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.


Communicating through a crisis is always difficult, but communicating through COVID-19 presents new challenges that many hedge fund managers haven’t faced before.

With travel restrictions and physical distancing measures still in being enforced, in-person pitches are out of the question. Instead, managers have to rely on their marketing materials to speak for them. But those materials might seem a bit stale today as a result of the speed and severity of the impact from COVID-19.

To stand out, hedge fund managers need a marketing strategy that can differentiate them as much as their strategy does. Managers who can be agile and find effective ways to capitalize on all available marketing channels will improve their chance of success in the post-COVID-19 world.

Here are some key areas to strengthen your communications strategy during (and after) this crisis:

Be clear about losses, while highlighting your recovery

When it comes to performance, it’s critical to be upfront about any large redemptions or material impacts to your firm as a result of the pandemic.

The chaotic market reaction to the virus caught many fund managers off-guard. Use this opportunity to talk about the lessons you have learned from this event, as well as the steps you have taken to reposition and/or recover losses.

If you have halted redemptions or if there were delays in filing requirements, be sure to state why that happened and how you are making improvements that are in your investors’ best interests. Along with your pitchbook, website or any marketing materials, it is important to have a strong, updated due diligence questionnaire to address any important changes you have made.

Demonstrate strength going forward

Be sure to describe any changes you have made – or additions you are going to make – to your team to help you navigate any future volatility that may occur. It may also be valuable to highlight whether you have more than one prime broker, or you are planning to add another prime, in an effort to minimize counterparty risk or diversify relationships in advance of any future market turmoil.

While COVID-19 has created unprecedented volatility, it has also shed light on new opportunities. If applicable to your fund, it’s important to convey how your strategy aligns with the evolving climate and can capitalize on potential growth opportunities. Is your strategy able to capitalize on market instability or identify companies unfairly punished by the pandemic? Do current or newer holdings have strong fundamentals that may lead to their potential rebound? If so, make sure your investors and prospects know that.

Diversify your connection with investors

The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the importance of using technology to communicate, particularly when it comes to keeping investors informed about their holdings. You might want to consider how you can make your marketing materials more dynamic and flexible enough to address any concerns your investors might have.

Beefing up investor-communication pages in your pitchbook or on your website is one way to accomplish this. These pages can provide details about the importance of regular communications and your commitment to keeping clients up to date.

Providing virtual reporting and Q&As on an annual or quarterly basis are great ways to engage investors. For a personal touch, your marketing can include links to infographics or short video clips of your founders or CIOs, providing assurance or illustrating how your strategy is managing this crisis.

Articulate operational strength

During uncertain periods, hedge funds need to re-visit and improve any language related to disaster recovery and business interruption. Is your team able to communicate in real-time via work-from-home tools, such as secure video conferencing, file sharing and so on? It may also be worthwhile to note any insurance you have for business interruption.

Key-person risk is another factor that should be noted. While the risk of an unexpected death and disability to a key decision-maker is always an important consideration, COVID-19 has added a new level of complexity to the story. If there is one key person at your firm, it is important to articulate your succession plan.

Our firm is experienced in helping hedge funds communicate their key messages.

Contact us today at or 1-844-243-1830 today for help with your pitchbook or other marketing strategies and tools.

Monday morning briefing – October 28, 2019

Will active managers become more activist? A look at volatility in the private markets. Interest in impact investing continues to rise. And much more in this week’s briefing.

Economic/industry news

The ECB held its central interest rate steady: ECB holds rates at historic lows as Mario Draghi waves farewell to Frankfurt

Canadian retail sales dropped in August: Retail sales fell slightly in August, Statistics Canada reports

Why growth has outperformed value: The real reason value has been lagging growth

A look at what will impact markets over the next few decades: Aging population top global investment trend, institutional investors say

Interest in factor investing on the rise: Factor investing strategies becoming more popular for fixed income: survey

Will active managers become more activist?: A Wall Street revolution: Why active fund managers have ‘stopped yawning and started flexing their muscles’

Gold’s comeback: The story behind gold’s resurgence

News and notes (U.S.)

A look at the hedge fund industry in September: State of the industry: September 2019

Hedge funds have experienced net redemptions in 2019: Hedge fund industry sees 6th consecutive quarter of outflows

Charles Schwab launches the Schwab Alternative Investment Marketplace: Schwab launches alts marketplace for advisors

Jeffrey Vinik closes hedge fund: Billionaire investor Jeffrey Vinik closes hedge fund less than a year after its relaunch

A look at volatility in the private markets: KKR: Private markets are much more volatile than they appear

U.S. executives believe M&A activity will be better next year: US M&A remains resilient despite market fears

A look at ETF flows in 2019: Where the ETF money flowed in 2019

News and notes (Canada)

Picton Mahoney to acquire funds from Vertex One: Picton Mahoney gains five funds from Vertex One

 New ETF from Mackenzie: Mackenzie launches emerging markets bond ETF

Mutual funds were in favour in September: Mutual fund sales soared in September

A look at the possible financial impact from a Liberal minority government: How a Liberal minority government could help, or hit, Canadians’ wallets

Learn about the head of the Canada Infrastructure Bank: A profile of Janice Fukakusa, chair of the Canada Infrastructure Bank

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

How finance can benefit from AI: What can AI and big data do for finance?

