What was once considered a niche market, FinTech has emerged as a dominant force, and the rise (and fall, and rise, and plateau) of blockchain-enabled cryptocurrencies, have fundamentally shifted both the finance conversation and the way in which the entire industry views itself. Needless to say it’s been a bumpy ride. The reporters we have chosen to highlight on this list have been on the forefront of these changes, marking paradigm shift after paradigm shift, providing insight and prognostications into changing financial markets, and useful information for financial experts and the average person alike.
It started with the housing bubble bursting, the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and other landmark events that triggered the recession of ’07-’08. It forged on through the global economic recovery and has brought us up to speed on the new economic heights of the last five years. It has also chronicled the dramatic ways the finance world has changed in the digital age. What was once considered a niche market, FinTech has emerged as a dominant force, and the rise (and fall, and rise, and plateau) of blockchain-enabled cryptocurrencies, have fundamentally shifted both the finance conversation and the way in which the entire industry views itself. Needless to say, it’s been a bumpy ride.
The reporters we have chosen to highlight on this list have been at the forefront of these changes, marking paradigm shift after paradigm shift, providing insight and prognostications into changing financial markets, and useful information for financial experts and the average person alike. Their reporting moves markets, makes or breaks fortunes, and helps build nest eggs. There has scarcely been a more important time for quality, responsible, financial journalism as we all struggle to understand the 21st-century economy. Our Top Financial Journalists help people around the world navigate these trends and understand their role in the recent surge in digital finance.
Jeff Kauflin covers FinTech, crypto, blockchain, and investing for Forbes. He also writes on leadership and corporate diversity. Prior to joining Forbes, Kauflin worked in client consulting and talent management. He has written for Entrepreneur Magazine and Business Insider. His work has helped to identify and define the shape and timbre of the cryptocurrency market at a time when it is still very much a work in progress.
One recent investigative story focused on the little known investment bank backing much of the FinTech boom. Cross River, a 150 person outfit across the river from Manhattan (get it?) in Ft. Lee, NJ is underwriting loans for some of the biggest names in FinTech. They have recently ballooned to more than $2 billion in assets, up from $100 million ten years prior. They are what Kauflin and co-writers Antoine Gara and Nathan Vardi called “the industry’s dirty little secret” where this one “bank” provides the scaffolding on which many FinTech outfits survive as essentially lending outfits, with Cross River providing the capital.
Kauflin, like some of the other FinTech reporters on this list, is young, hungry, digitally-savvy, and willing to stake a claim on the nature of FinTech reporting as it continues to increase in relevance (and eventually column inches) in the nation’s top financial publications. It may be early days, but as FinTech becomes an industry to watch, Kauflin and his ilk will be the ones writing the definitive narrative of this upcoming juggernaut.
Anna Irrera is a FinTech correspondent and financial companies team leader at Reuters where she covers the intersection between cutting edge financial companies and tools like blockchain with Wall Street. Prior to her time at Reuters, she wrote for Financial News, under the Dow Jones newspaper umbrella covering trading and financial technology out of London, and is the author of Prendo a calci il sole- Bahia, i bambini, la strada, a look at 13 true stories of Brazil’s “children of the street.”
The recent coverage of Virgil Griffith, the Ethereum Foundation employee arrested recently for intending to deliver to North Korea, the equipment necessary to mine ether (Ethereum’s cryptocurrency offering) is a perfect example of her strong crypto beat reporting. In it, she easily connects the news at hand with the proper context so that the average reader need not have a detailed understanding of cryptocurrency (or world affairs for that matter) to get the importance of the story.
Irrera is most at home writing about some of the least understood areas of FinTech. Her coverage of cryptocurrency is illustrative and informative, and she’s the consummate beat reporter, writing on the moving and shaking in the industry one day, and its massive implications the next. Look to her to be a rising star as this niche beat continues to garner massive attention.
Gretchen Morgenson’s financial journalism pedigree is as good as it gets. She’s been the assistant business and financial editor for the New York Times, s senior investigations reporter with the Wall Street Journal, a stockbroker at Dean Witter Reynolds, and the author of four books on finance, and the financial crisis. She’s won the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting for her coverage of Wall Street, was named “the most important financial journalist of her generation” by the Nation, and three Gerald Loeb awards for commentary, beat writing, and large newspapers. She is currently the Senior Financial Reporter for NBC News.
