Q: Hey, David, what's up, here? You guys have always preached against paid financial advice and financial advisors in general... then you start up your own paid financial advisory service. What's going on? -- A worried Fool

A: Dear worried Fool,

We have been selling financial advice in the form of books, online seminars, speeches, newsletters, etc. for years!

So let me make it clear that The Motley Fool is not only supportive of the idea of "paid financial advice" -- we're highly dependent on it. What we're offering, though, is an independent "third voice" that has you at its heart. That generally presents a strong contrast to most of the financial advice you'll get in this world, obtained from salesmen who are, at the root of it, trying to get you to purchase their product (mortgage, fund, annuity, car, etc.).

Perhaps you were referring to our ongoing effort to educate you about elements of the financial services industry that work in direct conflict with you, their customer. This would include conflicted advice from Wall Street analysts, commission-based brokering, high-turnover mutual funds, high-fee mutual funds, most annuity sales, etc. We continue to criticize state lotteries for a similar reason: a crummy deal masquerading as something attractive, gulling people to hand their money over without thinking. So yes, consider us staunchly against anything that effective education (from The Motley Fool or elsewhere) will kill. Because if education would cause someone rapidly and confidently to discontinue use of a financial service, what is there to be said for that financial service?!

That's why from day one you've seen on the front page of our website the phrase "To Educate." At the Motley Fool, our challenge is to make Americans THINK -- actually think -- about their money. No more blind, mechanical handing over of one's money to others -- ESPECIALLY when the way those others make their money is hidden, and at one's own expense.

On the other hand, we have consistently praised fee-only financial planners for flat-fee, no-nonsense, no-salesmanship counseling. That is eminently Foolish. Which is exactly why we crafted what you're asking about: TMF Money Advisor. TMF Money Advisor brings the Foolishness of unbiased financial help directly to you, our customer, for a fee that is just a fraction of what you'd normally pay to a conflicted advisor!

That's the mission of our company, offering what we hope are relevant services that educate and enrich. When you work with The Motley Fool, you know you are working with that oh-so-rare independent third party that has your best interests in mind -- not those of the professional on the other side of the desk. And our independent brand name helps you obtain these services at a lower cost or a better deal than you might otherwise obtain on your own. (For instance, did you know that you can get a better-paying CD than is elsewhere available by working through the Fool and our partner MBNA?)

Perhaps you now see why TMF Money Advisor is not only completely aligned with The Motley Fool and its mission, but even more, one of our greatest achievements to date. Take a closer look at it, particularly our helpful FAQ and the special "Sneak Peek" that we put together for you. If you have any more questions about TMF Money Advisor, feel free to ask them.

Fool on!

David Gardner