Four principles to launch unique products: 4 crucial steps to transform banking products for a fintech world

Partnership formed to launch fintech research unit: Fintech research unit founded by AMF, Finance Montreal

Why improving the onboarding process is crucial: Research shows banks could lose $22.75bn to slow onboarding

Alberta Investment Management Corp. using AI to predict stock price movements: Institutional investors turning to AI, data science to improve processes, yield alpha

Using API to better your business: How can organizations take advantage of the API economy?

Cyberattack discovered, focused on institutional investors: Cyber attack hits prominent hedge fund, endowment, and foundation

Wealthscope launched to help investors look at total portfolio diversification: New tool to help those accumulating and decumulating retirement assets

WealthBar acquires Snap Projections: WealthBar deepens financial-planning commitment with acquisition

Is there a place for blockchain in fintech?: Blockchain: Is it the future of fintech?

High-net-worth topics

The high-net-worth in the U.K. are concerned about the political landscape: Politics is more worrying than Brexit for Britain’s wealthy

Wealthy executives have specific needs from a financial advisor: What high-earning executives need, and aren’t getting, from advisors

 A look at the world’s ultrawealthy: Who are the ultrawealthy? These charts will give you an idea

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Interest in impact investing continues to rise (American Century): US, UK millennials embrace impact, ESG investing: Survey

Lacking knowledge of fixed income securities (BNY Mellon): Survey reveals severe lack of awareness on fixed income

Canada falling behind in dealing with climate risk (FTSE Russell): Canada’s climate readiness gets a thumb-down

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

Monday morning briefing – July 8, 2019

Bitcoin’s volatile June may impede the possibility of an ETF. Funds-of-hedge funds are making a comeback. Ontario to get 50 more cannabis retail stores. 5G technology will enhance digital banking capabilities. And much more in this week’s briefing.

Economic/industry news 

The Canadian unemployment rate rose to 5.5% in June: Canada’s jobs market pauses in June after monster start to year

The unemployment rate in the U.S. rose to 3.7% in June: Hiring rebounds as U.S. economy adds 224,000 jobs in June, unemployment rate inched up to 3.7 percent

Global equity issuance slow in the first half of 2019: Global equity issuance dives in the first half, Refinitiv reports

State Street launches ESG money market fund: State Street Global Advisors launches its first ESG money market fund

Christine Lagarde will become president of the ECB: Christine Lagarde: Key issues she must address at the ECB

Will more tariffs come to the EU?: U.S. proposes more tariffs on EU goods in Airbus-Boeing dispute

MSCI plans to add Kuwait to its emerging markets index: MSCI set to classify Kuwait as emerging market, subject to certain conditions 

News and notes (U.S.)

Funds-of-hedge funds are making a comeback: They’re baaaaack: The investment that’s making an unlikely comeback

Europe’s interest in alternative investments growing: Interest in alternative investments on the rise in Europe

PE firms looking to raise US$1 trillion in fundraising efforts: Private equity seeks almost $1 trillion globally

Venture capitalists keeping a keen eye on companies that move people and things: Wheeling & dealing: In 2019, VCs can’t stop funding mobility startups

Fixed income ETFs see record inflows in June: Fixed income ETF inflows surpassed $25B during June

Understanding the rules of Reg BI: SEC’s Reg BI adds unexpected fiduciary hurdle for retirement advisors

News and notes (Canada)

Canadian banks meeting global regulatory standards on net stable fund ratio: Reports find Canadian banks meet global standards

Ontario to get 50 more cannabis retail stores: Ontario to issue 50 new cannabis store licences, eight to go to First Nations

Value of Canadian defined benefit pension plans stable in the second quarter: Strong equity market performance helped DB plans in Q2

Project Reconciliation preparing bid for the Trans Mountain pipeline: Indigenous group says Trans Mountain bid could be ready next week

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

Using data to drive the personalized customer experience: Digital changes customer engagement playbook for financial institutions

New associations will be important to drive fintech forward: We’re all in this together – The Value of associations in fintech 

5G technology will enhance digital banking capabilities: Banking in 5G: Why financial marketers should care (now)

A look at the challenges and opportunities of AI in banking: AI in banking: The pitfalls and opportunities (research paper)

Understanding Intelligent Spend Management: Intelligent Spend Management and the evolution of procurement

Here are 10 payment start-up companies that you need to know about: 10 payments start-ups to watch

NatWest experiments with live chats on mobile, tablet and PC: NatWest trials video banking service for business customers

Online payment startups are focusing on these sectors: What sectors do online payment startups try to target?

