Fixed income attribution week

I just learned that the Spaulding Group, which I wrote about in “Fixed income attribution falls short,” will run a week-long series of webinars on fixed income attribution from July 13-July 17, 2009.

If you remember the Campisi model that popped up in my earlier blog post, “Fixed income attribution falls short,” you may enjoy hearing the model explained by Steve Campisi himself in one of the Spaulding webinars. If you attend, please comment on my blog to tell me what you learn!

How to avoid "Really BAD PowerPoint" presentations

“No more than six words on a slide. EVER.”

That’s the advice of Seth Godin in Really BAD PowerPoint (and how to avoid it).” 

Here’s his rationale: “Communication is the transfer of emotion.” Too many words on the slide prevent you from connecting emotionally with your audience. Moreover, a PowerPoint slide shouldn’t serve as the script for your presentation.

Still, I think Godin is too tough on PowerPoint. I like the rule about using at least 30-point type on your slides. It puts a useful upper limit on the number of words you cram onto one slide. I first saw this rule in Guy Kawasaki’s “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.”

Creating Pitch Books Without Losing Your Mind… a Sequel

“Creating Pitch Books Without Losing Your Mind… a Sequel: Your Pitch Book – a Foundation for Customizing” is a guest post by designer Margaret Patterson. Her 2007 series about “Creating Pitch Books Without Losing Your Mind” has attracted lots of attention. Thanks for your latest contribution, Margaret!

If you have questions for Margaret, please leave them as a comment. I’ll make sure she gets them.

My first article about pitch books provided several “must do” tips to help your firm develop presentations that others will plagiarize, the best compliment attainable.  Readers’ questions have prompted additional pointers about the next phase: customizing.

When is it worthwhile for institutional and high net worth asset managers to customize?
Your first pitch book is a base. But it doesn’t always address your prospective client’s unique concerns. Your key contact at the prospect can tell you what points are most crucial. Add information that addresses their concerns. But be succinct or you’ll overwhelm your prospects with too much information.

As you customize, you should communicate value statements – to your audience, about your audience – to the extent reasonably possible.

What do you mean by value statements?

Focus on how your strategy is a good fit for the prospect’s objectives, your ability to provide the level of service the prospect needs, and providing adequate diversification, considering prospect’s current investment profiles.

Will customizing dilute our firm’s branding?
You run the risk of diluting your branding when many employees and consultants contribute to your pitch books. That’s why these projects should be managed and maintained by your marketing department.

Remember that content is both text and graphics. After all, our actions are prompted every day by both words and images. Your book should look and sound impressive. Your writer  can develop Writing Guidelines for your firm, language that consistently supports your branding. You also need Design System Guidelines, if they do not already exist. Share these guidelines with the contributors to your pitch books.

I keep a sign on my office wall, “Big Company Seeking Big Clients.” Keep this mission in mind as you ponder complicated content.

If you customize, how do you keep the versions from getting out of control?
A customized pitch book is a script for your meeting. Limit yourself to information you can comfortably handle in the scheduled meeting time. Allow for Q&A.

Additional valuable information can be provided in companion pieces – market commentaries, performance summaries, firm overview, etc.

Updating charts and tables is a constant problem.

Delegate database updating to employees endowed with considerable diplomacy and perseverance. Make this their primary responsibility. They will acquire information from very busy investment management teams.

Investment managers need deadlines in advance. Allow elbow room.

Input is welcome. Your thoughts may show up in future articles. Let me know if I may quote you.

Margaret Patterson Company creates sales support materials, develops identity systems, and provides production supervision for financial services firms.

Margaret Patterson Company
Corporate Identity & Communications Graphics for Financial Services Firms
mpco AT         t   617.971.0328        f   617.971.0327

If you’re confused about what type of chart to use…

…check out Chart Chooser.

It’s a website that suggests chart formats for each of six purposes: 

  • Comparison
  • Distribution
  • Composition
  • Trend
  • Relationship
  • Table  

Plus, it provides free PowerPoint or Excel templates that you can load your data into.

I learned about this resource from Ann Wylie’s Revving Up Readership newsletter. Thanks, Ann!



