Marketing tips from Allison Baird of Boston Private

Allison Baird, Boston Private’s senior vice president of products & solutions, shared some thoughts on marketing as part of a Q&A panel at a conference run by Skyword on June 6, 2019.

Here are some interesting comments she made:

  • Typically, the board thinks of marketing as “fluff” that’s not really important. But now marketing is becoming more data-driven, which elevates marketing in the organization.
  • No one wakes up in the morning thinking, “I wish someone would sell me a financial product.” They’re thinking about their kids, about an upcoming trip, or things like that. That’s part of what drives Boston Private’s approach to marketing, including its separate microsite,
  • Big banks spend $1 billion or more a year on technology, so it’s very important for smaller banks to make the right technology choices and to find partners who can help them innovate.
  • Do client surveys to understand clients better—not just annual surveys, but also pulse surveys to follow up client interactions. For marketing, it’s very important to understand who you are and what you represent.
  • Boston Private is on all major social media channels except Snapchat. Employees are trained in compliance. The company also has monitoring so it can pull content quickly, if necessary—it’s good to put the technology in place to do that easily.

For a case study of Boston Private’s “Why of Wealth” marketing, read “Why Ask Why: How Boston Private’s Marketing Strategy Builds Trust Across Generations,” written by a Skyword contributor. Boston Private’s microsite at downplays discussion of Boston Private in favor of zeroing in on its clients’ motivations for growing their wealth. This focus on clients and prospects fits with something I tell my clients: Focus on “you,” the client or prospect, not “we,” the providers of services or products.

If you’re marketing wealth management, it’s important for you to use all methods at your disposal—including the latest technology—to understand what drives your clients and prospects. Then, reflect that understanding in your marketing communications with them.

Marketer’s perspective on investment marketing compliance

My colleagues in investment marketing and writing roles were generous with their feedback on my draft of “6 tips to keep your compliance officers happy.” One of them wrote a reply that stands on its own. I’m happy that I received permission from that marketer to publish that reply. It’s anonymous to avoid the step of going through compliance review.

A marketer’s perspective on investment marketing compliance

Here are a few reactions to your post from the perspective of a marketer, which is somewhat broader than that of a writer.

Respect matters

Your post makes several valid suggestions about building a strong relationship. To me the most important one is about mutual respect.

Because Compliance and Marketing have different jobs to do, their work can seem to be at cross purposes. Compliance’s job is to protect the firm, to keep it out of trouble. While Compliance may strive to stay under the radar, that is the opposite of what a marketer does. A marketer’s job is to call attention, which by definition requires doing something different, being unlike the others.

You and I, and the readers of your blog, are likely familiar with situations when the relationship has devolved—Compliance complains of Marketing trying to get away with something while Marketing blames its ineffectiveness on the clichéd “Sales Prevention Department.” This reflects laziness on the part of both.

What works is when Compliance and Marketing each brings their best. I like the idea of trusting Compliance to include them early in a new initiative, and it’s a beautiful thing when, consulted early, Compliance can collaborate and provide insight beyond the line editing of copy. This assumes that Compliance recognizes Marketing as being thoughtful, prepared, and generally aware of the guardrails (what you detail in your post)—and yet still capable of original thought.

Paths of junior marketers

I’ve seen junior marketers go a few directions after being introduced to the rigors of Compliance review:

  • There are those who rebel. They won’t work for an asset manager long.
  • At the other end of the spectrum: Those who offer no fight, they can’t and won’t defend how they’ve presented something. They roll over and the result is the marketing communications are written by Compliance officers.
  • Then, weirdly, there are those who take it upon themselves to become so proficient in the rules that they become quasi-Compliance experts themselves. Over time, their work becomes bland, colorless and designed to do little more than breeze through Compliance review.

None of the above leads to effective marketing, in my opinion.

Be effective marketers

There’s no question who has the power in the Compliance/Marketing dynamic, but I like to see the marketers who find a way to work with Compliance while resisting the urge to capitulate.

We focus on Compliance because they’re who controls whether our communications get out the door. But let’s not mistake them as the client. Compliance’s concern is the regulators, and we all accept that as their role. (In fact, years ago an academic study found that regulated businesses overall think the regulator is their customer.)

But while a clean FINRA letter is important, it’s not the only hurdle an asset management marketer needs to clear—there’s the ongoing need to attract attention, to persuade, to convert clients and prospects. Marketing still needs to do marketing, which requires a certain stamina that extends even beyond the Compliance relationship-nurturing you describe in your post.

