Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quit being passive: A grammar tip

If you reduce your use of the passive voice, your writing will become more powerful. That's something I often tell my writing students.

If you can't recognize the passive voice, check out the passive voice resources highlighted by Barbara Feldman in "Surfing the Net with Kids" (Nov. 27, 2009). Don't be put off by the "Kids" in Feldman's column title. She's referring you to websites appropriate for adults.

According to the Guide to Grammar and Writing's "The Passive Voice" page

In the active voice, the subject and verb relationship is straightforward: the subject is a be-er or a do-er and the verb moves the sentence along. In the passive voice, the subject of the sentence is neither a do-er or a be-er, but is acted upon by some other agent or by something unnamed (The new policy was approved).
In my opinion, the active voice has a couple of advantages compared to the passive voice
  • It shortens sentences
  • It clarifies the relationship between cause and effect
If you're not sure you can recognize the passive voice, take the Guide to Grammar and Writing's passive voice quiz, "Exercise in Revising Passive Constructions." 

Some of the other resources mentioned by Feldman include
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, December 23, 2009

Investment management job outlook for 2010

There are glimmers of hope in the investment management hiring outlook for 2010, especially for job applicants who help to generate revenues or who are in an area where cuts have been too deep. That's what I gathered from exchanges with three observers, Michael Kulesza, managing director of Horton International's Boston office; Bob Gorog, partner in CT Partners' Boston office; and Michael Evans, president, FUSE Research Network in Boston. This updates my 2008 posts, "Three recruiters talk about hiring at investment management and mutual fund firms" and "Who's hiring CFA charterholders."

"I do sense an uptick in hiring for 2010," said Kulesza. "Many companies scaled back heavily, so now they and are planning to add people to their organizations." That's particularly true in the areas of sales, new business development, mutual fund wholesalers, and advanced sales support, he said.

Smaller firms hiring to grow market share 
Small- to medium-sized firms are hiring more aggressively than bigger firms, added Kulesza. They're taking advantage of large-company layoffs to upgrade their staff and to increase market share. 

Given the big banks' involvement with mergers and TARP funds, some smaller banks see an opportunity to expand their  high-net-worth businesses. "Customers are gravitating toward more local or regionalized high-net-worth services," he said. 

Aside from these sales and marketing opportunities, Kulesza believes there may be additions to investment research and analysis. "Back office operations will stay lean,” he said. 

Privately held and mutual companies are freer to take advantage of hiring and market share expansion opportunities, said Kulesza, because they aren't answerable to the stock market. Meanwhile, it will take four to five years before investment management hiring returns to its previously high levels, he predicted. 

Some niches offer more opportunities  
"The better firms are coming back into the market," said CT Partners' Gorog. On the investment side, he sees more searches for international equities than for domestic equities. Opportunistic hiring is also happening in fixed income areas such as credit and distressed debt.

Some hedge funds are beefing up their distribution. They're trying to upgrade their clients to include institutions as well as the high-net-worth, fund-of-fund, and family office clients with whom hedge funds typically launch. Funds that have survived three years and delivered decent relative performance over that period figure they have a good shot at expanding their client base. 

Hiring in product management
Fuse's Evans shared the hiring outlook uncovered by the firm's recent research report on product management at asset management firms. His comments are reproduced below with his permission.

Increased Activity – Two areas in which product leaders anticipate increased activity is improving web content and capabilities, and hiring of additional staff. A review of firm websites indicates that much of the research and marketing content is dated. In terms of the actions listed, improving web content and capabilities was among the least time-consuming and least expensive actions firms could take, but its impact could be great in that it would signal to advisors and investors that the firm is moving forward.

In terms of hiring, firms indicated a strong desire to add back staff. Fully 50% of respondents indicated that they plan to hire in 2010. When asked the areas to which they planned to add staff, responses included:
·  Product managers
·  Marketing managers
·  Associates/analysts
·  Junior product managers
·  Manager research/due diligence

This suggests that firms may be feeling the burden of carrying out new organizational initiatives using skeleton staffs. Recent analysis by Russell Reynolds Associates concurs that hiring should resume in 2010; particularly on the sales and marketing sides of organizations, as these were among the hardest hit in terms of headcount reduction.

