Saturday, January 31, 2009

Visit the Tax Policy Center for analysis of stimulus package

The Tax Policy Center offers report cards and other resources to help you understand the economic stimulus bills.


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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 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Friday, January 30, 2009

Using your client's house to explain the market

I like this example of plain talk cited in Eric Rasmussen's "Who Ya Gonna Call?" in Financial Advisor Magazine (Dec. 2008).

Michael Kresh of M.D. Kresh Financial Planning uses a down-to-earth image, as Rasmussen describes.
To explain the market to clients, he asks them to imagine what would happen if they were forced to sell their house in 24 hours: A home worth half a million dollars would suddenly plummet to about $100K. And that’s just what’s going on with the stock market.


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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 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tips for streamlining your writing from the Word Wise blog

Shorter is almost always better when you write.

Check out "One (Isn't) the Loneliest Number," a list of phrases that can be replaced with a single word, from Dan Santow's Word Wise blog.

It'll teach you to use words like "now" instead of "at the present time" or "at this point in time."


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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 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Monday, January 26, 2009

Would you "robo call" your financial planning clients?

I wouldn't.

I winced when I saw "robo calls" among the crisis communications tools recommended by a marketer who shall remain anonymous. This person suggested using robo calls to invite financial planning clients to a quickly organized meeting or conference call at a time of crisis.

Robo calls. Those automated, pre-recorded phone messages that jam up my phone line even after I hang up. I don't care what their topic is. I do not want to be robo-called.

But is there a good alternative for speedy communication with many people? If you've got 300 clients, like some investment advisors I've known, it isn't practical to call each one individually. Letters aren't fast enough. Email blasts require that you have email addresses for all of your clients--and that they pay attention to email. 

Maybe robo calls would be okay if you get your clients' permission in advance to use this method only in times of crisis.

What do YOU think?


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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 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Making Sense of the Dollar"

The U.S. economy is in better shape than you think. It may even start coming back in the second half of 2009, and the dollar will end 2009 higher versus the euro and yen.

At least, that's the optimistic outlook Marc Chandler, Brown Bothers Harriman's global head of currency, set forth in his keynote address at NICSA (National Investment Service Company Service Association) East Coast Regional Meeting on January 15, "Making Sense of the Dollar."

The U.S. will emerge from this crisis stronger than before, just as we emerged stronger from World War Two and subsequent crises, Chandler told his audience.

Continue reading my article, "Making Sense of the Dollar: The U.S. Will Lead the World Again" in Advisor Perspectives.



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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 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Take advantage of a 20% discount on the Managing Retirement Income conference

You can save 20% on your registration for the conference on "Managing Retirement Income: Creating Solutions to Manage Downside Risk and Adapting Strategies to Preserve Retirement Income in a Shifting Economy" that will be held in Boston, Feb. 9 to Feb. 12.  The discount code should automatically fill when you click on the link above. If not, enter this code:XU2358IW

I'm just passing along this information. I don't benefit financially if you use the code. But let me know if you plan to attend. Perhaps we can meet during one of the coffee breaks.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

"50 Things Your Customers Wish You Knew"

"50 Things Your Customers Wish You Knew" by Sonia Simone  on the Remarkable Communication blog gives you some great insights into your clients.

Client opinion #10 is: "I don’t understand a lot of the messages you send me. Can you make them clearer?" That resonates with me.

I wonder about #16, "The wealthier I get, the more I like free stuff." Is that true of your clients?

How about #34? "I have the attention span of a goldfish. Go too long without contacting me and I’ll simply forget you exist."

Most important of all, at #50: "It really is all about me." 

Can you add something to this list that's specific to clients of financial advisors? 

I found "50 Things" thanks to "Top 10 Blog Posts for Writers (The Best From The Best in 2008!)"  by Michael Stelzner.


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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 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Monday, January 19, 2009

Goodbye, Lehman Agg!

The term "Lehman Agg" used to roll off my tongue. I felt like an insider knowing that was short for "Lehman Brothers U.S. Aggregate Index" of bonds.

