Investment commentary – How do you keep it fresh?

How do you keep your investment commentary fresh quarter after quarter?

This is especially challenging for writers who cover a narrowly defined investment strategy and lack the freedom to go off on tangents. I’m thinking about writers of institutional investment performance commentaries rather than writers of high-net-worth quarterly client letters.

Solution 1. Express an opinion

“I try to put strong opinions in my commentaries.” This was the solution offered by a participant in a writing workshop I delivered to the Stamford CFA Society. I like her approach.

Your clients will have seen the quarter thoroughly rehashed by the time your commentary reaches them. Your opinions can make you stand out from the crowd, reminding them of why they hired you. Opinions can also address the question of “what makes you unique and why will it persist?”

You may worry, “What if I express a strong opinion that eventually turns out to be wrong?” Here’s my take on that:

  1. Your clients may not remember.
  2. It’s okay in moderation, assuming your opinion is well thought out and consistent with your investment philosophy and process.

Solution 2. Highlight what’s new in an old theme

Many managers repeat the same themes quarter after quarter. After all, some issues in investment markets—such as the prospect for an end to the Fed’s easy-money policies or the search for yield in a low-interest-rate environment—play out over a long time. Don’t abandon a significant theme solely for the sake of novelty.

However, you can tilt your treatment of a theme to new developments. For example, perhaps investor demand has bid up asset classes that formerly offered higher yields at attractive valuations. It’s worth mentioning that change and the market forces that drove it.

Your suggestions?

I’m curious about how you handle this challenge. Please share your strategy.

Need hands-on help with your commentary?

I can write your commentary based on interviews with your investment professionals or based on attribution analysis and other materials provided by you. I also edit commentary you’ve written to make it more compelling and reader-friendly.

If your budget is limited, hire me to evaluate your newsletter and suggest improvements that you can implement yourself.

Image courtesy of foto76 /


Note: I made minor edits on 12/30/19.

3 replies
  1. Susan Weiner, CFA
    Susan Weiner, CFA says:

    By the way, asset management company employees aren’t the only people struggling with this challenge. Here’s what Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal says about his job:

    “I was once asked, at a journalism conference, how I defined my job. I said: My job is to write the exact same thing between 50 and 100 times a year in such a way that neither my editors nor my readers will ever think I am repeating myself.

    “That’s because good advice rarely changes, while markets change constantly.”

  2. Patrick Woelfel
    Patrick Woelfel says:

    Susan-not questioning your expertise. Challengei see is a segmentation within the financial advisor community in terms of policy around what advisors can share. My focus is social media use, so I may have too narrow of a perspective.

  3. Susan Weiner, CFA
    Susan Weiner, CFA says:


    Thank you for taking the time to comment!

    I also hear about policy limitations for financial advisors. Your comment reminds me of what I learned earlier this week about the FINRA limitations on advisors sharing third-party content.

    You’re right, this post was aimed at a slightly different audience–the investment professionals who are charged with explaining investment performance and opinions quarter after quarter.

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