Tag Archive for: investment commentary

"Convert Website Visitors into Leads"

You should use a strong call to action to convert website visitors into leads for your business, according to “Strong Call to Action – Convert Website Visitors into Leads” on the Hubspot website. If visitors give you their contact information, they’re one step closer to becoming clients.

Hubspot advises you to:

  1. Keep it Simple.
  2. Make it Obvious.
  3. Most Important: Make it Valuable.

For example, I observe these rules on my InvestmentWriting.com website by:

  1. Saying simply “Receive My E-newsletter!” on my sign-up box 
  2. Placing the sign-up box in the upper right-hand corner of every page of my website
  3. Offering value by providing a monthly e-newsletter

How could you apply these tips to your website? If you’re an investment manager, consider offering an email subscription to your investment commentary.

Vary your paragraph length like NYT columnist Floyd Norris

It can be painful to read a page full of long sentences and longer paragraphs. That’s why, when I teach “How to Write Investment Commentary that People Will Read,” I suggest that people vary the length of their sentences and paragraphs.

New York Times columnist Floyd Norris illustrates this nicely in the print version of his articleNo Profit Without Risk.”

In the print version, a two-line paragraph follows an eight-line paragraph and a 10-line paragraph. The contrast between two vs. eight and ten in the print version is starker than what you’ll see in the online article. By the way, the online article goes by a different title than the print version, so please don’t tell me I got his title wrong.

The short third paragraph comes as a relief. It gives the reader a chance to breathe. Plus, its shortness emphasizes the contrast between the content of the first two paragraphs and third.

In fact, Norris’ opening three paragraphs illustrate a classic article approach that goes like this:

People thought blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

They were wrong.

So, think about mixing up your sentence and paragraph lengths the next time you write. Your readers will reward you by paying attention longer.

How I ghostwrite your financial article

Too busy to write an article? Hiring a ghostwriter is a great way to produce a compelling article in a short amount of time.

Ghostwriting is one of my specialties. Please read on for an explanation of how you and I can work together.

My ghostwriting process typically includes these steps:
1. Topic identification
2. Interview of expert(s)
3. Outline
4. First draft
5. Revision, if necessary
6. Completion

1. Topic identification

You and I will discuss your topic over the phone. It’s helpful if you can answer these questions:
•    Why do you want to write an article and what do you want it to accomplish?
•    What is your topic?
•    Who is your audience and what do you want them to do after they read your article?
•    Why will your readers care about your article topic?
•    What problem will your article solve for your readers?
•    What are the three main points you’d like to make?
•    Where will the article appear?
•    What word count are you targeting? For example, a ghostwritten newspaper article often runs 600-1,000 words and a double-spaced, typed page runs about 200-250 words.
•    By when do you need the article completed?
•    What is your review and approval process?

Following this interview, I typically send you a letter of agreement that describes the scope of the work we will do together.

2. Interview of expert(s)

Most of the articles that I ghostwrite are based on an interview with a single expert. Sometimes multiple experts and outside research are involved.

Prior to the interview, I will send you a list of questions to think about. If that makes you think of useful exhibits or other data, it’s helpful for you to send them to me prior to our interview.

The interview will be conducted by phone and tape recorded, so I can refer back to it.

3. Outline

Following our interview, I will typically send you a robust outline, so you can agree to the direction of the article before I send you a complete draft. The outline will incorporate my questions and requests for additional information needed to flesh out the article.

4. First draft

After you respond to my questions and approve the outline, I will send you an article following the outline.

5. Revisions

My clients are often satisfied with my initial draft. However, sometimes changes are needed. Our letter of agreement will specify the scope of revisions included in your project fee.

6. Completion

When the process is complete, you’ve got an article you can publish under your name. It’s ready to go!


Cheer up your clients with views of Dallas Fed authors

Has the economy got your clients feeling blue? 

Cheer them up with some statistics from “How Are We Doing,” an article by W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

For example, over the past 20 years, “in terms of time worked at the average pay rate, the real cost of a 12-item basket of basic foods has hardly budged.” You can see that for yourself in Figure 3, “What Work Buys.”