Giving businesses unlimited access to their PayPal account: PayPal launches its first UK debit card with unlimited cash back for businesses

Bitcoin’s volatile June may impede the possibility of an ETF: Bitcoin’s wild June is ‘slam dunk’ against crypto ETF approval

High-net-worth topics

Ways business owners can save for retirement: Eight things business owners can do to build up funds for after retirement

Financial planning for families with assets in multiple countries: Cultivating foreign clients

How insurance can mitigate some of the risk for high-net-worth investors: The secret key to protecting your client’s wealth

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Professional accountants are bullish on the Canadian economy (CPA): Business leaders feel better about the economy: survey

Canada’s economic growth is dependent on global economic conditions (Russell Investments): Canadian economy not immune to outside forces: report

Why India might be a good source of investment returns (Manulife): Investors chasing higher returns can’t skip India, Manulife says

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 – May 27, 2019

Socially responsible investing by hedge funds on the rise. Using branches to help with a bank’s digital strategy. Institutional investors prepared for a market downturn. And much more in this week’s briefing.

Economic/industry news

The Japanese economy expanded 0.5% in the first quarter of 2019: Japan’s Q1 GDP: The details are worrisome

Will we see an interest rate cut by the Fed?: David Rosenberg says U.S. will cut rates by end of summer

Assets in passive and active U.S. equity funds at US$4.3 trillion each: Passive fund assets draw even with active incumbents in U.S.

U.S. ETF that pays investors will put pressure on fund fees: Fund fees face added pressure with first U.S. fund that pays investors

There were US$45.94 billion of net inflows into global ETFs in April: Global ETF assets reached US$5.57 trillion last month

News and notes (U.S.)

Asian, emerging markets and event driven hedge funds attracting assets: Event driven, Asia, emerging markets hedge funds are big asset winners in April and YTD

Socially responsible investing by hedge funds on the rise: Hedge funds start to figure out socially responsible investing

Appaloosa LP to convert to a family office: David Tepper’s hedge fund days are coming to a close (one day)

PE exits declined in the first quarter of 2019: Exit activity nosedives for PE firms in 1Q

Investors concerned about the return potential from private markets: Private equity loses luster

Possible changes expected to the tax treatment of carried interest profits: Mnuchin says no plan to change carried interest tax treatment

Vanguard launches first actively managed ESG fund: Vanguard’s first actively managed ESG fund now open for investment

News and notes (Canada)

Allianz Group invests $100 million in Wealthsimple: Allianz makes ‘landmark’ investment in Wealthsimple

Purpose launches options ETF: Purpose launches new options ETF

Canadian mutual funds experienced $1.0 billion of outflows in April: ETF sales trump mutual funds in April

Canadian debt levels continue to rise: CMHC says Canadian debt levels hit record highs at end of last year

Canadian executives expect strong revenue growth this year: Economic optimism underpins strong M&A market

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

Using branches to help with a bank’s digital strategy: Don’t abandon branches to favor digital banking channels

Outages causing problems for open banking: Open banking revolution on hold as banks fail to prioritise fixing outages

Banks spending heavily in digital transformation to ward off the threat from fintech firms:Banks waking up to fintech threat throw billions into digital

How artificial intelligence can help banks: How AI will supercharge bank and credit union innovation

 The top 20 countries in AI readiness: UK near top of AI index

Attracting the Gen Z client: Are you focused on the right customer?

Trade AI Engine will provide a better experience for trade processing: Standard Chartered rolls out Trade AI Engine

Revolut launches group feature for its vault account: Revolut launches Group Vaults as an alternative to joint accounts

HSBC opens artificial intelligence lab: HSBC opens global data lab in Toronto

High-net-worth topics

What wealthy clients want from an advisor: How advisors can stand out to wealthy clients

A look at philanthropy from the CEO of the Center for Effective Philanthropy: What Wall Street gets wrong about giving

Cash holdings on the rise for the ultra-wealthy: A group of superrich investors, spooked by China and potential ‘black swans,’ raises cash to levels not seen in years

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Institutional investors prepared for a market downturn (Wilshire): Institutional investors think they’re ready for the next downturn

Approximately 50% of investment managers are using alternative data (IHS Markit): Half of investment managers use alternative data: report

Investment professionals bullish on U.S. equity markets (SPDR): Investors still confident in mid-2019, but risk tolerance dips

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

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

Hedge funds need great websites to connect with investors

We’re well into a promising new era of hedge fund marketing that began when the SEC ended an 80-year-old ban in 2013 that prevented private funds from broadly advertising their services.

Hedge funds used to be limited in how they promoted themselves online. But if you’re running a hedge fund or in the process of launching one, you now have the internet at your disposal to better communicate your message and connect with investors.

If you think your current digital strategy and your hedge fund’s website design could use some work, or if you’re on the fence about having a website at all, here are some important points to consider.

Build credibility and trust

If you’re focused on institutional investors, allocators or other well-informed groups, they’re no doubt researching funds online before meeting with you. In fact, 61% of B2B customers start their analysis with a general web search and 56% start directly on specific company websites.1

Having a professional website is your opportunity to immediately express who and what is behind your fund and, in turn, build a level of trust that’s essential with sophisticated audiences.

Be noticed and stay above the fray

If your peers have tapped into the power of search engine optimization (“SEO”), then you need a well-constructed site that can be found too.

This can mean the difference between being noticed or buried by a host of other competing fund messages. Case in point, 75% of users don’t bother clicking the second page of search results, so staying above the fray with a compelling, searchable site is critical.2

Enhance your brand and sales efforts

Hedge fund branding remains a pivotal part of the industry. Aside from pitches, a great website may be the most important way to tell your story. A well-designed website will help you distinguish your value proposition, team expertise and the strength of your investment process. It will set you up for better conversations with investors and help you explain the benefits of your fund.

