Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I made the Top Ten!

Well, not me, exactly. My article, "Dan Fuss: The 50-Year Opportunity in Bonds," made the list of Advisor Perspective's top ten most read articles for 2008. 

"Dan Fuss" commanded the #3 spot behind "Jeremy Siegel on Why Equities are 'Dirt Cheap'" and "Our Interview with Mohamed el-Erian."

It looks like legendary investors draw readers.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Compliance makes social networking tougher for registered reps than RIAs

Here's a guest post by Bill Winterberg, CFP®, an operations and efficiency guru to independent financial advisers, who blogs at FP Pad. He made me realize that RIAs have more leeway than registered reps when it comes to social networking.

Websites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs present compliance issues for registered representatives subject to FINRA regulations. All reps must obtain approval from the broker/dealer compliance department before posting anything on the Internet, as postings are considered advertisements.

FINRA has published guidelines for use of the Internet by registered representatives of broker/dealers. It's worth reading if you are affiliated with a broker/dealer.

The SEC has similar guidelines that govern advertisements, including postings to public Internet forums. However, investment advisers are generally responsible for self-supervision by Chief Compliance Officers. In my opinion, investment advisers not subject to FINRA regulations have quite a bit more flexibility when using Internet and social networking websites. See http://www.sec.gov/divisions/investment/advoverview.htm and http://www.sec.gov/info/iaicccoutreach.htm.

RIAs definitely have more flexibility over registered reps when it comes to the use of the Internet. However, common sense must always prevail when using the Internet to avoid publishing security recommendations or any testimonial, which are explicitly prohibited by the SEC and state regulatory authorities.
 


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Sunday, December 28, 2008

"Convert Website Visitors into Leads"

You should use a strong call to action to convert website visitors into leads for your business, according to "Strong Call to Action - Convert Website Visitors into Leads" on the Hubspot website. If visitors give you their contact information, they're one step closer to becoming clients.

Hubspot advises you to:
  1. Keep it Simple.
  2. Make it Obvious.
  3. Most Important: Make it Valuable.
For example, I observe these rules on my InvestmentWriting.com website by:
  1. Saying simply "Receive My E-newsletter!" on my sign-up box 
  2. Placing the sign-up box in the upper right-hand corner of every page of my website
  3. Offering value by providing a monthly e-newsletter
How could you apply these tips to your website? If you're an investment manager, consider offering an email subscription to your investment commentary.




_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Monday, December 22, 2008

Markopolos SEC letter (2005)

A 2005 letter from Harry Markopolos to the SEC about Madoff Investment Securities is now available on the LinkedIn profile of Bud Haslett, CFA, CEO of Miller Tabak Securities.

The file is less than halfway down the page. It's below Bud's Presentations sections and above his Experience section.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Top 10 tips for CFA charterholders considering freelance writing

If you're a CFA charterholder considering a freelance writing career, here's advice from Omar Bassal, CFA. Omar is the head of asset management at NBK Capital, a freelance writer, and the author of Swing Trading for Dummies

I'm posting Omar's article as part of my preparation for a panel on "Alternative Careers for CFA Charterholders" to be presented to the Boston Security Analysts Society on January 14, 2009.

Here's Omar's advice.


1. Choose your work carefully: Part of being a good writer is choosing the right businesses and people to work with. There are a lot of fly-by-night operations that want text to fill space. While they might pay the bills, they won't further your professional development.

2. Get a proofreader: No one is perfect—not even CFA charterholders. Having a second pair of eyes before you submit your work is always smart. Find a reasonably priced person via Craigslist.

3. Know your audience: Be able to differentiate between unsophisticated audiences (where "standard deviation" is too technical a term to use), semi-sophisticated audiences (where "standard deviation" needs no further explanation) and sophisticated audiences (where "standard deviation" is an incomplete view of risk).

4. Get paid by work, not by hour: Firms will want to pay you by the hour. But you should push to be paid a flat rate for your work. This doesn't always mean you'll get more. But over time, you'll be more efficient and productive as a result. Plus, you won't need to keep tabs on every minute you're working versus checking e-mail.

5. Seek contracts: Monthly and quarterly newsletters and reviews are an excellent way to get your hands on steady income.

6. Network with other writers: There are many fish in the sea and writing as a CFA charterholder doesn't mean you're taking away business from a fellow CFA charterholder. Sometimes clients will come to you with requests that you're unwilling or unable to do. Being able to pass that work onto other contacts means your client feels his/her needs are being met by you. Do it often and others will return the favor.

7. A CFA charter does not mean you know everything
: If you're an expert in equities, you may find navigating fixed income waters tough. Make sure you thoroughly understand what you're getting into before you agree to do a job.

8. Have a contract: Approach writing as you would any other business. Have a contract in place for every writing job which explains  your responsibilities, your contractor's expectations, delivery schedules, terms of cancellation and prohibition of passing your work on to other parties. Besides protecting your interests, a contract will flash a signal that you're a professional writer.

9. Seek out non-traditional clients: Realize that your easiest business may come from non-traditional clients. "Traditional clients" may be mutual funds, financial advisors and institutional asset management firms. Non-traditional clients include trade groups with pension plans, foundations, endowments and other less sought after institutions.

10. Punctuality is everything: Don't view your text as the finish line for your contractor. Your work will likely be checked by senior staff or formatted for e-mailing or printing—all things based on firm schedules. Treat your work as a business. Being late means being unreliable—no matter how great the final text may be.







