Advisors can be listed on CVIM even without establishing a one-year track record on But you must provide CVIM with brokerage statements showing your trades in a portfolio for one year.

When you are listed on CVIM, your profile, performance and other information remain displayed for all members on However, your track record is not displayed on CVIM. The only track record displayed on the CVIM profile is your CVIM performance.

To join CVIM and be able to subscribe to its sub-advisors' portfolios, you must open a brokerage account with a minimum of $10,000 and fill in a lengthy risk tolerance questionnaire. I went through the process and established an account to get the full experience of the site and write this story. It took less than 30 minutes to fill in the forms. The questionnaire asked if I was interested in different speculative investments and I checked "yes" repeatedly. However, because the funds I transferred into my CVIM account came from an IRA, my risk score was a lowly 2 out of 5. Alas, I would not be able to subscribe to managers using high-risk strategies, such as shorting.

Subscribers can set up a brokerage account with any of numerous online discounters. However, Interactive Brokers, which specializes in serving professional investors, is the lowest cost provider by far, charging just $1.08 per trade-a fraction of the $8.95 charged by major discounters.

CVIM has only 40 managers on its platform for subscribers to choose from. However, it expects to add another ten in coming weeks and plans to add more professionals for subscribers to follow regularly in 2010.

While looking at the list of sub-advisors CVIM offers subscribers, I discovered a familiar name: Mosaic Financial Partners of San Francisco. Mosaic was founded by Norm Boone and manages about $300 million, according to its Form ADV. A Stanford University graduate with an MBA from Harvard University, Boone has long been an innovator in the industry. Along with his partner, Linda Lubitz Boone, he owns IPS AdvisorPro, software used by many leading advisory firms to produce investment policy statements. Boone told me his firm's director of investments, David Cowles, came upon Covestor and they decided to give it a try.

"It's an attempt to find a way to service small accounts," says Cowles. "We have a $1.5 million minimum, but if we could set up a model on Covestor then investors who don't meet our minimum can be handled because we don't have to service them. Covestor services them."

Cowles says Mosaic had to make some portfolio adjustments to make its model work. For instance, Covestor portfolios cannot trade mutual funds, just ETFs. So ETFs equivalent to Mosaic's favorite funds had to be used. Also, instead of using a small- and large-cap ETF, Cowles says he found a total market ETF to keep trading costs low on small portfolios. (CVIM portfolios only trade listed securities and not options, foreign currencies, fixed income or commodities.)

Whatever you call it, social network investing seems poised to reshape the competitive landscape of the financial services industry, and it could have major implications for independent advisors. It's wise to keep a close eye on it.

Will such sites make financial advisors obsolete? No. Advisors won't see a mass exodus.