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Upcoming macroeconomic events, November 2019

Do you write or edit portfolio manager commentaries? Do you want to stay on top of the macroeconomic events that shape your day-to-day life as a financial services marketer?

If so, here are the big macro events that the ext. team is keeping an eye on over the coming weeks.

  • On November 29, Canada will announce its gross domestic product (“GDP”) growth rate for the third quarter. Canada’s GDP grew 3.7%, annualized, in the second quarter, an improvement from the 0.5% growth in the previous quarter. Canada’s economy benefited from a rise in exports and real estate. However, personal spending slowed, which may be indicative of a weaker consumer
  • The Bank of Canada (“BoC”) will announce its interest rate decision on December 4. At its last meeting in October, the BoC held its benchmark overnight interest rate steady at 1.75%. Despite leaving its central interest rate steady, the BoC stated that future rate decisions will be largely dependent on the strength of the Canadian economy, which could be “tested” by global economic weakness
  • Canada’s unemployment rate for November will be announced on December 6. In October, the Canadian economy lost 1,800 jobs. Still, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.5%. Canada’s unemployment rate remains close to its lowest level in decades, which is contributing to the relative strength of the Canadian economy
  • The U.S. Federal Reserve Board (“Fed”) will announce its interest rate decision on December 11. The Fed reduced its central interest rate to a target range between 1.50%-1.75% at its most recent meeting. The Fed’s third reduction of the year was due in part to weaker inflation and global economic risks. The Fed appears to be done adjusting its central interest rate but will closely monitor incoming economic data ahead of future meetings
  • On December 19, the Bank of England (“BoE”) will announce its interest rate decision. The BoE has held its Bank Rate steady at 0.75% throughout 2019. At its most recent meeting at the beginning of November, the BoE lowered its outlook given concerns about the global economy and Brexit. Two members of the BoE also voted to reduce its central interest rate, which could signal the BoE is ready to adjust interest rates should economic conditions warrant

For investment commentary support (including monthly and quarterly commentaries, as well as MRFPs), contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

What Grissom and Caine can teach us about investment writing

Constant innovation has enabled the investment management industry to offer new and novel solutions designed to better serve the investing public. As more sophisticated solutions are introduced in the alternatives space, as well as in other product categories, the challenge of writing to these increasingly complex investment products becomes more pronounced.

While we should always strive to simplify our business communications, just opting to “dumb down” content may do investors a disservice. Is there a middle ground between simplicity and substance? The answer might lie with an old but influential television show.

CSI: Communicating Substance to Investors

It’s been just over three years since the last new episode of the hit CSI television franchise aired, but the footprint of this 16-year-long cultural touchstone is still present. Not only are the various CSI shows still being aired in syndication, they have continued to shape the public’s perception of law enforcement.

While the franchise has been criticized for taking artistic liberties with the real nature of police work and forensic investigation, CSI was never shy about using technical, highly scientific insider jargon.

That’s significant when you consider the CSI shows have been watched by millions, and that forensic science is no less an esoteric subject than yield curves or hedge funds.

Yet these shows, despite their complexities, spawned a generation of laypeople who could proudly discuss contusions, exit wounds and DNA sampling.

So, what can we learn from the exploits of Gil Grissom and Horatio Caine? From an investment communications perspective, we might take away the following:

1. Complexity doesn’t have to be scary; in fact, by its very nature can be compelling for readers.

2. Don’t be afraid of using complex terms, but also add in enough additional information so the reader can follow along, while also feeling educated and empowered by new knowledge.

3. Keep a “CSI toolkit” handy, meaning a spreadsheet of commonly used insider terms relevant to your investment mandate(s), plus their working definitions, for the benefit of investors. This toolkit can be used by you and your team in a variety of investment communications

The best practices for investment commentaries are always evolving. See what ext. can do to help you slay all your investment communications.

For more information on how ext. can help you improve your investment content, contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Upcoming macroeconomic events – August/September

Do you write or edit portfolio manager commentaries? Do you want to stay on top of the macroeconomic events that shape your day-to-day life as a financial services marketer?

If so, here are the big macro events that the ext. team is keeping an eye on over the coming weeks.

  • Canada will announce its inflation rate for July on August 21. In June, Canada’s inflation rate fell to 2%, partly as a result of a decline in gasoline prices and a slowdown in shelter as well as clothing and footwear. Despite the slowdown in June, the inflation rate has crept higher in 2019, largely in response to higher food prices
  • Canada’s gross domestic product (“GDP”) growth rate for the second quarter will be announced on August 30. In the first quarter, Canadian GDP grew 0.4% annualized, a slight improvement from 0.3% in the last quarter of 2018. GDP growth was led by consumer spending in the first quarter. However, real estate investment fell for a fifth consecutive quarter. Markets are hopeful that the Canadian consumer remained strong in the second quarter, while recent positive real estate news contributes, rather than impedes, economic growth
  • The Bank of Canada (“BoC”) will announce its interest rate decision on September 4. The BoC’s benchmark overnight interest rate currently stands at 1.75%. At its most recent meeting in July, the BoC stated that the current level of its central interest rate is “appropriate.” However, the BoC does see some weakness in the Canadian and global economies as a result of continued trade tensions. The BoC will closely monitor how trade disputes are impacting the Canadian economy before any future interest rate decisions
  • Also on September 4, the U.S. balance of trade for July will be announced. The U.S. trade deficit narrowed slightly from US$55.5 billion to US$55.2 billion in June, partly as a result of a reduction in imports. The trade deficit with China also narrowed. Given persistent trade tensions with China, markets will carefully monitor the results from this announcement
  • On September 12, the European Central Bank (“ECB”) will announce its interest rate decision. At is last meeting on July 25, the ECB held its central interest rate steady at 0.00%. The ECB gave a more cautious tone, citing concerns about the slowing global economy. Furthermore, the ECB expects its rates to remain steady or even lower until at least the first half of 2020, hoping to push inflation up towards its target. The ECB is prepared to take measures to provide the European economy with more monetary stimulus, if needed

For investment commentary support (including monthly and quarterly commentaries, as well as MRFPs), contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Upcoming macroeconomic events – July/August 2019

Do you write or edit portfolio manager commentaries? Do you want to stay on top of the macroeconomic events that shape your day-to-day life as a financial services marketer?