For wealth managers and financial planners 
Wealth management professionals and employers should check out Bill Winterberg's "Your Next New Hire: By Providence or Planning?" Bill lists some resources that may help both job hunters and those who are looking to hire. He also links to some trade publications suggesting that hiring in this arena will pick up in 2010.

By the way, Winterberg hopes that operations hiring is more robust than Horton International's Kulesza suggests. "If anything, firms need to support additional capacity ahead of growth, rather than hire after growth exposes bottlenecks in operations." 

Good luck to all of you job hunters out there!


If you're willing to be interviewed by a reporter--and you fit the criteria mentioned below--please contact Emma Johnson at the email address she provides.

"Hey Wall St., what's the job market really like? For a story, looking for those currently or recently employed in finance to comment on job outlooks. Anonymous sources OK. emma@emma-johnson.net"

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, December 22, 2009

What your kids can teach you about writing

"My kids learned that in school." I've heard that comment several times after my writing workshops. Schools are teaching mind mapping to help children to organize their thoughts before writing. That's why I use it, too.

If your child talks to you about mind mapping, consider learning more from them about this technique. Your daughter or son may be able to teach you a useful skill. Based on what my friends tell me, schools typically teach mapping in second or third grade. Instead of mind mapping, they may call it idea mapping, concept mapping, semantic mapping or writer's workshop.

I never write a long, complex article without mapping my information first. Mapping makes me a more efficient writer. Try it, you may like it.
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, December 16, 2009

Harvard's Charles Collier on "The Practices of Flourishing Families"

 "The critical challenge you face is not financial," said Charles Collier, senior philanthropic adviser at Harvard University in his presentation on "The Practices of Flourishing Families" to an audience composed mostly of wealth managers at the Boston Security Analysts Society on December 15, 2009. He believes "The most critical challenges are relationship-based and family-based."

Of course, money plays a role in these challenges, so this is a topic that should concern all wealth managers. Whether it's scarce or abundant, money is a challenge in every family, said Collier.

Three questions are critical to addressing family challenges, said Collier.
  1. What topics are easy or difficult for your family to discuss?
  2. How do you manage yourself in life's transitions?
  3. Is family harmony an important principle for you, and, if so, why? 
Collier's interactive presentation focused on Question 1 and raised the following difficult questions around finances:
  1. What is an appropriate inheritance for your child?
  2. Who gets the money, and when? Do they get equal shares?
  3. Who gets information about the money and when?
  4. How much will go to philanthropy?
  5. What do you think will be the impact of unearned money on your child's life?
  6. How can you encourage your children to find their life calling?
Collier did not suggest how financial advisors should raise these questions with their clients. So, I'm asking you, how do YOU address these questions with clients? Do you address them at all?
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, December 15, 2009

CFA Magazine on social media and your career

"Stepping Out: Digital Footprints Can Make Or Break a Career" by Rhea Wessel appears in the Nov./Dec. issue of CFA Magazine, starting on page 34 of the digital edition (page 32 of the print edition). 

It's a cautionary tale that quotes several CFA charterholders including yours truly. It even refers indirectly to my "Top five tips for financial advisors dipping their toes in the Twitterverse."

Here's the bit that quotes me
"Don't land yourself in hot water by starting to blog before you consult with your compliance officer," she says. "However, you can get an idea of industry norms by studying bloggers whom you respect and who work in positions similar to yours."
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, December 10, 2009

Guest post: "How to Use LinkedIn When Your Compliance Department Says No"

Financial advisors--and all kinds of professionals in investment and wealth management--need to be on LinkedIn. I feel strongly about this, so I'm happy to feature a guest post from marketer Kristen Luke. In this post, which originally appeared on Kristen's Financial Marketing Wire blog, she tells you how to benefit from LinkedIn, even when you must work within compliance constraints.

