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.