4 tips for mutual fund fact sheet templates

“What’s your best advice for someone who’s creating mutual fund fact sheets?” A colleague’s question spurred this list of tips for mutual fund fact sheet templates that you can use repeatedly.

1. Write your fact sheets so they are compelling, clear, and concise

Focus on the information that your readers care about. Replace jargon with plain language. Trim unnecessary words.

Of course, you’ll still need the disclosures that your compliance officers demand. But even those can be clearly written. As I pointed out in “Ammo for your plain-language battle with compliance,” there’s no legal requirement to use jargon in disclosures. In fact, plain language may offer you a better defense, says lawyer Joseph Kimble in Writing for Dollars, Writing to Please: The case for plain language in business, government, and law.

2. Scavenge from your other marketing materials

Assuming that your mutual fund’s other materials are well written, you should borrow content from them for your mutual fund fact sheet templates. You’ll raise the standards for your fact sheets when you recycle compelling, clear, concise language. You’ll also benefit from consistency across your communications.

3. Hire a writer or an editor to improve the fact sheet template that you’ll use repeatedly

It’s hard for you to view your mutual fund fact sheet template through the eyes of an outsider. You’re too immersed in your product. Hire an outside writer or editor to help.

No budget for outside help? Show your draft to members of your target audience. Don’t simply ask them “Do you have any suggestions?” or “Do you understand?” Ask them, “What are the main messages of this fact sheet—and can you sum them up in your own words?”

4. Consult a designer

Effective design, with plenty of white space and a layout that makes it easy for readers to find what they seek, can make a big difference in your fact sheet’s effectiveness.

Some fact sheets present a cacophony of data. Others draw readers’ eyes to the most important information.

YOUR ideas?

If you have suggestions for how to create better mutual fund fact sheet templates, please comment. I enjoy learning from my readers.


Disclosure: I received a free copy of Kimble’s book after mentioning it in another blog post. 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.

Image courtesy of ratch0013 at

Use LinkedIn for a mass email without angering your connections

Do you remember my cranky post railing against people who add me to their e-newsletter lists as soon as we connect on LinkedIn? I send those people’s communications straight to spam.

However, earlier this year I received a mass email from a LinkedIn connection that did not make me angry. Why? Because the sender made it clear that she would not bombard me with emails. Here’s the start of her email:

annual LinkedIn email



Why did this email work for me?

  1. The sender immediately reassured me that I was not being added to a frequent newsletter without my consent. Also, she enhanced her credibility by explaining why some recipients might see more of her than only her annual message.
  2. She sounded like a human being in her writing style, as shown by the third paragraph in the image.
  3. She offered some interesting information in the rest of the email.


Is this a technique that you could adapt for your communications with your LinkedIn connections? Tell me how it works out if you try it.

Improve your design skills with this book

Want to improve your design skills? Would you like to be able to look at something and have ideas about how to tweak its design? The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice can help.

4 principles to improve your design skills

I like how author Robin Williams tackles the four main principles:

  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • Proximity

She doesn’t just explain them verbally. She provides before-and-after examples, dissecting different designs. Even better, she challenges you to critique in “Train your Designer Eye” examples. After you jot down your ideas about a specific item, you can flip to her suggestions in the back of the book. These exercises mean you’re more likely to improve your design skills than if you simply read passively.

Centered alignment: good or bad?

Williams challenged my tendency to center titles and similar text. She says, “I guarantee most designs that have a sophisticated look are not centered.” She does, however, say that centered designs are more formal.

I’m mulling over what I think about this. Her comment has me looking more critically at design elements such as centering. I like it when my reading challenges my thinking.


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


Is there a place for influencer marketing in asset management?

After Joe Polidoro of Polidoro Marketing and I traded emails about influencer marketing for investment managers, I asked him to contribute this guest post.


Is there a place for influencer marketing in asset management?

By Joe Polidoro


Joe Polidoro, author of Is there a place for influencer marketing in asset management?
“Influencer marketing” is such a buzzword that it’s lately been declared dead.

But word-of-mouth and peer recommendations have been with us for as long as people have had something to sell. Influencer marketing—leveraging word-of-mouth promotion from online influencers—is just the latest evolution of this time-honored marketing technique.

