Monday, July 28, 2008

Optimism watch: The case for maximum pessimism

Is the stock market getting you down? I'm starting an "Optimism watch" on this blog. 

In "Optimism watch" posts, I'll highlight the case that other writers make for you and your clients to hang in there.

Let's start with a quote from "Nowhere to Hide: Foreign Funds are Falling, Too," from Morningstar's Bridget Hughes.
...before you fall into deep despair, I'd remind you that the late Sir John Templeton made a highly successful career investing where he saw "maximum pessimism." We've been here before. Markets are cyclical. Keeping a truly long-term perspective (10 years or more) can be liberating, and you may realize this is a time to add to your holdings.
Related posts on the Investment Writing blog:

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

"Can not" vs. "cannot"

Which is right? "Can not" or "cannot"?

Habit tells me "cannot," but I can't find this peculiar spelling in the index of any of my style guides.

However, Wikipedia gives me this quote, in which I've added the bolding to "cannot":
In this regard, the following quotation from The Chicago Manual of Style deserves notice:
Rules and regulations such as these, in the nature of the case, cannot be endowed with the fixity of rock-ribbed law. They are meant for the average case, and must be applied with a certain degree of elasticity.
I haven't thought about this issue in years. I usually work around it by using "can't."

What's your practice?



This is a reposting of one of the most popular posts on one of my predecessor blogs. I originally posted it in April 2006.
 

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Sunday, July 27, 2008

ACLI promises better disclosures about annuities

The American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) is promising to improve disclosure about annuities in cooperation with the National Association for Variable Annuities (NAVA), according to "User-Friendly Annuity Documents Planned," an article on the Financial Advisor website.

Maybe they could start with the so-called "easy to read tip sheet" for seniors on their website. It sports plenty of jargon. Like "current credited interest rate"--a term that I couldn't even find in the ACLI's glossary. The same goes for "subaccount."

The ACLI and NAVA are tackling a tough job. I wish them good luck.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Friday, July 25, 2008

How to make your ultra-affluent clients happy

"...the model that works in the institutional world does not necessarily translate well to the world of the ultra affluent," writes Scott Welch of Fortigent, LLC in "Differentiating When Consulting to the Ultra Affluent," an article published in the CFA Institute's private wealth management e-newsletter.

So, while wealth managers like to talk about bringing institutional-quality management to individual clients, forget about your institutional client-service model.

As a professional writer, I was intrigued to read that "...satisfied clients hear from their primary adviser 28 times a year, or a little more than twice a month, and it might be a phone call, an e-mail, a fax, a newsletter, a research report, or just a quick hello.  Unsatisfied clients hear from their primary advisers fewer than 17 times a year (emphasis added)." One extra client touch per month could make an enormous difference!

Welch discusses how to satisfy ultra-affluent clients in terms of platform, process, and people.

Platform means that your product and service offerings must be comprehensive.  Without the full array of wealth management offerings, you won't "get a seat at the table." But the key is providing access to those services. Outsourcing is okay.

Process means that a relationship manager with excellent people skills and an outstanding support team arranges client access to products and services. 

People means that roles are becoming more specialized, taking advantage of employees' personalities and knowledge. Also, ongoing professional education is essential because of increasing specialization.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How I ghostwrite your financial article

Too busy to write an article? Hiring a ghostwriter is a great way to produce a compelling article in a short amount of time.

Ghostwriting is one of my specialties. Please read on for an explanation of how you and I can work together.

My ghostwriting process typically includes these steps:
1. Topic identification
2. Interview of expert(s)
3. Outline
4. First draft
5. Revision, if necessary
6. Completion


1. Topic identification

You and I will discuss your topic over the phone. It’s helpful if you can answer these questions:
•    Why do you want to write an article and what do you want it to accomplish?
•    What is your topic?
•    Who is your audience and what do you want them to do after they read your article?
•    Why will your readers care about your article topic?
•    What problem will your article solve for your readers?
•    What are the three main points you’d like to make?
•    Where will the article appear?
•    What word count are you targeting? For example, a ghostwritten newspaper article often runs 600-1,000 words and a double-spaced, typed page runs about 200-250 words.
•    By when do you need the article completed?
•    What is your review and approval process?

