Tuesday morning briefing: Retail sales way down in the U.S.

Some investing heavyweights recently sounded the alarm on equities. Stanley Druckenmiller believes the risk-reward tradeoff for equities is not attractive, while David Tepper thinks the market is overvalued. U.S.-China tensions appear to be growing as the U.S. Commerce Department looked to put restrictions on Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board and the Bank of Canada expressed downbeat tones about the U.S. and Canadian economies, respectively.

International Nurses Day was on May 12. We are grateful to have these brave individuals standing on the frontlines and helping our families, friends and neighbours during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Economic/industry news

U.K. GDP falls in the first quarter: UK economy posts sharpest monthly decline on record as coronavirus lockdowns begin to take toll

Could Canada lose its AAA-rating?: Soaring Canadian deficit may jeopardize AAA rating: Macquarie

The Fed is uncertain on the U.S. economic recovery: Recession could be prolonged: Fed

Bank of America forecasts lower returns in the decade ahead: Investors should brace for higher inflation and lower returns in 2020s, Bank of America warns

Could private assets be susceptible to a downturn?: Trillions are flowing to private assets on recession front line

Sustainable funds performed relatively well during the recent market decline: Sustainable funds outperformed during sell-off, report finds

Reasons for hope

A look at the steps being taken to find a vaccine for COVID-19: What is the world doing to create a COVID-19 vaccine?

Drone delivery team shifting gears: Amazon is designing and building face shields to sell to frontline workers

Coffee4Frontline is saying thanks to our frontline heroes: Family delivers coffee, baked goods to ‘heroes’ in Ontario battling COVID-19

Adapting your business

How businesses could come back stronger post crisis: From surviving to thriving: Reimagining the post-COVID-19 return

Flexibility is key to getting through a recession: How to reinvent your business to survive a recession

Get clients to take a long-term view: Try this when consoling clients about investment losses

Pandemic highlights importance of digital marketing for advisors: The value of digital marketing clearer now more than ever

Solidifying a long-term relationship with trust: How to build client trust during the pandemic and beyond

Chart of the week

One of the main drivers of economic growth over the past decade has significantly weakened recent months. Retail sales in the U.S. posted a record decline in April, falling 16.4%, after dropping 8.3% in March. The spread of COVID-19 largely halted economic activity in the U.S., resulting in a substantial rise in unemployment. This all significantly dragged down spending. As the U.S. economy begins to reopen, consumer spending should rise. But will it be enough to lift the U.S. economy to a quick recovery? Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Hedge funds had a particularly strong month in April: Hedge fund industry gains 5.46 per cent in April, says Backstop BarclayHedge

A look at how much salaries could fall in the asset management industry: How far will asset management pay fall?

PE firms still standing strong: Private equity firms have a ‘fair amount of dry powder,’ Carlyle Group co-founder says

PNC exiting investment in BlackRock: BlackRock says PNC selling stake, plans $1B buyback

News and notes (Canada)

CI taps DoubleLine Capital for new fixed income funds: CI launches three new fixed income mandates

ATB launches PE fund: ATB Financial launches small-business PE fund

Use of cash declining: Cash usage plummets during pandemic

Pre-signed forms were still a problem in 2019: Pre-signed forms the top MFDA enforcement issue – again

For financial marketing and investment commentary help, contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or

COVID-19 is changing financial services marketing. Are you ready?

COVID-19 has led to widespread business shutdowns in the hope of containing the spread of the virus. This has, in turn, resulted in a severe global economic disruption and financial market volatility.

It’s safe to say that most investors are facing financial stresses to some degree right now. And the way they interact with their financial services providers – including their banks, advisors and investment firms – has likely changed for a long time.

As a result, how you deliver your message to clients will need to change too. This is a challenge the team at ext. understands. We have our fingers on the pulse of the financial services industry, and we are acutely aware of how marketing is evolving during these unprecedented times. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about the opportunities available to you today:

Stay in touch with email

Mailchimp found that the financial services industry has a 22% email open rate (Source). Your audience is looking for – and at – your emails.

At a minimum, your clients want you to stay in touch, to know that you are there for them and to be reminded that things will get better, especially during these uncertain times.

But now is also a time for business building. Captivate your audience with great storytelling to describe what you and your brand represent, as well as how you can help your clients and prospects navigate this time of uncertainty.

Email has proven to be an effective tool for financial services companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this will continue as we move past this crisis.

Use best practices for virtual meetings

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to create a new normal for both the way we live and the way we do business. It will also reduce the number of face-to-face meetings you will have with clients going forward.

As businesses shut down operations and people are forced to work from home, client meetings have gone from the home or office to the computer. It is important to maintain the same principles in a virtual meeting as you would in a face-to-face meeting:

  • Prepare and stick to an agenda to ensure all points are covered
  • While it is tempting to wear a more relaxed wardrobe, dress professionally as you would in a face-to-face meeting
  • Proper lighting and a clean background gives a professional, upbeat tone
  • Don’t forget the audio! Test your mic beforehand and make sure your voice is clear

Illustrate your message with visual cues

According to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of people are visual leaners (Source).

Your clients and prospects need to understand the message you are conveying, particularly during this period of uncertainty. Adding more visuals to your presentations, emails, pitchbooks and social media posts is a great way to capture your clients’ attention and ensure they understand what you’re telling them. It is important, however, to keep your design consistent with your brand.

We’re here for you during these unprecedented times. For help with your marketing and portfolio manager commentaries, contact us at or 1-844-243-1830 today.