Simply be there for investors

Simply being accessible and making it easy to contact you with questions and concerns is important. Having a website that highlights key team members and their contact information provides transparency and legitimacy.

If you’re looking to distinguish your hedge fund, build trust or capture more attention with a strong website, we can help. Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or


1 Demandbase, Demand Gen Report’s 7th Annual B2B Buyer’s Survey, 2017

2 ImFORZA, 8 SEO Stats That Are Hard to Ignore

Monday morning briefing – March 11, 2019

What client on-boarding will look like in the future. The global banking sector has the most exposure to cyber risks. Private equity mandates in emerging markets raised US$90 billion in 2018. And much 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. unemployment rate fell to 3.8% in February: Job creation grinds to a near-halt in February; wages still on the rise

The Canadian unemployment rate was 5.8% in February: Canada’s economy gains 55,900 jobs, beating expectations

The BoC held its central interest rate steady at 1.75%: Bank of Canada waters down rate conviction amid growth slowdown

The ECB held its central interest rate steady: ECB pushes back rate hike, announces new stimulus to revive growth

Tariffs are imposing great costs on American businesses and consumers: Evidence grows that Trump’s trade wars are hitting U.S. economy

The S&P 500 Index bottomed on March 9, 2009. Where does the market stand now?: 10 years after the market hit bottom, where are we now?

Different strategies for ethical investing: How to invest ethically

It’s time to look at the opportunities, not just the risks, from energy transition: Lessons in measuring carbon risk and opportunities in public equities

What Millennials are looking for in a financial advisory firm: Successful millennials want real advice

Why alternative investments should be included in all portfolios: Why alternative investments have a place in your portfolio

The world’s best banks: The world’s best banks: ING and Citibank lead the way

News and notes (U.S.)

JP Morgan’s “2019 Guide to Alternatives”: J.P. Morgan releases 2019 Guide to Alternatives

The market cycle of PE buyouts is quick: Downturn opportunities don’t last long in the world of PE buyouts

Hiring increasing at private capital firms: Private capital firms are beefing up their fundraising teams

How PE can benefit from the qualified opportunity fund: Private equity and the opportunity zone gold rush: Who will seize the opportunity?

PE mandates in emerging markets raised $90 billion in 2018: Private capital fundraising in emerging markets hits record levels in 2018

Interest in PE continues: Blackstone nears $20 billion for flagship buyout fund

Goldman Sachs launches ETFs tracking indices created by Motif: Goldman Sachs and Motif launch 5 ETFs focused on innovation

U.S. individual investors’ allocation to equities increased in February:Asset allocation survey: Equities rebound in February

Mutual fund sales and performance over the past two weeks: Mutual funds scorecard: March 5 edition 

A look at target-date funds’ performance over the past 10 years: Target-date funds: The grades are in

Vanguard announces its upcoming launch of the Global ESG Select Stock Fund: Vanguard plans its first actively managed ESG mutual fund

Apex bolsters its U.S. expansion: Apex acquires Atlantic Fund Services

Coin will allow investors to invest in one or multiple causes: John Hancock startup opens impact investing to the masses   

News and notes (Canada)

IA Clarington launches liquid alternative fund: IA Clarington launches liquid alt, international equity funds

Desjardins launches two ETFs with responsible investing mandates: Desjardins launches two RI ETFs

Canadian ETFs experienced $1.3 billion in net inflows in February: In Canada, 23 ETFs launched in February

Empire Life launches tool to help plan participants track their retirement goals: Empire Life launching retirement and savings tool

IFIC and BEworks provide suggestions on how to improve client statements:How to improve CRM2 statements

Could we see a slowdown in Canadian dividend growth in 2019?: Canadian dividend growth will slow this year

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

The global banking sector has the most exposure to cyber risks: Banking is most exposed sector to cyber risks: Moody’s

Regulatory sandboxes are great for innovation, but there are some limitations: Sandboxes offer key to fintech innovation

Financial services firms have steps to take towards their digital transformation: Financial-services firms falling behind in tech transformation

Customer data vital to the success of digital transformation: Power of customer insights will separate digital banking winners & losers

The adoption of open banking has been limited: Open banking – build it and they will come?

How fintech is helping people meet their financial goals: The effect of fintech on wealth management

Ant Financial launches tool to help financial services firms with their digital challenges: Ant Financial launches core banking product

What client on-boarding will look like in the future: The future of client onboarding for financial institutions

Start with tech, then the financial side: Are banks customer focused?