Influencer marketing:

  • Lives where we live, at least regarding news and information: on social media. According to the Pew Research Center, six out of 10 people get their news on social media platforms.
  • Relies on the greater trust most people have in word-of-mouth. Nielsen has found (in an article that’s no longer available online) that an overwhelming 92% of people globally trust user-generated content and word-of-mouth over traditional advertising.
  • Ideally consists of user-created content, which is seen as more authentic and more trustworthy than advertising content. (Less ideally, but still effective, the influencer shares company-created content.)
  • Often focuses on personal experience, not on the product or service. Seeks to educate, humanize, or even entertain—not to sell.
  • Is more affordable, more targeted, and more measurable than traditional advertising.
  • Can accomplish a number of precise goals, from raising awareness to increasing online engagement to encouraging specific actions.
  • Successfully reaches not just millennials but also older audiences.

Banks are doing it

Influencer marketing comes in two flavors—paid and earned. Firms will pay celebrities and even lesser-known people who have sizeable, passionate social followings to interact with their brand.

For example, American Express’s #MyAmex campaign gave control of its Instagram account to six owners of small but high-profile business owners to produce running stories of how the Amex Card facilitates their businesses, earning 10 million impressions and 40,000 engagements. Scotia Bank, Chase Sapphire, and US Bank have run equally successful paid influencer marketing campaigns.

Earned influencer marketing tends to rely instead on larger numbers of smaller-scale influencers or everyday people.

TD Ameritrade’s multi-platform #humanfinanceproject “movement” relied on real people—advisors—“to showcase the great work that financial advisors are doing, particularly independent registered investment advisors.”

Capital One’s #EveryDayMoneyBoston Instagram campaign sought to humanize its brand within its community, featuring photos of Bostonians supporting local causes, and attracting a much viewed post from New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman.

And TD Bank’s #ShouldaBeenAVideo featured an Instagram-based photo contest held in partnership with Polaroid, receiving over 3,000 posts, many by Instagrammers with very large followings.

Even relatively small-scale earned influencer marketing campaigns can make a big business impact.

To promote its Cardless Cash mobile app feature, Massachusetts-based Avidia Bank relied on financial social media influencers as part of an integrated online campaign, resulting in a 13% increase in app enrollments, positive sentiment of 83% around the campaign, and an over 100% boost in Twitter engagement.

Can asset managers do it?

Great. Influencer marketing works well with consumers. What about with intermediaries—particularly the often highly sophisticated audiences most asset managers market to?

The first hurdles for asset managers are the FINRA and SEC proscriptions on testimonials, entanglement, and adoption. Recent FINRA notes seem to clear a path for influencer marketing. With compliant disclosure, it would seem that even influencer marketing for products might be feasible.

But for Rule 2210 to apply, online content has to relate to products or services. Educational or otherwise non-product-specific content wouldn’t apply. The faster way to the hearts and minds of advisors is not to push product but to educate and inform. This creates a fairly large space for some interesting influencer marketing approaches.

For example, a manager of advisor-sold municipal bond funds—a more retail product—might engage end investors and advisors by sponsoring a photo contest of fund-financed public projects on targeted social media (Instagram, Facebook) with the hashtag #WeBuiltThat.

For asset managers who want to influence a much smaller, specialized, non-retail audience, highly targeted efforts that look less overtly like campaigns may be more fruitful.

A liquid alts manager seeking to break into the institutional market might produce a series of institutional-level content relating to its philosophy and approach—then share it over time with a growing set of highly selected institutional investors, consultants, reporters, and other influencers. And share similar content created by trusted third parties.

Campaigns like this require time, content, coordination, and cooperation from its more social media-savvy mid-level and senior employees, who would be expected to share the same content with their networks.

Hey, I didn’t say it was easy. But as a researcher on peer influence at MIT Sloan School of Management said, “most human behavior is the result of learning from other humans.” Especially in today’s hyper-connected, super-cynical environment, asset managers may do well to learn from their bank brethren.

More reading

Pass the Word: Peer Influence Has a Big Impact on Online Market Dynamics

A New Way to Measure Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Getting a Sharper Picture of Social Media’s Influence

McKinsey Says Influencer Marketing in Social Media Generates 2 Times the Sales of Paid Advertising


Joe Polidoro is founder and president of Polidoro Marketing, offering strategic communications consulting and agency services since 2003 that have helped B2B companies better express their value—increasing sales, improving revenues, and enhancing brands.


Note: This was updated for an outdated link on Nov. 16, 2022.

Marketing wealth management to women with Charlotte Beyer

You know that women present an attractive audience for your wealth management or other financial services. “Women with Wallets,” a chapter of Charlotte Beyer’s Wealth Management Unwrapped: Unwrap What You Need to Know & Enjoy the Present, made me think about how you should market to women. Her book targets your potential clients instead of advisors.