_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"3 Reasons Why Your White Papers Might Fail to Bring in New Business "

Winton Churchill offers three "Reasons Why Your White Papers Might Fail to Bring in New Business." 

I list his reasons below and give my take on how they apply to the investment business. 
  •  "#1. Preaching to the choir": For example, if your white paper pitches municipal bonds to high-net-worth investors who've been getting professional advice, they probably already have munis in their portfolios. Maybe it's time to seek out the newly wealthy or do-it-yourself investors.
  • "#2: Cradle to grave": Don't try to cover your topic from A to Z because you'll lose your reader in a morass of details.  With munis, that might mean focusing on the potential tax benefit and relegating your caveats about AMT paper to a sidebar.
  • "#3: Company-focused instead of issue-focused": As the author says, "Too many white papers boast." Ironically, that's a quick way to lose credibility. It's far better to offer valuable information, then end with an enticement for your prospects to contact you.
Do white papers that make these three mistakes turn you off?



_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Financial planning firm benefits from Twitter

Are you struggling to figure out how Twitter micro-blogging can help you as a financial advisor?

In "Yes, Twitter Can Help Financial Planners," Bill Winterberg blogs about how using Twitter helped his firm do a better job of ensuring their tax loss harvesting is executed without errors.

Twitter brought him a solution to a pesky challenge in an Excel spreadsheet. It was a problem he'd unsuccessfully tried to resolve by Googling. Then he sent out an appeal for help via Twitter--and got his solution within a day.

Related posts:


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lesson from a headline, "A 30-Year Treasury Bond: Probably One of the Most Dangerous Investments You Could Make"

"A 30-Year Treasury Bond:  Probably One of the Most Dangerous Investments You Could Make" is a great headline. It's also a great topic.

Why? Because it challenges the average person's idea of what's a safe investment. Turning a common idea on its head will attract readers. In this case, it will also do them a service by explaining the downside of investing in 30-year Treasuries.

Kudos to RegentAtlantic Capital for an excellent headline and story idea for their recent press release.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Narrow slice" article topics are better

An article that covers a topic exhaustively can exhaust the reader. Writing about a narrow slice of that topic can be much more engaging.

This quote by New York Times health columnist Tara Parker-Pope, in Maura Casey's "Tips, Tricks & Rewards of Writing Short," makes a similar point:
"Kitchen sink stories do too much.... If you take on a big, unwieldy topic, you can wind up with a big, unwieldy story. Our writing improves when we try to do a little less, but do it better." 
So, the next time you write about, for example, the bond market, don't try to cover everything. Pick one slice that reflects an important development in that asset class.



_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pick young, small hedge funds for better returns?

If you face a choice between two hedge funds with equally attractive performance records, you should pick the younger, smaller fund.

At least, that's what I took away from "Hedge Fund Performance Persistence: A New Approach," an article by Nicole M. Boyson, an assistant professor of finance at Northeastern University, in the Nov./Dec. 2008 issue of the Financial Analysts Journal (CFA Institute membership or other payment required for online access).

Here's how Boyson put it: "by selecting funds on the basis of fund age and fund size in addition to past performance, investors can substantially improve the likelihood of superior performance over a selection process based on past performance alone."

Funds with good track records may eventually underperform, she wrote, because "At some point, these funds will grow so large that the fund manager's skills will be spread too thin and/or the fund's trades will have a larger price impact and higher transaction costs than previously--both of which compromise the fund's performance."

Boyson found that "A portfolio of young, small, good past performers outperformed a portfolio of old, large, poor past performers by nearly 10 percentage points per year."

I wish she'd shared how the performance of the young, small, good performers compared to the good performers among the old, large funds.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Monday, December 8, 2008

Access 342 hiring investment research analysts, says Integrity Research

Access 342, a new kind of investment research firm, is hiring research analysts, according to Integrity Research's "Who is Hiring in the Current Environment?"

That's the good news.

The bad news: not many analysts will fit the Access 342 mold. The bar to entry is high. You must be "identified as highly valuable by the buy-side themselves." 

Also, you've got to be willing to risk working for a relatively young firm.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

When it's okay to break the rules

You can break the rules of grammar and punctuation that you learned as a kid.

I know this intuitively. But I've had a hard time coming up with guidelines for when to break the rules. Until now.

I like what Susan Gunelius said in her Entrepreneur.com article, "Copywriting Grammar Ain't Perfect."
In simplest terms, you can break any grammar rule in copywriting as long as doing so makes your copy sound conversational and more appealing to your target audience without negatively affecting your business's professional image.
So, you need to know your audience before you break rules. But that's another essential element of good communication.

I learned about Gunelius' article on Kristen King's InkThinker blog for freelance writers. Thanks, Kristen!

Related post: "It's okay to end a sentence with a preposition"


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dan Ariely on "The Financial Markets and the Neurospsychology of Trust"

Individuals have lost their trust in financial institutions, says Dan Ariely in "The Financial Markets and the Neurospsychology of Trust."

Everyone knows that. But Ariely also asserts that our stock market problems can't be resolved until trust is restored--something that  bailout efforts don't address. 

Ariely says:
I don't have much faith in the legislation, but I hope that one of the banks will decide to step out of the herd and be the good guy--eliminating conflict of interests and creating complete transparency.
Ariely is the author of Predictably Irrational.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Saturday, December 6, 2008

"Pack a house with nervous clients?"