Tech firms engaged in blockchain development projects: Big tech’s blockchain projects haven’t disrupted banks – yet

One-third of Canadians used a robo-advisor to open or fund an RRSP: Robo advisor RRSP stats a ‘wake-up call’ to firms

High-net-worth topics

The high-net-worth should increase their exposure to private placements: Cambridge Associates: HNW investors should have 40 percent in private placements

Here is where the ultra-high-net-worth live: The top 10 cities where the mega rich live

Stock market volatility hurt U.S. household wealth in the fourth quarter: U.S. household wealth slumped in fourth quarter amid stocks rout

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Canadian businesses may be missing an opportunity to increase revenue through global trade (RBC): Despite opportunity, Canadian businesses see barriers to global trade: RBC poll

More than half of Millennials use or are willing to try using a robo-advisor (Angus Reid): Millennials more likely to try robo-advice, says Angus Reid

Financial assets held by women expected to rise (CIBC): Canadian women to control nearly $4 trillion by 2028

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

Bloomberg and ext. – raising the bar on content and research for our clients

Marketing is a collaborative effort. It takes a group of creative, knowledgeable and dedicated people who are all focused on one important goal: to market a solution, product or service well.

In asset management, where real-time research, analysis and statistics are paramount to success, Bloomberg is the gold standard in the industry. Asset management professionals trust Bloomberg, and so do marketing departments – especially those that assist portfolio managers in developing their commentaries, reporting and market insights.

Communicate better, faster and more accurately

Capital markets are, by nature, dynamic. From the impact of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board’s interest rate decisions to Apple’s stock price to the shape of yield curve, there is a lot to track in financial markets each day.

At ext., we use our in-house Bloomberg terminal to help investment firms communicate better, faster and more accurately. We understand the importance of real-time information and statistics as they relate to communicating about market developments, and we stay on top of industry developments, understand where the market is trending and know how the global economy is performing. This ensures we are always on the same page as our clients.

Get an edge

A Bloomberg terminal gives our clients an edge – they no longer have to use their portfolio management teams’ valuable time to access information that will help them stay ahead of market developments.

By partnering with ext., you can access the same leading information as your firm’s research and portfolio management teams. Our analysts and CFA-level writers use this valuable information to help you create timely, impactful content for your clients.

Saving you time and money

Having a Bloomberg terminal helps our clients achieve efficiencies and allows us to conduct important research that our clients would normally request from other departments at their firms. This, in turn, frees up time and resources, as well as enabling expedited access to information.

Bloomberg is a big win for our clients: by partnering with us, you can communicate better, expand your edge and work more efficiently.

Take your content to the next level today by contacting us at 1.844.243.1830 or

Monday morning briefing – February 25, 2019

Asset allocators are looking for ways to access private equity. Is Apple entering the credit card market? The number of Canada-based targets from activist investors grew in 2018. 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

European inflation down to 1.4% in January: Top News: Eurozone consumer inflation slows to 1.4% in January

The U.S. Federal Reserve Board released its policy meeting minutes: Fed releases minutes from Jan. 29-30 policy meeting

Housing and investment risks could put the BoC on hold, for now: Bank of Canada’s Poloz says rate hike path ‘highly uncertain’

Private equity’s interest in ESG is growing: ESG a growing priority for private equity finds PwC survey

Global dividends rose 9.3% in 2018: Global dividends surged to new record in 2018: Janus Henderson

Could a lack of transparency in index creation harm investors?: What’s really in your index fund?

Exchange-traded products continued to experience robust growth: Size of exchange-traded products industry tops US$5 trillion: report

The U.K. government is looking to add more illiquid investments to defined-contribution plans: U.K. consults on incorporating illiquid assets in DC investments

The greatest benefit from ETFs is how you use them: Are ETFs about to rule the world?

News and notes (U.S.)

The Barclay Hedge Fund Index rose 3.88% in January: Hedge funds make solid start to 2019

Institutional investors plan to hold or increase their exposure to hedge funds this year: After hedge funds’ mediocre year, investors still want more

Redemptions from hedge funds were $42.3 billion in December: Hedge fund redemptions hit five-year high of USD42.3bn in December

Corporate VCs invested $52.95 billion into start-ups in 2018: The rise of corporate VC

Newer private equity funds are attracting much more capital than their predecessors: More than 90% of PE funds are outpacing their predecessors

Asset allocators are looking for ways to access private equity: McKinsey: Private equity growth drives creative fund structures

Inflows into active U.S. equity funds outpaced passively-managed funds: Active beat passive in asset flows in January: Morningstar

Mutual fund sales and performance over the past two weeks: Mutual funds scorecard: February 19 edition

Future mergers could have greater government scrutiny: What the T-Mobile, Sprint hearing means for the future of M&A in the US

The SEC issued a proposal to allow IPOs to gauge market interest before filing: SEC proposes easing IPO rules

News and notes (Canada)

CC&L launched three liquid alternative funds: CC&L Funds introduces 3 liquid alts

Provisus Wealth Management launched nine actively managed PTFs: Provisus: We’re putting our money where our mouth is

Impact investments have grown in Canada: Impact investing gains traction in Canada

The number of Canada-based targets from activist investors grew in 2018: ‘You need to watch out’: Activist investing stronger than ever in Canada, M&A lawyer says

International sub-advisors don’t improve performance: International subadvisors don’t have a performance edge

Volatility was good for some active managers in 2018: Stock-pickers need some volatility

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

How to take a step forward in digital banking in 2019: Digital banking strategies and investments for 2019

How private banking can benefit from digitalization: Why digitalization is the way forward for private banking and wealth management

Companies are looking toward a product-based structure to help in their digital transformation: Gartner: organisations shifting to product-centric application delivery model for digital transformation

Customers need to be shown how open banking will help them: Consumers don’t know what open banking is – and that’s OK!