Following this interview, I typically send you a letter of agreement that describes the scope of the work we will do together.


2. Interview of expert(s)

Most of the articles that I ghostwrite are based on an interview with a single expert. Sometimes multiple experts and outside research are involved.

Prior to the interview, I will send you a list of questions to think about. If that makes you think of useful exhibits or other data, it’s helpful for you to send them to me prior to our interview.

The interview will be conducted by phone and tape recorded, so I can refer back to it.


3. Outline

Following our interview, I will typically send you a robust outline, so you can agree to the direction of the article before I send you a complete draft. The outline will incorporate my questions and requests for additional information needed to flesh out the article.


4. First draft

After you respond to my questions and approve the outline, I will send you an article following the outline.


5. Revisions

My clients are often satisfied with my initial draft. However, sometimes changes are needed. Our letter of agreement will specify the scope of revisions included in your project fee.


6. Completion

When the process is complete, you’ve got an article you can publish under your name. It’s ready to go!


Do you have questions?
Contact me at 617-969-4509.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

"You Can Write - Six easy tips to getting words from your head to your computer keyboard"

Financial advisors need to write to their clients. It's an essential part of marketing. "Phone conversations are fleeting and cannot be handed as a referral to a friend in the same way that a piece of written material can be passed on," as PR consultant Beth Chapman of Ink & Air points out in "You Can Write - Six easy tips to getting words from your head to your computer keyboard," her article below.


Forget your old issues with writing, this is a new day and this is business.
  1. Ever hear of an outline? Outlines can take away some of your uncertainty when you do realize you have something to say.
  2. No one really likes grammar, so write short sentences and avoid all internal punctuation that you can.
  3. Have someone else read your document after you have gone through spell check. Often a word can be spelled correctly, but be the wrong word for the context. Familiarity breeds written errors.  That second set of eyes is extremely useful.
  4. Write in bullet points instead of sentences and paragraphs, where transitions are not needed. This engages the reader's eyes better than run on sentences.
  5. Writing can be done if you tackle it when you are the freshest and work for only 10 minutes a day for several days. Outline and get the ideas down and then polish.
  6. Phone conversations are fleeting and cannot be handed as a referral to a friend in the same way that a piece of written material can be passed on.
_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cheer up your clients with views of Dallas Fed authors

Has the economy got your clients feeling blue? 

Cheer them up with some statistics from "How Are We Doing," an article by W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.


For example, over the past 20 years, "in terms of time worked at the average pay rate, the real cost of a 12-item basket of basic foods has hardly budged." You can see that for yourself in Figure 3, "What Work Buys."


I learned about this article from "Cheer up -- these are the good old days," a Boston Globe column by Jeff Jacoby.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

How to publicize your white paper using LinkedIn

You can leverage LinkedIn to publicize your white paper. It won't cost you anything more than the time it takes to write a LinkedIn Question.

"Free White Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide to Producing High Quality Case Studies."  That's what Toby Younis put in the headline as his "question." Okay, so it's not really a question. That means it's breaking LinkedIn's rules.

But it works. Younis got me to download his white paper on case studies. I noticed it because on my LinkedIn home page I track "Answers" for "Writing and Editing," which is one of the two categories Younis picked for his "question."

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Monday, July 21, 2008

Are buy-side analysts inferior?

Buy-side analysts aren't as good as sell-side analysts. At least not in the opinion of some researchers.

"...buy-side analysts made more optimistic and less accurate forecasts than their counterparts on the sell side," according to "Buy-Side vs. Sell-Side Analysts' Earnings Forecasts," an article by Boris Groysberg, Paul Healy, and Craig Chapman of Harvard Business School in the July/August issue of the Financial Analysts Journal.  

"The performance differences appear to be partially explained by the buy-side firm’s greater retention of poorly performing analysts and by differences in the performance benchmarks used to evaluate buy-side and sell-side analysts."

Do you buy the authors' conclusions?  