If so, here are the big macro events that the ext. team is keeping an eye on over the coming weeks.

  • The European Central Bank (“ECB”) will announce its interest rate decision on July 25. The ECB held its benchmark refinancing rate at 0.00% at its most recent meeting in June, citing concerns about weak inflation and slower global economic growth. At that meeting, the ECB indicated it would not be raising its central interest rate until the second half of 2020 at the earliest. Since then, trade uncertainty, Brexit risks and weakness in the European economy has the ECB considering further stimulus to the European economy, if warranted
  • On July 26, the U.S. will announce its advanced estimate of second quarter gross domestic product (“GDP”) growth. In the second quarter, GDP growth was 3.1%, an improvement over the 2.2% in the fourth quarter of 2018. U.S. GDP may remain relatively strong as personal spending and exports appear robust, which may offset some weakness in business investment
  • The U.S. Federal Reserve Board (“Fed”) will announce its interest rate decision on July 31. On June 19, the Fed kept the target range for its federal funds rate steady at 2.25% to 2.50%. The Fed took a more cautious tone and hinted at a possible rate cut as a result of trade tensions with China and a slowdown in global economic growth. Investors are expecting an interest rate reduction at this meeting
  • Canada’s balance of trade for June will be announced on August 2. Surprisingly, Canada’s trade balance turned positive in May, seeing a surplus of $760 million. This came despite slowing global economic growth and continued trade uncertainty. How trade restrictions from China and slowing demand for some commodities affected Canada’s trade balance will be closely watched by investors
  • On August 9, Canada’s unemployment rate for June will be announced. The unemployment rate rose to 5.5% in June, slightly above the 40-year low of 5.4% reached in May. The unemployment rate rose as employment decreased by 2,000. The Canadian economy has seen a large increase in jobs being added throughout 2019, and is looking for a rebound from the decline in June

For investment commentary support (including monthly and quarterly commentaries, as well as MRFPs), contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Upcoming macroeconomic events – May/June 2019

Do you write or edit portfolio manager commentaries? Do you want to stay on top of the macroeconomic events that shape your day-to-day life as a financial services marketer?

If so, here are the big macro events that the ext. team is keeping an eye on over the coming weeks.

  • The Bank of Canada (“BoC”) will announce its interest rate decision on May 29. The BoC held its benchmark overnight interest rate steady at 1.75% after its latest meeting in April. Domestic and global economic activity had slowed more than the BoC projected earlier in the year. The BoC will carefully monitor developments in household spending and global trade before any future rate increases. Markets are expecting the BoC to hold steady again at this meeting
  • On May 31, Canada will announce its first quarter gross domestic product (“GDP”) growth rate. Canada’s GDP growth slowed to 0.4% annualized in the fourth quarter of 2018, following an expansion of 2.0% in the third quarter. GDP growth was negatively impacted by a decline in housing investment and exports. After a monthly expansion in January, GDP contracted in February. Canada’s economy has not been immune toe effects of a slowdown in global economic activity, weaker oil prices and trade uncertainty
  • The IHS Markit U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (“PMI”) for May will be announced on June 3. PMI was 52.6 in April, due in part to a rise in output and new orders. While an improvement versus the previous month, it was the second weakest expansion over the past two years. This reading will give investors an indication of the strength of the goods producing sector
  • The U.S. unemployment rate for May will be announced on June 7. In April, the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%, its lowest rate since 1969. Over 260,000 jobs were added in April, led by the construction and health care industry, while wages also advanced. Labour markets continue to be strong which bodes well for the overall health of the U.S. economy
  • On June 9, Japan will announce its final first quarter GDP growth rate. Japan’s GDP grew 1.9% annualized in the fourth quarter of 2018, partly as a result of a rise in consumer spending and business investment. This followed a 2.4% contraction in the third quarter, when the country was hit by a series of natural disasters. First quarter GDP growth may be weak, given a decline in industrial output, along with weak exports
  • The U.S. will announce its inflation rate for May on June 12. In April, inflation was 2.0%, an increase from the 1.9% in March. Since late 2018, inflation has eased, primarily as a result of the drop in energy prices. However, this has reversed given the recent surge in energy prices

For investment commentary support (including monthly and quarterly commentaries, as well as MRFPs), contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

U.S. regulatory trends – 2019 and beyond

Are financial services regulatory issues exciting? Not always. Are they important? Absolutely.

We’re living in an era of heightened legal scrutiny – as well as heightened scrutiny in the court of public opinion. As a result, financial services firms and marketers must track regulatory changes and prepare for the consequences of these changes.

It is turning into a busy year for U.S. financial services regulators. Here are a few themes that we’re tracking:

Cybersecurity a serious threat to human civilization

Cyber threats are a serious issue to all businesses, especially those in the financial services industry. Staying ahead of these threats is an important issue in 2019 and will continue to be for many years to come.