Recently I have been conducting one-on-one LinkedIn training sessions for advisors on how they can better utilize the professional social networking site. Each advisor has different restrictions on how they can engage with the site depending on the rules set forth by their compliance department. I have found that most compliance departments will allow advisors to have LinkedIn profiles, but will not necessarily allow them to actively participate in groups, install applications, update their status or mass email their connections. For those advisors who are allowed to have a LinkedIn profile but have been restricted in their use of the site, there are still strategies that can be utilized to make LinkedIn a valuable sales and marketing tool. Below are four strategies to implement even if you can’t use LinkedIn to its fullest potential.

Strategy 1: Build Your Network

LinkedIn becomes more powerful as the size of your network increases. This is because you are only able to see profiles of people within your network (i.e. 1st, 2nd or 3rd Connections and Group Members). To make effective use of LinkedIn, you will need to continuously build your network. This will allow you to discover more potential clients and centers of influence. Start expanding your network by importing contacts. You can do this by selecting “Add Connections” in the Contacts menu and uploading a spreadsheet of your contacts’ email addresses. The resulting list will show you who is on LinkedIn and will allow you to send a mass invitation to connect.

Once you have started with your initial network, you’ll want to continue adding all new contacts to your network. Make inviting all new contacts to join your LinkedIn network a part of your weekly routine. This includes people you meet professionally and socially. You never know where the next client or referral will come from, so don’t exclude people from your network.

Another way to build your network is to install an Outlook toolbar which will notify you when an email contact is on LinkedIn. You can download and install either the LinkedIn or Xobni toolbar which will show you LinkedIn profile information about each of your email contacts and provide you with a link to send an “invitation to connect” request. These tool bars eliminate the need to manually look up a contact to see if they are on the site and then send an invitation request. Plus, they constantly remind you to build your network.

Strategy 2: Join Groups

You may have been told by your compliance department that you can’t post a discussion question, answer a discussion question, post a news article, or comment on a news article. That doesn’t mean that joining groups is a waste of time. Even if you never actively participate in a group, joining allows you to expand your network. By joining a group, you are able to view the profiles of everyone in the group. This helps when you are researching prospects since their profiles might not be available to you otherwise. In addition, you are able to send an email directly to fellow group members without being linked in with them through the “send a message” function. Joining groups provides you with direct access to hundreds if not thousands of individuals who would otherwise be outside of your LinkedIn reach. Just be cautious when emailing through LinkedIn since some compliance departments require a screenshot of the message you are sending including the name of the person to whom who you are sending it.

Strategy 3: Research Prospects

LinkedIn provides a wealth of information about a prospective client. By reviewing a prospect’s profile prior to your first meeting, you can discover past employment history, educational background, professional associations and personal interests. This will give you a better understanding of the prospect and may assist in directing the conversation during a first appointment. The only limitation with this strategy is that you are only able to view profiles of people within your network. Having a larger network, as described in strategies one and two, will increase the likelihood of being able to see a prospect’s profile.

Strategy 4: Research your Network for Introductions & Referrals

Do you know which of your clients have relationships with the types of people you would like to meet? If they have a LinkedIn profile you can easily find out. When you connect with your clients, centers of influence or networking contacts on LinkedIn, you can look through their connections to see who they know. By researching your LinkedIn contacts’ network, you can make informed decisions about who has the ability to make quality referrals and introductions and create a marketing strategy around that information. For example, you can ask for referrals and introductions to specific people within your contact’s network when you have a referral conversation. Or, you can plan a private client event and make extra effort to ensure that clients with strong networks attend. Researching your network will allow you to focus your referral efforts.


In my personal experience, the strategies listed above are acceptable by most compliance departments who allow advisors to use LinkedIn. However, you will want to consult with your compliance department before implementing any of these ideas to make sure you are in observance of your firm’s policies.

For information about Kristen's marketing strategies and support for financial advisors, visit www.wealthmanagementmarketing.net.

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, December 9, 2009

Recovery will be stronger than consensus, says Barclays Capital chief U.S. economist

"U.S. economic growth is recovering robustly, receiving the usual cyclical boost from housing and inventories," said Dean Maki, managing director and chief U.S. economist of Barclays Capital in his "U.S. Economic Outlook" presentation to the Boston Security Analysts Society (BSAS) on December 8. 

