Microcontent: what it is and how it can help your marketing

Microcontent hasn’t really found its legs in the financial services industry. We think that’s going to change.

Microcontent is primarily visual content distributed on media such as a blog, Facebook or LinkedIn to bolster your content efforts and draw your audience’s attention toward a more robust piece of content. These may include in-depth whitepapers, infographics or a new video on your website.

What sets microcontent apart from other types of content? It’s short, “snackable” and relatively cheap to produce.

What’s microcontent?

While this isn’t a complete list, the key types of microcontent include:

  • Charts
  • Diagrams
  • Facts and figures
  • GIFs
  • Graphics
  • Illustrations
  • Images
  • Quotes
  • Tips

What’s best for financial services?

Financial services marketers tend to use charts, graphs and tables in their materials. But these tools are used a lot, and your content may lose its impact among the vast amount of charts, graphs and tables that are already out there.

It’s good to look beyond these forms of microcontent when you can. Some types of microcontent that we think are ideal for the financial services industry include:

  • Images are a great way to capture your audience’s attention (think about taking elements from larger, more detailed infographics)
  • Quotes are always eye-catching. If you use quotes, don’t forget to use compelling and complementary images or graphic designs to draw more attention to them
  • Tips that help people excel at their job and life will always be near the top of the sharable content list

From a production standpoint, the best thing about microcontent is that it’s relatively quick to produce, so you can experiment a little more than you would with lengthier or more costly content. This can be a huge benefit for content teams that are stretched to the limit.

If you want to boost your marketing efforts, this is the perfect time to start producing microcontent. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or to learn how.

Monday morning briefing: Tech stocks that shine during COVID-19 crisis

Thank you for reading Monday Morning Briefing.  For this edition, and going forward, we have decided to change the format of the briefing to provide you with relevant information you will need to weather the new realities we face today – and the challenges that will likely continue over the coming months. As small business owners ourselves, we know that access to timely news, human stories and tools to help you operate better, can be invaluable at times like these. Please let us know if you have any feedback on our new format or want more information on our stories. We want to hear from you, our readers.

Jillian Bannister, CEO
Richard Heft, President

Economic/industry news

The BoC kept its central interest rate at 0.25%: BoC sees risk of ‘structural damage,’ ramps up bond-buying

Economic growth in Canada slumped in March: Data indicate economy plunged in March: StatsCan

China’s GDP contracted over the first quarter: China says its economy shrank by 6.8% in the first quarter as the country battled coronavirus

The value of alternatives through volatile markets: Alternatives can smooth market bumps

Cash levels among fund managers rising: Fund managers at highest cash levels since 9/11: BofA survey

COVID-19 has resulted in more cashless payments: Contactless payments skyrocket because no one wants to handle cash

Reasons for hope

A look at the potential cures for COVID-19: Handicapping the most promising of 267 potential coronavirus cures

Private equity firms stepping up to help first responders and portfolio company employees: Private equity firms promise millions for coronavirus relief

Restaurant changes operations to help community: Vaughan restaurant now making hand-sanitizer, keeps staff employed

Assisting your clients

Generation Z reconsidering how they view money: Why COVID-19 is rebooting how Gen Z feels about money and banking

Best practices to follow when RIAs are working from home: Key tech steps for RIAs working from home

Eight principles to keep in mind with your marketing efforts in the current market environment: PR and marketing: How to communicate during COVID-19

It is important to remain in constant contact with your clients: Communicate with clients clearly and often, consultant says

Looking after yourself while working from home: Pandemic, stress and luxury

Chart of the week

Despite significant volatility in financial markets over the past two months, there have been a number of stocks that have performed well. Some stocks have benefited from higher expectations for sales given that more people are at home. Here are a few of these “stay-at-home” stocks, which have outperformed the broader market, even producing share price gains. Netflix Inc., Inc., Peloton Interactive Inc. and Zoom Video Communications Inc. are all seeing gains. As people eventually return to work, and social distancing measures are relaxed, what will be in store for the share prices of these companies? Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

The hedge fund industry experienced net outflows in February: Hedge funds see USD8.1bn in outflows in February

BlackRock raised US$5.1 billion for its latest alternative fund: BlackRock just closed its largest alternative fund yet

Allocators demonstrating cautious sentiment toward private market investments: Investors are cautious on private markets during shutdowns, Pitchbook survey shows

Investment funds experienced significant outflows in March: Funds saw largest ever exodus in March, Morningstar says

Mutual fund sales and performance over the past two weeks: Mutual funds scorecard: April 15 edition

News and notes (Canada)

Purpose Investments launches new fund: Purpose unveils new structured equity yield portfolio

A look at the federal government’s assistance programs: Understanding CERB, EI and the feds’ wage subsidy

CI Financial partnering with private-market investment company: CI Financial forges private-market investment partnership

IIROC is delaying fee collection: IIROC gives dealers a breather on fees

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

Monday afternoon briefing: Services sink

We may not see a v-shaped recovery. Why PE firms may be looking at publicly listed companies. How COVID-19 may change banking. And much more in this week’s briefing.

Economic/industry news

Canada’s economy grew 0.1% in January: Economic growth slowed in January to 0.1%, Statistics Canada says

U.S. unemployment rate rises to 4.4%: US payrolls plunge 701,000 in March amid the start of a job market collapse

We may not see a v-shaped recovery: Economists are losing hope in a ‘v-shaped’ post-virus recovery

The Fed is stepping up to help global debt markets: Fed steps in once again to try to smooth out lending markets

How pension plans are approaching rebalancing amid the market volatility: Investment portfolio rebalancing in the time of coronavirus

Happy birthday to ETFs: Getting better with age: ETFs turn 30

Chart of the week

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, the services sector has been particularly hard hit. Travel, accommodation and food services, among others, have all come to a halt. In its most recent results from IHS Markit, services across the U.S. and Europe have had their steepest decline ever. Even if the spread of COVID-19 is flat-lines and people quickly return to work, it will likely take some time for the services industry to fully recover. Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Stay defensive in down markets: Billionaire Howard Marks pitches a defensive investing outlook

Why PE firms may be looking at publicly listed companies: Private equity will go after listed companies. And corporations will welcome it.