As firms try their best to stay ahead of the criminals, regulatory bodies must provide supportive, thoughtful and measured leadership to firms in the financial services industry.

Currently, various legislative bodies are looking to introduce new cybersecurity and privacy laws. Meanwhile, regulators are exploring ways to help their firms protect against cyber threats and maintain proper disclosure requirements should an attack occur.

Fiduciary rule is dead, long live the best interest rule

In the U.S., the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule appears to have come to an end. After numerous delays, the Fiduciary Rule proposal was finally abolished in 2018.

Eliminating conflict of interest issues remains a priority. As a result, some state regulators, as well as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), have created their own proposals that are similar, in theory, to the Fiduciary Duty, in an effort to eliminate or reduce conflicts of interest. The SEC has also come forward with a proposed best interest rule. This will continue to be an important topic for regulators until an acceptable resolution is found.

Tales from the cryptocurrency

Will we see cryptocurrency and, more specifically, bitcoin go mainstream?

The SEC declined bitcoin exchange-traded funds in 2018, given the risk of market manipulation and liquidity issues that accompany these investment options. Will the SEC’s stance change in 2019? Various regulators within the U.S. are looking to standardize cryptocurrencies, which could help them become more mainstream.

There are many unknowns that remain regarding cryptocurrencies, and regulators will try to stay on top of these potential pitfalls by developing regulations for cryptocurrencies as they transition into a new asset class. Regardless, regulators’ focus will continue to be protecting investors and financial markets.

Overall, 2019 is turning into a busy year for U.S. regulators as the financial services industry continues to evolve.

Regulatory changes have a direct impact on your marketing efforts in both the short and long terms. We can help you stay on top of all these changes. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com to learn more.

Upcoming macroeconomic events – April/May 2019

Do you write or edit portfolio manager commentaries? Do you want to stay on top of the macroeconomic events that shape your day-to-day life as a financial services marketer?

If so, here are the big macro events that the ext. team is keeping an eye on over the coming weeks.

  • On April 24, the Bank of Canada (“BoC”) will announce its interest rate decision. At its previous meeting, the BoC maintained its benchmark overnight interest rate at 1.75%. Trade uncertainty and a slowdown in global economic activity factored into the BoC’s decision. While the BoC believes that current rates are still needed to support the economy, the BoC will continue to monitor economic developments before any further interest rate increases
  • The U.S. will announce its first quarter advanced gross domestic product (“GDP”) growth rate on April 26. The U.S. economy grew 2.2% annualized in the fourth quarter of 2018, a slowdown from the 3.4% growth in the previous quarter. The advanced figure will give investors an early reading on the strength of the U.S. economy over the first quarter of 2019
  • The U.S. Federal Reserve Board (“Fed”) will announce its interest rate decision on May 1. In March, the Fed maintained the target range for its federal funds rate at 2.25% to 2.50%. The Fed also announced that it would slowdown its balance sheet reduction. The Fed’s statement and economic outlook turned cautious, while projecting that there would be no rate increases in 2019. Still, markets will keenly observe and measure any and all comments from the Fed
  • The Bank of England’s (“BoE”) interest rate decision will be announced on May 2. The BoE held its Bank Rate steady at its last meeting, citing global economic concerns and Brexit uncertainty. The official departure of the U.K. from the European Union (“EU”) has been delayed, again, as all parties work towards an approved deal. The International Monetary Fund has projected a substantial drop in GDP growth should the U.K. leave the EU without a deal
  • Also on May 2, Europe’s final manufacturing PMI (“PMI”) will be announced. Europe’s PMI has been trending lower for over a year. In March, it was led lower by a significant slowdown in German manufacturing. Furthermore, the PMI was hurt by a reduction in export orders and easing price pressures. The announcement will be closely watched to gauge any improvement, or deterioration, in Europe’s economy

For investment commentary support (including monthly and quarterly commentaries, as well as MRFPs), contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Upcoming macroeconomic events – March/April 2019

Do you write or edit portfolio manager commentaries? Do you want to stay on top of the macroeconomic events that shape your day-to-day life as a financial services marketer?

If so, here are the big macro events that the ext. team is keeping an eye on over the coming weeks.

  • On March 20, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board (“Fed”) will announce its interest rate decision. At its latest meeting in January, the Fed maintained the target range for its federal funds rate at 2.25% to 2.50%. The Fed is expected to hold its interest rate steady for a second consecutive meeting partly as a result of the slowing global economy, easing inflation and continued trade uncertainty
  • The Bank of England (“BoE”) will announce its interest rate decision on March 21. The BoE has held the Bank Rate steady at 0.75% since its last increase in August 2018. The BoE intends to raise rates at a gradual pace. However, slowing domestic and global economic growth, as well as the uncertainty of Brexit, will weigh heavily on the BoE’s decision
  • Canada will announce its inflation rate for February on March 22. Inflation fell to 1.4% in January, the lowest rate in over a year. This pullback was primarily the result of falling gasoline prices and an overall decline in the price of food. The Bank of Canada (“BoC”) expects lower gasoline prices to persist, which may keep inflation below 2% throughout 2019
  • On March 27, the U.S. will announce its balance of trade for January. The U.S. trade deficit widened to US$59.8 billion in December. Exports fell 1.9%, while imports rebounded, rising 2.1%. As a result of ongoing trade uncertainty, this will be a closely watched measure to anticipate its impact on the overall health of the U.S. economy
  • China will announce its first quarter gross domestic product (“GDP”) growth rate on April 16. China’s GDP grew 6.4% in the fourth quarter, slowing from the 6.5% recorded in the third quarter. While economic activity has been affected by the trade dispute with the U.S., the Chinese government is looking to boost domestic economic activity through fiscal policy. Furthermore, the People’s Bank of China has added more liquidity into the system through its ongoing reduction of the required reserve ratio for banks

For investment commentary support (including monthly and quarterly commentaries, as well as MRFPs), contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Upcoming macroeconomic events – February/March 2019

Do you write or edit portfolio manager commentaries? Do you want to stay on top of the macroeconomic events that shape your day-to-day life as a financial services marketer?

