Use social media to find a job

Job hunting stinks. But social media can help you expand your network and uncover opportunities you might never have found otherwise. I’ve spent hours urging my job hunting friends to engage in social media, so I was happy to discover a basic guide for them: How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Powerful tips for making connections that pay

I especially like the tips on page xvi, which I’ve listed below. The boldface sentences come from the book. My opinions follow.

  • Update your status often. I try to update my LinkedIn status line daily. Frequency is a tough call. Update too often and you’ll annoy some visitors to LinkedIn. Update too rarely and you won’t be seen by the people whom you want to reach.
  • Keep your information fresh and current. For example, linking to news articles on the day that they appear turns you into a source that your readers will look to for the latest content.
  • Connect with others and offer help whenever you can. Social media relationships work best when they’re a two-way street.
  • Comment on what you see. Showing interest in others gets them interested in you.
  • Use the medium: Post pictures, videos, music, whatever is appropriate to the site and your situation. You may decide against posting personal photos to LinkedIn. However, posting links to articles with eye-catching photos may attract more attention to your links.
  • Be respectful of others’ time. Don’t make unreasonable demands.

I use all of these techniques and prioritize them in roughly the order given above.

This book is good for a LinkedIn newbie

Despite the title’s listing of four social media channels,  How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ focuses on LinkedIn. If you’re unfamiliar with LinkedIn, the book is a good introduction.

Women in investments: Career advice from seasoned pros

Making a career in investment management can challenge both women and men.

Photo by whiskymac

Here are some tips I’ve heard recently.

On bosses, mentors, and sponsors

  • “Having a boss who throws you into the deep end of the pool is a good thing.”
  • Look for sponsors who’ll throw their weight behind you. They’re different from mentors who only give you advice.

Work–life balance

  • Outsource everything.
  • “I don’t cook. I don’t clean. I don’t iron.”
  • Find a good nanny. Don’t be upset if your children love them. Pay them well.
  • Give up stuff. You may need to narrow your life to only work and time with your family.
  • “Don’t be a guilty mom.” Guilty moms overindulge their kids.
  • Take a child – just one, if you have more than one – on a business trip. You’ll create a wonderful memory that’ll last for years.

Do you have career advice or an interesting story to share?

Reader question: How can I become a freelance financial writer?

Aspiring freelance financial writers seeking advice contact me occasionally. If you’re one of them, here’s some advice.

“Freelance financial writer” is made up of three words, each of which contains clues to the freelance financial writer’s success. I discuss them below in order of importance.

“Writer”: Polish your wordsmithing

Do whatever you can to improve your writing, including

“Financial”: Learn about the business

I took many great classes through the Boston Security Analysts Society on my way to earning my CFA (chartered financial analyst) credential. Your local society of the CFA Institute, other professional societies, or colleges may offer relevant classes in person or online.

Industry experience helps, too. I took my first job in financial services back in the 1980s.

“Freelance”: Learn how to survive

You may be a great writer with a strong command of finance. But if you can’t run a business, you’re lost.

Here are some online resources for learning more about freelancing:

“Freelance financial writing”

Here are some relevant posts from my blog. While they’re aimed at CFA charterholders, they’re relevant to others who understand investments.

If you have more suggestions for aspiring writers, please leave a comment.

If you’re in New York City, you can pick up more writing tips from me at my New York Society of Security Analysts presentation on “How to Write Investment Commentary People Will Read” or the  annual writers conference of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Guest post: “Articles You Publish in Financial Trade Publications Will Impress Prospects”

PR expert Beth Chapman has years of experience helping financial advisors. Plus, she’s a longtime friend and one of my first guest bloggers. It’s a pleasure to welcome her back to my blog in response to a comment by one of my Facebook followers.

Articles You Publish in Financial Trade Publications Will Impress Prospects:

You can post them on web sites and include them in prospecting kits

By Lisbeth Wiley Chapman

Contacting trade publications with good story ideas can be a straight path to great clips that enhance your reputation and increase good referrals.