The impact of the U.S. government’s stimulus package on private markets: What $2T in stimulus does – and doesn’t do – for private markets

Mutual fund sales and performance over the past two weeks: Mutual funds scorecard: April 1 edition

News and notes (Canada)

From skates to medical equipment: How private equity-owned Bauer pivoted from hockey gear to medical masks

Tax planning for business owners in the current environment: Tax tips for business owners navigating the pandemic

Real estate market in Canada could see significant declines: Distancing, economic uncertainty to hurt home sales: RBC

Counsel Portfolio Services makes changes to pricing: Counsel enhances tiered pricing program

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

With challenges come opportunities: Coronavirus: New challenges and opportunities for fintech

How COVID-19 may change banking: Reimagining banking during and after COVID-19

Fintechs can benefit from partnerships with private banks: Private banks may prove profitable partners for fintechs

Improving cash management systems: Firms look to better cash management capabilities

Answering questions about a digital transformation: Banks questions about doing digital transformation

Improving the process for online account openings: When opening accounts in branches becomes impossible

Helping advisors with remote client engagement tools, free until July: Wealthtech firm offers tool free of charge 

High-net-worth topics

Reviewing your estate plan: How to take advantage of new estate planning opportunities caused by the coronavirus

The wealthy still bullish on the economy over the long term: Wealthy U.S. investors and business owners look hopefully to long term

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Canada’s stimulus measures could help ease the impact of COVID-19 (DBRS): Thumbs up for Canada’s large stimulus effort: DBRS

24% of millennials bought stocks despite volatile markets (Bankrate): Quarter of millennials bought stocks amid recent volatility: Bankrate

In this time of rising uncertainty, please know that ext. is closely monitoring COVID-19 and its impact – current and potential – on our firm, our clients’ businesses and the overall financial services industry.

We remain committed to seamless service for our clients and the well-being of our employees during this time.

If you have any questions about business continuity at ext. – or how you can effectively communicate these and other timely issues with your clients, please reach out to your account manager or contact us 1.844.243.1830 or

Monday morning briefing: The inverted yield curve

A new way to analyze equity investment funds. Why smaller could be better for private equity. Many aspiring investors don’t know how to get started. And much more in this week’s briefing.

Economic/industry news

The Fed held its federal funds rate steady: Fed holds rates steady and indicates no changes through at least 2020

Canadian and U.S. consumers in much different positions: U.S. consumers buoy global economy, while Canadians face debt

A new way to analyze equity investment funds: Morningstar launches a new framework to analyze equity funds

Why advisors need to frequently review their pricing structure: Advisors need to regularly reassess their fees, TD Exec says

The need to cross boundaries to drive growth: Investment managers must cross boundaries, says Deloitte

Chart of the week

In late August, the two- and 10-year yield curve inverted, seeing its spread dip into negative territory. This inversion was brought on by concerns about the global economy in response to escalating U.S.-China trade tensions. This sparked fears that a recession was imminent as was the case with previous inversions. While the global economy has been sluggish, the U.S. and China appear to be closing in on a phase-one trade deal that might help reignite global growth. According to a recent report by Goldman Sachs, the possibility of a recession in 2020 is low. Will we see a recession in the next year or two? Or, will a recession be avoided and slow growth continue? Let us know what you think.

Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Hedge funds rose 0.84% in November: Eurekahedge Hedge Fund Index up 0.84 per cent in November

Conversation with Stephen Schwarzman: Stephen Schwarzman doesn’t stop: An exclusive Q&A with Blackstone’s chief

Why smaller could be better for private equity: The truth about private equity fund size

A look at some year-end financial planning tips: Sixteen year-end financial planning tips

Remembering Paul Volcker: There’s the legend of Paul Volcker and the man I got to know

News and notes (Canada)

How Canada may benefit from the new USMCA: ‘A really good deal for Canada’: Former ambassadors on new NAFTA

Looking to eliminate redundancies in investor disclosure documents: IFIC asks CSA to reconsider fund disclosure rules

BoC Governor will not seek a second-term: Bank of Canada says Poloz will not seek a second term as governor

The potential impact from a higher tax-exempt basic personal amount: How the federal tax cut will impact clients

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

Banks should disrupt themselves before others do: How banking can avoid being disrupted in 2020 … disrupt themselves

Why partnerships are key for traditional and challenger banks: The growing trend of ecosystems within financial services

Preparing for augmented analytics: Augmented analytics: Are you ready?

Driving growth through new technology: Wealth manager using technology to drive next phase of growth

A look at the possible risks posed by BigTech firms entering the financial services industry: Rise of the machines: BigTech poses risks to financial system, FSB says

Helping businesses manage receipts: Metro Bank trials digital business receipts

High-net-worth topics

Why family offices should take a deeper look at sustainable investments: As high-net-worth families shift wealth to the next generation, family offices should lean in on sustainable investments

A look at the blockchain-related investments available to high-net-worth investors: Blockchain investment opportunities for HNW clients

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Many aspiring investors don’t know how to get started (IIROC): Aspiring investors don’t know where to find advice: survey

A look at Americans’ top financial priorities next year (Fidelity): Here are Americans’ financial goals for 2020: Fidelity

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

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

Going deeper with your content

If you’ve been blogging and sharing content for a few years, you’ve probably reached the point at one time or another where you’ve run out of ideas or lost interest in your topic.

It happens.

Don’t fret. A little analytics and creativity will not only get you flush with ideas once again, but these ideas will be exactly what your readers want.

Identify your top posts

Google Analytics is your friend. While you can request anecdotal evidence from the field, it’s best not to rely solely on hearsay. Data is what you want, so seek it out.

Log on to your Analytics account. Your goal today is to find your 30 most-viewed posts since you first started blogging. Found them? Good.

These are the posts – better to think of them as themes – that you’ll focus your content efforts on for the next year. Feels good to have some direction, doesn’t it?

Go deep, creatively

Now that you know your top 30 posts, it’s time to sharpen your focus on the top 10.

How can you add depth to these topics? Write down everything you can think of, from the ideas that need a little more explaining to anything on the periphery of this theme that could add value.

While refreshing content is a good start (even your tried-and-true content may not be as evergreen as you think), we’re talking about supporting content, educational content, engaging content, inspiring content, content that looks good, content that gets people thinking, content that builds your authority, and the list goes on.

“We’re talking about supporting content, educational content, engaging content, inspiring content, content that looks good, content that gets people thinking, content that builds your authority, and the list goes on.”

Think infographics, surveys, whitepapers, more blog posts, newsletter articles, brochures, microsites and social campaigns. These are the tactics you’ll use to go deeper on your chosen themes.

Once you’ve worked through your top 10, start on your remaining 20.

Three quick examples

Let’s say your top three posts are “Saving for a comfortable retirement,” “What do I do with an inheritance?” and “Rethinking investing for Millennials.”

“Saving for a comfortable retirement” could benefit from a calculator that helps explain the power of compounding over the long term.

“What do I do with an inheritance?” might reach a bigger audience if it was backed up with stat … or, better yet, a handful of stats found in a great looking infographic.

“Rethinking investing for Millennials” may need an infographic too, but it would also benefit from a series of supporting blog posts that tackle (and provide solutions to) the financial challenges that younger people face every day.

Repeat the process

Let’s look a year into the future. You’ve added depth to your top 30 posts. Now identify your top posts once again but, this time, focus on your top 20. Explore ways that you can go even deeper on these themes.

Why are you doing this? You’re expanding your content and you’re refining your content. As time goes on, you’ll see that your focus is narrowing – and this is a good thing. This razor sharp focus is on themes that your readers want.

“You’re expanding your content and you’re refining your content. As time goes on, you’ll see that your focus is narrowing – and this is a good thing.”

Stop casting a wide net. Instead, go deeper on your top posts (and themes!) with creative solutions. Your readers will appreciate the knowledge you’re sharing.