Is Apple entering the credit card market?: Apple could be working with Goldman Sachs on a credit card

There is a big difference between technology and handling a customer’s money: Are you in banking or technology?

A look at what the future may hold for wealthtech: The future of wealthtech

A look back at the technological advancements in the financial services industry, and a look ahead to where the industry is going: The growth of fintech: From the first wire transfer to blockchain technology & beyond

National Bank will use AI software to help with cybersecurity: Element AI, National Bank partner on cybersecurity

Helping institutional investors with digital asset trading: Bank Frick targets institutional investors with digital asset trading

High-net-worth topics

The Mather Group has acquired family office, Astraeus Advisers: Chicago’s Mather Group buys $1 billion family office

High-net-worth clients should be looking at different types of alternative investments: Too few investors are looking beyond stocks and bonds, wealth advisor says

Manulife bolstering its services for the high-net-worth: Manulife targets Canada’s rich in industry a decade behind U.S.

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Important investment themes you need to know for 2019 (Raymond James): 10 hot investment themes for 2019: Raymond James

Advisor-directed clients are receptive to a fee-based structure (Cerulli Associates): Advisor-reliant clients prefer fee-based accounts: survey

Many Canadians don’t understand the difference between an RRSP and a TFSA (BMO): Better advice needed on the difference between TFSAs and RRSPs

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

Monday morning briefing – January 7, 2019

Hedge funds looking to expand their offering to attract investors. Is private equity about to be revolutionized? The top digital trends of 2019. How to help high-net-worth families invest with a conscience. 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

The U.S. unemployment rate rises to 3.9% in December: Job growth surges by 312,000 in December

Canada’s unemployment rate steady at 5.6% in December: ‘Less than meets the eye’: Canada adds 9,300 jobs amid weak wages

The U.S. Federal Reserve Board will listen to the markets and act accordingly: The Fed has an important history lesson for panicked markets

A look at alternative investments: What exactly are alternative investments?

ESG ETF assets growing: Assets in ESG ETFs up 34% in ‘18

Market volatility could help active managers: Active fund managers say their time has come

Wealthsimple launches Wealthsimple Advisor Services Inc.: Wealthsimple introduces mutual fund dealer

ETFs attracted $20.1 billion in new assets in 2018: ETFs outsell mutual funds in 2018

Could ETFs be its own asset class?: ‘ETFs as asset class’ is among the top 2019 trends in markets

On the pulse – New frontiers in fintech

Here are the top technology trends for wealth management, according to Capgemini: Tech trends in wealth management to watch in 2019

It should be another strong year for fintech startups: 2019 looks to continue another lights-out year for fintech startups

UBS to make Evidence Lab available to clients: UBS’s big data lab is no longer just for its analysts

Why automation is key for fintech: Automation will be the end of banks as we know them

Some resolutions banks should be considering: 5 resolutions for digital banking success in 2019

The insurance industry is ready to be changed by digital technologies: Digital insurance in 2018: Driving real impact with digital and analytics

It is shaping up to be a big year for insurtech: Busy year ahead expected for insurtech

Here are the top digital trends for 2019: Digital transformation trends to watch in 2019 and beyond

A look back at the first year of MiFID II: MiFID II – One year on

New York State forms task force to understand, use and regulate cryptocurrencies and blockchain: New York to form cryptocurrency task force

News and notes (U.S.)

North American hedge funds down in November: North American hedge funds suffered further losses in November, says Eurekahedge

Get to know Bridgewater’s Head of Investment Research, Karen Karniol-Tambour: Bridgewater’s new brain: A millennial woman is blazing to the top of the world’s largest hedge fund

Hedge funds looking to expand offerings to attract investors: Hedge funds turn to private capital playbook in search of assets

PE and VC should keep an eye on oiltech and commoditech: Next big thing: Oiltech

Out to change private equity: This San Francisco investor wants to revolutionize private equity. Is he crazy?

Investing in managed futures through an ETF: Eyeing alternatives with a managed futures ETF

U.S. mutual funds experience largest weekly redemptions since February: US fund investors pull most cash from stocks since February, says report

U.S. defined benefit pension plans had a slightly lower deficit at the end of 2018: Funded status of US corporate pensions slipped in 2018: survey

High-net-worth topics

Helping high-net-worth families invest with a conscience: Advisor works with families to make an impact

Navigating clients through 2019: What wealth advisors are telling their clients in preparation for 2019

Polls & surveys – What financials are saying

Investors should buy into this market decline (Citigroup): Citi says ‘buy this dip’ and sees equities returning 14% in 2019

Predictions for 2019 (Nuveen): Bob Doll’s 10 predictions for 2019

Energy prices could be volatile in 2019 (Moody’s): Energy outlook for 2019

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

Liquid alternatives: challenges and opportunities for the financial services industry

Liquid alternatives – hedge fund strategies delivered to retail investors in a mutual fund or ETF – are coming to Canada. And they’re going to be disruptive.

