Did this New York Times columnist listen to me?

In “Passions Run High On Indexing,” New York Times columnist Joe Nocera writes about the conflict between traditional and fundamental indexers that has been running in the Financial Analysts Journal. He does what I suggest in my investment commentary workshop. He picks a controversial topic from a professional journal, then explains it in non-technical terms.

Nocera’s article is more about what he calls “an old-fashioned academic cat fight” than the indexing debate. If you tackle this topic for your clients, I suggest you focus on the latter rather than the former.

But Nocera does eventually express an opinion on the substance of the debate. He agrees with Jack Bogle that fundamental index funds are a form of active management. “… they ain’t index funds, and they shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement for index funds. Mr. Arnott and his allies would better serve investors by saying so out loud,” writes Nocera.

"The Client Relationship Autopsy"

You’ve probably lost at least one client. But rather than chalk it up as inevitable, try to learn why your client left you.

The Client Relationship Autopsy” proposes a process consisting of:

  1. Talking to your team
  2. Talking to your client
  3. Preparing a report

“The process will help you choose wisely when it comes to adding new clients, and it will help you glean insights for improving existing client relationships,” says Leo Bottary, the ad agency account director who wrote the article. He goes into detail with suggestions for each step.

Thank you, Boston Women in Finance!

Members of Boston Women in Finance made my experience enjoyable when I presented my one-hour workshop on “How to Write What People Will Read about Investments” yesterday.

Here’s some of their feedback on my presentation:

  • “Although brief, packed with very useful takeaways!”
  • “Susan was able to fit in an hour what people spend days learning in conferences”
  • “Susan reminded me to remember my audience and to listen to my ideas”
  • I learned “a new thought process for brainstorming” and “ways to make my market piece more direct and to the point”

Morningstar Market Barometer, 2003-2007

Want to show your clients how equity styles and sectors perform differently over time?

The newly released 2-page Market Barometer from Morningstar can help.


Does your auto mechanic communicate better than you?

“Nearly three-fourths of the 1,203 adults polled said their auto mechanic uses clearer English than their financial professionals,” according to “Financial Jargon: You Just Don’t Understand” by Cathie Gandel in AARP Bulletin Today.

Are you one of those confusing financial pros? And are your clients suffering as a result?

Learn more about the results of a survey by AARP Financial about consumer understanding of financial jargon.

"Interruption vs. Self-Service Marketing"

I’m following up my post on how financial advisors are using LinkedIn. Raising your visibility by using LinkedIn is an example of “self-service marketing,” which I read about recently in “Interruption vs. Self-Service Marketing” on marketer Bob Bly’s blog.

He quotes an article from DM News: ” ‘Self-service marketing is all about putting content where people will find it,’ writes Rapsas. ‘It makes sense to go where the customers are.’ ” Bly contrasts this with traditional marketing which interrupts people when they’re not looking for it.

Bly makes an interesting point down in his comments:

“My rule of thumb: self-service marketing works with products which consumers actively search for information (including pricing) on — for instance, installing solar panels on the roof of your home. Interruption marketing works with products people want when they hear about but weren’t thinking about beforehand — e.g., designer handbags, a home-study course on becoming a locksmith.”

It seems to me that people actively search for financial or investment advice, so maybe self-service marketing has a future in this field. What do you think?

More options for mind mapping

Some of the participants in my “How to Write Investment Commentary that People Will Read” presentation say that learning mind mapping is one of the best parts of the program. It makes them feel they can organize their thoughts better before sitting down to write.

I recently learned about more web-based mind mapping tools that help you create and save an electronic version of a mind map. “Map your mind 2.0” by Rafe Needleman reviews Spinscape and devotes a paragraph apiece to competitors called MeadMap, Mindomo, MindMeister, and bubbl.us.

Needleman doesn’t care for Spinscape, but he’s not a fan of mind mapping. He seems to like MindMeister best.

I’ve written earlier about “Mindmapping for financial advisors.”