Knowing what’s happening and why it matters is important. To help you stay on track, here are the big macro events the ext. team is keeping an eye on over the coming weeks.

  • On February 27, Canada’s inflation rate for January will be announced. The inflation rate rose from 1.7% to 2.0% in December, led higher by a rise in the price of food and air transportation. Inflation has slowed recently primarily as a result of the pullback in oil prices, easing some of the inflationary pressures building within the Canadian economy
  • Canada will announce its fourth quarter gross domestic product (“GDP”) growth rate on March 1. The Canadian economy grew 2.0% annualized in the third quarter, a slowdown from the second quarter. Consumer spending and real estate, both susceptible to the impact of higher interest rates, experienced weakness during the third quarter. These factors and the prolonged slump in oil prices could weigh heavily on fourth quarter results
  • Also on March 1, the final reading of the U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (“PMI”) for February will be announced. Following a decline from mid-2018, PMI rose from 53.8 to 54.9 in January. This increase was driven by higher new orders and robust manufacturing production levels, while employment also expanded. PMI will be closely watched to get an early reading on the health of the U.S. economy
  • The Bank of Canada’s (“BoC”) interest rate decision will be announced on March 6. The BoC held its benchmark overnight interest rate steady at 1.75% at its most recent meeting in January, and is expected to do the same again in March. Global economic conditions appear to be weakening, while domestically, lower oil prices, a decline in business spending and slower inflation may be enough to keep the BoC from raising rates
  • China will announce its exports, imports and balance of trade for February on March 8. China’s trade surplus widened in December. A decline in exports was offset by a significant drop in imports. Trade disruptions with the U.S. are having an impact on Chinese exports. Given the recent slowdown in this export-driven economy, this is sure to be a closely watched measure to gauge the impact from the trade dispute with the U.S.
  • On March 12, the U.S. inflation rate for February will be announced. U.S. inflation fell from 2.2% to 1.9% in December. U.S. inflation has not been immune from the effects of lower energy prices, as inflation fell over the fourth quarter of 2018. While the U.S. Federal Reserve Board (“Fed”) is closely monitoring inflation, especially the pullback in recent months, the Fed’s outlook for inflation over the long-term remains intact

For investment commentary support (including monthly and quarterly commentaries, as well as MRFPs), contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Upcoming macroeconomic events – January/February 2019

Do you write or edit portfolio manager commentaries? Do you want to stay on top of the macroeconomic events that shape your day-to-day life as a financial services marketer?

If so, here are the big macro events that the ext. team is keeping an eye on over the coming weeks.

  • Canada’s inflation rate for December will be announced on January 18. Inflation in Canada declined to 1.7% in November, from 2.4% in October. The decline was primarily the result of the fall in gasoline prices caused by lower oil prices. The Bank of Canada (“BoC”) expects the impact on inflation from lower oil prices to linger for most of 2019
  • The European Central Bank (“ECB”) will announce its interest rate decision on January 24. The ECB concluded its asset purchase program at the end of 2018, thus removing some stimulus from the European economy. The ECB felt that strong consumer spending and rising inflation could withstand the negative effects from tightening conditions. The ECB expects to hold its benchmark refinancing rate steady until at least the fall of 2019
  • The United States’ fourth quarter advanced gross domestic product (“GDP”) growth rate will be announced on January 30. U.S. GDP grew 3.4% (annualized) in the third quarter, down from 4.2% in the second quarter. This advanced figure will give an indication as to the performance of the U.S. economy, which faced a number of headwinds including trade tensions with China and higher interest rates
  • Also on January 30, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board (“Fed”) will announce its interest rate decision. At its final meeting of 2018 held in December, the Fed raised its federal funds target range to 2.25% to 2.50%. However, the committee lowered its forecast on the number of rate increases expected in 2019. The Fed is expected to hold rates steady at this meeting, but investors will no doubt scrutinize the meeting notes to try to anticipate the timing of the next interest rate increase
  • The Bank of England’s (“BoE”) interest rate decision will be announced on February 7. The BoE maintained its Bank Rate at 0.75% at its last meeting in December. While the BoE is looking to gradually increase its interest rate, uncertainty around a Brexit deal weighs heavily on its decision. Additionally, inflation has pulled back in recent months and may drop further given the significant decline in oil prices
  • Canada’s unemployment rate for January will be announced on February 8. The labour market ended the year strong as jobs were added in both November and December, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.6%

For investment commentary support (including monthly and quarterly commentaries, as well as MRFPs), contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Flipping the script on investment commentaries

It’s as inevitable as the changing of the seasons: the return of commentaries for most investment managers. Commentaries tend to result from sales and/or regulatory obligations, and are often viewed as a bit of a distraction when compared to an investment manager’s other core responsibilities.

Just a few small changes, however, can increase the value of the commentaries you produce for your audience, regardless of whether that audience is individual investors, institutional investors or other stakeholders.