By opening up a whole new asset class to retail investors, mutual fund managers and alternative investment managers are going to face plenty of challenges and opportunities. Liquid alternatives will be good for the industry and investors, but investment managers must do things right.

The big challenge: understanding

Helping investors and advisors to truly understand liquid alternatives (from the different strategies to the benefits) is a two-step challenge for the industry: there will be confusion about the strategies and they may not be adopted if the benefits aren’t deeply understood.

Liquid alternatives are not simply a new investment solution, they’re not even a new strategy. Rather, they’re a new asset class consisting of a new set of strategies.

It seems likely that liquid alternatives will be labelled “higher risk” and “ideal for more experienced investors.” Neither is 100% accurate.

Liquid alternatives have a wide range of strategies, some of which are less risky than a typical equity mutual fund. Other strategies could benefit less experienced investors if they allocate a smaller percentage of their broadly diversified portfolio to liquid alternatives.

The big opportunity: a new and/or bigger market

Investment managers can provide access to this asset class to every investor, helping them diversify their investments and better manage the risk-return profile of their portfolios.

We expect most of the major mutual fund and alternative investment managers to launch retail-friendly liquid alternative funds and ETFs in the coming years.

Mutual fund managers can expand into the alternative investment space using their brand recognition to help grow the liquid alternatives asset class. At the same time, alternative investment managers can enter the retail investment space using their experience and expertise as a key value proposition.

But offering liquid alternatives is not just about increasing assets under management. Investment managers can better engage their clients and prospects by taking an educational approach. This approach will help investment managers strengthen their brand because they will be providing value … not just products.

Given liquid alternatives is a relatively new asset class to many investors in the retail space, educating the retail audience about the language/terms, investment strategies, differentiators, etc. of this asset class will likely be key to widespread understanding and acceptance of liquid alternatives. It will also help position manufacturers that provide this information as leaders in the space.

Ext. is on the front lines of financial services marketing. We can help your firm market new strategies, such as liquid alternatives, to the broad retail and advisor markets in an engaging, educational manner that positions you and your clients for success. Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or

5 steps for a successful marketing materials audit

If your department is undertaking a wide-sweeping marketing materials audit to identify stale messages and outdated figures, or if your firm is taking its marketing initiatives in a more digital direction, this five-step process will help you lead your team through this seemingly complicated process.

Step 1: Setting your auditing goals

Before jumping into writing and design, before you even begin hunting down all of your firm’s old marketing materials, we recommend that you clearly define your goals. Why are you conducting the audit? How will the audit help your marketing initiatives going forward? Typical answers are:

“We want our marketing materials to be relevant and have a longer life.”

“We want to lower our long-term marketing costs via fewer refreshes and fewer print runs.”

“We want our marketing materials to be read by a wider audience.”

“We want to engage our clients and prospects in new ways.”

Step 2: Create a content map

Now that you’ve clearly defined your goals, it’s time to categorize and reprioritize your marketing materials.

Start by using the goals that you defined in Step 1 to determine your grouping methodology. Ways that are more traditional include grouping your materials by product or campaign. Lately, however, we’ve seen a shift to grouping materials demographically or by life stage. For example, if you are trying to target millennials, you would list in a spreadsheet all the materials that apply to this cohort.

If you group materials demographically, you’ll find that many of them apply to savers and investors at different life stages. Make sure these materials end up in both buckets. Why? When you rethink formats in Step 3, you may decide to deliver similar content in radically different formats depending on who you’re engaging.

Step 3: Rethink formats

There’s a good chance the majority of the materials that you’re auditing are print brochures. And there’s an even better chance that your firm wants to take many of them in new digital directions. A marketing materials audit is the ideal time to have these discussions.

While you may simply update these brochures, keep in mind that infographics, microsites and online articles are all great ideas because they are engaging, sharable and easy to update, all of which deliver on the goals outlined in Step 1.

Step 4: Audit your resources

Is your team big enough to handle the updates and fill in the gaps that you identified? If the wide-ranging scope of a marketing materials audit seems too large, complex or time consuming, think about hiring a content partner who can help create a strategy for your refreshed content.

If you need additional resources, make sure that your content partner has the product and industry knowledge to effectively round out your team.

Step 5: Production

Now that you know what marketing materials you have and which ones you want to refresh, it’s time for your writers, designers and developers to get to work. Coordinating your resources is time consuming. But clear timelines and focused work – that is, strategically working through your list without running too many refreshes at once – will help your team deliver great results.

Next steps

Although a marketing materials audit will create some challenges, especially as your typical day-to-day responsibilities aren’t going anywhere, following these five steps will ensure that this challenging and exciting initiative goes more smoothly.

If you want to read more about auditing your marketing materials, read our post on how to better align your materials with your sales team.

Does it sound like it’s time for a marketing materials audit? Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or


Got an execution problem? We can solve it.

As you scale up your content initiatives, you’ll likely run up against a challenge that many marketers have had to contend with.

You might be running email campaigns, newsletters, blogs, etc., on top of all the day-to-day deliverables, campaigns and product launches – and conducting weekly (or even daily) brainstorming sessions to generate awesome content.

Your team is building a solid reputation for engaging content. This is success. And with success comes this problem: you’ve run out of time to produce the content you need.

