I’ve seen numerous ads for Brad Thomas’ Intelligent Income Investor service lately, so I decided to sign up to see what all the fuss was about.
In short, The Intelligent Income Investor is an investment research service published by Wide Moat Research, which is run by Brad Thomas, a former real estate developer turned stock picker. And according to Brad, the “cornerstone” of everything he and his team do centers around the goal of generating “reliable and predictable passive income.”
Is the service legit and worth it?
After paying the $49 to join, snooping around the member’s area, and reading Brad’s newsletters, I can safely say that, yes, it is legit.
As for whether or not it’s worth it, however, I think that will depend on what sort of investments you’re interested in. Basically, this service caters to investors who are looking for long-term, buy-and-hold dividend stocks.
At the time of writing, there are over two dozen stock picks in the model portfolio that all pay dividends, most of which are large-caps. And the picks are grouped together in four different portfolios: the SWAN, REIT, Core, and Special Situation portfolios.
Aside from stock picks, you also get access to monthly newsletters where Brad shares his take on the market (and typically releases a new pick), and there are several research reports breaking down his recommendations.
That’s the gist of it, anyway.
Ahead, I’ll show you what the service is about in more detail, give you a sneak peek inside the member’s area, and break down the model portfolios.
But first, let me show you what I learned about the man behind all of this, Brad Thomas.
Note: This review was originally published in late 2022, but I updated it in April 2023 to reflect changes to the model portfolios and service in general.
Who Is Brad Thomas?
According to the Wide Moat Research website, Brad Thomas is a former real estate developer who, at one point, had $100 million of real estate under his management.
However, Brad says he “lost everything” after the real estate bubble burst, which led him to the investment approach he shares with subscribers of the Intelligent Income Investor.
“I had to make a choice.
“Either bag groceries – which was actually my first job – or figure out a better way to invest.
“That led me to the approach that I’m sharing today.
“It completely changed my life.”Source: https://secure.widemoatresearch.com/?cid=MKT678128&eid=MKT680806&assetId=AST263829&page=2
Long story short, Brad apparently started investing in what he calls “SWAN” (sleep well at night) stocks, and that’s how things turned around for him.
All told, the Wide Moat Research website states that Brad has around three decades of experience in the real estate and stock markets.
The site also says he’s a popular expert on Seeking Alpha, that his investment research is endorsed by billionaire investors and CEOs, and that he’s an NYU professor.
Sounds good, but is any of that true?
It’s not easy to prove every aspect of someone’s story, but based on what I have found during my research, it seems as though Brad Thomas is who he says he is.
For example, he’s listed as an adjunct instructor at NYU and is currently teaching a course called The Intelligent REIT Investor Guide, which is all about investing in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).
He’s also got over 100k followers on Seeking Alpha, and since he began contributing to the site in 2010, Brad has published hundreds of blog posts and racked up hundreds of positive reviews for his “iREIT on Alpha” service.
What’s more, Brad Thomas has a TipRanks profile (where he has shared some of his picks publicly), heads up the Forbes Real Estate Investor newsletter, and has made appearances on numerous mainstream media outlets (among other things).
Of course, none of that means you’ll make money following his recommendations, and I don’t know the guy personally; I’m only going off what I found through my research.
But his overall story seems to check out.
And in the next section, I’ll show you what I learned and experienced as a member of the Intelligent Income Investor service to help you decide if it’s worth it.
The Intelligent Income Investor (My Review)
Based on what the company site says, the main goal of the Intelligent Income Investor service is to help subscribers build a portfolio of income-generating investments.
“The goal of Intelligent Income Investor is to deliver readers actionable information that produces a portfolio of predictable, passive income streams… So they can sleep well at night in all market conditions.”
In particular, the service focuses on the “SWAN” or sleep well at night stocks I mentioned earlier, which is a term Brad Thomas coined to describe the only types of stocks he wants to own.
“SWAN is the term I use to describe the ONLY kind of stocks I want to own, period.
“Today – tomorrow – basically forever.
“SWAN is short for ‘Sleep Well at Night.'”
What’s the big deal with his so-called SWAN stocks?
Well, according to Brad Thomas, there are three main benefits to “SWAN stocks.”
- First, he claims that they are “anti-fragile” because the companies have “rock-solid” income and profits or a product that’s “critical to modern life.”
- Second, according to Brad, the companies he targets have paid out millions or even billions of dollars to their shareholders.
- And the third “benefit” to investing in “SWAN stocks,” according to Brad Thomas, is that you “won’t have to panic like most people” during a market crash.
It might pay to take that last point with a pinch of salt because no investment is safe during a market selloff or any time at all, really.
But that’s the gist of what “SWAN stocks” are about, anyways.
He basically looks for strong, reliable, dividend-paying companies. And as such, the service is designed to cater more to conservative, long-term investors.
