Tag Archive for: wealth management

BNY Mellon: I liked your "truth ad" until you used that word

BNY Mellon Wealth Management has a catchy new print ad asking “Can you handle the truth?” 

I love the simplicity of “Can you handle the truth?”

You can view one version of the ad on BNY Mellon’s website. However, I first saw this family of ads in the print version of The Wall Street Journal. 

Print vs. online ad
The Wall Street Journal version uses the same big “truth” box, but it is mostly better than the online version.

It’s better in the sense that much of its text is simpler and more direct than in the online version. I imagine that individuals seeking financial advice would find it very appealing. Let’s compare the two versions. 

Print version

The truth is most investors’ portfolios did not handle the past years’ market volatility well. A more alarming truth is that most plans have not been changed to mitigate future risks or capture opportunities.

We have helped many investors with an honest assessment of their current portfolio and plan. May we help you?

The first sentence is disarmingly honest. At least in my eyes. 

The language charmed me until I got to “mitigate.” If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I don’t like “big words” and “mitigate” is one of my pet peeves. Why couldn’t the writers substitute “ease,” “cut,” “reduce,” or even “manage” for “mitigate,” depending on what they meant? I suspect that a lawyer or compliance person pushed for “mitigate.”

Online version 
The first line of the online ad’s text–which you can read in the indented section below–is much stiffer and institutional. It doesn’t sound like something a human being would say in conversation. I’ve italicized the words I don’t like in this ad’s text below.  

The rest of the text is better. I like the second sentence. However, in the fourth sentence, “complimentary analysis” suffers when compared with the “honest assessment” of the first ad. Also, “please contact us” isn’t as appealing as “May we help you?”

Fundamental changes in the financial landscape have rendered many investment plans null and void.

Your plan may be one of them.

Let us help you learn the truth about whether your portfolio is positioned for the years to come.

To get started with a complimentary analysis of your investment plan, please contact us.

Related posts
* Timely, creative financial ad from Northwestern Mutual
* No more fancy-pants prose, please
Financial writers clinic: Getting rid of “mitigate”
* Can you make a case for “mitigate”?

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Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Marketing via U.S. mail still pays

“Don’t give up on mail,” wrote marketing consultant Libby Dubick in “Four marketing resolutions for 2010.” I agree that investment and wealth management firms should continue to use the U.S. mail.

Letters and brochures ranked high when Dubick conducted an informal survey of how senior marketing executives would like to be introduced to a wealth manager. They came in second only to personal referrals.

If you write a sales letter, remember these tips

  • Emphasize your prospect’s WIIFM–What’s In It For Me–rather than talking about your firm
  • Keep it short–People have short attention spans.
  • Don’t send it and forget it–Follow up with the individual.

Related posts

The next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors” will start in September. For more information, sign up to receive “Information on upcoming classes, workshops, and other events” as well as my free monthly newsletter. Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Harry Markopolos on "next Ponzi scheme"

“Where do you think the next big Ponzi scheme will occur?” That’s what I asked Harry Markopolos, author of No One Would Listen, during the Q&A following his March 30 talk to Boston Security Analysts Society (BSAS).

Markopolos isn’t too worried about seeing another big Ponzi scheme soon. He gave two reasons.

  1. Markets are down. That’s what triggered the redemptions that brought down Madoff and others.
  2. The SEC is now making Ponzi schemes a high priority.

However, most Ponzi schemers don’t register with the SEC, said Markopolos. That helps them to stay hidden from the SEC. Markopolos said the SEC typically finds out about Ponzi schemes through tips. The many poor-quality tips submitted to the SEC make it hard to sort out the good from the bad. 

If you’d like to learn more about Markopolos’ perspective, check out his book. Many BSAS members lined up after the talk to have him sign their books. He’s a hometown favorite and past president of the BSAS.

Related post
* Tweets on talk by Harry Markopolos, Madoff whistleblower

The next session of “How to Write Blog Posts People Will Read: A Five-Week Teleclass for Financial Advisors will start in April. If you can’t attend this session, sign up to receive “Information on upcoming classes, workshops, and other events” as well as my free monthly newsletter.
Copyright 2010 by Susan B. Weiner All rights reserved

Guest Post: My Six Best Marketing Tips for Independent Advisors

When Steve Lyons spoke with me about his tips for helping financial advisors market themselves, I knew that I’d like to share them with you. When I first met Steve, he was a copywriter for Fidelity Investments. Today he enjoys working with clients of all sizes, including individual advisors.

