Photo: Austin Morgan

Nobody's Fool

How Chris Hill ’90 created one of the country’s most popular financial advice podcasts.

In its thirty years of existence, The Motley Fool has been an indispensable source of Wall Street insight for more than half a million amateur investors who subscribe for its monthly stock recommendations and reports. Across the decades, the company has cemented itself as a global authority on the stock market, and been written about in major news outlets such as the New Yorker, NPR, and Bloomberg. But if it weren’t for a clever idea from Chris Hill ’90 a decade and a half ago, the business might have become a casualty of the 2008 financial crisis. 

Late that year, The Motley Fool was scrambling as it lost subscribers who were spooked by the recession. At the time, Hill was working as The Motley Fool’s head of media and public relations, and he came up with an innovative way to tap a new audience: starting a podcast. He pitched the idea as a way to generate new buzz. Each episode would feature him interviewing Motley Fool financial analysts, providing a more conversational venue for expert investment advice than what was being featured on other financial podcasts of the time, which tended to be burdened with technical jargon. “We thought, why do people come to The Motley Fool in the first place?” Hill said. “They want to know what our analysts think, because you can get the news anywhere.”

It was an innovative concept, but when the Motley Fool Money podcast launched in 2009 with Hill as host, he could have never predicted the level of its eventual success. Over the next fourteen years, right up until he retired last May, he hosted thousands of episodes, cocreated four spin-off podcasts, and became one of the country’s best-known business podcast hosts.

Demystifying investing for average people was the perfect task for Hill, who arrived at The Motley Fool in 1997 with no background in finance. After majoring in communications at BC and spending his spare time performing in on-campus plays, he earned a master’s in public communication from American University in 1996. 

While hunting for jobs after grad school, he came across a posting for The Motley Fool, which appealed to him because the company’s mission was to make investing more accessible. “The message from Wall Street was, investing is very hard, and no one should do it on their own,” Hill recalled. “Here these guys were starting a company saying, ‘investing isn’t that hard, the math you need is the math you learn in junior high.’” 

Before long, Hill was making it a point to get coffee with analysts at the company so he could learn from them, conversations that became the foundation for the podcast. To start out, he recalled, “We said, we’re going to do this for a month. Let’s just see if anybody listens.” The show quickly developed a devoted audience, and in January 2010, it was picked up on broadcast radio under the name Motley Fool Money. The podcast has received critical acclaim since it launched, and last year Nasdaq named it one of the “6 Financial Podcasts That Will Help You Master Your Money,” while the personal finance website The Penny Hoarder included it among “The 15 Best Personal Finance Podcasts of 2023.”

Hill may have retired from the Motley Fool, but he hasn’t let that stop him from working. Last year he recorded the audiobook version of his friend Morgan Housel’s 2020 book The Psychology of Money, which helps readers understand the complex ways that people’s personal history with money influences their investing choices. Looking back on his career, Hill called himself “very fortunate” to have landed where he did, and to have been able to make something so positive out of such a difficult moment in the country’s economy. “When the bad stuff is happening in the market, it always feels bad,” he said. “I’m a big believer that when you don’t get what you want, you get experience.”