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.

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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.
 


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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