Never run out of ideas again. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or and we’ll help you explore your content options.

Monday morning briefing – July 22, 2019

Agri-food VC fund gets big investment. Rethinking PE multiples. Hedge fund assets reach their highest level ever. Baby boomers falling short of their retirement savings goals. The high-net-worth are more concerned about education and health than fancy things. And much more in this week’s briefing.

Economic/industry news

Canada’s inflation rate fell to 2.0% in June: Inflation hits BoC target of 2%

China’s economic growth rate slows to 6.2%, annualized, in the second quarter: China second-quarter GDP growth slows to 27-year low as trade war bites, more stimulus seen

How far will the Fed cut interest rates?: With a July cut almost assured, how far will the Fed go?

The impact of geopolitics on financial markets: Geopolitics becoming a primary market driver for institutional investors

Why goals-based planning can eliminate advisor biases: How advisor biases influence client outcomes: SEI study

Index tracking funds regained popularity in the second quarter: Passive investing picking up again

A look at six potential changes to the ETF industry: 6 big changes that could transform the ETF market

Five strategies for the “new” world of investing: Five strategies to replace old investing models

News and notes (U.S.)

Hedge fund assets reach their highest level ever: Hedge fund assets eclipse 2018 record

Hedge funds experienced US$800 million of inflows in May: Hedge fund flows turn positive again in May

BlackRock to start investing through long-term PE fund: A longer-term approach to private equity

Rethinking PE multiples: Median US PE buyout multiples of 12x may be the new norm

Searching for higher returns: Why public pensions are taking more risk

Investors benefiting from reduced mutual fund fees in 401(k) plans: Mutual fund fees in 401(k)s keep on falling: ICI

Fidelity launches four low-cost index funds: Fidelity expands price war with Vanguard with new index fund launches

Living mortgage free: Almost 40% of U.S. homes are mortgage free

News and notes (Canada)

AGF to launch three liquid alternative ETFs and mutual funds: AGF files prospectuses for 3 alternative funds

Picton Mahoney launches another liquid alternative fund: New alt fund, ETF lineup from Picton Mahoney

Agri-food VC fund gets big investment: OMERS investing in agri-food venture capital fund

How to help new Canadians with their finances: Helping new Canadians find their bearings in financial planning

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

A look at technology trends impacting retail banking: 5 pivotal technology trends in retail banking

Making the branch feel like home: ING introduces ‘branches that make you feel like home’

Fintech is having an impact on capital markets: How investment banks can respond to the fintech challenge

How small businesses may benefit from fintech: 3 fintech innovations that could end financial hurdles for small businesses

How to improve the account opening process: 5 ways to maximize your account opening and onboarding process

Reimagining Toys “R” Us: Toys ‘R’ Us taps tech startup b8ta to bring its stores into the future

Cybersecurity is a major concern among advisors: Cybersecurity (again) is advisors’ top compliance concern

Regulators are having difficulty with cryptocurrencies: Why regulators are struggling with crypto assets

High-net-worth topics

The high-net-worth are more concerned about education and health than fancy things: Forget the Rolexes and Bugattis, it’s all about education and health for today’s super wealthy

Even the high-net-worth struggle with their financial goals: Most millionaires don’t consider themselves wealthly: Ameriprise study

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Hedge fund investors looking for ESG principles in hedge funds (Cerulli): Interest in ESG expected to grow among hedge fund investors

Seniors need help with their finances (OBSI): Senior clients need more from financial firms: report

Fund managers show more bullishness in July (Merrill): Fund manager sentiment perks up in July: Merrill Survey

Baby boomers falling short of their retirement savings goals (RBC): Boomers worried they aren’t saving enough: survey

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

Tuesday morning briefing – July 2, 2019

Spotting a financial bubble. The rising stars of the hedge fund industry. The benefits of advisors adopting technology. The affluent market is expected to grow. And much more in this week’s post.

Economic/industry news

U.S. GDP growth confirmed at 3.1% in the first quarter: US economy grew at a solid 3.1% rate in the first quarter

Optimism regarding small and mediumsized businesses in the U.S. waning: Optimism hits nine-year low at U.S. small, midsize companies

Spotting a financial bubble: Can you spot a bubble before it bursts?

What’s hurting value investing: Two suspects behind value’s apparent death

New climate change indices announced: MSCI launches climate change indexes: Portfolio products

The number of global IPOs declined in the first half of the year: A weak first half for global IPOs, EY reports

News and notes (U.S.) 

Forward Redemption Indicator was 3.81% in June 2019, lower than June 2018: SS&C GlobeOp Forward Redemption Indicator at 3.81 per cent for June

Equity leverage rising fast for hedge funds: Hedge funds boost equity leverage at fastest rate in three years 

Alternative investment managers expect moderate economic growth for 2019: Alternative investment professionals bullish on prospects for remainder of 2019

A look at the most powerful hedge fund managers: The 10 most powerful hedge fund managers this year

The rising stars of the hedge fund industry: Hedge funds might be under scrutiny – but these rising stars are their future

Will Vanguard enter private equity space?: Vanguard mulling move into private equity: report

Another strong year for PE cashflows: Global PE cashflows eye eighth consecutive year in the black

U.S. tech firms reduced hiring in China amid trade dispute: Silicon Valley cools Chinese growth plans during trade war 

Average wage earners having difficulty purchasing a home in many U.S. markets: Homebuying difficult for Americans in three-fourths of markets

Mutual fund sales and performance over the past two weeks: Mutual funds scorecard: June 25 edition

News and notes (Canada)

Mutual funds experienced $719 million of net sales in May: Mutual fund sales rebound, despite retreat in AUM, IFIC reports

Steve Hawkins takes over as board chair for the Canadian ETF Association: CETFA welcomes new board chair 

Advisor title reform to be reviewed by new provincial regulator: FSRA to lead advisor title reform, while OSC works on other reforms 

Tax proposal could hurt Canadian ETFs: Tax proposals get pushback from ETF industry

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

Wall Street is learning from Silicon Valley: Wall Street is taking cues from Silicon Valley to innovate fintech

The top trends in retail banking: The Top 5 retail banking technology trends of 2019 (so far)

Why it’s imperative that traditional banks adopt AI usage: Banking brands can’t keep pace with digital giants without AI

What is Facebook’s future in fintech?: Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency is the future of fintech

Consumer use of fintech growing: More than half of global consumers use fintech

The benefits of advisors adopting technology: Five ways advisors can leverage technology

Welcome to the new Chase retail branch: Chase makes bold statement with stunning new flagship branch

Helping VCs make investment decisions: VCs double down on data-driven investment models

A look at how the investment banking industry can benefit from AI: How AI could shape the future of investment banking

High-net-worth topics

The affluent market is expected to grow: The growing promise from affluent individuals

How to respond to the traits of wealthy investors: 12 surprising traits of the wealthy

Sotheby’s to merge with BidFair USA: Sotheby’s goes private: What it means for the art market

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

U.S. investor confidence falling (Wells Fargo/Gallup): Investors are battening down the hatches for a recession: Wells Fargo

Geopolitical and market risks affecting the outlook for institutional investors (Manulife): Uncertainty clouding institutional investor outlook: report

Canadians trust financial advisors for their retirement planning (Fidelity): Advisors top list of retirement planning resources: survey

A look at the contributors to growth in robo-advice (BMO): ETFs played a role in robo growth, fee-based shift: report

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

Monday morning briefing – March 4, 2019

An in-depth look at how Amazon is entering the financial services industry. Eleven fintech firms to keep an eye on. How to attract high-net-worth investors. The four key pillars to help protect your company against cyberattacks. And much more in this week’s briefing.