Maki said the U.S. economy will recover strongly, as it typically has done following past recessions. He disagreed with the many pundits who say "This time is different" and that the economic recovery will be drawn out because tight credit will keep consumer spending weak.

Credit is always tight following a recession, Maki said. "In these strong [economic] recoveries of the past, we haven't needed strong credit growth," he added. 

Maki discussed the following drivers of strong economic growth:
•    Production is set to grow much faster than final demand.
•    Housing is starting to rise because of its greater affordability.
•    Business has cut too much during downturn, so companies must boost spending soon to grow profits.

Some predictions
•    Real GDP will hit 5% by the first quarter of 2010 and stay at or above 3% in 2010.
•    Unemployment has peaked and will fall to 9.1% by the fourth quarter of 2010.
•    Inflation--and the fed funds rate--will remain low. However, the Fed will raise rates in the second half of 2010.

A couple of unexpected developments could derail Maki's predictions, he said. One is a sharp fall in the stock market. The other is a sharp rise in commodity/energy prices as a result of global economic growth. 

Do you agree with Maki's predictions? Please comment.

Dec. 11 update
If you're a member of the BSAS LinkedIn group, you can join a conversation there about Maki's talk.

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

Registered reps, it's time to 'fess up

Ghostwriters offer valuable marketing support to financial advisors. But some registered reps--and the marketers who support them--have felt confused since the issuance of "Misleading Communications About Expertise,"  FINRA Regulatory Notice 08-27,  in May 2008. They don't know how much editorial assistance reps can receive before they must acknowledge the assistance in writing--or even sacrifice their byline.

At least one compliance officer is interpreting the rules relatively strictly. Paul Tolley, chief compliance officer of Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Mass., says that registered reps should disclose the role of any other writers who contribute to text for articles or books that a rep would like to distribute under the rep's name.  That's much stricter than the informal advice I received from some financial marketing writers when I drafted "FINRA's limits on registered reps use of ghostwriters," an earlier blog post on this topic.

FINRA's "Misleading Communications About Expertise"  says, "Registered representatives may not suggest (or encourage others to suggest) that they authored investment-related books, articles or similar publications if they did not write them. Such a publication created by a third-party vendor must disclose that it was prepared either by the third party or for the representative’s use."

Tolley thinks FINRA's intentions are clear. "Few things in compliance are black and white, but this is one of them" he says. If the rep's only contribution was to pay for an article, then the rep can't take credit for the article. However,
"Reps who pay for someone else to write an article can still put their name on it, as long as the actual author is credited," says Tolley. An appropriate byline might be "Submitted by Rachel Registered-Rep and written by Glenda Ghostwriter" or "Written for Rachel Registered-Rep by Glenda Ghostwriter."

But what if the registered rep contributes content and editorial guidance to a ghostwriter? For example, what if a ghostwriter pens an article based on interviews with a registered rep? Can the registered rep claim authorship?

"What it really comes down to is that you can't say it if it's not true," says Tolley. If reps are 100% responsible for the text of an article or other written communication, they can claim sole authorship.  If not, they should disclose the details of who contributed what, he says. For example, if someone writes an article on the basis of content and editorial review provided by a rep, the article's byline should include the writer's name in addition to the rep's. "The rep can't claim sole authorship because it's not true," he adds. However, a byline such as "By Rachel Registered-Rep with Glenda Ghostwriter" could work, as long as Rachel truly contributed to the writing.

Tolley says that it's probably okay for a rep to send an ghostwritten article to a newspaper  with a note that it was "submitted by Joe Smith," when Joe Smith is not the author. However, I doubt that most newspapers would accept this. They'd want to credit the real author.

On a related note, "In accordance with Notice 08-27, if a rep is merely paying for a publication that is designed to look like a magazine, article or interview, the material must be clearly identified as an advertisement (typically by including the word 'Advertisement' at the top center of the publication)," says Tolley.

Registered reps, it's time for you to 'fess up, if you're not really the author of your bylined articles or books.