1.Don’t treat all women as the same

Beyer points out that women are not all the same. Women who are newly widowed, single and highly successful in their field, married and staying at home with kids, newly divorced, or the beneficiary of a large inheritance will have distinctive needs. She tells women considering a firm to ask themselves if they feel they will be treated as an individual, not a stereotype.

To avoid gender assumptions, here’s what Beyer suggested in an email interview with me, “Look at each woman first as an individual, then discover her goals, her comfort with securities markets, and her hoped-for outcomes, both tangible and intangible.” She also suggests asking questions such as “How much do you know about securities markets?” and “How much time do you want to devote to your finances?”

2. Your employee policies matter, too

Showing respect for women clients and prospects isn’t enough. Your firm’s respect for women should permeate your firm’s culture.

Think about how your firm would fare if potential clients follow these four suggestions by Beyer:

  1. Request that a diverse team be assigned to you. This team should include younger and older, male and female, and ethnic variety as well.
  2. Inquire about the representation of women on the firm’s board and at senior levels, as well as the annual turnover/promotion of women professionals versus men.
  3. Find out how maternity leave policy works at the firm. Ask about flextime, paternity policy, and elder care leave.
  4. Ask what training or educational workshops are offered to women clients. Also ask what professional skills training is offered to women professionals in the organization.

In her email to me, Beyer said, “While many firms may not have answers that will satisfy the client, the willingness to examine current policies and be open to change is appreciated by clients. Cultural change comes slowly, and these questions can speed up the process.”

In addition, she said, “If a firm is proactive and begins to tackle these questions before they are asked, this shows a genuine desire to analyze gender issues. That will be detected quickly by clients and seen as a positive—even as the firm struggles to bring in more women advisors, for example. The turnover of women in financial services is well known. If a culture is not welcoming what women will remain with this firm? Good news: just asking the tough questions internally benefits that firm.

Looking for more book recommendations? Check out “My 2017 reading, with book recommendations for you.

Disclosure:  If you click on an Amazon link in this post and then buy something, I will receive a small commission. I provide links to books only when I believe they have value for my readers.

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Have you ever…?

Have you ever struggled to interest a prospective client in your investment, wealth management, or financial planning services? It’s not easy.

When speaking with prospects, a good “have you ever” question can help you to engage them in a two-way conversation. If you touch on a topic that means something to them, you’ll learn information that can deepen your relationship. Try it to see what they tell you about their challenges, fears, and strengths.

Looking for another example?

My intro gave you one example of a “have you ever” question. Here’s another idea, inspired by Marie Perruchet’s One Perfect Pitch: How to Sell Your Idea, Your Product, Your Business–or Yourself (Business Books). In her book, she quotes someone talking about how they help clients, saying “We tell our companies about the bad days—and there will be bad days—and how we will help them through.”

I think that person should ask prospects, “Do you ever have a bad day?” Then, they should wait for the answer, as Perruchet suggests, before diving into their pitch. Your pitch is more powerful when you can tie it to your prospect’s pain as explained in their own words.

As I’ve said elsewhere, your marketing will go further when you focus on your prospects, instead of how great you are. Talk about your readers’ WIIFM (what’s in it for me). You’ll increase their interest in whatever you say.

If you’re writing something, consider taking the approach I discuss in “Make your writing easier with my fill-in-the-blanks approach for structuring articles,” which focuses on your readers’ problems.
Disclosures: I received a free copy of this book from McGraw Hill in return for agreeing to mention it in my blog. 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.

Webinar lessons from my annual webinars

Mastering the technology for my first webinar in 2014 was hell, as I have shared in “Tech tips for your educational webinar—learn from my experience.” Things have gotten easier since then, especially because I’ve stuck with GoToWebinar, but things can still go wrong. If you’re an infrequent webinar presenter like me, you can learn from my experience presenting my annual investment commentary webinar.

Lesson 1. Stick with the same software

There may be webinar software that’s better or cheaper than GoToWebinar. But over four years of annual webinars, I’ve learned how to manage its basics. Also, the branding and some other settings that I’ve established in past years carry over from year to year. That saves me time.

You may think that all webinar software functions basically the same. My 2014 experience shifting to GoToWebinar from an awful low-cost provider suggests that’s not true. However, I only have experience with two providers.