Economic/industry news

International Economic Data Snapshot – includes aggregated data of the worldwide economy: Snapshot: International economic data

U.S. GDP grew 2.6%, annualized, in the fourth quarter: Fourth-quarter GDP increases 2.6%, better than expected

Canadian GDP growth slowed to 0.4%, annualized, in the fourth quarter: Canadian economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter

Canada’s inflation rate fell to 1.4% in January: Canada’s inflation rate falls to 15-month lows on lower gas prices

Global ESG ETFs experienced $730 million of inflows during January: Global inflows into ESG ETFs steady in January

The Financial Conduct Authority found fee disclosures lacking: U.K. Regulator zeroes in on asset managers’ fee disclosures

Bondholders could benefit as companies fear a downgrade: No BBB bust as $140 billion bet on fallen angels is ‘overpriced’

What retirement will look like in the future: 5 trends that could reshape retirement

The challenges of an index becoming more concentrated: S&P 500? More like the S&P 50

A look at four major real estate markets: What’s driving demand in global real estate

News and notes (U.S.)

The Eurekahedge Hedge Fund Index rose 2.35% in January: Hedge funds record best January since 2006

Hedge funds more concentrated in managers’ best ideas: Never before has the fate of hedge funds turned on so few stocks

Hedge fund assets rose despite redemptions: Hedge fund assets up in January as performance offsets investor redemptions

It could be another strong year for PE fundraising: Here’s why 2019 could be another fundraising boom year for US PE

Cost-cutting alone cannot help companies grow: The lesson of The Kraft Heinz nosedive: Radical cost-cutting is out, brands are back

A comprehensive look at women in VC: The VC female founders dashboard

Fidelity has expanded its multi-factor ETF lineup: Fidelity debuts three multifactor ETFs

Another vote on Brexit could be helpful: Carlyle’s David Rubenstein wants second Brexit vote as UK PE deals dwindle

Mutual fund assets rose 5.3% in January: Mutual funds add $947 billion in assets in January

News and notes (Canada)

Mackenzie launched three more liquid alt funds: Mackenzie introduces liquid alt funds

Franklin Templeton launched three ETF portfolios: Franklin Templeton enters ETF portfolio fray

The BoC proposed reforms to the Canadian Dollar Overnight Repo Rate Average: Bank of Canada unveils benchmark reform proposals

The OSC declined a Bitcoin fund application from 3iQ: Regulators refuse proposed Bitcoin fund amid investor protection concerns

Canadian mutual fund assets grew in January, despite net redemptions: Mutual funds saw $53 million in net redemptions for January

Tips to successfully invest in your RRSP: 6 rules for successful RRSP investing

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

Automating testing can have a big impact on the success of a digital transformation: Driving a successful digital transformation strategy

Canadian’s usage of alternative payment tools has increased 14% since 2016: Canadians are increasingly choosing alternative payment tools

The growth of payment alternatives will bring new and complex regulatory requirements: Harnessing regtech to build payments reputation

An in-depth look at how Amazon is entering the financial services industry: Everything you need to know about what Amazon is doing in financial services

Financial services companies are expanding their use of AI: The world’s biggest banks are doubling down on artificial intelligence

Cybersecurity spending expected to grow: Cybersecurity spending to reach $223.7 billion by 2024, says Rethink

The four key pillars to help protect your company against cyberattacks: Four steps in cyber risk management

UOB integrating AI to speed up loan process: UOB applies AI to transactional data to speed up loan approvals for SMEs

11 fintech firms to keep an eye on: Fintech focus – 11 to watch now

Retail shopping through virtual reality and blockchain: The convergence of blockchain and online VR retailing

High-net-worth topics

The high-net-worth demand personalization: Themes from the 2019 U.S. Millionaire Report: Personalization

How to attract high-net-worth investors: You don’t need a Super Bowl ad to attract high-net-worth clients

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Global corporate debt reached $13 trillion at the end of 2018 (OECD): Why corporate debt is a risk to the global economy

The majority of economists expect a recession in the U.S. by the end of 2021 (National Association for Business Economics): 75% of business economists expect a US recession by 2021: survey

Women don’t believe they will be able to afford their desired lifestyle in retirement (RBC): A third of Canadian women not confident about maintaining lifestyle in retirement: survey

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

Wednesday morning briefing – January 2, 2019

Creating an excellent customer experience will deliver solid financial results for banks. Private equity expected to surpass hedge funds in terms of assets over the next few years. The high-net-worth are looking for tax-efficient, and legal, options. Tightening monetary policy and sustainability among the themes to watch in 2019. And more in this week’s briefing. Enjoy!

Economic/industry news 

International Economic Data Snapshot – includes aggregated data of the worldwide economy: Snapshot: International economic data

The U.S. Federal Reserve Board raises its target range to between 2.25% and 2.50%: Fed raises interest rates, signals more hikes ahead

U.S. and Chinese officials to discuss trade in early January: U.S. and China said to hold trade talks in Beijing in early January

Canada’s economy expanded 0.3% in October: Canada’s economy grew 0.3% in October

The focus on the Fed may change from interest rates to its balance sheet: Markets signal 2019 focus will be Fed’s balance-sheet unwind

Could 2019 be the year for emerging markets’ outperformance?: Emerging markets expected to outperform in 2019 (for real this time)

Finding investment opportunities as the number of seniors in Canada rise: Opportunities for institutional investors in an aging society

Education will be key as liquid alternatives are set to formally launch on January 3: AIMA prepares for investment ‘sea change’

Canadian mutual funds experienced $2.4 billion of net redemptions in November: Mutual fund sales slump continued in November

Canadian ETF assets rose to $160.9 billion in November: Canadian ETF assets up in November

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

Real-time payments generating interest from large technology firms: Big tech companies throw their support behind Fed-run real-time payments network

Creating an excellent customer experience will deliver solid financial results for banks: Customer experience has massive impact on banking providers’ bottom line 

Some key trends to watch out for in the banking industry: What’s in store for banks in 2019?