Yes, trade publications speak to your competitors.  Understood.  Stay open to the idea that the result of contributing an article to a trade publication gives you a better opportunity to impress clients, prospects and your centers of influence than a one-paragraph quote in a national publication, as ego-boosting as that can be.

Many advisors are disappointed when rebuffed by their local newspapers.  The usual explanation for not taking original material is that they would have to do it for all your competitors.  This has some truth to it, as the local newspapers need the advertising of you and your competitors.  Also, local papers use syndicated columnists regularly.  It is far better use of your time to contact syndicated columnists, whose work appears in your local newspapers, and convince them to use you as a source on a story idea you are providing.

Contribute an Article and Bask in the Glow

There are numbers of trade publications that want your input

You will find many articles in your financial trade publications, both print and online, that have been written by a peer or colleague.  The publications themselves are always looking for the thoughts of those people in the field who are dealing with the issues of financial planning every day.

Editors are particularly interested if you are doing something differently and it is working. Some topics that have appeared recently in the trade pubs that were authored by advisors, have included the following:

·  How to manage ethics training for the entire firm.

·  The financial issues faced by senior couples who choose to marry

·  The hidden fees in group annuity/401(k) plans.

In each case, the advisor, after receiving proper reprint permission, was able to use this information by posting it on their web site, sending it via an e-mail campaign, printing it and including it in prospecting kits, and using it as a handout at a seminar.

The challenge, of course, is to find a topic that the publications have identified as important to their readers.  Your persuasive cover e-mail to the editor will specifically state why this issue is of interest to their readers and why you are an expert on this issue.

In addition to the financial advisory trades, don’t forget that all of your best clients have earned their wealth in an industry or profession.  If you have a wealthy contractor, search for publications that speak to other contractors.  If you have a large percentage of doctors, look for publications that are read by the doctors in multiple-physician practices who need help with employee benefits, 401(k) plans, and insurance.

Articles in Prospecting Packages Create Trust

Articles that you have written get attention from prospects

Think about handing a prospect a marketing package that has numerous articles that you have written.  Prospects are not likely to notice that the article has appeared in a financial trade such as Investment Advisor.  What they notice is that not only were you smart enough to write it, but you also were perceived as expert by the publication, or they would not have published it.

You are aware that most clients will now stealthily cruise through your web site before talking with you.  A web site that has your authored articles posted or linked back to the publication adds an extra amount of shine to your reputation.  You are using the third-party credibility that comes when a publication deems you to be an expert.

Your clients want to trust you.  They want to be able to turn to you for advice, but first they have to be convinced.  There is no better way than offering your prospects articles you have written.  They go a long way in convincing a prospect to trust you.

Use Your Articles as Requests for Referral

Send your clients, your prospects and those professionals who are positioned to send you referrals copies of the articles you have had published.

A cover letter can go something like the following:

Dear Client:  Recently, I was quoted in (name of publication), a publication that goes to XXX,XXX financial professionals, on the topic of (give the title of the article and explain its premise.  If it is an online publication, give them the topic title and the entire URL.  Consider sending this by e-mail so accessing the article is just one click.)

You have already made the decision that working with a financial advisor is important to you by becoming a client of this firm.  Please pass the attached copy of the article to your friends who may be struggling with the difficult decision about whom to trust with their financial affairs.    If you need additional copies, please call our the office (phone number.) We would be happy to speak with your friends and colleagues about any financial issues, whether a single pressing question, or a need for comprehensive financial planning.

Thank you for your business and enjoy the article.

Requesting referrals and at the same time offering important information that educates your clients as well as their friends who may become clients, is an important strategy for your firm.

Career strategies for wealth managers without a “book of business”

“I can’t get a job because I don’t have a book of business.”