And the following snippet from the first newsletter he released sums up his approach to finding these types of companies pretty well. To me, he seems to approach investing like a traditional value investor (Buffet, Lynch, etc.).
“The ground-up approach that I take – focusing on the fundamentals of each individual company – that I own can be boring. But oftentimes in the stock market, boring is best.
“I don’t want to experience the huge swings up and that that come with speculative bets. Instead of gambling in the markets, I want to invest. I want to own pieces of businesses, not trade ticker symbols. And I want to rely on passive income to pay my bills, rather than having to time the market by trading in and out of stocks.”
Anyway, now that I’ve given you an overview of what the Intelligent Income Investor service is about, I’ll show you what went down after I signed up. Then, I’ll give you a sneak peek inside the member’s area and discuss the newsletter and model portfolio.
- Signing Up
- Inside the Member’s Area
- Monthly Newsletter
- Model Portfolios (aka Intelligent Income Investor stock picks)
As with most financial newsletters I’ve come across, there are different price points you can join at. So how much you pay will depend on where you sign up. I personally joined for $49 through the recent Wide Moat Research presentation, but its “retail” price is $199.
In any case, immediately after signing up, I was greeted with two upsells.
The first offer was an invitation to join “Income Investor Elite” for a one-time fee of $299, and the second was about joining “Legacy Inner Circle” for $49.
I’m not a fan of seeing upsells immediately after joining something, but these were probably the least spammy and least expensive compared to other services I’ve joined recently.
Nevertheless, I skipped through those promos pretty much straight away (so I’m not sure what they’re about), and from there, I checked my email and followed the instructions to access the member’s area (which was very easy to do).
Inside the Member’s Area
Here’s what The Intelligent Income Investor member’s area looks like:
As you can see, the member’s area screen shows you the latest newsletter (top left), the individual research reports (bottom), and there’s a link to the model portfolio (top right).
There’s also a welcome message and a “quick-start guide” designed to help you familiarise yourself with the subscription, along with numerous other pages you can visit, including a page that gives you access to all the “special reports” Brad has written.
As of writing, there are five reports in the member’s area. Three of them cover the different portfolios (which I’ll elaborate on shortly), one is about avoiding “sucker yields” (aka types of companies he doesn’t recommend), and one is about his top growth stock.
Once you’ve read those, the newsletter (“Issues & Updates” link) and model portfolio (“Portfolio” link) are the main pages of the member site you’ll likely visit if you join.
So let’s look closer at each of those now.
The monthly newsletter is one of the core aspects of the service, and it’s located in the “issues and updates” section of the member’s area:
I’m not sure where I read it, but from memory, Brad said somewhere that he will strive to release a new recommendation each month, but that this will not always be the case, as it depends on what’s happening in the market at the time.
As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, that (to me) is actually a good thing.
I’d rather get someone’s best ideas (even if there are fewer of them) than get more picks just for the sake of someone meeting a monthly quota.
In any case, the newsletters are where Brad shares his latest insights, market commentary, and recommendations, and these are released monthly.
The Model Portfolios (Updated April 2023)
The “Portfolio” section of the member’s area is where you get to see all of the Intelligent Income Investor stock picks that Brad Thomas has shared with subscribers.
I obviously can’t reveal his stock picks because it’s a paid service, but I will give you a breakdown of the model portfolios to give you an idea of what to expect.
In short, all of the companies Brad has recommended pay dividends of varying yields, and most of them are large-cap companies. But he has sorted them into four different portfolios (SWAN, REIT, Core, and Special Situations) as they differ in focus somewhat.
Here’s a breakdown of each portfolio…
1) SWAN Portfolio
According to the Wide Moat Research website, the SWAN Portfolio contains Brad’s (and his team’s) “highest-conviction picks.”
And right now, there are ten companies in the SWAN portfolio:
This is a paid service, so I can’t reveal the actual stock picks, but here is a glimpse at how the open positions in this portfolio have performed (updated April 20, 2023):
Keep in mind that (as with the following portfolios) these are all OPEN positions.
Meaning that the “return” column can change as prices fluctuate on a day-to-day basis and will almost certainly be different (up or down) if/when you join the service.
Nevertheless, the majority of stocks in this portfolio (and the others) are up as of writing.
All of them show a “yield” of varying amounts, too, meaning they are all dividend stocks (i.e., companies that pay dividends to shareholders).
This doesn’t guarantee that you will make money investing in Brad Thomas’ picks since past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results, as they say. And there is one “unusual” thing about some of his recommendations (which I will elaborate on shortly).
2) REIT Portfolio
Next, we have the REIT portfolio, which currently contains seven picks.
However, as mentioned earlier, some of the picks in these portfolios overlap, so not all of the companies in this portfolio are different companies from the last one.
In any case, here is a look at the REIT portfolio (updated April 20, 2023):
What is a REIT?