According to McKinsey, here are the key fintech trends that you need to know: Synergy and disruption: Ten trends shaping fintech

 Here are the top fintech startups in New York: Top 20 fintech startups in New York

Demand for regtech solutions expected to grow: Demand for regtech solutions to intensify as regulatory burden looms larger

 Insurance executives should keep these key insurtech questions in mind during 2019: 5 insurtech questions for 2019

Despite the rise of robo-advisors, human financial advisors still play an extremely important part in financial advisory: Why we still want humans, and not (just) robots, to invest our money

Using technology to identify potential credit risks: ING develops early warning system for credit risk

Banks are making substantial progress as innovative organizations: From innovation theatre to real innovation

Automating the office: 5 business uses of voice based virtual assistants

CI acquires majority stake in WealthBar: CI enters robo game with WealthBar acquisition

News and notes (U.S.)

Hedge funds fell 0.28% in November: Barclay Hedge Fund Index down 0.28 per cent in November 

Hedge funds experienced outflows in November: Hedge funds see third consecutive month of outflows in November

Private equity expected to surpass hedge funds in terms of assets over the next few years: What lies ahead for the hedge fund industry?

Take-private deals could grow in 2019: Expect the number of take-privates in the US to spike in 2019

Alternative investments could provide an opportunity for growth in an investor’s portfolio: Looking for growth? Consider the alternatives

Private equity managers perform better when they aren’t rushed to make deals: Faster isn’t better for private equity managers

A look back at the VC industry in 2018: 60 big things: Scandals, scooters and the year that was in VC

Investors want to see innovation in cost management: How fund managers are innovating around fees

Regulatory issues that broker-dealers need to keep top-of-mind in 2019: Regulatory changes to watch: Taxes, retirement, fiduciary rules

Changes coming to fund-of-funds?: SEC proposes rule changes for fund of funds arrangements

What we can learn from 2008 in 2018: Lessons from 2008 for 2018

These were the 10 largest ETF launches in 2018: Biggest ETF launches of the year 

Weekly outflows from mutual funds accelerate: ETFs gain $25.2B while mutual funds lose $56B

High-net-worth topics

Hedge fund-like strategies to help the high-net-worth navigate through market volatility: UBS Wealth’s hedge fund-like playbook to beat market mayhem

Helping the high-net-worth preserve their wealth: How to hold on to the wealth you’ve got

The high-net-worth are looking for tax-efficient, and legal, options: Offshore tax scandals haven’t deterred HNW investors: report

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Tightening monetary policy and sustainability among the themes to watch in 2019 (Mercer): Four investing themes will shape financial markets in 2019: Mercer

Slower growth expected for the Canadian economy (Vanguard): Canadian outlook skewed toward the downside, says Vanguard

Canadians looking to pay down debt in 2019 (CIBC): Canadians say paying down debt is top priority in 2019: Poll

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

Monday morning briefing – November 26. 2018

The names you need to know in fintech. Activist investors in Europe keying in on the U.K. industrials sector. Why states around the world should consider issuing cryptocurrencies supported by their central bank. And much more in this week’s briefing.

Economic/industry news 

International Economic Data Snapshot – includes aggregated data of the worldwide economy: Snapshot: International economic data

Canada’s inflation rate rises again:Canada inflation ticks up, central bank seen keeping rates steady

Japan’s economy contracts in the third quarter: Japan GDP: Natural disasters hit economic growth

Could there be changes to the BoC’s mandate to keep prices stable?: Bank of Canada plans thorough review of inflation targeting

Protecting your portfolio against the next recession: The next recession is coming: Here’s how to protect your portfolio

A look at the currency market: How currency differs from other asset classes

Canadian ETF assets fell in October: Canadian ETF assets lower in October

The number of distinct indexes rose by 12% in 2018: Number of indexes on the rise, led by fixed income: report

Sir Ronald Cohen on the importance and outlook for impact investing: Impact investing: A multitrillion-dollar market in the making

Businesses should focus on the new, “circular economy”: ING Portfolio focuses on financing for sustainable economy


On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

Fully transitioning to digital is much more than just a mobile app: Are you really ‘doing digital’?

Customer centricity vital for the banks of the future: It pays to be personalised

How to manage your cloud infrastructure: Managing cloud infrastructure post-migration – a CTO guide

The names you need to know in fintech: Fintech finance’s power players

Technology could help private bankers become more productive: Making private bankers more productive

Open banking not well known or understood by end consumers: Open banking slow burn means just 22% of consumers have heard of the concept

Starling Bank launches Client Money Accounts, helping professional practices that hold money on behalf of their clients: Starling Bank launches CASS-compliant accounts helping firms manage third-party funds

Regtech will be an important component for the future success of financial institutions: Saxo Bank on why regtech is key to scalability in financial services

How to be innovative in the insurance industry: How to become an innovator in insurtech

Capital One purchases WikiBuy: Capital One buys online shopping comparison startup

Many firms don’t believe that they are resilient enough to combat cyberattacks: Cyber security implementation: firms want it, but less do it, finds survey

BitSpread launches BitSpread Financial Solutions, designed for investing in blockchain assets: BitSpread launches new financial solutions division

Why states around the world should consider issuing cryptocurrencies supported by their central bank: IMF: Nations need to consider a central bank backed cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies may not be banned in India: A ray of hope for cryptocurrencies as India readies draft regulations


News and notes (U.S.)

The Barclay CTA Index fell in October: Barclay CTA Index loses 1.29 per cent in October

Hedge fund assets fell to $3.06 trillion in September: Hedge funds redemptions surge to $39.1 billion in September, highest in more than 5 years

Management expenses no longer a tax break for hedge fund investors: Hedge fund investors lose key tax break for management expenses

Activist investors in Europe keying in on the U.K. industrials sector: Industrials are No1 target sector for activist investors in Europe

Secondaries still generating a lot of interest: Why secondaries fundraising is surging

Morgan Stanley launches new advisory platform, WealthDesk: Morgan Stanley unveils new advisory platform

AllianceBernstein to purchase Autonomous Research: AllianceBernstein announces offer to acquire Autonomous Research 

Further trade tensions between the U.S. and China could hurt the stock market: Expect more stock market losses if US-China trade war worsens 

Long-term funds experienced $29.1 billion of outflows in October: Morningstar: Passive equity funds gain, actives lose big

An interview with Abigail Johnson and Kathleen Murphy of Fidelity: The most powerful woman in fund management gives a rare interview


High-net-worth topics

High-net-worth investors expect further equity market declines: The equity party’s ending, say wealthy investors

How Tiger 21 helps the ultra-rich: Tiger 21 philosophy: Learn from your (very wealthy) peers

Life insurance can help reduce estate taxes, but not eliminate taxes entirely: Can HNW clients still use life insurance as a tax and financial tool?


Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Canadian investors have trouble understanding the concept of risk and return (Natixis): Investors may have an unrealistic understanding of risk and return: survey

Over the next 25 years, $68 trillion of wealth will be passed on to younger generations (Cerulli): Generational wealth transfer to hit $68 trillion over 25 years: Cerulli

Correlating share value with ESG ratings (MSCI): Are ESG ratings the new credit rating for stock prices?


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

From FOMO to tweetstorm, how to handle newer words in your firm’s content

The English language is constantly evolving – and that’s a wonderful thing.

It also means that new words are constantly entering the lexicon, which can confuse readers unless these words are introduced properly.