I’ve heard many CFA charterholders in the field of wealth management say their career prospects are limited by their lack of clients who will follow them to a new employer. If you’re in this fix, I have some suggestions for you, thanks to a lively discussion on the CFA Institute’s LinkedIn Group. I’ve quoted only LinkedIn Group members who gave me their permission.

The wealth manager’s dilemma

Sometimes your technical skills aren’t enough to attract potential employers, especially now.

“When the times are good, the industry will place more value on the technical skills because of more demand for labor. When the times are bad, the industry will place more value on soft skills because of more demand for assets to manage in order to pay for labor,” says James H. Barker, Jr., CFA, managing director of Haynes Barker Investment Management in Tennessee.

The skills necessary to earn your CFA charter and to manage money for individuals and families won’t build your client base. At least not overnight. So what can you do if you need a job, but lack that all-important “book”?

In the near term, you can pursue one of the following courses.
1. Look for a company–most likely a large company–that hires specialists.
2. Become a consultant or start your own business using your analytical skills.
3. Become a great networker and marketer.

Career strategy #1: Work for a large company

If you want to focus solely on your technical skills, look for a company–most likely a large company–that hires specialists.

Ted Everett, CFA, a fellow Boston Security Analysts Society member, says “Larger firms accept a higher rate of turnover in clients as a necessary evil of their firm size but offset it with efforts by dedicated sales teams. They are more apt to add personnel to fill a gap in coverage without the portfolio manager having to bring a book with him/her. ”

Barker says, “Small companies will desire their employee/owners to be proficient with both technical and soft skills. Large companies will desire their employees to provide skills for what each is specifically hired for. To survive the bad times with a large company, you better have a book of business or the ability to communicate effectively to retain business and build for the future.”

Career strategy #2: Start your own business

You can become a consultant or start your own business using your analytical skills. This will require some marketing–but not necessarily asset-gathering–skills. However, consulting and some businesses don’t require as much of a “book of business” as a wealth management company would seek.

I know some consultants who work for only one client at a time. It’s a lot like having a regular job. The downside? These consultants are always looking for the next gig–or they have down time when they’re not making money. I’ve experienced this at times as a freelance writer. It helps to have an emergency fund to tide you over.

Here’s what David Malone, CFA, a fellow Boston Security Analysts Society member, says about his business.

I have found that without my own book, I cost too much, at least today. To solve this problem I started Wintergreen, which focuses on stock research versus asset-gathering. If a CIO is under cost pressure and cannot hire enough staff, I can fill the temporary stock picking needs on a contract basis.

This eliminates my need to gather assets and allows me to focus on what I love. I enjoy networking and informing CIOs and other managers that I can help them.

Career strategy #3: Become a great networker

If you hone your networking skills, you’ll be in touch with the right people once the right job becomes available. You’ll also have a better shot at developing the all-important book of business.

“Part of the answer, in my opinion, is to work on networking and telling one’s own story. This is not comfortable for many of us, but it is the only way to really participate in the market for knowledge work,” says David Robertson, CFA, CEO of Arete Asset Management in Baltimore, Md.

Other CFA charterholders recommend the following:

  • Taking public speaking or sales classes–I notice the New York Society of Security Analysts sponsors free Toastmasters meetings
  • Giving talks or seminars
  • Joining a chamber of commerce or other local organizations
  • Going wherever you can to meet prospective clients and referral sources

Should the CFA Institute and local societies play a larger role?

Several LinkedIn Group members suggested that the CFA Institute should more actively publicize the value of the CFA credential for wealth management. There’s also interest in local CFA societies helping members to develop their soft skills.

Business plans for financial planners: Low-cost options

A business plan can help you launch your new financial advisory or investment management business so it’s destined for success. Or it can help you ratchet up the growth of a business that’s lagging.

Gwen Moran, co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Business Plans, said, “The process of mapping out a business plan can save time and money while helping financial planners identify potential opportunities or pitfalls. The process of running a business can be a frenetic experience. It is only when we take ourselves out of the day-to-day and look at the direction and needs of the business that we get a clearer vision of the best next steps.”