You can help your clients--and yourself--by addressing their financial fears.

In "Pack a house with nervous clients?", Matthew Homann of the [non]billable hour blog suggests that you offer clients a free financial seminar to which they can invite a friend. Don't sell at your seminar, but distribute a helpful handout and encourage them to pass it along.

This sounds like a win-win situation for you and your clients. As Homann says, "Your clients (and their hand-picked referrals) will appreciate the information, and look to you as their advisor in times of need."

Thank you, legal writer June Bell, for pointing me to this website!


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Friday, December 5, 2008

Don't trust your spell-checking software

Automated spell-checking won't eliminate typos in your writing. Human intervention is also essential.

Can you find the typo in the following sentence, which appeared in a national magazine this week?
What's more, firms must have adequate risk management to make sure that managers aren't taking undo risks to boost returns, he said.
Meanwhile, to catch your typos, read your text out loud or get a colleague to proofread for you.



_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Female Fund Managers Make Strides," according to Morningstar

Today women make up 12% of the managers of the 200 largest mutual funds, according to "Female Fund Managers Make Strides," a Dec. 1 Morningstar article.

Twelve percent may not sound like much, but that's up 50% from 1998. 

On the other hand, as the article notes, women make up 19% of active CFA charterholders. "it seems reasonable to think that the percent at the biggest funds should lag the CFA charterholders figure by a few years." Do you agree? 

Related post: "The Testosterone Factor in Mutual Funds"


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Will a coupon spur investment management referrals?

An investment manager recently sent me an email newsletter with a 25% off coupon.

Here's what the coupon said:
SAVE 25%                                                                     A reminder that as a thank you to our valued clients, those who refer a new managed account relationship to COMPANY NAME will qualify for a credit of one quarter's management fee.  Please call us for further details about this program.
If you were a client, would this motivate you to make a referral?


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Alternative Careers for CFA Charterholders" on Jan. 14

I'm one of four panelists presenting to the Boston Security Analysts Society (BSAS) on "Alternative Careers for CFA Charterholders" on January 14.

Among the four of us, we have experience as a due diligence analyst, treasurer, investment technology salesperson, consultant, and writer. We'll help you understand what each job involves and how you can target your job hunt.


In addition to my role as panelist, I'm a member of the group planning career development events for the BSAS. So, I'm interested in your ideas for other career-related events for CFA charterholders.


Please join us on January 14 if you'd like to learn more about alternative careers.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Dan Fuss: The 50-Year Opportunity in Bonds"

Opportunities in the bond market are as attractive now as they have been in at least 50 years, according to Dan Fuss, vice chairman of Loomis, Sayles & Company. He spoke on “The Bond Market Outlook” to the Boston Security Analysts Society on November 24. Fuss co-manages numerous institutional accounts, the Loomis Sayles Bond Fund, and the Loomis Sayles Strategic Income Fund.

What kind of bonds does Fuss like--and why? Read my article, "Dan Fuss: The 50-Year Opportunity in Bonds," in Advisor Perspectives


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Monday, December 1, 2008

"Discover hundreds of post ideas for your blog with mind mapping"

I'm a big fan of mind mapping as a way to organize your ideas before you start writing. But you can use mapping to brainstorm ideas for blog posts.


Problogger Darren Rowse tells you how in "Discover hundreds of post ideas for your blog with mind mapping."


Rowse suggests that you list topics that you've already blogged and then brainstorm spin-offs from them.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Investing in strangers' human capital

Family wealth advisors say you should invest in your family's human capital. But what about investing in the human capital of strangers?

The "human capital contract" is coming to the U.S., according to "Betting on Bob" in today's Boston Globe. How does it work? Writer Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow explained that "...investors agree to cover the costs of college or graduate school in return for a percentage of the students' future earnings over a fixed period of time."

A U.S. company called My Rich Uncle tried, and then abandoned this approach, wrote Tuhus-Dubrow. Human capital contracts have been used outside the U.S. by Lumni, which is starting to apply it here, and Career Concepts of Germany.

According to "Popping the Tuition Bubble," an article published on the American Enterprise Institute's website by Frederick Hess and Kevin Carey, "...the smart money would go hunting for bigger returns at less expensive colleges that add great value. After all, other things equal, an investor fares much better by lending a student $48,000 over four years and collecting 4 percent of his or her future earnings than by lending that student $180,000 and collecting the same 4 percent."

Human capital contracts could help students in this economic crunch. But do they make sense as an investment? What do you think? Please leave a comment.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Build your team--and your client base--with book clubs

You can train your staff using a book club, suggests Kirk Hulett of Securities America Inc. in "Move Over Oprah," published in Practice Management Solutions (Nov./Dec. 2008).

Hulett got me thinking. How about running a financial book club for your clients or prospects? It could deepen your relationship with them as you learn more about what makes them tick.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vanguard is using LinkedIn

John Ameriks of The Vanguard Group has posted a question on LinkedIn that's running under a Vanguard banner.

Plenty of financial professionals post questions on LinkedIn, but this is the first time I've seen one running under an advertisement. Click on the banner, and you go to the Vanguard home page.

Will we see more mutual fund company advertising like this?

Have you seen other examples of fund companies trying to leverage social networking?