An investigative reporter at heart, Morgenson broke the story of Matthew Murray, a Wall Street analyst who was fired from his position at the investment bank Rodman and Renshaw after reporting emails to Congress over potential SEC violations. In the story, she recounts who Murray sought to lower his ranking of one of the firm’s clients and was overruled and subsequently fired. The story implicated the bank’s then-chairman General Wesley Clark who had acknowledged to his staff that Murray had been fired for his congressional reporting.
Morgenson has the investigative chops to rival just about anyone working today and the Wall Street know experience to make her reporting deep, informative, and impactful. She’s shaped the coverage of two of the most important financial publications in the world for decades and has been recognized consistently for a broad range of quality journalism.
Robin Wigglesworth is the global finance correspondent for the Financial Times. Based in Norway, his coverage takes a “roaming, big picture job, with a focus on ‘the future of finance.'” Educated at the City University of London and the London School of Economics, Wigglesworth has covered a wide range of economic and political stories while posted in New York and the Persian Gulf. His focus has long been on economically distressed countries and he has unique experience and understanding of sovereign bond markets. He writes regular news and opinion stories on the impact international finance has on various domestic interests.
An example of Wigglesworth’s new role as a global financial storyteller, a recent story about the impact the Taiwanese private investment could have on the U.S. bond market is both enlightening and informative. Most people know little or nothing about the U.S. bond market, let alone how it can be impacted by private investment on the scale Taiwanese financial institutions are pumping money into it. For instance, Taiwanese private investment is 4% of the entire U.S. investment-grade corporate bond market, and 14% of long-term corporate bonds. What’s more Taiwanese banks account for 12% of all trading in the Fed funds market where U.S. interest rates are set. Long story short, Taiwan could dramatically impact U.S. monetary policy.
Wigglesworth’s writing makes sense on two important levels. It is useful information and analysis for those who already have a good understanding of the subject matter and for those who have little at all. He does a great job simplifying complex concepts, without dumbing them down for a more astute audience.
There are many reasons Jean Chatzky has earned a place on this list. She’s a seasoned personal finance reporter who has made it her mission to make personal finance understandable for every American, regardless of age or demographic. She started her career at Working Woman as an editorial assistant and left three years later as the assistant editor. She’s worked in equity research and launched a magazine devoted to youth financial literacy. She is best known as the financial editor at NBC’s the Today Show and has made appearances on Oprah, Live With Regis and Kelly, and written for Parents Magazine, Seventeen, Cosmo, and Smart Money. She is the founder of the popular podcast HerMoney which she spun off into a multimedia company aimed at helping women with their personal finance. Her Twitter feed is chockablock with tips and explanations to help even the most novice person understand their personal finance.
There isn’t one signature story, but instead, a signature multimedia company. HerMoney, which Chatzky spun off of her flagship podcast of the same name offers real world advice on personal finance for women including ways to compare savings accounts, budget apps, and what to expect financially when you’re expecting. She conducts interviews with powerful women and does a great deal of work helping women of all ages and economic circumstances make smart personal finance decisions and up their financial literacy.
Chatzky’s work goes well beyond quality journalism and ventures into public service. HerMoney is a must read for women looking to improve their financial literacy, understand how the news is shaping their lives, and get inspired by other women. While it is geared toward women, its appeal is very universal at times, and the tips and explanations are often applicable to anyone who wishes to better understand the tricky world of personal finance.
New York City is the center of the financial universe, and nobody cover this beat better than Paul. As Blockchain and crypto have gained steam in the financial world, the need for world-class reporting has intensified. Paul has not only answered the call, but is leading the charge in helping the masses understand crypto and the potential it can have for individuals, companies, and the world at large.
Paul has done tremendous work covering Blockchain and crypto’s impact on markets and investors, including the potential pitfalls of investing in such a new, unproven technology. Just recently, he wrote a piece for the Wall St. Journal that captures this high risk, high reward investment opportunity perfectly: Buying shares in crypto firms is risky business.
Investing in emerging technologies is never an easy decision, and nobody covers this area of the financial world like Paul. His insights are well-researched and well thought out, and anyone hoping to understand the financial side of the Blockchain coin would do well to read Paul’s body of work.
