Smart investment commentary writers are willing to learn from others. That’s why I was delighted when Rob Martorana shared the thoughts below in response to my post, “Should you use quotes like Bill Gross?” His rules about using quotes deserve wider circulation.
By the way, this blog post is a testament to the power of LinkedIn for connecting people. I met Rob thanks to the serendipity of his commenting on one of my earlier status updates on LinkedIn. This is a great reason to be on LinkedIn.
5 rules for using quotes in investment commentary
By Rob Martorana
I agree that quotes should not be “teaser” content. If Bill Gross opened his article by quoting “When I’m 64,” the article should be about aging. Authors should use quotes carefully, and always with their audience in mind. Here are five rules I try to live by:
Rule #1: Do not quote ancient philosophers when the market is crashing.
That annoys clients to no end. Investors do not want to hear from Sun Tzu and the Art of War after they just lost $100,000.
Rule #2: Do not quote people out of context.
Show that you understand who said it, when they said it, and what they meant by it. Don’t put words in the mouth of the person you are quoting.
Rule #3: Do not quote out of cowardice.
If you want to say something controversial to the audience, just come out and say it. Don’t hide behind the authority of a historical figure.
Rule #4: Keep your wit on a short leash.
Quotes are often used to entertain and amuse, rather than to illustrate and illuminate. This is related to rule 5…
Rule #5: Get to the point quickly.
Remember that “brevity is the soul of wit.”
Investment writing should be clear, concise, and concrete. Don’t take me down a rabbit hole to show off your knowledge of Milton Friedman or Michel Foucault.
Rob Martorana owns an RIA in New Jersey, where he manages money, publishes articles, and provides competitive intelligence on the wealth management industry. His research interests include portfolio design, expected returns, liquid alternatives, and the digital delivery of investment advice.