What you have is an execution problem. Trust us, we’ve been there.

“What you have is an execution problem. Trust us, we’ve been there.”

The big picture

In the grand scheme, an execution problem is a manageable problem to have. A worse problem is an idea problem. You’re in trouble if your marketing team doesn’t have any ideas.

An execution problem is manageable because you can take measured steps to solve it. There are three things you can do: hire more people, improve your processes and/or outsource.

There’s a good way and a bad way to do any of these. Let’s explore what we’ve done in the past and what we now know is the right thing to do.

1. Hire more people

The bad way

Hire whoever comes knocking at your door first, and give them a trial by fire. This approach is appealing because it’s immediate. But we all know that good talent is hard to find, And too much turnover means your content team can’t gain the traction they need to plan effectively, among many other issues.

The good way

Hire talent. Hire a specialist. Hire a culture leader. Here’s why. You’re going to run into this same execution problem again in the future if you don’t find the ideal fit. If you’re already working with the best, you’re starting from a position of strength.

“If you’re already working with the best, you’re starting from a position of strength.”

2. Improve your processes

The bad way

A top-down initiative, like implementing a new content management system without really, palpably feeling the problem, may seem like a good idea because, again, the solution is immediate. However, while an execution problem is a relatively good problem to have, it is still a nuanced problem that’s in need of a robust strategy.

The good way

We believe that bottom-up initiatives are best. So, interview everyone producing content. Solicit their feedback immediately and regularly to stay on top of the challenges they face. Here’s a tip: start by finding your content team’s bottlenecks. Relieve this pressure and watch the content flow.

“Here’s a tip: start by finding your content team’s bottlenecks. Relieve this pressure and watch the content flow.”

3. Outsource

The bad way

Outsourcing to many independent contractors. This sounds appealing because you’ll have access to a diverse set of ideas. But this approach can be painful. Managing the admin, like invoicing, will steal hours of your time each week.

And the content you receive from this disparate group will likely be inconsistent, meaning different qualities of work, different styles and tones, etc. Not a good use of already strangled resources.

The good way

We’ve been doing this for a while and we can honestly say that the best approach is to hire a specialist agency that already has the teams and processes in place.

An agency that specializes in financial services content will have a minimal learning curve. They’ll be able to hit the ground running and tap into best practices and insights that individuals or generalist agencies can’t access, apply or even know. Here are nine more reasons to work with a content partner.

When things get tough, remember: an execution problem is manageable … if it’s managed well.

Want help solving your execution problem? Work with the specialists who are leading financial services marketing. Contact us at 844.243.1830 or

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.

6 best practices for creating better whitepapers

In the digital age – where marketing tools like social media and video get so much attention – we think an oft-overlooked marketing document is ripe for a comeback.

White papers have been used for many years as a form of financial content marketing. Generally speaking, white papers are designed to convey certain facts and arguments that build a case for the products or services being offered by the company that has produced the white paper.

Let’s take a look at white papers, and some best practices to help you get these valuable pieces done right.

1. Set the right tone

Your white papers should be written in conversational tone … and in the third person.

There are fewer and fewer situations that require a very formal tone. As our conversations get more casual, our writing follows. Exercising restraint is important, however, as white papers are fairly “academic,” and are often read by people who are well-versed in the topic.

2. Solve the right problem

Writing a financial white paper may be one of the most challenging marketing exercises, so make sure the problem you are solving is one that your audience truly wants solved.

Make sure the problem you are solving is one that your audience truly wants solved.

To make sure your topic engages your readers, do a little research into their needs. Survey your sales team, research online and, if you have the relationships and resources, talk to your clients directly. Remember to focus your whitepaper on your topic, and not on your product. Product-focused materials are usually considered “brochureware.”

3. Use third-party facts

Back up your points and arguments with some facts – and make sure these facts aren’t all from your in-house team.

This is where we come across one of the most significant limitations of white papers: they tend to take more time to produce than other materials. If possible, you should include some independent research to support your findings. This will enhance the credibility of your work.

4. Let your designers run wild

White paper doesn’t mean “blank paper” or “boring paper.” Luckily for you, not everyone knows this, so white paper design is a way to stand out from the crowd.

White paper doesn’t mean “blank paper” or “boring paper.” Luckily for you, not everyone knows this, so design is a way to stand out from the crowd.

Make your white paper look professional and easy to read, use a larger font, don’t crowd the copy, and experiment with design elements and themes that break up the whitespace.

5. Incorporate graphs, charts and infographics

Amid your facts and findings, well-crafted visual aids will help keep your reader’s attention.

Every data point can be backed up with an engaging chart or graph. We think white papers are begging for infographics. Since you’ll have so much data to work with, it should be fairly simple to create some easy-to-read infographics that will surely engage your audience.

6. Leverage your hard work

Remember that, once it’s created, your white paper can be leveraged for other uses. Breaking up key points and figures into individual newsletter or blog articles allows you to continue to engage your audience with your findings and to stretch out this valuable content over weeks and months.

Do you want to create more insightful and engaging white papers? Let us help. Contact us today at 416.925.1700, 1.844.243.1830 or

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

Read more:

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.

Read more:

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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