Jesse Eisinger is the king of uncovering Wall Street malfeasance. Having won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for his post-mortem investigations into the Wall Street banking crisis of ’07-’08, Eisinger has written extensively on the lack of corporate prosecutions. He accurately predicted the demise of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers a year before the financial giants went down and nearly took the economy with them. He is a constant fixture in some of the most influential financial publications in the country including the NYT’s Dealbook, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Washington Post, and NPR. He is a Senior Reporter and Editor at ProPublica and in addition to winning the Pulitzer, he has been a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize in Investigative Reporting twice.
The elephant in the room is clearly Eisinger’s exposure of the questionable practices on Wall Street that contributed to the recent recession that won him the Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting. Much of his coverage centers around financial giants like JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup, who all contributed not only to the bubble that caused the recession but used shady practices to keep that unsustainable bubble from bursting. Making the entire recession that much worse.
These are complex, heady topics, that can easily go over the head of even some of the most astute and educated readers, but Eisinger’s copy is very readable and understandable, making it even more crucial journalism. His willingness to expose some of the biggest players in U.S. finance shows his tenacity, and his bulletproof reporting helped to set the narrative for the recession’s post-mortem.
Veronica Dagher is a personal finance reporter who focuses on senior wealth management. She has written extensively on retirement but also covers related topics such as financial abuse, the rise of female financial advisers, and the problems that arise when one spouse handles all of the finances. She has carved out a specialty reporting on women in wealth and is the host and co-creator of the WSJ podcast “Secrets of Wealthy Women,” as well as the author of the WSJ ebook, Resilience: How 20 Ambitious Women Used Obstacles to Fuel Their Success. She is a regular contributor to Fox Business Network and Yahoo! Finance and speaks on women, personal finance, markets, and the economy.
In most of her stories, Dagher offers real world examples of common financial situations and reasonable tips to help not just build safety but to build wealth. In one story about the psychology behind debt, she focused on ways to get over “denial” about debts that often leave people paralyzed to face reality and break free from self-destructive financial tendencies. It’s an eye-opening read that is eminently relatable filled with useful tips (some common sense, others ingenious) that can help anyone, whether they are in denial or not.
Dagher’s writing on personal finance is more than just useful, it is eye opening. In one story she featured several young professionals using the FIRE method of extreme frugality and saving to retire decades earlier than normal. She’s also done a lot of great work highlighting highly successful women through her podcast and her book. These are insightful and inspirational conversations that anyone can relate to, regardless of gender or economic circumstance.
Another FinTech reporter, VerHage is a leading voice focusing on the startup space at FinTech today. You have also seen her work in Bloomberg, as she has been featured in Bloomberg Magazine and the Terminal. She’s frequented Bloomberg TV and Radio and has covered startups like SoFi, Square, and Coinbase. She covered emerging market bonds and U.S. equities for Bloomberg prior to jumping on the startup FinTech beat.
VerHage has had written on international markets, startups, and big banks. Her signature story focuses on the intersection of FinTech and big banks when she broke the story that Goldman Sachs was purchasing Clarity Money in order to boost Marcus, their service offering small loans to main street borrowers. The move added more than 1M new customers to Marcus and expanded their Marcus offerings into personal finance services that help people save as well as borrow.
VerHage has a firm grasp of what makes markets move and the ability to sniff out a good story. She has covered some of the prime movers in the FinTech startup space as well as domestic and international markets.
We’ll start things off with New York Times FinTech reporter and author, Nathaniel Popper. Popper spent years covering Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs as a reporter in New York. Prior to his work for the Times, he wrote for the Forward and the LA Times, amassing a portfolio of financial and tech journalism. Since leaving NY for the Bay Area, his attentions have shifted away from Wall Street into the FinTech arena, covering companies like Square and Credit Karma. He has also become an expert on Bitcoin and the rise of digital currencies.
Popper literally wrote the book on Bitcoin and digital currencies with 2015’s Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money. His interest in this area stemmed from a story her wrote about how the Winklevoss twins (of Facebook fame) had begun to purchase large quantities of bitcoin. The crypto rabbit hole eventually led to the book which was a finalist for the Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award in 2015.
Popper is on the forefront of all that is new in FinTech. Digital Gold helped to create the narrative around Bitcoin and digital currencies at a time when it was hardly a household name and its relevance has been felt over the last few years in a number of ways. Since writing the book, Popper’s coverage has widened to include more than just FinTech stories, but it can’t help but be seen through his auspicious financial journalism lens.