Remember your audience

While you may be writing for an investor audience, a significant portion of your readership will likely be made up of industry insiders, including other investment managers, institutional gatekeepers, financial journalists and regulators. While keeping the language plain and straightforward, ensure the commentary is high quality and sufficiently detailed.

Identify and avoid obscurity

Whether you’re writing for an investor-level audience, a professional investor audience, or both, clarity of argument is important. Avoid confusing words and phrases (e.g., “contributed negatively to performance”) and avoid sentences that are longer than 50 words.

Avoid information overdose

Investment communications should be about clarity and relaying important information.

There are very few good reasons for an investment commentary to be more than 2,000 words, even for multi-asset or multi-strategy portfolios. Past macroeconomic and market discussion is essential to laying the groundwork, attribution and trading activity is important to explain what happened over the period and why, and an outlook helps investors focus on the future. Just make sure you are being concise.

Look for teachable moments

In today’s increasingly complex investment world, insider jargon is sometimes unavoidable, even for investor-facing commentaries.

Discussing portfolio alpha and beta, for example, may be essential for certain investment strategies. Mentioning yield curves, duration and spreads is often unavoidable in fixed income commentaries. Instead of either avoiding those terms or using them without context, have a short, standard definition ready for widely used terms, to insert into commentaries (even in parentheses).

It’s one thing for your investors to be informed, it’s another for them to walk away from your commentaries having learned something. Done correctly, this is where your commentaries can rise above others and become a hub for valued information.

Looking to offload more of your investment commentary tasks to an industry leader in the field? Contact us today to learn more at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Your investment commentary playbook: tips to make reporting easier

Investment commentary production can be a chore.

But there’s one great thing about this business function: it usually follows a fairly predictable pattern. Meaning, it can be made easier if you build some additional preparation into your project plan before it kicks into high gear.

Here are some key tasks and milestones to make your commentary production process a smoother ride:

Style

Does your organization have a preferred style guide (i.e., a reference document that tells you, for example, whether you write “U.S. dollar” or “US dollar”)? Or does your existing style guide need to be updated to reflect new and/or newly accepted financial terminology?

Ensure that style guides are approved before period end to reduce uncertainty during your commentary cycle. 

Macro and micro planning

It’s great to track the statuses and due dates of each individual deliverable but don’t forget to create a master schedule, even something as broad as a traditional monthly calendar view.

This can be especially helpful when dealing with unexpected mid-cycle events, like any new requirements that pop up in the middle of your production cycle. The trick is to be nimble day to day, while not losing sight of longer-term deadlines.

Timeframes

It’s not uncommon for a single investment mandate to have multiple investment commentary requirements for delivery at the same time because of multiple reporting time periods (e.g., a monthly, quarterly and/or rolling annual commentary for one mutual fund).

Always check and re-check the time period requirements of the commentaries you’re working on. This may seem like common sense, but it is often overlooked.

Know your roles

A single investment commentary often requires inputs from multiple sources. Benchmark data may come from your analytics group, performance information may come from a data provider, investment outlook may come from the portfolio manager, and so forth.

A cross-functional meeting of stakeholders before the live cycle reminds the team that commentary season is coming up, and ensure everyone is aware of responsibilities and deadlines.

Communications calendar

If you utilize a broad range of communications resources (e.g., writers, editors, typesetters and designers), make sure those individual resources are captured in either your master calendar or a separate one. This makes resource allocation easier, both before and during your live cycle, and help you re-allocate resources to deal with unexpected events.

Make your investment commentary process easier. Contact us at 416.925.1700, 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Top tips for delivering your portfolio manager commentaries faster

Having worked on tens of thousands of portfolio manager commentaries over the past decade, our firm has developed a number of best practices for producing commentaries better and faster than anyone else.

Here are some great tips we recommend you try before your next commentary run (and there’s always a commentary run around the corner).

Have all the info you need handy

A spreadsheet with full fund & portfolio manager/sub-advisor names, up-to-date benchmark(s), attribution info, etc. should be maintained throughout the year. Having all this information is key to producing commentaries faster.

Ensure you have a complete understanding of commentary needs

Knowing details like the number of commentaries, the word count for each and the audience (i.e., retail, advisor, institutional) will help you get prepared for the next run, including your staffing and training needs.

Speaking of staffing

It’s a good idea to know exactly how many people you’re going to need to help get things done. This can include internal and external writers, editors and project managers, as well as anyone you’ll need for reviews and approvals.

Prepare a well-thought-out and achievable workback schedule

This is a key component to ensuring requests go out, due dates are maintained and required approvals can be managed. 

Notify the portfolio manager or sub-advisor of dates/needs

They may have a vacation coming up and/or manage a number of different mandates. Let them know exactly what you’ll need from them and when, as early as possible so they can manage all their deliverables.

Keep a running style guide that includes grammatical & wording preferences

Make sure the entire team has access to this style guide so they can refer back to it often. This ensures that no matter how many people are working on your commentaries, everyone is singing from the same song sheet.

Know what compliance is looking for

This knowledge will help you avoid having to spend lots of time adding required content and/or removing offending language. Any feedback or direction you receive can be added into your running style guide.

Find common ground

When allowable, it can help to recycle information within different fund commentaries. A good example is reusing some macroeconomic information for similar geographic regions, asset classes, etc. You can save time and money by not having five different writers say that the Fed raised interest rates during the period.

Ext. Marketing Inc. is the global leader in the production of portfolio manager commentaries. In fact, the ext. team produced over 1,500 unique monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual portfolio manager commentaries for our global clients in the financials space in July 2018 alone.

Need help producing better, faster commentaries? Contact us today at info@ext-marketing.com.