Here are some low-cost resources for business plans.

1. “Two Page Mini Business Plan”

Brian Plain (@oakparkplanner) said, “Check out @ProsperousCoach Mini Business Plan template. I used it for my 2011 plan &… liked it.” The formal name of this plan is the Two-Page Mini Business Plan. It’s offered by Suzanne Muusers of Prosperity Coaching. Suzanne coaches financial advisors and has guest blogged for me about “The Lost Art of the Thank You Card.”

2. Financial marketer Kristen Luke’s blog

Kristen Luke’s blog, Wealth Management Marketing, doesn’t offer a formal business plan. But you’ll find a wealth of practical advice on her site, including some useful worksheets.

3. “Professional’s Planning Procedure”

A Twitter friend recommended Professional’s Planning Procedure from Kinder Brothers International (KBI). The KBI website describes this 20-page publication as “An extremely practical and positive, step-by-step guide for the Sales Professional’s annual goal setting along with an action plan for attaining those goals.”

4. Complete Idiot’s Guide to Business Plans

Writing about The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Business Plans, Moran told me, “While writing this book, my co-author and I were very careful to include key questions and points that are relevant to any business–even those not seeking external loans or investment. We believe a business plan can be a very important management tool, providing a way to monitor growth, evaluate personnel needs, track sales and marketing results, and generally ‘take the temperature’ of the business.”

Gwen is a writer whom I’ve gotten to know through some professional writers’ organizations.

Have you written your 2011 business plan?

Reader question: Writing resources for equity research analysts?

“What are some good resources to improve my investment writing skills with an emphasis on equity research writing?” This question recently arrived in my email in-box.

Here are my suggestions:

I offer customized writing workshops for corporate clients in investment and wealth management. I’m not a research analyst. However, I’m good at analyzing client writing samples and then using them as the basis for training.

Equity analysts, can you suggest any additional resources?

I’m always interested in readers’ ideas.


July 24, 2013 update: Warren Miller, CFA, CPA of Beckmill Research, LLC has some more suggestions for you, starting with “Read what good analysts write, and then copy it by typing it into a Word document.” As you re-type that research, study what makes the reports good. That means looking at how the analyst tells the company’s story and at details such as sentence length, transitions, and measures of reading difficulty, such as the Fog Index. As Miller says, “Good writers read great writers.”

Disclosure: If you click on the Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I only link to books in which I find some value for my blog’s readers. – See more at:

May 30, June 3, and June 27, 2014: I updated this with additional links.

Disclosure: If you click on the Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I only link to books in which I find some value for my blog’s readers.

Disclosure: If you click on the Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I only link to books in which I find some value for my blog’s readers. – See more at:




Guest bloggers: 2010 in review

I’m thankful for the knowledgeable and talented professionals who have contributed guest posts to my blog this year.

Here’s a list of guest posts sorted by topic, including client communications, marketing, social media, and writing.

Client communications

Five Tips for Delivering Bad News to Clients by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury
Talking to clients about social investing by Annie Logue


Adding Video into the Communications Mix by Samantha Allen
The Lost Art of the Thank You Card by Suzanne Muusers
My Six Best Marketing Tips for Independent Advisors by Steve Lyons
What’s a tomato got to do with getting your fund discovered? by Dan Sondhelm
Would you like to know how financial advisors are choosing products and making investment decisions in this market? by Lisa Cohen

Social media

Be Compliant When Using LinkedIn Messages by Bill Winterberg
Financial Advisors and Twitter by Roger Wohlner
Generate Quality, Low Cost Leads with Facebook Ads by Kristin Harad
How Seeking Alpha Can Build Your Professional Reputation by Geoff Considine
Investment analysts and social media by Pat Allen


Correct Grammar Errors in Your Writing Quickly and Easily by Linda Aragoni
Making Research Readable by Joe Polidoro

Brokers, CFA charterholders, and fiduciary duty: Charterholders are not always fiduciaries

CFA charterholders have strong feelings about fiduciary duty. This showed up in responses to my blog post on ” ‘CFA credential implies a standard of care not always upheld,’ says Forbes opinion piece,” which discussed brokers and fiduciary duty. So I’m happy to see that the CFA Institute has addressed this topic in “What’s a Broker to Do? Fiduciary duty and obligations under the CFA Code and Standards (registration required)” by Jonathan Stokes, head of Standards of Practice at the CFA Institute.