I’m not an expert on REITs, but the gist is that REIT stands for Real Estate Investment Trust, and these are companies that own or finance income-producing real estate.
From what I understand, REITs generate income by leasing out real estate (i.e., apartment buildings, offices, warehouses, etc.) and must pay out at least 90% of their taxable income to shareholders.
As such, they are popular among dividend investors, which is why it makes sense that Brad Thomas has included these as part of his Intelligent Income Investor recommendations.
Not to mention, real estate is how he claims to have made millions of dollars earlier in his life. So this is an area that he’s an expert in.
3) Core Portfolio
This is the Core Portfolio, which, as the site puts it, “includes dividend growth stocks from all non-REIT equity sectors.”
4) Special Situations Portfolio
And finally, here’s a look at the “special situations” portfolio:
All told, there are 35 open positions across four portfolios as of April 20, 2023.
And only seven of those are in the red.
I always err on the side of caution/skepticism with these services, but credit where credit is due… this is one of the best-performing newsletters I’ve come across.
What about the CLOSED positions?
The best way to gauge a service’s performance is to look at its closed positions (aka recommendations that have been finalized), as the above open positions can fluctuate on a (near) daily basis.
So, how have the Intelligent Income Investor’s closed positions worked out?
I don’t think there are any at this point.
The Intelligent Income Investor is still a very new service (although there is a caveat to this below), and as such, there don’t appear to have been any sell recommendations yet.
It’s hard to say this for 100% certain because Wide Moat Research does not give you a chart of its closed positions in the same way they do for their open positions, but after digging through the “issues and updates” archives, I wasn’t able to find any sell recommendations as of April 2023 (the date on which I am adding this updated section).
Why are there recommendations from 2020?
One of the first things I noticed upon joining this service was that there were numerous recommendations with an “open date” of 2020 or 2021, which struck me as odd, considering the service literally only just launched (October 2022).
What’s the deal with that?
Well, before I got a chance to look into this, I came across a section towards the top of the first (and currently only) newsletter that provides an explanation.
In short, Brad Thomas said that the reason some of the recommendations show an open date of two years ago or more is that the Intelligent Income Investor service is a combination of two of his previous services, one of which he says he launched in March of 2020.
The names of these services weren’t mentioned, so I’m not sure what they were. And aside from the iREIT service he runs on Seeking Alpha and the Forbes real estate newsletter (both of which are still running), I’m not sure what other newsletter services he has run.
One of the services might have been related to what, according to a 2017 Forbes article, he once called the Durable Income Portfolio. But that’s just a guess.
Either way, what Brad said in the newsletter explains why there are some picks from 2020; he’s essentially rolled some of the picks from two older services into his new Intelligent Income Investor service.
I can understand why some might be skeptical of this because how can you verify he recommended those stocks when he says he did? In reality, the only way to know would be to have been a member of his previous two services, whatever they were.
I genuinely don’t think anything suspect is going on here, though. I could be wrong, of course. But I don’t think someone with his reputation would make something like that up, nor does he strike me as someone who would do so.
Furthermore, he is still recommending these companies at the “buy up to” price, which you get to see as a member. So they are still very much relevant as I write this, regardless of when they were first recommended.
Recommended: Go here to see my #1 rated stock advisory of 2023
It’s a bit early for me to tell if the Intelligent Income Investor service is one I would actually recommend, but so far, it’s one of the better services I’ve come across.
Why do I say that?
First, I didn’t find the marketing to be too overhyped, which is always something I take into consideration before recommending something. There were a couple of upsells leading into the member’s area, but nothing overly pushy (compared to most services, at least).
Second, I like the types of companies Brad Thomas focuses on, especially in this environment of uncertainty. Rather than pumping the next “hot” growth stock or chasing the latest shiny trend, he’s focused on long-term wealth-building opportunities.
And third, many of his open picks (as of writing) are in the green. The caveat to this is that many of them are from two previous (unnamed) services. But as I said, I don’t think that’s a big deal, and given everything I’ve seen, he seems to have a good track record.
So, in summary, I believe this is a legit and potentially worthwhile service that may suit those interested in dividend stocks and REITs. And it’s a service I’m personally keen to keep an eye on over the coming months (perhaps even years) to see how it goes.
Keep in mind, however, that as with ANY service, there is no guarantee that you’ll make money as a subscriber. The stock market is risky. So even though Brad Thomas targets the so-called “SWAN” stocks… there is always a chance that you could lose money.
Hopefully, that doesn’t happen. And this service does cater to more conservative investors. But I’m of the opinion that nothing is a sure thing in the world of investing.
Anyway, that’s my take.
I’m not affiliated with Wide Moat Research or Brad Thomas (in any way), so it makes no difference to me if you join or not.
But I hope this review helps you make a more informed choice either way.
Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or experience with the service or other services of Brads you’ve been a member of. So if you feel like sharing, chime in below.
Thanks for dropping by!