5 reasons to outsource your investment commentary process

What’s the number one challenge financial services firms face when trying to deliver engaging investment commentaries over the long term? Finding the time and talent to produce all those engaging and well-written commentaries.

But there’s more to it than that. You also have to find people with the technical knowledge to produce accurate investment commentaries.

Faced with the three challenges of finding (1) time, (2) talent and (3) people with technical knowledge, it makes sense to work with an investment commentary partner that specializes in writing, editing and project managing these fundamental, but highly disruptive, deliverables. Here are five reasons why:

1. Control your operating costs

With budgets shrinking across the financial services industry, finding opportunities to manage costs is a big win for executives and managers involved in the investment commentary process. And using an outsourced partner to deliver investment commentaries can be highly cost effective by reducing the need to have expensive portfolio managers, analysts, writers and project managers working on these pieces over compressed periods of time.

2. Access expertise

An experienced investment commentary partner brings senior thinking and experience to the table. These insights are informed by running many projects across the industry. A partner that works with many companies – in many countries – brings industry and process best practices learned in the field and can apply those best practices to your investment commentary production.

3. Structured process

An investment commentary partner has a structured process tailored specifically to these deliverables, meaning a focus on the fast and efficient delivery of your investment commentaries.

4. Quicker turnaround times

Given their expertise and resources, an investment commentary partner can get your work done faster. In this era of increasing regulatory requirements, the ability to produce well-written investment commentaries quickly is essential.

5. Frees up your resources

Your internal teams – including portfolio manager & analysts and marketing professionals – can create more value if they focus on strategic initiatives. Your investment commentary partner should be well-positioned to assume more of your ongoing needs, while also helping to improve your process for the future.

Investment commentaries can be costly and take a lot of time to produce, which can distract your teams from their day-to-day responsibilities. You can get much better value by outsourcing the entire commentary process – from info gathering to writing, editing and review – to a team that specializes in this type of work.

Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com to start saving money and producing better investment commentaries.

What makes a great portfolio manager commentary?

We’ve written and edited tens of thousands of portfolio manager commentaries over the years, as well as portfolio manager podcasts and videos, so we have a pretty good handle on what elements are required to produce a great commentary. Here are some items we feel are important components of a well-crafted commentary.

A well-written, relevant macroeconomic review

The macroeconomic portion of a commentary should provide details of the economic events and factors that may have impacted the performance of your fund during the period. Additionally, it should be relevant to the fund’s category.

For instance, if you are writing about a U.S. equity fund, the macroeconomic review should predominantly be about the U.S. economy – including any moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, economic figures, as well as the performance of relevant sectors. You can refer to the performance of individual companies, but that type of information is usually best contained in the attribution section of your commentary.

Attribution information: contributors, detractors and the “whys”

This is where you list contributors to – and detractors from – the fund’s performance. This information could be broken down by sector, geography and/or individual security. To keep this section easy to understand, we generally like to list contributors to performance in one paragraph and detractors from performance in another.

It’s important that you explain why these holdings performed the way they did. This gives investors important insights into the factors behind the performance of underlying holdings. Without these reasons, all you’re doing is regurgitating the fund’s attribution report, which provides little value to the end investor.

The fund’s positioning … and the reasons behind this positioning

With advisors increasingly wanting to match portfolio manager objectives and strategies with their own, a commentary is a great way to explain how your fund is positioned for the future.

Inform your reader about your trading activity during the period and fund’s positioning at the end of the period to highlight how you are working to meet the fund’s objectives. Convey how you have been deploying capital within the fund’s strategic framework to meet its stated risk/reward objectives.

We believe these are some of the most the important elements of an informative and useful portfolio manager commentary. Your commentaries can act as great opportunities to showcase the performance of your fund, explain why it has either outperformed or underperformed its benchmark, and tell your reader how the fund is positioned for outperformance in the coming period.

Need help producing your commentaries, videos, or podcasts? Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

5 reasons why investment commentaries aren’t so bad

Here’s a widely held belief: investment commentaries get in the way of the more high-profile initiatives that first attracted you to marketing.

In many respects, that’s true. But we think there’s more to the story. While working on investment commentaries won’t likely lead to any awards, it’s a great way to learn about the industry and become a better marketer.

1. Learn more about the industry

Working on investment commentaries is a crash course on the investment industry.

For people newer to the industry, you’ll learn about management styles, benchmarks, how the markets work, the impact of macroeconomics and much, much more.

For more experienced industry professionals, involvement in investment commentaries makes regulatory changes a part of your day-to-day work. Admittedly, not the most exciting proposition. This regulatory awareness, however, helps you think about broader industry trends and how they may impact your profession in the future.

“Regulatory awareness, however, helps you think about broader industry trends and how they may impact your profession in the future.”

2. Expand your network

Every company has a different group of people working on investment commentaries. Trust us, there’s no universal template.

And while that leads to some practical challenges, it presents a great opportunity – you’ll get to work with a diverse group across your company, from legal and compliance to marketing, investments and product.

There’s a little piece of irony here. Investment commentaries appear to be a low-profile task, but they’re very high profile among certain teams within your organization. So, if you want to grow your network, working on investment commentaries is a good way to go about it.

“Investment commentaries, such as MRFPs, appear to be a low-profile task, but they’re very high profile among certain teams.”

3. Work under pressure

Month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year, disparate teams all across the world pump out investment commentaries. The timelines are tight and effective communication is essential to get the job done right.

Calm, clear thinking is required from everyone on the team, as is a commitment to detail orientation.

These “soft” skills flourish under the ticking clock of an investment commentary project and they transfer over to all other marketing endeavours that you’ll take on.