CFA charterholders who are brokers aren’t always fiduciaries

Stokes sums up the obligations of CFA charterholders who work as brokers as follows:

Although members and candidates must comply with any legally imposed fiduciary duty, the Code and Standards neither imposes such a legal responsibility nor requires all members to act as fiduciaries. In particular, the conduct of CFA charterholders who are broker/dealers may or may not rise to the level of being a fiduciary, depending on the type of client, whether the broker is giving investment advice, and the many facts and circumstances of a particular transaction or client relationship. (Bold added by Susan Weiner.)

Obligations vary by broker type

Charterholders challenges and obligations vary by broker type, according to Stokes’ article.

Execution-only brokers are not subject to fiduciary duty, but conflicts of interest should be disclosed. “Among the conflicts brokers should disclose are whether they offer different levels of services to all clients and whether they pay referral fees to outside organizations,” writes Stokes.

Retail brokers‘ clients should understand they’re in a relationship with conflicts of interest. I wonder how many grasp this. Clients often don’t absorb the significance of what’s written in a hastily skimmed client agreement.

Stokes says

For those who work in a sales capacity rather than a true advisory role, the client relationship is often based on the understanding that the range of investment advice is limited to that firm’s proprietary products or to other firms with distribution agreements with the brokerage firm…. Where the client agreement clearly states the nature of these conflicts, the client is deemed to understand that he will receive selective and potentially conflicted investment advice.

Institutional brokers “pose a particularly challenging area for application of the Code and Standards,” says Stokes. He notes that “disclosure of all relevant transaction details, including costs and commissions, is essential.” Moreover, “With multiple clients’ interests and objectives at stake, the institutional broker must remain impartial and reconcile (to the best of his or her ability) any conflicting client directions.”

Lessons from “Presentation Skills for Investment Professionals”

You can never learn too much about how to give an effective presentation, especially about weighty topics such as investment management. That’s why I logged into “Presentation Skills for Investment Professionals,” a recent presentation to the CFA Institute by Dave Underhill of Underhill Training & Development.

Some of Dave’s advice resonated with advice I give my writing students. For example, don’t get deep into details before you tell your audience the value of what you’re discussing.

Boil down the tsunami

Take a tsunami of data and boil it down to most important point,” said Dave. It’s a mixed metaphor, but I love his point. Look at the data and pretend you’re an audience member asking “So what? Why should I care about this?”

This is a topic I’ve addressed in “Focus on benefits, not features, in your marketing.” As I say in my writing workshops, your audience is looking for the WIIFM, which is short for “What’s In It For Me.”

Leave time for questions

Don’t make your presentations too long. Allow time for questions, suggested Dave.

Figure that one PowerPoint slide will 60-90 seconds to discuss. For goodness sakes, don’t READ your slides, as I did when I first started speaking in public.

Show, don’t just tell

Among the techniques that Dave uses to improve the power of his presentations are:

  1. Telling a story
  2. Using numbers, not just words — I suggest you use a graph, rather than a simple table, if your data lends itself to a more visually appealing display
  3. Using gestures to demonstrate your ideas

Go the extra mile

I was very touched that Dave took the time to email an answer to the question I’d sent in. It was a question without broad audience appeal, but he answered anyhow. That’s a classy thing to do.

To learn more of Dave’s tips, register to watch the replay of “Presentations Skills for Investment Professionals.”