a holiday

Most investors pay little attention to the performance fee on their fund but it can have a material impact on returns, especially if the structure is unfair. Check for these features and a coming fee holiday.

Interviews

Ned Bell on why there’s a generational step change underway

During market dislocation events, investors react irrationally and it should be a great environment for active management. The last few years have been an easy ride on tech stocks but it's now all about quality.  

SMSF strategies

Meg on SMSFs: Powers of attorney for your fund

Granting an enduring power of attorney is an important decision for the trustees of an SMSF. There are alternatives and protections to consider including who should perform this vital role and when.

Property

The great divergence: the evolution of the 'magnetic' workplace

The pandemic profoundly impacted the way we use real estate but in a post-pandemic environment, tenant preferences and behaviours are now providing more certainty to the outlook of our major real estate sectors.

Shares

Bank reporting season scorecard May 2022

A key feature of the May results for the banking sector was profits trending back to pre-Covid-19 levels, thanks to lower than expected unemployment and the growth in house prices.

Why gender diversity matters for investors

Companies with a boys’ club approach to leadership are a red flag for investors. On the other hand, companies that walk the talk on women in leadership roles perform better, potentially making them better investments. 

Economy

Is it all falling apart for central banks?

Central banks are unable to ignore the inflation in front of them, but underlying macro-economic conditions indicate that inflation may be transitory and the consequences of monetary tightening dangerous.

Sponsors

Alliances

© 2022 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer
The data, research and opinions provided here are for information purposes; are not an offer to buy or sell a security; and are not warranted to be correct, complete or accurate. Morningstar, its affiliates, and third-party content providers are not responsible for any investment decisions, damages or losses resulting from, or related to, the data and analyses or their use. Any general advice or ‘regulated financial advice’ under New Zealand law has been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892) and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. For more information refer to our Financial Services Guide (AU) and Financial Advice Provider Disclosure Statement (NZ). You should consider the advice in light of these matters and if applicable, the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision to invest. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product’s future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a professional financial adviser. Articles are current as at date of publication.
This website contains information and opinions provided by third parties. Inclusion of this information does not necessarily represent Morningstar’s positions, strategies or opinions and should not be considered an endorsement by Morningstar.

Website Development by Master Publisher.