So, should you add that new word to your writer’s vocabulary? The answer depends on who you’re writing for.

The difference between young adults and tweetstorms

The terms “young adult” and “live blog” were just added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, but you wouldn’t bat an eye at seeing them in print today. In fact, by the time a new term makes it into the dictionary, it’s generally already in common use.

On the other hand, just because you can find something in the dictionary, doesn’t mean it belongs in your writing.

Whether you’re writing a formal whitepaper or an informal blog post, you can feel pretty comfortable about using the term “young adult” at this point.

But what about “tweetstorm,” “crowdsourcing” or “FOMO”? Even if you’re sure your audience will understand these newer terms, most formal types of communication aren’t quite ready for them.

If you’re aiming for a friendly, conversational tone, go ahead and use newer terms to liven up your writing. Just be sure that the term is relevant and that you always define it in first use if you’re audience won’t understand it. (You may need to point out that FOMO means “fear of missing out.”)

Go ahead and use newer terms to liven up your writing. Just be sure that the term is relevant and that you always define it in first use if you’re audience won’t understand it.

New words in formal prose

Even in a more formal context, new words enter the lexicon. We’re seeing terms like “blockchain” and “regtech” increasingly showing up in whitepapers and brochures. These aren’t terms most people were familiar with a few years ago, but now they’ve entered the mainstream.

That means avoiding them in your writing could be a challenge. And if you’re in the financial services industry, it wouldn’t make much sense. Do, however, take the time to define these types of newer terms unless you’re sure your audience will know what they mean.

Remember that people outside of your industry may need more time to pick up industry-specific terminology.

Looking for writing help? Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

Get mindful about your hedge fund marketing

Launching and managing a hedge fund pulls you in many different directions. You’re juggling countless priorities, such as performance goals, research and analysis, meetings and conference calls, just to name a few. It’s hard to take a step back to gain perspective while all of this is going on.

Here’s the challenge: if you’re looking to create great marketing materials for your hedge fund – which you’ll need to do to succeed in this challenging environment – you need a deeper perspective. That’s where mindfulness comes in.

Mindfulness is about connecting with the present moment and making sense of the ongoing stress in our personal and professional lives.

Practicing mindfulness helps you redirect your focus, allowing you to regain awareness of your body, mind and environment. “Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing,” said Jon Kobat-Zinn, better known as the founder of modern mindfulness.1

Mindfulness and hedge fund marketing go hand in hand. Here’s how:

Helps view your fund from investors’ eyes

Great marketing speaks directly to your audience, typically investors and allocators. You need to see the features and benefits of your hedge fund from their eyes, not just your own.

Because mindfulness helps you slow down and be present, it helps you detach from conflicting points of view and lets you see your fund through a different lens.

“Learn to train your mind like you train you body, and begin to re-wire your brain to be more calm, more productive, more creative.” –Kirstin Broderick, Founder, North Scale, Leadership Development and Performance Management Training

Sharpens your focus on key messages

Marketing focuses your message on the most compelling aspects of your offering, better known as your unique value proposition or “edge.” This can be tough if you’re too deeply involved in the nitty-gritty of managing your fund.

Mindfulness, however, redirects your point of view and, in turn, helps you isolate the key messages that you want to your audience to understand.

Nurtures your creative marketing side

Given that mindfulness makes you more aware, you may be compelled to eat better and take more breaks. It also slows down your thoughts and nervous system, helping you avoid excessive stress.

Ultimately, it strengthens your body and mind, and re-energizes your creative efforts, which are key to effective hedge fund marketing.2

Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or for a deeper perspective on your hedge fund marketing efforts.

1 Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, 2005.

2 Thrive Global, How Mindfulness Can Change Your Marketing Activities as An Entrepreneur Forever, 2017.

A great pitchbook is important to every hedge fund manager’s success

Raising capital to launch a hedge fund isn’t easy. No matter how experienced you and your team are, or how great an investment philosophy or strategy you have, there’s always plenty of competition when selling your idea.

Having a great pitchbook can help. Here are four good reasons why:

Helps you stand out from the crowd

When you meet with investors, chances are they’ll have already met with a number of other managers before you that day. And further, chances are they’ll be meeting with many more managers afterwards.

That’s just what investors do. The most important way you can cut through the clutter is by being confident, having a strong message, and then leaving them with a pitchbook that looks great, reads well and truly reflects what you do.

Tells people a lot more about your firm than you can in a one-hour meeting

With the number of new and novel investment strategies introduced each year, hedge funds have gotten more complex.

Chances are an hour isn’t enough time to fully explain your history, investment strategy, process, etc. to investors. And getting into the weeds is often a fast track to losing your audience. It’s best to give them a solid overview in your meeting, and then leave a great pitchbook behind so they have all the details they need afterwards.

Something to remember you by

We’ve all been there. After an afternoon of meetings before you arrive, an investor may just not be as attentive as you’d like during your pitch. And you leave feeling like your message didn’t get through to them because they’re too busy thinking about what they should do for dinner.

A professionally built pitchbook can help you tell your story through strong copy and elegant design, and is something they’ll likely remember long after they’ve eaten dinner that night.

Shows you’re totally committed to your company

The investors you meet with have likely seen hundreds of pitchbooks that were hastily written by managers who had other priorities and that were designed by a nephew in college.

A professionally written and designed pitchbook shows investors that you have put in the effort to think through your firm and its funds, and are committed to building the strongest company with the strongest brand. Those things really do matter to people who are trusting you with their – and their clients’ – capital.

It’s never been more important to have a great pitchbook help tell your story. Please contact ext. today at 1.844.243.1830, 416.925.1700 or to see how great your pitchbook can be.

5 tips for creating stronger infographics

It can be difficult to communicate complex ideas or hold a reader’s interest in number and/or text-heavy documents.

This is especially true when it comes to financial services marketing, where it’s important that we clearly communicate the hard facts that support our messages.

Infographics are a great solution. They can take complex concepts like financial market trends, demographic changes or asset class performances, and make them instantly understandable through the visual shorthand of colours and shapes.

Through the use of numbers and graphics, infographics are easy-to-understand tools that quickly relay important information to your audience. Here are five key ways to make your next infographic stronger:

Stay focused

It’s important to keep your infographic streamlined and focused on a single topic. It’s not an opportunity to pack in a collection of unrelated facts and figures. Instead, try to isolate the most important point you want to make – and drive that point home through your infographic. Other important topics can be covered in future infographics.

It’s important to keep your infographic streamlined and focused on a single topic.

Simplicity is key

Infographics are beneficial because they can visually represent advanced information in simple, understandable ways. But they can easily become a complex overload of icons, graphics and fonts, which muddy and distract your reader from key messages. Simple is better, so let your main point shine through by sticking to just a few visual elements.

Know your audience

Successful infographics adopt a style and address interests specific to their intended audience. You can miss the mark by focusing on irrelevant concerns or too wide an audience. Figure out who you’re speaking to – e.g., professionals, Millennials, retirees – and craft your infographic accordingly.