How effective are efforts like this?


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Another great way to annoy a reporter

I agree with Ed McCarthy about "Seven Ways to Annoy a Reporter," a sidebar to his "Sharpening Your Media Skills" in the November issue of the Journal of Financial Planning.

Let me add another: Publish on your blog that "I'm talking with Reporter X about Topic Y for the next issue of Magazine Z." 

Reporters--and their editors--don't like to be scooped by anybody. It's nice that you're excited by your interview. But spreading the word about the story before it's published is likely to get you banned from that magazine.

Save your enthusiasm until after the article is published. You will win points for blogging about it then.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Friday, November 21, 2008

Should you say "No" to "Please"?

People feel passionately about "please."

"Common sense might tell you that adding 'please' or 'thank you' to an email will always make it more polite. Common sense would be wrong." That's according to David Shipley and Will Schwalbe in Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better.

I decided to ask the participants in my workshop on "How to Write Effective Business Emails and Letters" if they think "please" should be optional. "No way!" was their response. 

I agree that it's good to leave "please" in your vocabulary. I'm puzzled by Shipley and Schwalbe's assertion that it's "almost impossible to use in writing without coming across as obnoxious."

Do you use "please" in emails? Please leave a comment below.



_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

"Email Subject Lines: 15 Rules to Write Them Right"

"Email Subject Lines: 15 Rules to Write Them Right" on the LyrisHQ blog offers some tips that can help even with your routine client communications.

For starters, remember that "Fifty characters could be all that stands between you and success in your next email campaign." 

Why? Because our reader will probably see only 50 characters--that's about eight words--of your subject line before deciding whether to read your email or delete it.

Here are four particularly useful rules from the LyrisHQ blog post. 

Rule 1. Read the newspaper.

Modeling your subject lines on newspaper headlines is another good suggestion. Newspaper headlines get to the point fast. They're also good at pushing readers' hot buttons.

Rule 5: List key info first.
If you're making a request, use an action verb. For example, if you're asking a client to send you something, start your subject line with "Please send."

Rule 7: Personalize.
If I really want to get a response from Jane, I might start my subject line, "Jane, can you...." That way she knows my email is directed specifically to her. 

Rule 15. Can you pass the must-open/must-read test? 
People's email in-boxes are jammed. You've got to give them a compelling reason to open your email.

You may find the other 11 rules of interest if you're sending an email newsletter or selling something using email.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Jeremy Siegel on why Equities are 'Dirt Cheap' ”

"I may be the lone optimist in this market," said Prof. Jeremy Siegel in a Q&A published in Advisor Perspectives

He was responding to a question about his Oct. 31 Yahoo finance column, in which he said, "I would be very surprised that if an investor who bought a diversified portfolio today did not make at least 20% or more on his investment in the next twelve months."

Are there any other optimists out there?


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

I like this financial crisis question

"Can you think of ways that something good in your life can result from the financial meltdown?" 

I like this question, which concludes "Rising from the Financial Ruins" on the HBR Editors' Blog. It's probably easiest to answer if you've got a financial cushion, or at least a steady job.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

"Is Face-to-Face Communication Always the Way to Go?"

Should you email your male clients and meet with your female clients?

Men may respond better to emails than to in-person communications, according to a study cited by Guy Kawasaki in "Is Face-to-Face Communication Always the Way to Go?" The same study says women respond better in person.

I don't like generalizing by gender. In either case, I think a personalized email will work better than a mass email.

What do you think?


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Monday, November 17, 2008

Can financial advisors write blogs and be in compliance?

An Investment Writing blog reader recently asked, "I was told that licensed financial advisors are not allowed to write blogs as far as compliance is concerned. Is this true?"

It's not true. But there are constraints.

For more details on the regulatory constraints, read "Finra, SEC rules constrain advisers in blogosphere" by Davis Janowski in Investment News.

You can find links to blogs by some financial advisors in the related posts listed below. 

Related posts:



_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Your clients' stock options are down 76% overall

"For those executives whose company holdings were largely in stock options, rather than stock, the decline in wealth has been huge.... Over all, the options have lost 76 percent of their value."

That's according to New York Times columnist Floyd Norris, who wrote in "Be Glad You're Not Warren Buffett" about a report by Stephen Hall & Partners, an executive compensation consulting firm. By the way, Buffett's paper losses amount to more than $15 billion--or nearly one-third of the $52.3 billion in losses through Oct. 27.

I looked on the Stephen Hall & Partners website to see if their report is available to the public. I couldn't find any mention of it.

Are your clients talking to you about their stock options? If not, maybe it's time to bring up this topic.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Print newsletter vs. e-newsletter

Trying to decide between a print newsletter and a newsletter delivered by e-mail? Here are some of the pros and cons.


Print newsletter--Pro
  • Portable
  • More control over look and feel
  • Better for longer documents
  • Stands out more because most people get fewer letters than e-mails

E-newsletter--Pro 
  • Interactive, including links to your website
  • You can track who reads what
  •  Speedy delivery
  • Low cost to send

Print newsletter--Con
  • High production costs
  • Production and delivery take longer than for e-newsletters
 
E-newsletter--Con 
  • You may not have e-mail addresses for all of your contacts
  • You need permission to add e-mail addresses to your distribution 
  • May get caught in spam filter 
  • Not so good for long articles
  • Less control over look and feel 

Here are links for more information:
    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA
    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    "LinkedIn's Little Secret: It's a Great Lead-Gen Tool"

    You can use LinkedIn to help build your investment or wealth management business. Adapt the techniques suggested in "LinkedIn's Little Secret: It's a Great Lead-Gen Tool" on HubSpot's Inbound Internet Marketing Blog.

