A fool! A fool! I met a fool in the forest.
In act 2, scene 7 of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, one of the play’s main characters, Jaques, meets a Motley Fool in the forest and admires him for his wisdom, ability to speak freely, and for his capacity to navigate between the common man and the privileged members of court. Within this passage The Motley Fool’s founders identified the appropriate name for their company, an irreverent financial services firm which is not only wise in its counsel, but which has also made investing accessible and understandable to so many people around the world.
Started in 1993 by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a privately held, multimedia financial services company offering stock, investing, and personal finance advice and services. The Alexandria, VA-based company provides free stock news and analysis through its website, a series of podcasts, interactive discussion boards, and a syndicated newspaper column. Its paid services include newsletters, mutual funds, and wealth management.
Fools…so deeply contemplative
Alexandria, VA is about 240 miles away from Wall Street, but The Motley Fool feels further removed than that. The company is unabashedly serious about having fun and it celebrates the diversity and uniqueness of each of its “Fools” (employees), who are zealous in their allegiance to the company (voluntary turnover is below 5%). The Motley Fool, however, is equally serious about delivering results for its customers and has done so in grand fashion.
The Motley Fool gained prominence in its early years for prescient recommendations on stocks like Amazon, Priceline, Starbucks, and Netflix and for being among the first to provide investment guidance through online discussion forums. The company’s mission is to help the world invest better and is lauded for its ability to do so, frequently topping prominent industry “best of” lists.
O that I were a fool!
The Motley Fool’s well-known harlequin colors and jester’s hat are appropriate representations of the iconic brand and the “fools” it employs. The company actively recruits top performers, those with individualism, energy, and a spirit they are encouraged to bring to work with them.
The Motley Fool’s culture is enviable, crafted deliberately by putting people-first, by prizing test-and-learn innovation, investing in their employees’ wellbeing – financial and otherwise, and by embracing and celebrating failure.
From the start, the Gardner brothers were committed to taking care of their employees who would, in turn, take care of their customers.
Taking care of their people manifests itself in many ways. One example is the company’s world class wellness program with onsite yoga, spin classes, and a fulltime Chief Wellness Officer. The program has a 90% participation rate, which is about double the industry average, and has resulted in numerous awards including 2017’s Most Athletic Company in D.C. and 2016’s Game Changer in Employee Health. What’s more, taking care of its employees not only translates into care for customers, but for community as well. The Motley Fool’s Foolanthropy program does significant and wide ranging work from annual fundraising programs for selected charities to free financial literacy classes for children K-12 to newly formed programs in response to natural disasters.
Since its inception, The Motley Fool has been an upstart – an unconventional financial services firm that, in the spirit of Shakespeare’s Motley Fool, is wise, forthright, and connects the common man to the financial world. Grant Thornton is so proud to serve as its auditor and to likeminded fools and fighters of the status quo everywhere.