As of August 19, there's a poll on the right-hand side of this blog that will let you vote on the accuracy of buy-side vs. sell-side analysts. It's a temporary poll, so vote now! If you think the issues are too complex to be addressed by a poll, please add your comments below.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

"Let Content Determine Podcast Length"

The best podcasts tend to run 5-7 minutes long, according to "Let Content Determine Podcast Length" on MarketingSherpa (paid registration may be required for article access). However, longer podcasts can work if the content is compelling.


Another key characteristic:  they focus on one topic. 

So, if you're considering adding podcasts to your menu of investment or wealth management communications, keep them short and focused.
 
_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

A CFA favors longevity annuities

Longevity annuities may make sense in the eyes of at least one CFA charterholder.

"...individuals can have their cake and eat it too. They can buy longevity insurance for about 5–10 percent of their assets while investing and decumulating the remaining 90–95 percent!" according to a Canadian charterholder's letter in the July-August issue of CFA Magazine (subscription required).

I've written previously about annuities. It fascinates me that they're becoming more respectable.



_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Can you help your clients to control their fears?

The Intelligent Investor's column on "How to Control Your Fears in a Fearsome Market" inspired this blog post.

Author Jason Zweig lists four techniques that individuals can use to manage the stress they feel when the market tanks. You might be able to apply some of them in your conversations with clients.

For example, consider his advice to reappraise.
Forget what you paid for that stock or fund; instead, imagine it was a gift. Now that it is priced, say, 20% more cheaply than in December, should you want to return the gift? Or should you buy more while it is on sale? (If rethinking a fallen price this way doesn't make you feel better, maybe you should sell.)
I think that you could talk your clients through a reappraisal following Zweig's advice.


It might not work for every client. But you--and your client--will feel good when you success.


Have you ever tried this? Leave your comments below.



 
_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Social Media in Plain English"

Why all the fuss about blogs and other social media?

The video at "Social Media in Plain English" shows how tapping the wisdom of crowds using social media can benefit a company. It conveys ideas at a "big picture" level. There's no road map to applying the ideas. It doesn't even get into the specifics of any of the social media tools.



_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How to boost your website's rank in Internet searches

Use keywords well and you boost the odds that potential clients will find you in their Internet searches.

"Fifteen places you must place your Keyword Phrase and the why behind it" provides some helpful hints. At a minimum, make sure the person putting up your website knows the "behind the scenes" tricks for placing keywords. 

Tread more carefully when it comes to inserting keywords into your text. Excessive use of keywords can make your writing clunky. It can drive away the very people you want to attract.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Monday, July 14, 2008

What Jason Zweig does right--and wrong--in his inaugural column for "The

"Stop Worrying, and Learn to Love the Bear."

I love the title of Jason Zweig's inaugural "The Intelligent Investor" column for The Wall Street Journal. With this title, Zweig follows advice I give to writers of investment commentary. He takes something that's viewed as negative and finds the positive side. That's a great way to grab your reader's attention.


Zweig says, "...if you are still in your saving and investing years, a bear market is a gift from the financial gods -- and the longer it lasts, the better off you will be. Instead of running from the bear, you should embrace him." So that's his thesis. 

But Zweig falls short in explaining how the bear market will help investors, other than offering the opportunity to buy good stocks cheaply. He gives the example of how the last long bear market--1969-1982--set the stage for stocks to return 18.5% a year for the 18 years following the bear market's end.

Let's assume--and it's a big assumption--that scenario will repeat. Then, sure, folks who are just starting their saving and investing would end up better off. But what about those who are in the midst of their saving and investing? Will they ever make up their losses?

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Website demystifies confusing words

The Confusing Words website clarifies the differences between sets of two or more frequently confused words. Visit it when you're confused about which word to use.



According to the website, some classic pairs of misunderstood or misused words include:
  • Affect vs. effect
  • Capitol vs. capital
  •  Affluent vs. effluent -- I'll bet there aren't any financial advisors who make this mistake!
  • Atheist vs. agnostic
I read about this in Daphne Gray-Grant's Power Writing e-newsletter.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Monday, July 7, 2008

If you're a financial advisor considering LinkedIn and other social networking

Is social networking right for you? 

You could easily spend hours participating in LinkedIn, Twitter or even funkier sites and services. They're not all worth your investment of time. You can research your options following the steps in "Three Factors to Consider Before Jumping on the Social Media Bandwagon" (free registration may be required to access this article).