Lesson 2. Plan to practice early and often

Things will go wrong with your webinar software. At least, that’s true in my experience. So run practice sessions—including sessions with simulated viewers (and co-organizers, if relevant).

In my experience, moving the cursor is often a source of problems. So, manipulate it a lot. Sabotage yourself, and then practice recovering. Then, if something goes wrong in your live presentation, you’ll recover more rapidly.

By the way, if you’re only moving from slide to slide, you may be able to skip moving your cursor because you can advance slides using an arrow key. However, this means you’re not using tools like polls or highlighters. Nor are you reviewing and managing participant questions or comments. By not using those tools, you lose opportunities to engage your audience. That may hurt the effectiveness of your webinar.

If you uncover problems early enough, you can work with the webinar provider to find a solution that minimizes them. Through multiple exchanges—on the telephone and in the online support community—this year I found a less trouble-prone way to advance my slides.

Lesson 3. Be aware that software may change from year to year

Software changes. There may be “improvements” or the software may change to accommodate new operating systems, like Windows 10.

For example, I believe that, back in 2014, the lines that I drew using GoToWebinar’s drawing tool disappeared when I clicked to the next page. That was convenient. But now I have to erase those lines. That’s an extra step that slows me down so I’ve stopped using the drawing tool.

In short, you assume at your own risk that what works one year will work again the next year.

Lesson 4. The experience of your helpers matters

I’m lucky to have worked with some wonderful helpers on my webinars. One of my helpers had lots more experience in webinar presentations and technology than the others. Her experience made my experience more relaxing.

I highly recommend using helpers to manage your introduction, Q&A, and behind-the-scenes logistics. They’ll improve the experience for you and your audience. However, if you’re a worrywart like me, you’ll also do some practice sessions in which you play all of the roles. In a pinch, I could have introduced myself, launched my polls, and handled technical problems and Q&A on my own. Sure, I would have felt like an anxious mess. But I could have blundered my way through the presentation.

Consider these lessons to give yourself and your audience a better webinar experience.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

How I named my website—and the lessons for you

I’m reading One Perfect Pitch: How to Sell Your Idea, Your Product, Your Business—or Yourself. Author Marie Perruchet says, “Very often, a startup’s name tells much more about the company’s story.”

That made me wonder, what does my naming story say—and what lessons might it offer for naming your financial services firm?

Here are my lessons for you.

1. Personal vs. generic name

Do you want a name that’s specific to a firm headed by you, as with Or, do you want a generic name?

I started out wanting to use my own name to make it clear that I’m the only person who does my firm’s writing, editing, and training. As Perruchet says, “Audiences are smart and can easily detect what is fake. There is no reason to inflate or transform the truth.”

However, think differently if you plan to build a firm with employees—a firm you may eventually wish to sell. You might prefer a more generic firm name that doesn’t use your surname. You can still personalize by using words or images that resonate with you and your target audience.

For example, I love the spinning classes at my gym. If I were starting a writing business aimed at companies offering spinning-related classes and products, I might call it Spinning Words.

2. Grab your desired name ASAP

I wanted to use for my website. Unfortunately, it wasn’t available when I started. I faced much less memorable variants that involved inserting hyphens or underscores into my name.

As you consider names for your investment, wealth management, or financial planning firm, see if your candidates have already been taken by someone else. The Small Business Administration offers advice on how to check that your business name won’t infringe a trademark or if another local business has already incorporated under the name.

Think about your website name, in addition to your firm’s name. If a couple of short, memorable names are available, consider reserving those website addresses. It’s fairly inexpensive. For example, it’s about $15 per year for a URL on GoDaddy.

3. Crowdsource

What if the name you want isn’t available? That’s what initially happened to me with

My first thought was to use because my title at my previous corporate job had been director of investment communications. Unfortunately, that website address was already taken.

I asked my web designer for advice. His suggestions included In retrospect, I’m glad I was forced into using something other than InvestmentWriting is more memorable and more easily spelled, especially since I pronounce my name WEE-ner, instead of the more common WI-ner. Also, Investment Writing identifies my key skill. That’s priceless.

If I ran into this problem today, I might crowdsource my naming dilemma. I might ask for ideas on social media, as I did for my book cover. Or, I might ask a select group of colleagues. Your choice will depend on how comfortable you are with these options.

4. Don’t give up on your ideal website address

Remember how I wanted My web guy kept his eyes open. We snared that address once it became available. Now it rolls over to

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of One Perfect Pitch from McGraw-Hill in return for agreeing to write about it. Also, if you click on an 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.