New GIPS standards will change the rules for marketers of separate accounts

Marketers of investment strategies marketed using performance composites will have to learn new recommendations and rules once GIPS 2010 goes into effect. If you’re a reader of marketing materials for separate accounts, you will find new information to digest.

GIPS is short for Global Investment Performance Standards. The next draft of GIPS standards will be issued for public comment in early 2009, with new standards to be issued in early 2010 and to become effective on January 1, 2011, according to a presentation on “GIPS Update: What to Expect in 2010” by Sunette Mulder, chair of the GIPS Executive Committee and Investment Manager Subcommittee, and Karyn Vincent, chair of the GIPS Interpretations Subcommittee. They spoke at the CFA Institute’s GIPS Standards Annual Conference on Sept. 25.

I nodded my head when Vincent said that common practice in the U.S. is to show 10 years of investment composite performance and to drop off the eleventh year once an additional year of performance is completed. I remember salespeople gleefully anticipating when a bad year would drop off the bar graph.

However, the draft of GIPS 2010 will recommend that firms show more than 10 years of history. That was just one of many points made by Vincent and Mulder. 

Another change that will impact marketers: the composite description must be expanded to include “enough information to understand all of the key characteristics, including risks, of the composite strategy.” Apparently it was felt that firms don’t adequately discuss risks.

Speaking of risk, another innovation is to require disclosure of a risk measure such as standard deviation for the composite and the benchmark for the most recent three-year period. If standard deviation isn’t the best risk statistic, you may show additional statistics.

If you don’t like what you’re hearing–or if you think some of these ideas should definitely get implemented–remember you’ll have an opportunity to give feedback on the draft of GIPS 2010. You can keep up at the GIPS Standards website.
Susan B. Weiner, CFA

Check out my website at or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

Copyright 2008 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Make your clients smile, while you stay safe from lawyers

Making a client smile can bring your meeting one step closer to a successful result. 

So, consider licensing a cartoon about the economy or stock market. It’s easy to find them by searching, a collection from the New Yorker

Could you use the cartoon described by the following caption?

I got out of tulips after the market collapsed, but I’m slowly getting back in. Especially pink ones.” 

Or, how about this one?

“Actually, ‘Monkey see, monkey do’ has served me quite well in this market.”

When you license cartoons for use in presentations, you keep yourself safe from charges of copyright infringement. Lawyers can’t come after you. That’s an added benefit. 

Have you used cartoons successfully in your presentations?

"Ten Speech Tips for Writing Powerful and Persuasive Presentations"

“Always work out what you want to achieve before beginning the speech process,” says author Thomas Murrell in “Ten Speech Tips for Writing Powerful and Persuasive Presentations.” 

The same rule applies to your written communications. Figure out your goal ahead of time. Then focus on achieving it. Weed out any content that distracts.

Susan B. Weiner, CFA
Investment Writing
Writing that’s an investment in your success

Check out my website at or sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter.

Can you help your clients to control their fears?

The Intelligent Investor’s column on “How to Control Your Fears in a Fearsome Market” inspired this blog post.

Author Jason Zweig lists four techniques that individuals can use to manage the stress they feel when the market tanks. You might be able to apply some of them in your conversations with clients.

For example, consider his advice to reappraise.

Forget what you paid for that stock or fund; instead, imagine it was a gift. Now that it is priced, say, 20% more cheaply than in December, should you want to return the gift? Or should you buy more while it is on sale? (If rethinking a fallen price this way doesn’t make you feel better, maybe you should sell.)

I think that you could talk your clients through a reappraisal following Zweig’s advice.

It might not work for every client. But you–and your client–will feel good when you success.

Have you ever tried this? Leave your comments below.


Quants CAN communicate clearly

Sometimes my eyes glaze over when I attend quantitative presentations. That was not the case with a presentation by Jeff Brown, chief investment officer of Highstreet Asset Management.

When you hear Brown’s “Art vs. Science,” you’ll be struck by how using examples from everyday life can make your investment approach come alive.

“Inspiring presenters are short on bullet points and big on graphics,” according to “Deliver a Presentation like Steve Jobs” in BusinessWeek. Brown has taken that advice to heart.

By the way, when I heard him speak at the Refining Wealth Management conference put on by the Edmonton CFA Society, Brown mentioned that he has worked with a presentation coach. More investment managers should follow his example.