Upcoming macroeconomic events – June/July 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 U.S. will announce its final first quarter gross domestic product (“GDP”) growth rate on June 27. In its second estimate, GDP growth was revised down to 3.1%, from an initial estimate of 3.2%. Fixed investment and private inventories were revised lower, while exports was revised higher. Despite the downward revision, economic growth was still strong and an improvement over the fourth quarter of 2018
  • On July 3, the U.S. will announce its balance of trade for May. In April, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed to US$50.8B, versus US$51.9B in March. With fresh new tariffs imposed on China, along with retaliatory tariffs from China, this will be an important reading to determine what type of impact these actions are having on U.S. trade results
  • The Canadian unemployment rate for June will be announced on July 5. In May, the unemployment rate was 5.4%, an improvement from the 5.7% in April. This is the lowest rate since 1976. The labour market has been particularly robust, adding jobs and seeing wage gains. Despite weakness in other parts of the economy, labour continues to be a strong spot, which bodes well for the overall health of the economy
  • The Bank of Canada (“BoC”) will announce its interest rate decision on July 10. At its last meeting in May, the BoC held its benchmark overnight interest rate steady at 1.75%. The BoC will closely monitor economic data to determine whether or not further rate increases are needed. In its statement, the BoC noted that it will closely monitor consumer spending, the price of oil and developments in global trade. Of particular interest is the BoC’s belief that the recent economic slowdown was temporary
  • On July 15, China will announce its GDP growth rate for the second quarter. The Chinese economy expanded 6.4%, annualized, in the first quarter of 2019. Personal spending contributed to growth, partly as a result of the government’s stimulus measures. However, China is deeply embroiled in a trade war with the U.S. and what impact further tariffs by the U.S. government will have on Chinese exports is yet to be seen

For investment commentary support (including monthly and quarterly commentaries, as well as MRFPs), contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or

Monday morning briefing – April 8, 2019

A look at why fintech firms’ valuations are surging in Latin America. New hedge funds are raising minimum investment amounts. A look at how liquid alts can add value to an investor’s portfolio. How to establish digital trust. And much more in this week’s briefing.

Economic/industry news

The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.8% in March: Job market bounces back in March with 196,000 gain in payrolls

The Canadian unemployment rate was steady at 5.8% in March: Canada’s job run stalls in March with first drop in seven months 

Financial institutions need to be prepared for a possible no-deal Brexit: Financial firms should prep for “no deal” Brexit: report

Europe holds the largest amount of sustainable investing assets: Global sustainable investment assets grew by a third in 2 years: report

Preparing investors’ portfolios for a slowing global economy, possible recession: Why investors shouldn’t panic over the yield curve inversion

Regulation is required to protect retail investors: Behavioural economics are useful, but regulation is essential: report

News and notes (U.S.)

New hedge funds are raising minimum investment amounts: New hedge fund study shows funds placing premium on strong start

Institutional investors may increase allocation to private capital: Stock market fears push investors toward alternative assets

Blackstone closing in on largest PE fund ever: Blackstone surpasses $22B mark for what could be biggest PE fund ever

BlackRock undergoes massive organizational changes: BlackRock starts big reorg of leadership, units

A review of M&A activity in 2018: 10 charts detailing the state of M&A in 2018

Year-to-date, 73 funds added ESG criteria to their investment strategy: More funds are formally considering ESG in their investment process

Fixed income ETFs continue to attract investor money: Fixed income ETFs received over $34B in flows during Q1

Mutual fund sales and performance figures over the past two weeks: Mutual funds scorecard: April 2 edition

SEC extends deadline for two bitcoin ETF applications: SEC delays decision on 2 bitcoin ETF filings

News and notes (Canada)

A look at how liquid alts can add value to an investor’s portfolio: Investing in liquid alts

Dynamic launches another liquid alt: Dynamic Funds expands its liquid alt offerings

Russell Investments launches liquid alternative fund: Russell Investments launches new Yield Opportunities Pool

Robust equity markets this year have helped defined benefit plans: Canadian pension plans in strong solvency position in Q1 off surging equity markets

Fiera Capital purchases majority stake in Palmer Capital: Fiera acquires 80% stake in Palmer Capital

Canadian ETFs had net inflows in March, led by fixed income: Net inflows for Canadian ETFs hit $1.9 billion in March

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

Banks must remain flexible to adapt to the changing technological landscape: Bank strategy in the world of fintech 

The time is now for digitalization: Banks’ digital experiments need to produce results

A look at how banks and fintech firms can work together: Banks and fintech: Why the future looks brighter together

Why machine learning can help in the stock selection process: Machine learning can help with stock selection: study

 A look at why fintech firms’ valuations are surging in Latin America: Why fintech startups are rapidly becoming unicorns in Latin America 

How to establish “digital trust”: How to empower secure collaboration, communication and sharing in financial services

Interest in cryptocurrencies on the rise in private banks: How private banks are demonstrating interest in digital currencies

Bitcoin’s price spikes: Bitcoin surges as cryptocurrency market suddenly springs to life

High-net-worth topics

Careful estate planning an absolute must for high-net-worth families: U.S. billionaires are living longer, making heirs wait

High-net-worth investors show preference for independent advisors: HNW clients favour independents

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Most retirement plan participants aren’t saving enough for retirement (Natixis): What retirement plan participants want, need

Canadians need to focus on better tax planning throughout the year (CIBC): CIBC poll finds 63% of Canadians view tax refunds as an unexpected ‘windfall’ 

Advisors should strive to create a great client experience (Cerulli): How focusing on client experience helps advisors get ahead

Teens not confident about their financial futures (Junior Achievement USA and Citizens Bank): When it comes to finance, the kids are not all right: survey

For financial marketing and investment commentary help, contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or