Background of FINRA rules
Tolley says that FINRA's approach to ghostwriting has its roots in Conduct Rule 2010, which says that all FINRA members, "in the conduct of its business, shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade."

But ghostwriting first became an issue in 2007. That's when FINRA became aware of reps who, as part of their marketing to seniors and retirees,  paid to have their names presented as authors of books written by others. "FINRA made it clear they thought that was a violation of conduct rule 2210 and just and equitable principles of trade," says Tolley. FINRA expressed its views in Regulatory Notice 07-43 "Senior Investors: FINRA Reminds Firms of Their Obligations Relating to Senior Investors and Highlights Industry Practices to Serve These Customers."  In 2008, as mentioned above, FINRA extended that explicit prohibition beyond communications aimed at seniors, so it applies to any ghostwritten materials.

What about registered investment advisors?
I'm not aware of any rules governing the use of ghostwriters by registered investment advisors (RIAs).  Should there be? I'd like to hear what you think.

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

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Guest post: "Seven steps toward a better webinar"

More financial advisors are using webinars to market themselves. That's why I'm featuring this guest post, "Seven steps toward a better webinar" by D. Bruce Johnston and John Drachman. Bruce Johnston is a social media financial distribution consultant with 25 years as a  senior executive for asset management firms. John Drachman is a senior writer and integrated communications expert who has developed the content for financial services marketing communications programs for almost two decades.

Seven steps toward a better webinar

Easy to set up, webinars are a friendly, low-cost way to help you develop your peer network. The webinar tool box provides you with a turnkey way to establish your thought leadership, expand your presence and measure the results.

Here are seven suggestions that can add some luster to your next webinar.

1.    Write down your objectives 

What are the specific actions you want your audience to take? Be as specific as possible. Develop a pathway for your audience to learn more about you. For example, many webinars urge attendees to request a white paper. This action permits a greater degree of contact capture and qualification. The goal is to provide your audience with just enough information to realize they can benefit from your insights and service offering. At the end of the day, know precisely those outcomes that would make your webinar successful for you. We had one client whose goal was to attract 10-15 new clients with investable assets of $1 million-plus. The client signed up 12 new clients and considered the experience to be a grade-A success.

2.    Find a Center of Influence in your region to collaborate with 

Put a financial advisor together with a tax attorney and the possibilities for timely topics are endless. Sharing each other’s e-mail lists is a valuable way to reach out and connect to new audiences in a way that does not detract from each professional’s capabilities.

3.    Use a moderator 

Flying solo in a webinar creates a lot of pressure. You are out there all by yourself. Moderated webinars on the other hand are more engaging and relaxing. The moderator can even serve as a counterpoint to your position, which makes your presentation sound more like a news event and less like a sales presentation. You don’t need to rent a moderator either. Look around your office or circle of friends for a volunteer.

4.    Encourage real-time dialogue 

The webinar is a specific type of web conference, mostly one-way from the speaker to the audience. You can still give your webinar a real-time sense of one-to-one collaboration. Most webinar teleconferencing services make it possible for your audience to respond through on-line polling. You can also solicit questions that can be posted and addressed real-time through the course of the webinar.

5.    Treat your webinar like the news event it is 

The degree of media penetration that an interactive press release from BusinessWire or PRWeb can achieve is remarkable. Thanks to powerful news aggregators that search out keywords from your press release to publicize your webinar news event, you can dramatically expand the reach of your message to attract a bigger audience. Pay services permit a rich degree of hyperlinking opportunities to your web site, blog, Twitter account, social media site – and the list goes on. Also, if you are budget-minded, consider some of the free press release services. The namesake www.free-press-release.com even facilitates feeding your article to social media sites like LinkedIn and FaceBook for free.

6.    Learn from your metrics 

Webinar software generally has easy-to-use contact capture tools, as well as analytics that track attendees, who registered, who are prospects (requested information), who are already existing clients, who viewed replays, forwarded replays to friends and colleagues and more. A quick look at the numbers can tell you a lot about the degree of acceptance your webinar engendered in your audience.