By the way, consultant David Drucker recently weighed in on the value of LinkedIn in "Linking Up" and I wrote in April on "How financial advisors use LinkedIn to boost their visibility."


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Should you use quotes like PIMCO's Bill Gross?"

If you don't subscribe to my e-newsletter, you missed "Should you use quotes like PIMCO's Bill Gross?" 

This article appeared exclusively in my e-newsletter and provided advice on how to use one of Gross' investment commentary techniques.



_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Useful quarter-end fact from The Wall Street Journal

Here is a useful tidbit for your quarterly investment commentary from the June 28-29 issue of The Wall Street Journal:
  • Bear markets average 14 months and recover within a year of their bottom, according to Sam Stovall of S&P in "What to Do to Survive This Market"
The 14-month average is also cited in "Dow Hits Bear-Market Territory, Signaling Woe for Economy," but attributed to Ned Davis Research. It's accompanied by a graph showing the healthy gains the Dow has earned in the year following each bear market's end since the 1960s.
 
_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Time to invest in frontier market stocks

"If you remember China 20 years ago, you get a sense of the potential for frontier markets today." 

This quote from Larry Speidell, chief investment officer of Frontier Market Asset Management, kicks off my article on "Time to invest in frontier market stocks?" in Advisor Perspectives.

Are YOU ready to invest in frontier market stocks? Leave your comments here. 
 
_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

Another reason for financial advisors to start a blog

"I've been able to prove how much more I can accomplish by answering a question, and posting it on a blog, for example, than I can by answering the same question over and over." 

This quote by Luis Suarez in his New York Times article, "I Freed Myself from E-mail's Grip," got me thinking. Financial advisors may find it helpful to answer their clients' frequently asked questions on a blog. Just write up the answer once, then share it with everyone after running it by Compliance, if necessary. It's easy to direct clients to the blog post. Some may even find it on their own.



Sure, you could add the question to a FAQ (frequently asked question) section on your website. But that probably means going through a technology person who'll delay the posting of your content. The beauty of blogs is that anyone who can type can update them.


If this blog post interests you, you may also enjoy "A great way for financial advisors to leverage existing content."


By the way, I found Suarez' article through Lifehacker
 
_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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

A great way for financial advisors to leverage existing content

A blog can be a great way for financial advisors to leverage their inventory of compliance-approved articles. That's according to my interview with Stuart Zimmerman, principal, and Jim Cornfeld, investment advisor, The Buckingham Family of Financial Services. However, it's too early to tell if the blog will yield financial benefits.

Cornfeld started The Educated Investor blog in February, after the Financial Executives Networking Group (FENG) St. Louis offered to host blogs for its members on its website. "The group is a good demographic for us. It fits one of our niches: corporate executives," he said. 


The firm's additional goals for the blog include:
  1. Serving as an easy place to refer clients and prospects for useful, educational articles
  2. Potentially attracting new business from web surfers who find it through online searches
Zimmerman said the blog is already handy for achieving goal number one. However, "We haven't received any calls from prospects saying 'We saw your blog.' " On the other hand, some of their articles, such as their interview with Harvard's David Laibson and an article on geographic diversification of muni bond investing, have ranked highly in Google's Blog Search.



Financial advisors who want to blog face two challenges: 1) compliance; 2) content generation. Buckingham may be better positioned than your typical investment advisor. Their business model includes generating a good many compliance-approved articles for use in their newsletter and for use by the 116 RIA firms that use their back office services for passive investing. "We already invested time writing these articles for other purposes," said Cornfeld.



Another strategy that Buckingham uses to manage compliance issues: It doesn't allow comments on its blog posts. If Buckingham wanted to reply to reader comments, it would have to run its responses through Compliance.


Talking with Cornfeld and Zimmerman got me thinking about "The Real ROI of Blogging," an article on MarketingProfs' Daily Fix blog. Blogger Lewis Green measures the ROI on his blog not just in terms of profits, revenue or new business leads and referrals. He also considers the blog's impact in terms of getting his firm noticed and improving his customers' experience and loyalty. Financial advisors should also consider these benefits.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that's an investment in your success

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