    But, first, pay attention to this warning from HubSpot: 
    "Trying to directly message or reach out to your LinkedIn network or contacts could be considered spam. Please be sure that: 1) people you try to contact want to hear from you and 2) your message is relevant."
    Suggestion #1: "Create a LinkedIn Group" on a theme related to your industry. As I see it, as long as you offer something of value to group members, you can use a LinkedIn Group to position yourself as an expert in a niche and/or to expand your network. A LinkedIn Group can  keep you in front of clients, prospects, and people who can send you referrals.

    Suggestion #2: "Use LinkedIn's DirectAds" for targeted advertising. I'm not an ad expert, but it seems to me that you'd probably pursue other advertising options first. This might be a nice add-on.

    Suggestion #3: "Answer Questions on LinkedIn." This displays your expertise, plus you get an emotional boost from helping others. So far, I've gotten more benefit from asking questions on LinkedIn, another HubSpot suggestion. My questions have yielded valuable information and quotes for blog posts.
     

    Suggestion #4: "Integrate LinkedIn into Your Marketing." For example, suggests HubSpot, whenever you speak, invite your audience to join your group. It's an easy way to build on the connection that you form during your time with your audience. 

    Have you tried any of these techniques? I'd like to learn about your experiences. 

    Meanwhile, reading HubSpot's blog post got me wondering if I should create a LinkedIn Group for readers of my Investment Writing e-newsletter or for participants in the writing workshops I teach.  If you're a newsletter reader or graduate of one of my writing workshops, what would you want from a LinkedIn group?

    Related posts: 
    "How to publicize your white paper using LinkedIn
    "How financial advisors use LinkedIn to boost their visibility"


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA
    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Encourage good communication or lose your multi-generational clients

    You are failing your financial family clients--and sabotaging your multi-generational client retention--if you're not encouraging good communication. That's one of the big picture lessons I learned from "Five Solutions for Mixing Finance, Families and Fiduciaries," presented to the Boston Estate Planning Council on Nov. 6 by Bonnie Brown Hartley, president of Transition Dynamics Inc., Richard Narva, partner, The Roseview Group, and Mike Hartley, chairman and CEO, DKE Inc.

    A case of poor communication easily resolved
    Advisors to financial families often avoid bringing up sensitive issues. This is a big mistake. 

    Take the case of the family with an unsigned buy-sell agreement for their main asset, a large corporation. Their beloved daughter-in-law was the only holdout. But nobody knew why. Not the family patriarch. Not the family attorney. Not even the husband. They were too scared to ask, as Bonnie Hartley found out through gentle probing.

    Imagine the family members' surprise--and relief--when Bonnie learned the daughter-in-law's objection could be easily removed. With permission from the patriarch and the husband, Bonnie asked the daughter-in-law why she wouldn't sign. The answer: "I won't sign an agreement that doesn't make me a trustee if my husband dies before my children reach their majority." As a mother, she didn't want to leave her children's future in the hands of strangers. This objection was easily addressed, so the agreement was signed.

    The family wasn't the only beneficiary of this good communication. A stronger relationship resulted between the family and the advisors who brought in Bonnie as a consultant. 


    More hints for good communication 

    Try running "fire drills" to test "what if" scenarios" such as the death of a key family member of the sale of the family business.  

    Deepen your relationship with the younger generations.
    1. Train them in how to be good trustees and beneficiaries. 
    2. Communicate with them using the methods they prefer. That could mean foregoing meetings in favor of e-mail, texting, or communication through a family-advisor intranet. Family-advisor intranets, available through DKE Digital, are particularly well-suited to multi-generational families whose members and advisors are geographically dispersed.
    3. Assign members of your firm to mentor younger family members--and go outside your firm to find mentors if necessary.
    4. Include younger members of your firm in meetings with multi-generational clients.
    5. Use genograms to get a better understanding of your client families' dynamics.

    For more insights from the Hartleys 

    If you're interested in more insights from Bonnie Hartley, you can sign up for a quarterly e-newsletter at the bottom of The Hartley Group's website.


    On a personal note, it was a great pleasure to attend this presentation because Bonnie and Mike have been valued clients.


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA
    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Alternative investments: Farmland investing, emerging markets infrastructure, and catastrophe bonds

    Mercer, the investment consulting firm, tackles three unusual asset classes in "Introducing emerging alternative opportunities."

    According to the article, institutional investors are considering investing in these three asset classes to diversify their portfolios or achieve more stable returns:


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA
    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Independent investment research will suffer in the near term

    The recent decline in commissions generated by buy-side equity trading will cut funding available for independent and sell-side investment research, according to "Integrity's Outlook for Independent Research." Michael Mayhew of Integrity Research Associates says that commissions are expected to fall by 40% next year.

    However, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. Integrity says, "However, once the dust settles (in late 2009 or early 2010) we anticipate that the market for investment research, and particularly non-traditional independent research, is likely to improve markedly." Why? Because buy-side research staffs will have shrunk and the supply of good research will be tighter.

