A New Sheriff in Town - TheStreet

A New Sheriff in Town

Look out. Cramer's got a plan to revamp the way we look at mutual funds. If you think he's opinionated about stocks, just wait.
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We all know that we have the most loyal group of readers off and on the Net. I know I have written for virtually every major publication in this country, and I have never seen anything like it. We get thousands of emails a day and have an interaction with all our members, even though we are 100 times the size we were two years ago. That's unbelievable.

I know I have struck up hundreds of associations by email through this company and am over and over again impressed by what our bizarre industry calls our "stickiness" -- but my mom would have said is our "love" -- for

TheStreet.com

.

I think it is because we are personality-driven and because we are trying to tear down the walls between reader and writer. Those barriers existed since journalism got started, and this new medium simply won't let them stand. The personal nature of it is what drives its organic growth, and even though we lack a deep-pocketed owner like many of our rivals, I am confident that the other guys will never gain must-go-to status because they are simply knockoffs of the old, soulless print world. They are uncomfortable with interaction and want to stay behind the walls, chatting only with advertisers as they distribute "frank" advice.

It's time to take the next logical step.

Beginning next week, I am going to do much more on the personal finance side of the equation on this site because the personal nature of this medium will allow me to help many of you who aren't that interested in trading but can benefit from my passion for the mutual fund industry.

And believe me, I have it in spades.

I have already talked to

Dave Kansas

about it. I am blown away by some of the things we are already writing about in personal finance. We are covering the mutual fund industry as if it is, well, an industry, instead of an idol that we pray to and hopes gives us advertising. I read

Dear Dagen

every day, and I am struck by the loyalty of her following -- even as she

disses Stuart, my favorite character on TV!! I see the type of stuff that

David Landis

is doing over there in that sector, and I want in. Doesn't this guy

Joe Bousquin

know you aren't allowed to knock these clay-footed managers? (LOL)

I used to do nothing but personal finance writing, whether for

SmartMoney

or

GQ

or

Time

(where I still write regularly). I love it. I had stayed away from it on this site because I am trying to do diary stuff, but that's changing as of next week. I am not going to shirk my diary -- I couldn't even if I wanted to because I love it too much -- but I am going to join up with Dagen, Joe and David to help make our personal finance section be the go-to section just as our stock section is.

If you think I am opinionated on stocks, you haven't heard what I have to say about other managers, styles of running money and asset allocation and all of the rest of the good, solid 401(k) stuff that confronts us every day.

Lotta bums picking stocks for you and charging you a lot of dough. More important, while we help out the do-it-yourselfers better than anybody, we have not done enough to help those who want to try to be better clients or have a helping hand in making big decisions.

Initially, I didn't think this medium would let us do it. But I roam the

message boards constantly and I see what is developing: a real community where you can go to the boards and ask others about what you are thinking of doing and get validation or criticism from them.

You know what that means? We at

TheStreet.com

can become the one place you can go to read, learn and have a serious discussion about your investments -- stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Right now, we have that silly

Morningstar

rating system -- who does that, anyway, Doctors of Mutual Fund-ology? -- which is so outmoded and useless as to make me laugh. I'm not happy with that system. It is not good enough for you. We are going to do something better than that, which will help you make money in mutuals like we help you make money in stocks. I am personally horrified by what passes for discourse on the rankings of funds. That's got to change. We will change it.

What I envision is a giant section devoted to those who want to talk, interact, compare and grade mutual fund stock-picking, service and asset allocation. We want to peel back the mystery and mystique of that bizarre industry that is the repository of 50% of America's personal assets and do what the government and the directors of these funds have refused to do: have any sort of accountability for their management or mismanagement of your nest egg.

When you are through reading, you go to our boards. Then we all interact together about what the right thing to do is. And here is the kicker: We aren't sponsored by anybody. We aren't in bed with anybody. We aren't taking a cut from anybody. Why does this matter? OK, a few years ago I wrote a cover story for

Worth

magazine about fixing

Fidelity

. It was a critical piece. The magazine at the time was owned by Fidelity. I know, stupid me. (If you thought that, you sound just like my wife.) It ran the piece, but insisted that it not be the cover story, and I think that hurt relations between

TheStreet.com

, which had just been starting out, and Fidelity for a long time.

Don't get me wrong. I am not against valued advertisers having their say, just like I am not against valued readers having their say. But I am against being on the take. I am against constrained, tainted discourse. I have worked too long and too hard to have the autonomy to say what I want to bend to the wishes of the mutual fund advertisers out there.

Our mutual fund coverage is not afraid. That's what I like about it.

That's why I want to be a part of it. That's what I am going to start doing. Next week. Both on the right side of this great site and in the boards.

So look out, Morningstar and all of you cottage-industry mutual fund raters who have done nothing to illuminate or be critical of the most important industry that affects your pocketbook.

There is a new sheriff in town.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long TheStreet.com, and Cramer was long TheStreet.com. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

jjcletters@thestreet.com.