Figure out who you’re speaking to – e.g., professionals, Millennials or retirees – and craft your infographic accordingly.

Size matters

Infographics may be resized a lot before being finalized. For instance, they may be designed large but compressed later for the web, which can hurt readability in the process. Make sure viewers can easily see the smallest fonts and images, no matter the format.

Pick a solid headline

Just like great articles, great infographics have strong headlines that capture attention and draw readers in.

Some key elements to remember when creating a great infographic: use an active voice over passive one, keep it short enough to understand and include a benefit to your intended audience.

Next time you have an important concept you need to share that involves complex information, try an infographic to get your message out there loud and clear.

And remember to ask us how you can make your next infographic even stronger by making it animated.

Need help crafting an interesting and easy-to-read infographic? Contact us today at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

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Provide an experience clients won’t soon forget

Modernizing an education brand

A fresh, modern look. A brand to drive the business forward. Capturing the energy of your leadership in the industry. These are some of the goals of a rebranding project.

IFSE Institute recently underwent a successful rebrand, and we sat down with Christina Ashmore, Managing Director, and Fatema Nazarali, Director of Sales and Business Development, to uncover the best practices they implemented to take the IFSE Institute brand to the next level.

ext.: The new brand looks great. Can you tell us a bit about why you chose to rebrand IFSE Institute?

Christina Ashmore: Over the past few years, IFSE Institute has really come into its own in terms of the relationship with the brand of its parent company, The Investment Funds Institute of Canada (“IFIC”).

We had a challenge with name recognition despite exceptional loyalty among our clients and IFSE’s great reputation in the industry.

At a practical level, we needed to standardize our look and feel, given that the many small changes made throughout our history had led to inconsistencies.

“We had a challenge with name recognition despite exceptional loyalty among our clients and IFSE’s great reputation in the industry.”

ext.: Can you tell us about your rebranding process?

Fatema Nazarali: Given that we wanted to modernize the look and feel of IFSE Institute and bring the company into the future, we took a comprehensive approach and started from the ground up.

Our first step was to ask probing questions about what we wanted our brand to convey. This was long before we thought about the minutia of creating a nice, new website. We asked questions regarding how we wanted to be positioned in the industry as ourselves and among competitors.

All of our branding work needed to be in line with our strategic mission and play to the strength of the organization; namely, exceptional customer service and a high-value education.

And from here the agency started working with us on developing our key messaging framework.

“Our branding work needed to be in line with our strategic mission and play to the strength of the organization.”

ext.: Did you face any challenges along the way?

Christina: One of the biggest challenges early on was finding the time to get everyone involved. We knew we wanted to get everyone’s buy-in at all stages and show the team what we were trying to achieve. We regularly showed the team how the work was progressing and asked for their feedback on creative.

Getting the whole team involved was a great experience. They provided valuable insights as we developed the creative. We believe it helped the team to embrace the new brand.

“Getting the whole team involved was a great experience. They provided valuable insights as we developed the creative. We believe it helped the team to embrace the new brand.”

Cost is obviously a challenge. So, you need to lay out the strategy from beginning to end and request customized solutions when required. While measuring the return on investment for branding is difficult, it’s important to remember that revenue generation is not immediate and there are many intangible benefits to consider. It’s definitely worth the effort.

ext.: Why did you decide to work with an agency for the rebrand?

Fatema: We recognized that we needed marketing expertise to be able to execute a rebrand strategy. By working with an agency, we could stay focused on our day-to-day deliverables and strategic goals without needing to add headcount.

“We could stay focused on our day-to-day deliverables and strategic goals.”

Our agency ensured we asked the right questions up front, long before jumping into execution. They set up the branding strategy and helped identify where we wanted to be positioned and who we were targeting.

Given the uniqueness of the financial services industry, we needed to work with a team that had specialized knowledge. They knew our clients and business partners, and were able to tie everything together seamlessly and on point.

ext.: How has the new brand been received?

Christina: The new brand has been very well received. It’s elevated our professionalism and demonstrated to the industry that we’re taking the company to the next level.

“It’s elevated our professionalism and demonstrated to the industry that we’re taking the company to the next level.”

More than ever before, people are asking to keep our brochures in their office. The new brand has really strengthened client confidence and loyalty.

Fatema: Internally, too, there’s been a strong reception. The IFSE team takes great pride in the new brand and the company. The rebrand was a positive experience for everyone involved.

Visit to check out the new brand.

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Breaking down blockchain’s progress and potential

Editorial calendars: our content lifeline

We deliver ongoing content – e.g., blog posts, emails and newsletters – for many of our clients.

As a result, we manage a number of editorial calendars at the same time. And we love them.

Editorial calendars are our lifeline for content – they provide direction and insight day after day, week after week, month after month.

Here are a few stories about content calendars and how they’ve helped us.

Fresh content for a “new” campaign

One of our longstanding clients was launching a campaign targeted at people who are new to the country. Since we had already created and maintained a calendar that included months of content for this client, we needed to ensure that their new campaign aligned with the client’s editorial strategy.

An editorial calendar came in handy for a couple of reasons. First, we found out we had already scheduled some social media posts that would be perfect for the new campaign – with a few tweaks, of course. This fully integrated view saved time and money, and allowed us to pivot nimbly to accommodate new key messages. Otherwise, the potential of these posts may have been totally overlooked.

Second, when we added the new campaign, we could see how the pre-planned content would need to be designed to reflect holidays, industry events, etc. That way, we could ensure our client’s messages were deployed at optimal times.

And we were able to quickly assess the consequences of shifting existing messages, ensuring that the new campaign was seamlessly incorporated, with minimal risk to our client’s existing messages and objectives.

Years in, and still growing

Another ext. client has been building an industry-leading content hub. You can visit this hub and find insights into almost every single financial issue you could face. It’s remarkable, really. And, after years of producing content for this hub, we’re still going strong.

On one hand, the editorial calendar – with keywords, themes, titles and summaries – ensures we don’t repeat ourselves. We’re able to avoid any redundancies in content – except where we intentionally want to reinforce a particular theme or concept.

On the other hand, it helps us identify if and when we’ve neglected keywords, themes, etc., ensuring we stay focused on our audience’s needs. With a well-maintained calendar, these strategic gaps are easy to identify. Our client appreciates when we’re able to call out a neglected area, and give it some attention.

Finally, an editorial calendar is powerful tool to help us secure buy-in from our client on topics ahead of time, ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

Shoes for the shoemaker’s children

We’ve been running this blog since 2012. There’s a lot of brainstorming and inspiration that comes from the work we do. But of course, finding fresh content week after week can be challenging when you’re focused on your clients. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword that many firms face.

An editorial calendar gives us focus. It allows us to quickly switch gears from our client work to content that helps us win and maintain clients. We know more than anyone that it’s important to produce engaging and informative content our clients are interested in. We spend very little time struggling with a blank screen at ext.

What else can we say? Get working on your editorial calendar today, especially if you don’t have one.