    Interested in more news like this? Visit Integrity ResearchWatch or  subscribe by email or RSS feed.


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA
    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Prof. Andre Perold on "Stable Risk Portfolios: A Timely Alternative to Static Asset Allocations?"

    Risk matters. October’s wild stock market swings have reminded investors that volatility can be painful. They simply can’t stomach as much risk as they thought they could.

    In this environment, it’s no surprise that Professor AndrĂ© F. Perold’s October 21 talk on “Risk Stabilization and Asset Allocation” attracted a bigger than usual crowd to the monthly meeting of the Boston chapter of the Quantitative Work Alliance for Applied Finance, Education, and Wisdom, affectionately known as QWAFAFEW.

    Perold’s premise: A stable-risk portfolio that keeps risk constant is a viable alternative to investors’ classic static policy portfolio, such as 60% stocks and 40% bonds, and it may offer superior risk-adjusted returns. 


    Continue reading about stable risk portfolios in my Advisor Perspectives article.


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA
    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    "How to Craft a Blog Post" by Darren Rowse

    Starting to blog without thinking about your process can be a big mistake.

    Read Problogger Darren Rowse's "How to Craft a Blog Post - 10 Crucial Points to Pause" for helpful tips. 

    If you follow his advice, it may take you longer to write your blog posts, but your return on investment will increase exponentially.

    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA
    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    "The Ten Biggest Mistakes Case Study Writers Make" by Casey Hibbard

    Before you write case studies for your wealth management or financial planning business, read "The Ten Biggest Mistakes Case Study Writers Make" by Casey Hibbard (registration required). You can learn from her tips, even though her article is geared to professionals writing for technology companies.

    "Ignoring the Audience," Hibbard's number one "don't," is also the most common mistake that financial advisors--and all business people--make when they write. Gear your case study to the issues that most concern your potential clients.

    "#5 Not Digging for Results Data" is another mistake. A case study typically includes a problem, a solution, and results. A case study saying the client "saved $1 million in taxes" will be more powerful than a similar case study that doesn't quantify the results.

    "#9 Not Catering to Readers or Skimmers" afflicts many of the marketing materials I read. People have short attention spans. So you've got to cater to skimmers in addition to the folks who'll plow through every word you write. As Hibbard says, you can make your writing easier to scan using:
    • A headline that conveys "your number one idea"
    • Subheads that convey your main points
    • Pull quotes that highlight engaging customer quotes
    • Sidebar summaries
    A case study is a great way to show that you've solved problems for people like your prospective client. However, step carefully around investment management issues. Remember the SEC's prohibition on testimonials for registered investment advisors.


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA
    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    If you're confused about what type of chart to use...

    ...check out Chart Chooser.

    It's a website that suggests chart formats for each of six purposes: 
    • Comparison
    • Distribution
    • Composition
    • Trend
    • Relationship
    • Table  
    Plus, it provides free PowerPoint or Excel templates that you can load your data into.

    I learned about this resource from Ann Wylie's Revving Up Readership newsletter. Thanks, Ann!


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Four tips for managing the stock market's emotional strains

    Your clients may benefit from life coach Cheryl Richardson's advice on how to minimize the emotional toll of the stock market's gyrations.

    Richardson suggests:
    1. Put limits on sensational, bad news. 
    2. Put limits on your interactions with pesky pessimists.
    3. Fill your head and heart with empowering information and inspiration. 
    4. Become a source of hope and strength for others.  
    Read more in Richardson's Oct. 13 Life Makeover newsletter.


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA
    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    "Client Communications in Volatile Markets" by Harold Evensky

    "The most important thing to communicate is that you are well aware of how scary the markets are and that you understand your clients are worried. However, it is imperative that you also convey a sense of calmness and optimism," says Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz in "Client Communications in Volatile Markets." His article appeared in a special edition of the CFA Institute's wealth management e-newsletter.

    Are you using this strategy? Is it working for you?


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA
    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Three recruiters talk about hiring at investment management and mutual fund firms

    Hiring is down, but not out, at investment management and mutual fund firms.

    That's according to three Boston-area recruiters I queried recently.

    "Overall, hiring in the mutual fund industry is down sharply from where it was 3 years ago," said Charles O'Neill, principal, Diversified Management Resources. His firm's Mutual Fund Careers website scans openings from online sources and offers an online job search tool.

    Michael Kulesza, managing director of Horton International's Boston office, emailed me that "Despite the turmoil in the stock market, hiring does continue, but at a slower rate.  What is interesting is the hiring is most vibrant at smaller asset management firms vs. the largest firms.  We are working with several Asset Managers whose focus is Endowments, Foundations and Family Offices."

    O'Neill said the roughly 7,000 online job openings in the mutual fund industry include nearly 4,000 in sales and relationship management and 1,500 in compliance and operations. "About 500 postings require or prefer candidates who are Chartered Financial Analysts," he added.

    Marketing professionals face a tough environment. "The count for marketing-related positions is down very sharply—perhaps because many companies continue to view marketing as an expense rather than as a revenue-generator," said O'Neill.

    Jerry Grady of the Ward Group, an executive search firm specializing in marketing and communications professionals, agrees that demand for mutual fund marketers is soft. However, firms are showing interest in marketers who can think strategicallyfor example, segmenting a channel and creating different value propositionsas they target intermediaries.