It feels strange to be typing "Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Index (formerly the
Lehman Brothers U.S. Aggregate Index)" as I create my fourth quarter performance reports.

Does this make anyone else pause?


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New "Wall Street Week" seeking participants

Contact Jeff Salkin (jeff AT wallstreetweek.com) if you're interested in appearing on a new version of  the "Wall Street Week" show.

Here's what Jeff says:
We are launching a web-based revival of the venerable "Wall Street Week" franchise. We think there's a need for a higher-level (and lower-decibel) program than CNBC etc. Looking for potential panelists (some of whom will also host the program.) Please email ideas/suggestions to jeff AT wallstreetweek.com


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"The Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say in Email Subject Lines (Plus 100 Others You Shouldn't Use, Either)"

You don't want your emails to get tagged as spam. So stay away from the words listed in "The Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say in Email Subject Lines (Plus 100 Others You Shouldn't Use, Either)."

This list is old, so keep your eyes open for updates. If you ever look at your spam folder, you can probably identify questionable words that haven't made it onto the list yet.


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Creating Pitch Books Without Losing Your Mind… a Sequel

"Creating Pitch Books Without Losing Your Mind… a Sequel: Your Pitch Book - a Foundation for Customizing" is a guest post by designer Margaret Patterson. Her 2007 series about "Creating Pitch Books Without Losing Your Mind" has attracted lots of attention. Thanks for your latest contribution, Margaret!

If you have questions for Margaret, please leave them as a comment. I'll make sure she gets them.


My first article about pitch books provided several “must do” tips to help your firm develop presentations that others will plagiarize, the best compliment attainable.  Readers’ questions have prompted additional pointers about the next phase: customizing.

When is it worthwhile for institutional and high net worth asset managers to customize?
Your first pitch book is a base. But it doesn’t always address your prospective client’s unique concerns. Your key contact at the prospect can tell you what points are most crucial. Add information that addresses their concerns. But be succinct or you’ll overwhelm your prospects with too much information.

As you customize, you should communicate value statements - to your audience, about your audience – to the extent reasonably possible.

What do you mean by value statements?

Focus on how your strategy is a good fit for the prospect's objectives, your ability to provide the level of service the prospect needs, and providing adequate diversification, considering prospect’s current investment profiles.

Will customizing dilute our firm’s branding?
You run the risk of diluting your branding when many employees and consultants contribute to your pitch books. That’s why these projects should be managed and maintained by your marketing department.

Remember that content is both text and graphics. After all, our actions are prompted every day by both words and images. Your book should look and sound impressive. Your writer  can develop Writing Guidelines for your firm, language that consistently supports your branding. You also need Design System Guidelines, if they do not already exist. Share these guidelines with the contributors to your pitch books.

I keep a sign on my office wall, “Big Company Seeking Big Clients.” Keep this mission in mind as you ponder complicated content.

If you customize, how do you keep the versions from getting out of control?
A customized pitch book is a script for your meeting. Limit yourself to information you can comfortably handle in the scheduled meeting time. Allow for Q&A.

Additional valuable information can be provided in companion pieces - market commentaries, performance summaries, firm overview, etc.

Updating charts and tables is a constant problem.

Delegate database updating to employees endowed with considerable diplomacy and perseverance. Make this their primary responsibility. They will acquire information from very busy investment management teams.

Investment managers need deadlines in advance. Allow elbow room.

Feedback?
Input is welcome. Your thoughts may show up in future articles. Let me know if I may quote you.

Margaret Patterson Company creates sales support materials, develops identity systems, and provides production supervision for financial services firms.

Margaret Patterson Company
Corporate Identity & Communications Graphics for Financial Services Firms
mpco AT verizon.net         t   617.971.0328        f   617.971.0327


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

When NOT to personalize your email's subject line

Personalizing your email subject lines with the recipient's name--for example, "Susan, can you attend meeting on Feb. 12?"--will always increase your readership. 

Or so you'd think. But that's not true according to an article about subject lines by Mark Brownlow on Email Marketing Reports.