4. Write for a new audience

If you’re a financial services copywriter, investment commentaries may open your work up to a completely new audience.

Whereas most marketing materials are geared toward retail investors, a significant number of institutional investors (and other distribution channels) will read about your firm’s solutions through investment commentaries.

Institutional writing is higher stakes and the writing can be snappier and more technical. It also provides you with the opportunity to include some of that jargon you try to avoid when writing for a retail audience.

“Institutional writing is higher stakes and the writing can be snappier and more technical.”

5. Focus on process

Investment commentaries are among the most process-driven financial services marketing projects.

We write, edit and project manage investment commentaries for a significant number of the world’s largest financial services firms. As such, we’re always learning about new ways to improve our clients’ processes.

Do you want to produce better investment commentaries? We can help. Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Prepping for commentary season – get your facts in order

Investment commentaries involve content from a wide variety of sources including your communications, product, investments and fund accounting teams. They also need numerous reviews and approvals, and have non-negotiable timelines.

That’s why investment commentaries can be a stressful project for many people. To make the process as streamlined as possible, it helps to compile some key information in one document – and as early in the process as possible.

“Compile … key information in one document – and as early in the process as possible.”

It’s worth taking the time to create a reliable reference list that includes full and correct information for things that need to be precise, or that need to be checked often.

The Fund Info List

While this is not an exhaustive rundown, here are some essential elements of the Fund Info List:

Use exact fund names. Is it Short Term Bond Fund or Short-Term Bond Fund? Global Income Growth Fund or Global Income and Growth Fund? Be sure to update this list with any new mandates or name changes. And don’t forget that the Simplified Prospectus is often the best place to confirm full names.

Be precise with benchmark names. Index names, such as the BofA Merrill Lynch 1-3 Year Treasury Index, are very difficult to check against external sources as every company seems to apply its own style. Total return indexes, which are sometimes shortened to TR, are also notoriously inconsistent.

Keep an exact list of portfolio manager and sub-advisor names, and update it regularly, since sub-advisors do change fairly often and companies’ legal names do as well.

Again, the more exact the list of underlying funds, the easier it will be to cross-reference your information. If your company offers Funds, Classes and Pools, this becomes an even higher priority.

Track the inception date of funds. This information will help your writers know how to position the attribution information in the commentaries.

What to do with your Fund Info List

You’ve put together all correct info. Now what?

  1. Share this list with your writers, editors, reviewers – and anyone else who may need to use or check this kind of information. Be careful to allow only a few individuals at your company to update this list when necessary, as it loses its value if it’s not reliable
  2. It’s a good idea to include your Fund Info List in (or in the same folder as) your company style guide
  3. If you also produce material in another language, a version of this list with your company’s chosen terminology will be invaluable for translation

“Be careful to allow only a few individuals at your company to update this list when necessary, as it loses its value if it’s not reliable.”

And remember: it’s not just the facts but also the language you use that matters! So, if using the right language is a concern, read Using plain language in your financial writing.

We specialize in producing high-quality investment commentaries for some of the world’s largest financial services firms and we can help your company too.

Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com to get your investment commentary process running smoothly and efficiently.

Technology spending heats up in the financials sector

Many insiders believe the long-term success of financial services firms depends on them becoming technology-driven companies. With the rise of robo-advisors, the inroads made by blockchain and the success of regtech, to name just a few developments, it’s hard to deny the rising dominance of technology in financial services.

If you doubt the scale of change taking place in the financial services industry, check out these numbers. They may change your mind.

Members of the “Big 5” are spending big

  • In 2017, The Bank of Nova Scotia spent C$1 billion on technology – 40% of which went to “change-the-bank” projects versus traditional operating expenses in tech. (Source: Financial Post)
  • The Royal Bank of Canada spent C$3 billion on tech in 2017 – transformative projects garnered 30% of that spending. (Source: Financial Post)

Insights from the International Data Corporation

  • IT spending in general will hit US$2.7 trillion by 2021, with banks, manufacturers and telecommunication services providers among the spending leaders. (Source: Channelnomics)
  • Financial services IT spending was estimated at US$480 billion worldwide in 2016 with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 4.2%. (Source: IDC)
  • The drive to increase tech spending is partly the result of the expanding investment industry, which is set to grow to approximately US$2.65 trillion by 2020. Financial services, namely banking, insurance, securities and investment services companies, will lead industry spending. (Source: Arnnite)

Focus on fintech

  • Fintech spending more than tripled in 2014, reaching over US$12 billion. (Source: PwC)
  • Fintech spending in 2017 was estimated to be approximately US$19.9 billion in North America, US$15.3 billion in Europe and US$22.1 billion in Asia. (Source: Statistica)

Is it worth it?

  • Not everyone believes this spending is a smart allocation of assets. PwC has reported that financial institutions could be spending up to twice as much as they need to on IT. (Source: PwC)

The technological change unfolding in the financial services industry is unprecedented – and it represents some incredible challenges and opportunities for everyone who works in this space.

Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com for financial marketing and investment commentary help.

Using plain language in your financial writing

If you write content for the financial services industry, you likely write for a variety of audiences.

Some of the people who read your content may be advisors. Others may be new investors who are still learning the basic concepts of investing.

You can make your content more accessible to everyone by following a few plain language principles.

The truth about plain language

Some people think that plain language is about “dumbing things down.” It’s not. Plain language is about expressing yourself clearly and concisely without being condescending or making anyone feel dumb.

What might make someone feel that way? Having to look up every fifth word they read in the dictionary or giving up on an article because it’s too dense and exhausting.

Plain language is about expressing yourself clearly and concisely without being condescending or making anyone feel dumb.

Imagine a doctor who speaks like a medical textbook. Every other word they say is over your head and, despite asking good questions, you give up on having a meaningful conversation.

You know you’re an intelligent person. But you’re going to feel much less intelligent if your doctor insists on saying “Choledocholithiasis” instead of “gallbladder stones” and sighs when you ask them what that means. Especially since there’s no reason for a doctor to avoid using a common and easily understood term like “gallbladder stones.”

Three elements of plain language

Without “dumbing” anything down, you can get your message across to a broader audience by focusing on these three things.

1. Organization

Break your article into chunks so readers can scan it quickly and easily. This means using heads and subheads relevant to what you’re about to say.

Make sure each paragraph focuses on a single topic. If you move onto a new topic, move onto a new paragraph, too. Readers find it easier to digest one main thought at a time.

2. Sentence and paragraph length

Try to keep your sentences under 30 words and limit each paragraph to three to five sentences. If you have a long sentence that can’t be broken up, try putting it into bullet points.

3. Word choice and style

Write in a conversational tone and use active voice as much as you can. Avoid industry jargon that most people outside of your industry won’t understand, and delete unnecessary words.

Avoid industry jargon that most people outside of your industry won’t understand.

Choose familiar words over more obscure words, but don’t avoid long words that would be easily understood by your audience just because they’re long.

Take a look back through this post and you’ll see that we’ve used some long words, but we’re confident our audience will be fine with this.

A word on design

There’s a strong design element to plain language, which might be something you don’t have much control over. However, using a readable font and including lots of white space will make your content easier to read.

Plain language in action

Here’s a short before-and-after example of the three elements of plain language in action.

Before

“Despite a year filled with market and operational headwinds, much positive feedback was given to us by clients in recognition of the merit of our customer service, superior attention to detail and unyieldingly honest marketing campaigns.”

After

“Despite a challenging year, our clients told us they appreciated our commitment to customer service, attention to detail and honest marketing campaigns.”

What we did

  • Kept the sentence under 30 words
  • Used active voice
  • Deleted industry jargon
  • Deleted unnecessary words

Looking for plain language expertise? Contact us at 416.925.1700, 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Read more:

https://ext-marketing.com/commentaries-articles/writing-for-investors-avoid-industry-jargon/

Regtech will make marketing and compliance much smoother

Writing for investors? Avoid industry jargon

Like most highly specialized industries, financial services has a unique set of words and phrases that mean little to people outside of the industry.

That’s essentially the definition of industry jargon, and it isn’t always a bad thing. For example, when you’re writing or speaking to other professionals within your industry, those industry-specific words and phrases can sometimes be the fastest and most effective ways to communicate.

But when you’re sharing information with anyone who doesn’t work in financial services, including investors, industry jargon can be confusing at best and completely meaningless at worst. Here, we’ve chosen five terms to avoid when writing for investors.

1. Headwinds/tailwinds

To people outside financial services, headwinds and tailwinds are something they experience when they’re on an airplane. When they fly west, they have to deal with headwinds, so their flight takes longer. When they fly east, they benefit from tailwinds, so their flight is a bit quicker.

Hmm… that must mean that headwinds are bad and tailwinds are good, right? Usually, but your reader had to make a lot of connections before they could figure out what you were trying to say. Why not say “challenges” or “benefits” if that’s what you mean? Better yet, be specific and explain exactly what challenges or benefits you’re talking about.

Be specific and explain exactly what challenges or benefits you’re talking about.

2. Secular

This is another term that takes on an entirely different meaning outside of the financial world. It generally means the opposite of spiritual or religious. If that’s what you’re writing about, “secular” is absolutely the right word to use. If not, the term you’re probably looking for is “long term.” To avoid any confusion, keep it simple.

3. Upside potential/downside risk

For people who don’t have in-depth knowledge of banking and investments, these terms lack any meaning.

We understand that it’s much simpler to write “upside potential” than it is to explain that you expect a certain stock price to increase over the short term and to tell your readers why. But if your audience doesn’t understand what you’re writing about, why write it at all? We would say the exact same thing about the term “downside risk.”

If your audience doesn’t understand what you’re writing about, why write it at all?

4. Alpha and beta

When an investor reads about a fund’s performance, they typically care how that fund performed relative to a benchmark index. If a fund had higher returns than the index, just say so. There’s no reason to throw the word “alpha” in there.

The word “beta” is a bit different, because it has a very specific meaning when you’re talking capital asset pricing models, and there’s no other word that quite works. If you have to use “beta” in that context, consider defining it for investors.

However, we find that “beta” is often used to mean risk or volatility in general. If that’s what you mean, either of those words would be a much better choice.

5. Underlying fundamentals

This one makes our list because it can mean so many things that it becomes almost meaningless to investors. If you’re writing about a certain company, are you focusing on its revenues, earnings, assets, liabilities or all of the above? The defining “fundamentals” of a given sector could range from pricing structure to regulatory issues to supply versus demand.

The term gets even fuzzier when you’re talking about the underlying fundamentals of a broad market. Avoid this term completely and explain exactly what factors you’re concerned about or encouraged by.

This list is far from complete, but it’s a good place to start if you’re looking to make your writing more investor-friendly.

Looking to make your investment commentaries more accessible to investors? Contact us at 416.925.1700, 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

Read more:

Regtech will make marketing and compliance much smoother

https://ext-marketing.com/commentaries-articles/5-reasons-investment-commentaries-arent-bad/