Friday, August 29, 2008

Check out these blogs about the business of wealth management

There's a growing community of blogs about the business of wealth management and financial planning. But their number is still small compared to the wealth of blogs that advise individuals and professionals on where to invest their money or how to manage it. I think this category is going to grow.

I stumbled onto some of these business blogs thanks to a LinkedIn Question and a Q&A with blogger Russ Thornton


Here are some links:

Can you recommend any more blogs I should check out?

Related post:
Do financial blogs make a difference? 


_________________
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.

Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Add Bloomberg video to your blog

Financial advisors, here's a cool new widget that may appeal to your video-oriented clients.




Click on the "Get Widget" box to get the code for adding this to your blog or website. I discovered this widget on the Investment Postcards from Capetown 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.

Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Stop Sending 'Dear Valued Client' Emails"

When you address your correspondence to "Dear Valued Client," you send the wrong message. It says you don't care enough to personalize your message.

So, check out the email solutions described in "Stop Sending 'Dear Valued Client' Emails" by Bill Winterberg in his FP Pad blog. He suggests using a service like Constant Contact, which I use to send my newsletter, or mail merge, like the function available in Microsoft Outlook.

Allow plenty of time to get the hang of mail merge. It's complicated. At least, that's my experience.

And, be sure to test your mail merge on non-clients before your first email to clients. 

I discovered some unexpected problems the first time I used Outlook's mail merge function. Luckily, I'd used my husband as my mail-merge guinea pig. So none of the prospective clients for my writing and editing business had to suffer through my mistakes.


_________________
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.

Copyright 2008 by Susan Weiner   All rights reserved

Monday, August 25, 2008

Do financial blogs make a difference?

Financial blogs have multiplied like crazy. But are they worth reading?

When I researched "Investment Strategy Blogs Slow to Influence Advisors," I found that financial advisors aren't paying much attention to blogs. However, in some cases, investment strategy blogs affect advisors' buy and sell decisions or help them refine their thinking or their client communications.

You'll find a list of financial and economic blogs visited by my interviewees in the box on page two of my article.

Meanwhile, an upcoming BlogWorld panel will tackle "How Financial Blogs Influence the Markets," according to a post on Content Matters. Panelists include Paul Kedrosky, whose Infectious Greed blog appeared in my article's blog list.

As Content Matters blogger Barry Graubart sees it, "Financial blogging is one of the more interesting segments of the blogging space. Despite the huge financial news presence of companies like Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Reuters and various newspapers, blogs frequently are ahead of the mainstream media in grasping the significance of key trends."

Thanks to Bob Leonard of Bolen Communications for pointing me to Graubart's post. 
_________________
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, August 22, 2008

Vary your paragraph length like NYT columnist Floyd Norris

It can be painful to read a page full of long sentences and longer paragraphs. That's why, when I teach "How to Write Investment Commentary that People Will Read," I suggest that people vary the length of their sentences and paragraphs.

New York Times columnist Floyd Norris illustrates this nicely in the print version of his article"No Profit Without Risk."

In the print version, a two-line paragraph follows an eight-line paragraph and a 10-line paragraph. The contrast between two vs. eight and ten in the print version is starker than what you'll see in the online article. By the way, the online article goes by a different title than the print version, so please don't tell me I got his title wrong.

The short third paragraph comes as a relief. It gives the reader a chance to breathe. Plus, its shortness emphasizes the contrast between the content of the first two paragraphs and third.

In fact, Norris' opening three paragraphs illustrate a classic article approach that goes like this:
People thought blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
They were wrong.

So, think about mixing up your sentence and paragraph lengths the next time you write. Your readers will reward you by paying attention longer.


_________________
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.

Copyright 2008 All rights reserved

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Morningstar's new bond market commentary is an online "Don't"

Morningstar has introduced monthly bond market commentary. 

The August 2008 issue of Morningstar Bond Market Commentary has many nice features. But it also illustrates an important "Don't" of online publishing.

The commentary is almost impossible to read online. Why? Because it's formatted in three columns instead of one. 

The bottom line:If you want people to read your commentary online, format it in one column. Otherwise, you'll lose many readers.

By the way, Morningstar says its bond commentary is designed to be printed out. A three-column layout works fine in hard copy.



_________________
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.

"Why the Big Company Financial Brands Don't Work Any More"

I've worked for a big financial company, so I was interested to read "Why the Big Company Financial Brands Don't Work Any More."

Blogger Dan Taylor says, "The value of the big brands in fading.  No one under 40 gives a hoot whether their money is at Merrill [Lynch] or in Moab." The implication is that no matter where you work, you'd better invest time in packaging yourself for clients.


He's even more provocative in "Your Brand Never Lies to Clients," saying "The reluctance of Broker Dealers to allow their representatives to brand themselves is more about protecting their turf instead of your future.  If you notice, the big brands are the ones that you always have to apologize for...." 

What's your take on this topic?

_________________
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, August 20, 2008

Optimism watch: S&P 500 Index and major global events

If you have a long time horizon, you can survive just about anything. At least, that's the implication of a graph I looked at today.

Fidelity Investments is showing off a graph called "S&P 500 Index & Major Global Events" in "Putting Short-Term Market Turmoil in Perspective: U.S. stocks have proven resilient over the long term."

It's a graph of the S&P 500 index with major events from JFK's assassination in 1963 to this year's collapse of Bear Stearns.

The article concludes:  "U.S. stocks have proven to be resilient over the long term. A $10,000 hypothetical investment in a diversified mix of large-cap domestic stocks at the start of 1963 would have been worth more than $865,000 at the end of June 2008."

$865,000 is a nice big number. But how many investors think in terms of a 45-year time horizon? 

On the other hand, maybe that's the point. A 45-year time horizon isn't just for college kids. Even middle-aged folks may live another 45 years.

Does this graph give you comfort?
_________________
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.

"Tired of having too much money at the end of the month?"

Sometimes you have to say something unexpected to grab your reader's attention.


Something like, "Tired of having too much money at the end of the month?" That's a headline that snared me recently. Aren't you usually concerned about the opposite problem, of having too little money at the end of the month?


In Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath say, "The most basic way to get someone's attention is this: Break a pattern. Humans adapt incredibly quickly to consistent patterns." 

"Surprise jolts us to attention," as the Heaths say.

Can you use surprise in your next client communication? PIMCO's Paul McCulley did it in "A Kind Word for Inflation."


_________________
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, August 18, 2008

What should you call your white paper?

"Should you always label a white paper with the term 'white paper'?"


Michael Stelzner asks this question on his Writing White Papers blog.

My answer: it depends.

When you say "white paper" to financial advisors, they probably know what you're talking about. In fact, the term conjures up the image of a helpful tool.

Say "white paper" to an ordinary investor and you're likely to get a blank look. In this case, it's far better to call it a "special report" or even just an "article."

What do you think?
_________________
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.

"The Top Seven B2B Communications Mistakes"

"The Top Seven B2B Communications Mistakes" offers some useful advice for investment and wealth management marketers, whether you're targeting businesses or individuals.


For example:
  1. Your content should reflect your prospects' top concerns.
  2. "Don't sell. Inform."
When I review investment and wealth management firms' content, I often find it focused on them, not on their clients. It takes a mighty motivated buyer to plow through content that takes that approach.

As for informing instead of selling, I don't think you can follow this rule 100% of the time. But many firms could benefit from taking this advice more frequently.

_________________
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, August 16, 2008

"Never use a fancy word when a simple one will do"

That's the bottom line of "Why Jargon Feeds on Lazy Minds" by Scott Berkun.

Moreover, he warns, "Pay attention to who uses the most jargon: it's never the brightest. It's those who want to be perceived as the best and the brightest, something they know they are not."

Berkun offers a list of management jargon that he'd like to ban. Can you think of financial jargon that should join the list of forbidden terms? Let's start with "mitigate."
_________________
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, August 14, 2008

"Thought Leadership: Are You Making It or Faking It?"

Plenty of investment and wealth management firms try to distinguish themselves as so-called "thought leaders." Many will fail.

"Thought Leadership: Are You Making It or Faking It?" by Fiona Czerniawska says that clients seek:
1. Something relevant to challenges they face
2. Something new and different
3. Something that is supported by hard evidence – a single case study or recycling second-hand ideas is not enough
When you write white papers, make sure you show how your ideas can impact the things your clients care about. If you fail at this, your reader may not progress beyond your first paragraph.

If you can also say something different about a topic that's in the news, that's even better.

Don't use your white paper to pitch your product or service. As Czerniawska advises her consulting firm clients: 
In this context, a call-to-action – perhaps some benchmarking data for clients to compare themselves to or a tool for evaluating their performance – is more likely to result in consulting work in the long-term because it doesn't try to sell too unsubtly in the short-term.

_________________
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, August 11, 2008

"Relevant and useful content earns trust. And trust sells."

"Relevant and useful content earns trust. And trust sells."


I love this tag line from Bob Leonard's Bolen Communications.

It reminded me of why newsletters are so powerful. Why? Because newsletters that convey a sense of who you are--and that provide relevant and useful content--build trust. And trust sells, just as Bob Leonard says in his tag line. 


Another thing about newsletters. The importance of building trust through relevant, useful content argues against putting a lot of promotional copy in your newsletter. Sales writing may interfere with your building your relationship with your audience.

  
_________________
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, August 6, 2008

Optimism watch: "Could Bear Talk Be a Contrary Signal?"

"Doing the reverse of the crowd has often worked well," as New York Times columnist Floyd Norris points out in "Could Bear Talk Be a Contrary Signal?"

So the fact that consumers feel unusually gloomy about the stock market, according to the Conference Board's latest consumer confidence report, may bode well for stocks.

More than half of those polled expect stocks to decline over the next 12 months. However, as Norris reports:
In the past, there have been only six market cycles when the proportion of bears reached 36 percent. Five of them were excellent times to buy stocks, and the other one was followed by a decent return.
If you only want to read an optimistic spin on these numbers, do NOT read Mark Hulbert's "The Stars Have Yet To Align For Stocks," also published in The New York Times.

This blog post is part of a recently launched "Optimism watch" series on this 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.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Warren Buffett on compliance officer

This is a great quote from Warren Buffet.


"Everyone must be his own compliance officer. That means everything you do can be put on the front page of the newspaper, and there will be nothing that cannot stand up to scrutiny."

Jim Ware of Focus Consulting Group cited this quote in his talk on ethics to the Boston Security Analysts Society. I tracked down the wording in a New York Times article

_________________
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, August 1, 2008

Wealth managers should specialize by affinity, NOT demographics

"In my opinion, a successful segmentation will be less demographically driven (e.g., net worth or income striations) and more affinity driven (tapping into a deep pool of investors who share a common passion — auto racing, yachting, the arts, religion, and so on)." writes Scott Welch of Fortigent, LLC in "Differentiating When Consulting to the Ultra Affluent," an article I blogged about on August 25.


Are you tapping a common passion among clients of your wealth management practice? Share it in the "Comments" section of this blog post.

_________________
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.