I learned about this article from “Cheer up — these are the good old days,” a Boston Globe column by Jeff Jacoby.

What Jason Zweig does right–and wrong–in his inaugural column

Stop Worrying, and Learn to Love the Bear.”

I love the title of Jason Zweig’s inaugural “The Intelligent Investor” column for The Wall Street Journal. With this title, Zweig follows advice I give to writers of investment commentary. He takes something that’s viewed as negative and finds the positive side. That’s a great way to grab your reader’s attention.

Zweig says, “…if you are still in your saving and investing years, a bear market is a gift from the financial gods — and the longer it lasts, the better off you will be. Instead of running from the bear, you should embrace him.” So that’s his thesis. 

But Zweig falls short in explaining how the bear market will help investors, other than offering the opportunity to buy good stocks cheaply. He gives the example of how the last long bear market—1969-1982—set the stage for stocks to return 18.5% a year for the 18 years following the bear market’s end.

Let’s assume—and it’s a big assumption—that scenario will repeat. Then, sure, folks who are just starting their saving and investing would end up better off. But what about those who are in the midst of their saving and investing? Will they ever make up their losses?

"Should you use quotes like PIMCO’s Bill Gross?"

If you don’t subscribe to my e-newsletter, you missed “Should you use quotes like PIMCO’s Bill Gross?” 

This article appeared exclusively in my e-newsletter and provided advice on how to use one of Gross’ investment commentary techniques.

Useful quarter-end fact from The Wall Street Journal

Here is a useful tidbit for your quarterly investment commentary from the June 28-29 issue of The Wall Street Journal:

  • Bear markets average 14 months and recover within a year of their bottom, according to Sam Stovall of S&P in “What to Do to Survive This Market”

The 14-month average is also cited in “Dow Hits Bear-Market Territory, Signaling Woe for Economy,” but attributed to Ned Davis Research. It’s accompanied by a graph showing the healthy gains the Dow has earned in the year following each bear market’s end since the 1960s.

Annuities keep gaining respectability as a retirement solution

Your 401(k) plan would be annuitized for two years upon retirement, if the authors of “Increasing Annuitization of 401(k) Plans with Automatic Trial Income” have their way.

“Workers could opt-out at retirement or after those 24 months. But the authors expect that few would,” said the Tax Policy Center’s Howard Gleckman in “A New Annuity for 401(k)s.” He concluded “the new scheme is a big improvement over what we have now” because it would provide a steady income stream similar to that from defined benefit plans.

Of course, noted Gleckman, post-retirement annuitization doesn’t fix the problem that “all of the pre-retirement risk would be on workers, rather than their employers.”

I’ve noted in “Annuities gathering steam in professional journals that annuities seem to be gaining respectability as a retirement solution. 

"Pension Plans Say Thank You Subprime for Return to Overfunded "

The subprime crisis has an unexpected silver lining.

The resulting demand for high quality corporate bonds has improved the funding status of corporate pension plans. “The combined pensions of S&P 500 companies swung to a $63 billion surplus in 2007 after five years in the red, according to a May 19 report by Standard & Poor’s,” says Miles Weiss in “Pension Plans Say Thank You Subprime for Return to Overfunded.

By the way, this news article suggests a technique you can apply to your investment commentary. Write about an unexpected implication of a widely discussed phenomenon.

OECD Economic Outlook as a resource for your investment commentary

If you haven’t finished writing your second quarter investment commentary, check out the website of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for some useful statistics. The OECD publishes its economic outlook twice a year.

Its June 2008 outlook predicts weak growth and high inflation. Real GDP growth for the total OECD (see page 2) is estimated to run 1.8% in 2008 and 1.7% in 2009. Estimates are broken out for the U.S., Japan, and the Euro area.

The June outlook also discusses:

  • How deep is the impact of the recent oil and credit shocks on the productive potential of OECD economies? To what extent can structrual reforms help to soften it?
  • How should economic policies respond to the uncertainty created by these shocks?