My Six Best Marketing Tips for  Independent Advisors
by Steve Lyons

As a professional marketer and copywriter specializing in advisor communications for print and the Web, I know firsthand the challenges independent advisors face in marketing their business to investors. Whether  you’re a veteran or just beginning your practice as an independent financial advisor, these marketing tips can help you stay on track to achieve your goals.

1.    You’re not just a business, you’re a brand. True, your business relies on you – as a financial advisor and person. But take the initiative to create and build your business as something that is bigger than you are – a brand with goals and values. Work with a reputable marketing consultant or firm to help you understand and tell the world how unique you are. And more, take your brand development and marketing as seriously as the big firms. They’re spending and working overtime to make sure that investors do not notice you.

2.    Quit talking about yourself. Successful marketing begins with telling your audience the BENEFITS of working with you – not the details of your personal or professional life. It may be interesting that you have a master’s degree in finance, but it’s much more powerful to talk about how your degree creates opportunity for your clients.  Use your one-to-one sale time to be more specific about why you as an Independent Advisor and person and why you are the advisor for them (and they’re the client for you).

3.    Remember, you’re not selling only financial advice. You’re selling a lifestyle. What sets the larger and more successful firms apart from less successful independent advisory firms? They understand that money management is only the means to an end. The real goal is to help clients achieve their goals and dreams, whether it’s living in luxury, providing charitable contributions and/or leaving a legacy for family and friends.  Use imagery in your marketing that helps them see their financial future as they want it to be–fun, exciting, adventuresome and secure.

4.    Understand what makes you different.  It’s important to know what makes you different from the advisor down the street.  Is it your investment philosophy? Your investment strategy? Do you offer a fee-discount for multi-generation wealth management?  Do you accept only select clients by referral only? Whatever it is, and the list can be extensive, know why you are different from your competition.

5.    Create a marketing plan.
And implement it. If there was ever a time for independent advisors to make a difference, the time is now. There is more cash on the sidelines than any time in modern history. How do you obtain some of the stockpile? By creating a marketing plan that includes long term and short-term goals. Regardless of your budget, there are opportunities for you to get your name out there.

6.    Think out of the box. Your clients are everywhere. You have to find them and they have to find you. Sponsor community programs, leagues and events. Create a billboard. Write guest columns for local publications. Create a blog. Use social networking on the Web. Make calls. Make more calls. If this feels overwhelming, hire a reputable consultant or firm to help you think out of the box and execute marketing programs that builds and supports your brand. 

Steve Lyons’s experience includes marketing, copywriting and content development for both Fortune 500 and small businesses, with clients including numerous independent advisors and wealth managers throughout the country. He is a principal in LD Marketing Communications Consultancy and SoWa Ad Group, a collaborative offering the full branding experience, including public relations, for businesses of all sizes.

Harvard’s Charles Collier on "The Practices of Flourishing Families"

 “The critical challenge you face is not financial,” said Charles Collier, senior philanthropic adviser at Harvard University in his presentation on “The Practices of Flourishing Families” to an audience composed mostly of wealth managers at the Boston Security Analysts Society on December 15, 2009. He believes “The most critical challenges are relationship-based and family-based.”

Of course, money plays a role in these challenges, so this is a topic that should concern all wealth managers. Whether it’s scarce or abundant, money is a challenge in every family, said Collier.

Three questions are critical to addressing family challenges, said Collier.

  1. What topics are easy or difficult for your family to discuss?
  2. How do you manage yourself in life’s transitions?
  3. Is family harmony an important principle for you, and, if so, why? 

Collier’s interactive presentation focused on Question 1 and raised the following difficult questions around finances:

  1. What is an appropriate inheritance for your child?
  2. Who gets the money, and when? Do they get equal shares?
  3. Who gets information about the money and when?
  4. How much will go to philanthropy?
  5. What do you think will be the impact of unearned money on your child’s life?
  6. How can you encourage your children to find their life calling?

Collier did not suggest how financial advisors should raise these questions with their clients. So, I’m asking you, how do YOU address these questions with clients? Do you address them at all?

Which wealth managers have the highest profit margins?

People are always curious about who makes how much money. That’s probably why I zeroed in on the profit margin comments made by investment banker Elizabeth Nesvold, managing partner of Silver Lane Advisors, when she spoke about “Trends Amid Turmoil in the Wealth Management Business” to the Boston Security Analysts Society on November 18.

Because multi-family offices (MFOs) deal with wealthier clients than financial planners, I was surprised to learn that their margins are lower than financial planners’ in typical market scenarios, ranging from 10%-30% vs. 20%-35% for financial planners and asset allocators. However, the difference made sense when she explained that MFOs get hurt by “scope creep.” It’s expensive to service a multi-generational family as compared to an entrepreneur who just sold his or her business, Nesvold said.

Here’s the hierarchy of margins under typical market scenarios, in descending order, according to Nesvold.

  1. Hedge funds, 50%-70%
  2. Hedge funds of funds, 25%-60%
  3. Traditional institutional, 30%-70%
  4. Investment counsel, 25%-40%
  5. Financial planning/asset allocation, 20%-35%
  6. MFOs, 10%-30%

Do these margins sound realistic to you? 

Poll: What newsletter strategies work best for investment and wealth managers?

Newsletters are an important part of marketing for many investment and wealth management firms.

You’ve got lots of options. 

  • Print newsletter vs. e-newsletter
  • Quarterly, monthly or weekly frequency
  • Market commentary and/or other topics
  • Articles that you write yourself vs. articles written by a writer whom you hire, so they reflect your firm’s views vs. articles that are mass-produced by a firm that sells the same content to others

I’d like to learn your opinion on what works best. Please answer the poll in the right-hand column of this blog. 

Also, feel free to leave a comment below.

Statistics to calm nervous investors: Research on dollar cost averaging

Are you–or your clients–nervous about buying stocks? You may find comfort in statistics from “(Re)Entering the Market: The Costs and Benefits of Dollar Cost Averaging” by Gregory D. Singer, director of research, and Ted Mann, analyst in Bernstein Global Wealth Management’s New York office. Their article appeared in the CFA Institute’s Private Wealth Management e-newsletter (August 2009).

The bottom line, according to the authors’ research

…if you have a sum of money to invest for the long term, entering the market all at once will usually prove to be a better strategy than dollar cost averaging. The odds that you will reap greater wealth in the end are in your favor. But dollar cost averaging is reasonable insurance against the risk of investing in a falling market.

The authors highlight the downside of dollar cost averaging. “If the market rises while we are ‘averaging in,’ we miss out on potential gains. And those forgone gains could be substantial.”

As evidence, they present average 12-month rolling returns for the U.S. stock market from 1926 to November 2008 for three strategies of investing a lump sum.

  • Invest All at Once: 12%
  • Dollar Cost Averaging: 8%
  • Hold Cash: 4%

I find these numbers tremendously reassuring, even though past performance is no guarantee of future results. The case for investing all at once is even stronger following 12 months of a down market, with returns of 15%, 10%, and 3% respectively.

However, dollar cost averaging does preserve wealth during the bottom 20% of markets. In this bottom quintile, it “resulted in an average of 11.6 percent more wealth than investing all at once.”  So it sounds like a great strategy for declining markets. The hitch? No one can reliably predict when those markets will occur.

Over the long run, investing all at once should outperform dollar cost averaging and holding cash.

The authors concede that investing entire lump sums immediately isn’t for everyone. Their research suggests that the potential benefits from dollar cost averaging fall after the first six months. Moreover, “Beyond 18 months, averaging in doesn’t make financial sense (unless it’s part of a program like payroll deduction, where the money becomes available only over time).”

What do YOU think? When would you recommend investing lump sums all at once vs. dollar cost averaging?

Behavioral Finance – A Three-Part Model for Client Relationships

Behavioral finance can deepen your client relationships during market turmoil, if you recognize your clients’ emotional right-brained reactions before you offer insights based on your analytical left-brained analysis. By applying a three-pronged process of Recognize-Reflect-Respond, you can adapt to new information in a thoughtful and effective framework.

Gayle H. Buff, president of Buff Capital Management, proposed this model in “Behavioral Finance: So What?” her June 15 presentation to the Boston Security Analysts Society (BSAS). Buff has 20 years of experience working with individual investors and is a past president of the BSAS. As a member of the CFA Institute’s Speaker Retainer Program, she has spoken about behavioral finance to CFA societies around the world.

Continue reading my article, “Behavioral Finance – A Three-Part Model for Client Relationships,” in Advisor Perspectives.

What’s a good elevator pitch for this blog?

Whether you’re marketing your company, job hunting, or just networking, everybody needs an elevator pitch that succinctly conveys how they add value.

Even a blog needs an elevator pitch, says Darren Rowse of ProBlogger in “Write an Elevator Pitch for Your Blog.

Here’s my elevator pitch for this blog:
The Investment Writing blog helps investment and wealth management professionals to communicate more effectively with their clients and prospects. The blog provides helpful communications tips and timely articles about industry topics.

How did I do with my elevator pitch? Do you have suggestions on how to improve it?

Also, if you’re a blogger, please share your blog’s elevator pitch along with a link to your blog..