    Grady also sees a shrinking of the divide between mutual fund product management and marketing. Some firms seek product managers who can think like marketersand vice versa. At these firms, it is not enough for product managers simply to be able to communicate with portfolio managers. If this trend continues, mutual funds will become more like consumer packaged goods, where product management and marketing are combined.

    Looking forward, here's what O'Neill predicts. 
    Most employers seem to be in a wait and see mode for now. But further, sharp declines in the equity markets will require a total recasting of money managers’ budgetsand at that point, all bets are off. It is not inconceivable that industry employment levels—through attrition as well as potential layoffs on a large scalecould result in a much smaller, more compact business than we’ve seen in many years. 
    What's YOUR take on investment management hiring trends? Please leave a comment.

    Related posts:

    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    It's okay to end a sentence with a preposition

    "My mother always told me I shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition."

    I don't agree with that client's mother. 

    It is okay to end a sentence with a preposition. At least, it's okay most of the time. Because, as Grammar Girl says, it doesn't sound natural to say things like "On what did you step?" instead of "What did you step on?"

     

    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Thursday, October 9, 2008

    Hedge funds are better off than you think

    There's no mass exodus out of hedge funds, according to this clip from CNBC.com.

    Indeed, hedge funds with global macro, managed futures, and equity market neutral strategies are delivering good returns, according to Ferenc Sanderson of Lipper.


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA
    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Tuesday, October 7, 2008

    "How to Live in a World of Black Swans: Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Take on the Financial Crisis"

    What do a turkey being fattened up for Thanksgiving and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke have in common?

    According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the best-selling The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, both mistakenly act as if the past predicts the future. 

    The turkey, getting fed for 1,000 days, expected only food from the farmer until the ax fell just prior to the holiday. Bernanke, author of “The Great Moderation,” mistook a lack of volatility for a lack of risk. 

    They both failed to consider the potential for a “black swan,” the focus of Taleb’s speech on “How to Live in a World of Black Swans,” delivered to the Financial Planning Association’s annual conference in Boston on October 4. Taleb reviewed some of the concepts discussed in his book, and then concluded with a call for investing in robust “barbell” portfolios.

    Continue reading my article, "How to Live in a World of Black Swans."


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Monday, October 6, 2008

    Links for investment industry job hunters

    Next week I'll publish some insights from recruiters on the hiring environment for folks in the investment management industry.

    Meanwhile, here are some links for job hunters from Charlie O'Neill of MutualFundCareers.com:
    Related post: Who's hiring CFA charterholders?

    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    "The Surprising Winners in the Financial Crisis"

    Young people are "The Surprising Winners in the Financial Crisis."

    They'll be better able to afford housing than their parents, says blogger Andrew O'Connell.

    Moreover, "With more affordable housing, young people might actually be able to win back some of the earning power that the American middle class has been steadily losing to globalization and offshoring."

    There's something positive you can discuss with your clients.


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    If you're looking for an agent for your financial book...

    You can find agents who handle books like yours by going to AgentQuery and checking the "finance" box. 

    That's the easy part.

    It'll take a lot longer to convince an agent that you've got a marketable book. Good luck!


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Friday, October 3, 2008

    Do NOT copy this wealth management firm's navigation scheme

    There's a lot that I like about the way that Brinton Eaton Wealth Advisors communicates with their clients and the public. But their website navigation is terrible. They should get rid of the website frames.

    In their email notices, Brinton Eaton tells me "Our latest quarterly commentary is now available on our Web site, www.brintoneaton.com, under News Room>Quarterly Overviews."

    That translates into my having to click three times because of the frames. In today's quick-fix world, many people won't have the patience to follow through.

    Website frames have other disadvantages, too, as Shirley Kaiser's article notes. For example, they may prevent your website from being properly indexed by search engines. That makes it harder for people to find the content over which you've labored.

    I'd like to balance my criticism with some praise. I like how Brinton Eaton always relates their investment commentary to the performance on their clients' portfolios. In fact, I've used some of their commentary to help teach "How to Write Investment Commentary People Will Read" to portfolio managers and marketers.


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Thursday, October 2, 2008

    "Is It Different This Time?" by DFA's Weston Wellington

    For a reassuring take on financial markets' resilience and the future of diversified portfolios, watch "Is It Different This Time?" by Weston Wellington of Dimensional Fund Advisors.

    As an editor, I was impressed by how Wellington used images of magazine and newspaper headlines to convey how wrong alarmists have been on many occasions.

    Thank you, Russell Wild, for pointing out this presentation.


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    "Is Outsourcing Portfolio Construction the Wave of the Future?"

    Glenda Kemple knows precisely why she outsources portfolio construction. "You add value because you understand your client's total financial picture," says Kemple, CPA, CFP®, of Kemple Capital in Dallas, Texas. That picture includes cash management, tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning, education planning, and risk management, in addition to investment management. "We want clients focused on all of those dynamics, not just the portfolio."

    Those who outsource portfolio construction as Kemple does passionately agree. They believe it saves them time and empowers them to better serve their clients' overall financial planning needs, while tapping high-quality investment resources at a reasonable cost. They also believe that outsourcing makes them more competitive, helping them snare bigger, more sophisticated clients—and to win a bigger percentage of their assets.

    Non-outsourcers are equally passionate about keeping portfolio construction in-house, arguing that they save their clients fees and provide better performance, and have a better handle on their clients' portfolios, as well as getting great personal satisfaction out of the portfolio construction process.
     