If your email recipient doesn't know you well, they may assume your email is spam. Using first names in the subject line is a classic spammers' technique.

"If you haven't got a real 'relationship' with your subscriber as such then maybe personalizing isn't the way to go as they may see it as being artificial or spammy," said Kath Pay, as quoted in Brownlow's article.

I think that using your recipient's name is most useful in the subject lines of emails you send to colleagues and clients. They know you're no spammer. Instead, your use of their name signals that your content is directed specifically at them. They realize they're not one of gazillion people who are cc'd on the email. That's why I recommend this technique in my workshop on "How to Write Effective Business Emails and Letters."

What's your experience with personalized email subject lines?


_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Monday, January 5, 2009

Advice from a hiring manager for CFAs who want to freelance

If you're a CFA charterholder considering a switch to freelance writing, read on for advice from the perspective of the corporate manager who may hire you.  The manager asked to remain anonymous. Thank you, generous manager, you know who you are! 

1. What type of writing assignments best match the freelancer's skills?  Is he or she a strong technical writer with a bent toward white-paper research, or does he/she lean toward less technical writing such as newsletters, brochure text, Web site communication? 

2. Does he/she have a strong background in either retail or institutional investment management?  I am frequently contacted by freelancers with good retail communication skills, who aren't familiar with the more technical needs of our institutional audience.


3. What is a realistic client/workload?  Most freelance needs relate to quarter- or year-end crunches.  How will a writer fill the 'tween time? And how many of those quarter cruncher assignments can he/she expect to fulfill? 


4. Does the writer have the most state-of-the-art communication systems at home/office?  He/she will be dealing with a variety of systems at the client level while on tight deadlines.  Incompatible systems can be a deal-killer. 


5. Is the writer's style compatible with that of the client?  We ensure that our writers receive our internal newsletters, opinion pieces, Web updates to provide continuity of "voice" as well as keep them apprised of activities at the firm.


6. Corollary to p
oint 5., a freelancer needs a strong point person at the client firm to ensure he/she receives attribution reports, performance numbers, background literature, etc. in a timely manner to complete the assignment.

7. Join a local business-writing association (or work through your CFA society!) to keep abreast of current freelancing rates and to learn of independent contractors who may be able to subcontract your skills. 


8.  NEVER MISS A DEADLINE!! 
  Deliver the written assignment with sufficient time for compliance, proofing, portfolio manager review, etc. at the client, before the material must go to print. We look for material one-two days before the "actual" deadline. 


This article complements an earlier list of tips by freelance writer Omar Bassal, CFA. Note that both Omar and this corporate manager stress the importance of making deadlines.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

This website helps you with acronyms

Puzzled by an acronym? 

Acronyms are abbreviations formed using the initial letters--or syllables--of a phrase.

The Acronym Finder will uncover the complete phrase that underlies the acronym.  Like "grantor retained annuity trust" for GRAT.


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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 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Boost readership of your e-newsletter with powerful subject lines

More people will open your email newsletters if your subject line shows value in the first two words. That's according to "4 Takeaways from MarketingSherpa's Newsletter Subject-Line Analysis" (accessible only to MarketingSherpa members).

How do you show value? Start your e-newsletter subject lines with phrases such as:
  • Top Five
  • How to
  • Best Time
Your subject line should focus on the benefit that your content provides to readers. It's especially powerful to indicate that you're giving readers information they can act on.





_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Good wording: "Has the Market Wreaked Havoc on Your 401(k)?"

Morningstar has a knack for good email subject lines. Like "Has the Market Wreaked Havoc on Your 401(k)?" That's a line that many people can relate to.

Morningstar also achieves a nice conversational tone in its email, which starts out:
Yes, it feels awful right now. And it's possible things could get worse before they get any better. But as unnerving as recent events have been, history has shown us that the economy will come back--and that means the market will, too.
This email was an advertisement for Morningstar Fund Family Reports. I'll bet some folks signed up for trial subscriptions in response.

_________________
Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Check out my website at www.InvestmentWriting.com or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.
Copyright 2009 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved