Precision in verbal engineering
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FinanceWriter was engaged to devise a communications strategy for the stockbroking arm of a global investment bank.
FinanceWriter was engaged to devise a communications strategy for the stockbroking arm of a global investment bank. Its CEO was worried his brokers’ research didn’t attract (grab!) the attention of asset managers: it wasn’t distinctive and, most importantly, it didn’t trigger trades.
Analysts compiling the research had fine academic backgrounds - some with double doctorates in their complex fields including biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. Others had distinguished experience working in the industries they covered. Despite this depth and wealth of knowledge, their research left their desired readership stone cold.
This wasn’t a straightforward assignment: fund managers are subject to tsunamis of advice, analysis and commentary. They could spend their lives reading the research and never trade (Some do, and they are seldom the worst performers!)
Bankers, investors or the press reading financial research, annual reports, thought leadership papers - or indeed almost any corporate or financial writing - are generally generalists. As generalists they can’t be presumed to have deep insight into every subject.
Often they don’t want to know too much about a subject: they want to quickly establish if it’s important to them and, if it is, to know how they can engage: find out more or ACT on the information.
The first question to ask when someone’s computer won’t work is usually pretty basic: “Have you plugged it in?” With research you ask: “Is it reaching the right people?” The markets were clearly defined – the research was definitely reaching the right audience.
Secondly, is the person writing the research up to the job? The analysts’ credentials were unimpeachable: they had either solid academic backgrounds or sector experience.
The CEO’s confusion was compounded when the results of a survey of asset manager clients revealed that they, “ALWAYS” read the research from his brokerage and it was, “very good”.
FinanceWriter delved deeper to discover that while fund managers felt the firm’s research was, “so important” it was, “very detailed and dense” so they put aside to read later, “when they had the time”. But since fund managers never have time, so of course they never actually got around to reading (or acting on) it.
In research on a biotechnology company, the analyst rambled, long-windedly on about the company and its metrics. There is no better cure for insomnia than an academic paper or a management report.
He mentioned, seemingly in passing, that one of the company’s cancer test drugs had successfully passed a major regulatory hurdle. In missing the point, by lacking clarity and emphasis, he missed the opportunity of both engage his client and drumming up business for his firm.
FinanceWriter’s solution was to train analysts to stop writing their research like academic papers and management reports. We showed how they could write their research clearly and concisely, highlighting the main points and headlining important developments.
The outcome was the firm’s transactions attributable to research rose dramatically, their engagement with asset manager clients improved and they won an award for the most improved research – or maybe that should have been the headline!