    Continue reading my article in the Journal of Financial Planning (FPA membership required).

    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    Fidelity writes good headlines for volatility

    Dealing with market volatility is a full-time job.
    For us. Not you.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The headline copied above works. It got me to pick up a brochure about the Fidelity Portfolio Advisory Service.

    Why does it work?

    First, it raises the reader's anxiety with "dealing with market volatility is a full-time job." But that isn't enough. The brochure quickly offers a solution: Fidelity will handle volatility for you.

    Consider trying to apply this model to your written communications.

    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Should stock analysts use Twitter?

    If you're an analyst, should you consider using Twitter for research?

    Check out "Should Analysts Use Twitter?" by Jeremiah Owyang, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, for three key questions that'll help you decide. Basically, it depends on what industry you cover and whether the people in your industry are Twittering. To see if people are Twittering on your topic, search key words at http://search.twitter.com/.

    You may also enjoy Owyang's post on "How crowdsourcing helps some--but not all research activities."


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    Monday, September 29, 2008

    Writing sample: Three key lessons from "Schwab and TD Ameritrade Financial Stability"

    Sometimes a little tweaking can make your email message more compelling to your readers. That's especially true when you make your message reader-centric.

    Below you'll find a "before" example of a message I received recently and the "after" version with my edits to make it more client-focused.


    BEFORE:

    Schwab and TD Ameritrade Financial Stability

    We received a number of phone calls the past few days about the financial stability of Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade who we use to custody client accounts.  I am pleased to report that they are both in fine shape, as they are not investment banks.   Investment banks create products and sell them to institutions such as insurance companies, pension plans and banks.  In addition, your accounts are separately held and each account has both SIPC and supplemental insurance far in excess of your accounts' value. For more information about SIPC and supplemental insurance please click on the following link:



    AFTER MY EDITING:


    Schwab and TD Ameritrade are Financially Stable
     

    Has the recent financial turmoil made you worry about the  financial stability of the firms that provide custody for your accounts with us?

    Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade are both in fine shape. They are not investment banks and they have strong balance sheets.
    In addition, your accounts are separately held and each account has both Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and supplemental insurance far in excess of the account's value. For more information on SIPC and supplemental insurance click on the following link:....


    Comparing the before and after


    What are the key lessons from the two versions?
    1. Use headings to convey your message. My heading, "Schwab and TD Ameritrade are Financially Stable" conveys a lot more information than "Schwab and TD Ameritrade Financial Stability." It puts readers' minds at ease quickly and may spare them having to read the entire message
    2. Talk about you, not us. The first version starts with "we received..." and talks about "we use to custody...." The second begins with a focus on you.
    3. Don't assume that your reader understands acronyms. Spell out that SIPC is short for Securities Investor Protection Corporation.
    Still, I give the authors credit for e-mailing their clients promptly. It's not easy to craft a perfect communication when time is short.

    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    New GIPS standards will change the rules for marketers of separate accounts

    Marketers of investment strategies marketed using performance composites will have to learn new recommendations and rules once GIPS 2010 goes into effect. If you're a reader of marketing materials for separate accounts, you will find new information to digest.

    GIPS is short for Global Investment Performance Standards. The next draft of GIPS standards will be issued for public comment in early 2009, with new standards to be issued in early 2010 and to become effective on January 1, 2011, according to a presentation on "GIPS Update: What to Expect in 2010" by Sunette Mulder, chair of the GIPS Executive Committee and Investment Manager Subcommittee, and Karyn Vincent, chair of the GIPS Interpretations Subcommittee. They spoke at the CFA Institute's GIPS Standards Annual Conference on Sept. 25.

    I nodded my head when Vincent said that common practice in the U.S. is to show 10 years of investment composite performance and to drop off the eleventh year once an additional year of performance is completed. I remember salespeople gleefully anticipating when a bad year would drop off the bar graph.

    However, the draft of GIPS 2010 will recommend that firms show more than 10 years of history. That was just one of many points made by Vincent and Mulder. 

    Another change that will impact marketers: the composite description must be expanded to include "enough information to understand all of the key characteristics, including risks, of the composite strategy." Apparently it was felt that firms don't adequately discuss risks.

    Speaking of risk, another innovation is to require disclosure of a risk measure such as standard deviation for the composite and the benchmark for the most recent three-year period. If standard deviation isn't the best risk statistic, you may show additional statistics.

    If you don't like what you're hearing--or if you think some of these ideas should definitely get implemented--remember you'll have an opportunity to give feedback on the draft of GIPS 2010. You can keep up at the GIPS Standards website.


    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

    What the heck is Twitter?

    It's tough to keep up with all of the social networking tools and their business uses. 

    One that I've struggled to see the value of --at least for me--is Twitter. Twitter is like a series of mini blog posts or updates, as described in the slide show on "Twitter in Plain English." As the Twitter FAQ explains, a Twitter communication--known as a tweet--tells us what you're doing in 140 characters or less.

    What does Twitter have to do with business? Here are "50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business."

    Check out the left-hand column of the FP Pad blog for an example of a financial professional's Twitter feed.

    If you really want to delve into the details of using Twitter, I've heard that the Twitter Fan Wiki is the website for you.

    You won't see me Twittering any time soon. 
    _________________
    Susan B. Weiner, CFA

    Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

    Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved