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.

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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