7.    Let your webinar live again as a webcast 

Keep a good thing going. Consider uploading your presentation to SlideShare, adding a voice track and retweeting it to the world as a webcast. You will be surprised how many will download your presentation if your key words lead them to your message.____________________
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, December 3, 2009

Which wealth managers have the highest profit margins?

People are always curious about who makes how much money. That's probably why I zeroed in on the profit margin comments made by investment banker Elizabeth Nesvold, managing partner of Silver Lane Advisors, when she spoke about "Trends Amid Turmoil in the Wealth Management Business" to the Boston Security Analysts Society on November 18.

Because multi-family offices (MFOs) deal with wealthier clients than financial planners, I was surprised to learn that their margins are lower than financial planners' in typical market scenarios, ranging from 10%-30% vs. 20%-35% for financial planners and asset allocators. However, the difference made sense when she explained that MFOs get hurt by "scope creep." It's expensive to service a multi-generational family as compared to an entrepreneur who just sold his or her business, Nesvold said.

Here's the hierarchy of margins under typical market scenarios, in descending order, according to Nesvold.
  1. Hedge funds, 50%-70%
  2. Hedge funds of funds, 25%-60%
  3. Traditional institutional, 30%-70%
  4. Investment counsel, 25%-40%
  5. Financial planning/asset allocation, 20%-35%
  6. MFOs, 10%-30%
Do these margins sound realistic to you?

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, December 2, 2009

Thank you, NAPFA MA Study Group, for your great response to my email/letter writing workshop

The NAPFA MA Study Group asked lots of great questions during my November presentation to them on  "How to write effective emails to your financial planning clients." Thank you, NAPFA members and guests, for your energetic participation!

Here's some of their feedback.

  •  "I found this presentation very helpful in the sense that it focused on key elements to being an influential but understandable advisor." 

  •  "Susan's presentation brought to life the benefits of better writing."

  •  "Great tips for jump starting my client communications"

  • "Susan's presentation made me want to go back to my office and juice up my emails and letters."

  • "I learned how to make my emails and letters more reader-friendly, how to simplify technical information, and how to entice people to actually read the email."
  • "I have been making presentations to Fortune 500 companies for 20 years. I wish I had taken Ms. Weiner's course years ago!"
  • "It was a very good presentation. I found it very useful and helpful....I learned how to simplify sentences, how to emphasize client's interests, and how to structure emails or newsletters."

  • "I feel like I now have a variety of tools available to write better emails, letters, and all correspondence."
Now I can't wait for my next opportunity to present this workshop to financial advisors!
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, December 1, 2009

Financial writers, lead with your message, not your source

Sometimes you go to a conference or talk with an expert and return to your office with a message you've just got to share. That's great. But in their enthusiasm, financial advisors often make the mistake of starting their article or blog post with the name and credentials of the expert or conference, instead of their message. 

Here's a made-up example of this common mistake. It's the kind of problem I often see in advisor-written articles.
Last month, Jane Miller, an estate planning attorney with 30 years experience, gave a great talk at the Anytown Library about estate planning for families including children with special needs. Jane practices in Nexttown with the firm of Miller, Brown, and Lopez. I'm going to share some of her main points with you.
Let's assume this paragraph went out in a client newsletter. Do any clients care about Jane, where she spoke, and the identity of the partners in her law firm?  Maybe some do. But I'll bet the families with children who have special needs care a lot more about the details of Jane's advice.

I suggest rewriting the beginning of the article to focus on the message, rather than the source.
Sometimes your clients' best-intentioned efforts to help their children with special needs may backfire, as I learned in a presentation by attorney Jane Miller of Miller, Brown, and Lopez. There are three steps you can take to help your child financially, while maintaining their access to means-tested programs.
Do you grasp the difference between the two approaches?

Unless you're reporting on your one-to-one meeting at the White House with President Obama or your Hollywood meeting with the hottest movie star, start your article with your strongest message.

Related posts
Grab readers with an anecdotal lead
Bloggers' top two punctuation mistakes
How to make one quarterly letter fit clients at different levels of sophistication

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