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The Investment Writing Handbook: How to Craft Effective Communications to Investors




The Investment Writing Handbook: How to Craft Effective Communications to Investors

Assaf Kedem

ISBN: 978-1-119-35674-5 February 2018 224 Pages

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The writing "bible" for financial professionals

The Investment Writing Handbook provides practical, accessible guidance for crafting more effective investor communications. Written by an award-winning writer, editor, and speechwriter, this book explains the principles and conventions that help writing achieve its purpose; whether you need to inform, educate, persuade, or motivate, you'll become better-equipped to develop a broad range of communications and literature for investor consumption. Examples from real-world financial institutions illustrate expert execution, while explanations and advice targeted specifically toward investor relations give you the help you need quickly. From white papers and investment commentary to RFPs, product literature, and beyond, this book is the financial writer's "bible" that you should keep within arm's reach.

Investment writing is one of the primary influences on investors' attitudes. It educates, informs decisions, shapes opinions, and drives behavior—so shouldn't it be expertly-crafted to achieve its intended goal? This book explains the "tricks of the trade" to help you get your message across.

  • Understand the principles of effective investor communication
  • Master the conventions of informative and persuasive writing
  • Examine well-written sample documents from real-world institutions
  • Improve research papers, presentations, investor letters, marketing literature, and more

Virtually all firms with investors as clients need to communicate to them regularly, but few financial professionals receive formal training in investor communications. When investors' opinions, attitudes, and actions determine the health of your company, it is vitally important that these communications not be left to chance. The Investment Writing Handbook provides essential guidance and clear explanations to help you transform your communication strategy, execution, and results.

Preface xi

Introduction: For Whom is This Handbook, and Why? xiii

Acknowledgments xv

About the Author xvii

Chapter 1 The Building Blocks of Investment Writing 1

What’s Investment Writing All About? 1

Applying Journalistic Principles to Investment Writing 2

The Five Ws and the Pyramid Principle 3

Inquisitiveness 4

Proactive Idea Generation 6

The Strategic Purposes of Investment Writing 7

Note 8

Chapter 2 Writing for Investor Acquisition and Retention 9

Framing Your Investment Proposition as the Solution to a Problem 11

Step 1: Define Your Offering 12

Step 2: Identify Your Client’s Problem 12

Step 3: Acknowledge the Problem 14

Step 4: Frame Your Offering to Address the Investor’s Concerns 14

Investor Retention: It’s All in the Communication 15

Opportunities for Retentive Communications 17

Facts are Key for Reassuring Your Investors 19

Other Considerations for Reassuring Investors 27

Notes 31

Chapter 3 Writing for Intermediaries 33

How Intermediaries Expect You to Communicate 34

Communicate on a Consistent Basis 34

Crystallize the Details of Your Firm’s Offerings 35

Provide Timely, Turnkey Investment Literature 35

Keep Your Communications Targeted 37

Intermediaries Don’t Have It Easy, So Help Them Out 38

Chapter 4 Stylistic Considerations for Investment Writing 39

Setting the Appropriate Style 41

The Desired Image and Voice an Investment Firm or Professional Wishes to Project 42

The Type of Literature Being Written 43

The Investor’s Presumed Knowledge about the Subject Matter 47

On Using Jargon 48

Refrain from Explaining Certain Jargon to Highly Sophisticated Investors 49

Distinguish Between the Three Broad Levels of Investment Literacy 50

Alternatives to Explaining Jargon 52

Cut Through Extraneous Technical Detail 53

If You Risk Being Vague, Err on the Side of Clarity 54

Introduce Fresh Alternatives to Trite Jargon 56

Be Discerning about Nuance 58

Use Plain Language—Even If It’s Technical 62

Piquing Investors’ Interest 64

Forge a Compelling Storyline for Your Piece 64

Craft Alluring Headlines 64

Incorporate Storytelling and Anecdotes 66

Animate Your Writing with Quotations, Metaphors, and Other References 66

The Value of a Style Guide for Investment Writing 67

Key Areas to Cover in Your Firm’s Style Rules 68

Syntax, Wording, and Formatting 68

First-Person Pronouns and Possessives 69

Chart Labeling 70

International Considerations 70

Inessential Words 71

Cumbersome Constructions 72

Legal Considerations 72

Tone 73

Principles for Creating Scannable Copy 75

Addressing Common Language Mistakes 75

A Parting Note on Style 76

Notes 76

Chapter 5 Developing an Architecture of Investment Content 77

Part 1: Foundational Literature 78

Firm-Overview and Investment-Capabilities Brochures 78

Strategy and Product Profiles 84

Packaging Your Strategy or Product Profile with Other Literature 107

RFP Responses 107

Pitch Books 114

Case Studies 117

Topical Brochures 121

Concluding Foundational Literature with a Call to Action 126

Part 2: Intellectual Capital 126

The Strategic Use of Intellectual Capital 127

The Elements of Intellectual Capital 131

The Packaging of Intellectual Capital 132

The Process of Writing Long-Form Literature 140

Part 3: Educational Literature 144

Part 4: Digital and Social Media 147

Part 5: Shareholder Communications 149

Fund-Performance Commentary 150

Now That You’ve Mapped Architecture… 152

Notes 153

Chapter 6 How to Simplify Complex Investment Subjects 155

Think Bits—Not Pieces 155

Visualize the Idea for Your Readers 157

Start with a Preamble 158

Lay Out a Table 160

Use a Frame of Reference, Analogy, or Metaphor 160

Give an Example 162

Note 162

Chapter 7 How to Make Investment Writing Legally Compliant 163

Avoid Absolutes, Superlatives, and Definitive Statements… 165

You Can Be Predictive—But Not Promissory 167

Be Specific Enough for Clarity—Yet General Enough to Accommodate Exceptions 170

Time-Stamp Anything That’s Impermanent 171

Cherries are Not for Picking—and Securities Come at a Price 171

Negotiate Gray Areas with Your Legal Reviewer 172

Use Caution When Navigating Word Subtleties 174

Avoid Redundant Qualifications 174

Unless You’re Permitted, Do Not Dispense Investment Advice 175

Social (Media) Butterflies are Not Exempt from Regulatory Requirements 176

Consult a Legal Specialist When Writing about Investment Performance 177

Seek Ways to Streamline the Legal Review 177

Diversify Your Language 178

On Legalities, Creativity, and Integrity 179

Notes 179

Epilogue: Where Investment Writing is Headed in the Twenty-First Century 181

Index 185