A CPA financial planner just forwarded me a weekend news account noting that Worth magazine has fired its entire 40-person staff. Murky plans are apparently afoot to hire most of the staff back and put out at least a few more issues, but the writing is clearly on the wall. The entire magazine industry is in an advertising slump, and financial how-to magazines - publishing in the fourth year of a scary bear market - are clearly feeling much of the pain.

I imagine many investors are a lot like me - warily eyeing their unopened brokerage and 401(k) statements these days, and often letting them gather dust on the kitchen table. Quite a different picture from the heady days of the 90s when we all eagerly ripped them open to see how many thousands more we’d earned last quarter by doing nothing at all.

The magazine’s Web site claims it’s currently being redesigned, but holds a clue to the publication’s probable demise. Worth was founded in 1992, just as the boom market was gathering steam. Its mission? “To provide successful, affluent Americans with fresh insight and intelligence that will help them better manage, enjoy and share their wealth.”

Millions of Americans have seen their life savings cut in half or worse in just a few short years.  I imagine some of them subscribed to Worth and are now busy trying to build up a new nest egg. Seeing a magazine called “Worth” arrive on their doorsteps each month when they’re worth so much less than they used to could feel like a stinging rebuke. Money’s being earned again the old-fashioned way, and magazines like Worth have lost their audience and their relevance.

One special report each year in Worth named the nation’s top 250 financial advisors. It was avidly read by investors and was a source of pride for the high percentage of CPAs who were repeatedly named to the list. It also helped earn them some new business, I’m sure.

The deadline is fast approaching to be considered for this year’s list, and CPAs are wondering whether filling out the detailed application form is now worth the effort. My advice? Do it. The annual issue may still get published, your inclusion will still carry some cachet, and if nothing else, it may one day turn into a collector’s item.

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