Let us help you with your content needs. Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

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Why (and how) you should take a stand with your content

Why (and how) you should take a stand with your content

Taking a stand with your content may sound like a scary prospect for financial services professionals. Let’s be honest, presenting your best (and polished) self is the norm and revealing how you really feel, imperfections and all, seems like it may damage your reputation.

It won’t. The financial services industry is going through the same massive changes that all industries are grappling with and making a real connection is now expected from your clients and prospects.

Be authentic

People immediately see through inauthentic content, so be the real you. Inauthentic sounds scripted and it sounds like it’s been repeated many times before.

People immediately see through inauthentic content, so be the real you.

Authentic content, on the other hand, shows that you have something most people feel is now missing in the financial services industry … a heart. Your opinion on an issue, expressed in your voice, is unique and people with appreciate it.

Be client focused

Whatever you decide to focus your content efforts on, make sure your current (or ideal) audience is interested as well. So take a stand on an issue that matters to your clients and prospects.

To start, find out what inspires or concerns them. How? Ask. You can ask for feedback online, in person or, if you have a list of people who have signed up, through email. Review the responses and see if any of the issues that matter to your audience matter to you as well.

Be interesting

Don’t underestimate the power of being interesting. When it comes to content, being boring may even be worse than being wrong. We all make mistakes … but once you’re boring, you’re always boring.

By taking a stand your voice will inevitably shine through. When you focus on an issue that gets your heart racing and stirs up emotions, you’ll have fun. Your audience will feel the same way.

When you focus on an issue that gets your heart racing and stirs up emotions, you’ll have fun. Your audience will feel the same way.

Be motivated

We know this for a fact: producing content over the long haul is a real test of your will power. On those days when you feel like you’ve run out of ideas, you’ll be thankful you can produce content that interests you.

If you care about your content, you’ll stay committed to it; week in and week out.

Some issues that matter

Don’t know where to start? Here are just a handful of financial and social issues that matter to many savers and investors:

  • Socially responsible investing
  • Low fees
  • Fiduciary responsibility
  • Retiring well
  • Gender equality
  • Animal rights
  • Environmental protection

Do any of them align with your beliefs? If so, start brainstorming and see if you’re interested in producing content that explores these issues.

The world’s most successful financial services firms choose us for their content initiatives. Contact us to find out why: 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

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Ask for the easy yes

Email signature best practices


Short content? Long content? Let’s discuss what’s best.

What’s the ideal length for a blog post? What about a whitepaper? An email?

Here at ext., the right length for any piece is always being debated. The conversation starts with: what type of content is better suited to short, snappy writing versus longer, more heady writing?

The obvious response is: “It depends.” And we totally agree.

So, let’s walk through a few examples of the work we’ve done recently to figure out why we decided to keep it short and sweet or to go deep and detailed.

Short content – calls to action can dictate length

A very big bank recently approached us to write a series of articles for ultra-high-net-worth business owners. At first blush, we thought this audience would want more detail.

After our meetings with key stakeholders, we uncovered that the call to action wasn’t to ask for more information directly from the advisor but to set up a meeting with a team of in-house specialists.

If we went into too much detail, the advisor might be expected to know highly complicated tax and business planning strategies, which isn’t a fair ask.

To keep the message clear, we kept it short and highlighted key ideas. We also included some thought-provoking questions.

Long content – complex analogies require direction

We recently wrote a speech for the CEO of an investment firm. Sometimes clients request only bullets if the speaker is a pro. In this case, the CEO was very confident and preferred to speak “off the cuff.”

After going through the briefing process and interviewing key stakeholders, however, we realized that the CEO wanted to make some complex connections between ideas.

Despite being a great speaker, elucidating on these connections could be challenging in the moment. Rather than structuring the speech in point form, we decided to provide sufficient details and delivered a final speech that was about 20 pages long.

Short content – one idea, many pieces

An investment firm asked us to create an article that simplified the complex strategies employed by a portfolio manager.

This kind of writing is what we love the most: helping investors make informed decisions about high-quality solutions.

After working our way through the discovery process, we recommended cutting the piece up into much smaller pieces. Short pieces of content that have one highly specific idea would be best. And they were.

Long content – complex ideas for a pro audience

A large, global asset manager engaged us to write a whitepaper for analysts.

This might seem like the most obvious example of long content, but just because people can go deep into a topic doesn’t mean they want to. Our challenge was to recognize the opportunity and figure out if the content matched the desired outcome.

After a number of interviews, we all agreed that the client had the time to read longer content. We went long, crafting a challenging whitepaper to help build the brand as thought leaders among a demanding audience.

There you have it. The ideal length for a piece of content really depends on the situation. What matters most is that you spend the time to engage all stakeholders, ask probing questions, apply what you’ve learned from previous projects and work with talented people who can produce what you need. Every time.

If you’re facing a content challenge right now, contact us today at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or We’d love to help you out!

Read more:

From FOMO to tweetstorm, how to handle newer words in your firm’s content

Feedback on passing along feedback to your writers

A modern take on the marketing brochure

Depending on your demographic profile, you may or may not be too familiar with the traditional marketing brochure.

Before the onset of digital marketing and social media, the marketing brochure was king in the financial services industry. Marketers usually created brochures to promote products like mutual funds or the latest life insurance innovation.

Typically eight to 12 pages and packed with information, detailed charts and comprehensive explanations about a product or service, the weighty brochure was the centrepiece of many marketing campaigns.

That was then and this is now

Fast-forward to today and the traditional brochure is more of a curiosity or relic than a staple of marketing plans. Who has the time or interest to slog through a massive document?

The traditional brochure is more of a curiosity or relic than a staple of marketing plans.

But, before you summarily dismiss the brochure, consider a few ways it has transformed to remain relevant:

1. Digital

Most brochures are now digital, though paper still has its place at times (with or without glossy covers, premium paper stock, etc.) and won’t disappear altogether. That said, the trend towards digital (particularly mobile-friendly) content continues to gain strength.

2. Deconstruct

In the digital world, brochures are deconstructed into content that’s more easily consumed. These chunks are perfect for social media as well. Throw in a short quiz or some polling questions and the piece becomes more interactive.

Deconstruct the brochure and chunk it out into content that’s more easily consumed.

3. Diversify

Since most brochures are now shorter, marketers have found other means to deliver the information they need to tell a compelling story.

Why devote a page to copy when an audio or video clip, or even an infographic, will do the trick? Linking to relevant material allows the motivated reader to explore the topic in more depth, with less disruption to the brochure’s flow.

4. (Less) Detail

There’s logic behind less-detailed brochures. The brochure should support the sales team – not make the sale!

It’s a handy tool for the sales team when broaching an important topic, starting a conversation and reinforcing their value while building relationships. Today’s brochure doesn’t tell the whole story; it teases out key points and helps drive the sales process.

Today’s brochure doesn’t tell the whole story; it teases out key points and helps drive the sales process.

So, the marketing brochure still has a place in financial services.

It’s evolved with the times, of course, but remains an effective, targeted way to promote important products, services, people or concepts.

Need some help creating impactful brochures that can help deliver business results? Contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.1830 or

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