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

Hedge funds: remember to follow these newsletter tips

In the age of Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, sending an enewsletter to your investors might seem like an anachronism.

However, don’t write off the enewsletter just yet. Studies show that email can be more effective than social media at reaching actual customers – nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.1 So why are enewsletters still so relevant?

Their lifespan

A social media post can hit thousands of investors in a second, but may also end up lasting that long before being drowned out by other new content. By its nature, email is stored by its recipient and can be referenced later and/or repeatedly.

The total package

Rather than single-issue postings, an email or enewsletter allows you to combine several relevant topics into a single deliverable.

Making it personal

Targeted emails can focus on the needs and interests of specific groups of investors and, depending on the size of your client pool, can be further individualized as well.

So, if your firm isn’t putting out a regular enewsletter, or wants to reposition its existing one, it’s a good time to take another look at what could be one of the most important communication and branding and marketing tools for hedge funds. Here are some important tips and tricks to keep in mind when planning and executing your next enewsletter deployment:

Define what you are, and what you’re not

There is an incredible volume of investment-related enewsletters out there. Some are sales drivers, some charge for subscriptions, some offer investors portfolio building advice. Remain cognizant of who your investors are and build your enewsletter content around that, rather than what others in the business are doing. This will help differentiate your e-newsletter from the myriad other emails your investors might be receiving.


Keep the number of individual topics to no less than three, but at most seven (three to five is a good range to start with).

It’s not (just) about you

You can build credibility by linking your investors to external articles, papers or other sources of information that might be relevant to them. It tells the reader that you are carefully screening and curating content and are plugged into objective third-party insights.

Rely on professionals

The best financial enewsletters have a design that is straightforward, but still compelling and visually on-brand. If you don’t have internal financial services marketing resource for that, consider outsourcing production (from content to design) to a financial services marketing firm or a content marketing agency.

Make it passenger friendly

Approximately 55% of emails are opened from a mobile device.2 Ensure both your design and content is optimized for mobile phone browsers, particularly those on a commute. This means more vertical/scrollable design and shorter, digestible content (avoiding linking readers to pdf files, for instance).

Want to talk to a professional about putting together your enewsletter? Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or and we’ll help you explore your content options.


1 Nora Aufreiter, Julien Boudet, Vivian Weng, “Why marketers should keep sending you e-mails,” McKinsey & Company, January 2014.

2 Jess Nelson, “Majority Of Emails Read On Mobile Devices,” Email Marketing Daily, July 21, 2017.

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

Email signature best practices

Email signatures are often overlooked … until someone needs to get in contact with you. So, if you haven’t thought about your email signature in a while, here are a few ideas to freshen it up.

Make sure you have one!

If you’re in the camp that believes an email signature is unnecessary, think again. Having an email signature is crucial and can provide the recipient with key information about you and your firm. This is especially the case when emailing someone located outside of your office.

Include your phone number

Sometimes emails just don’t cut it. Any issue that’s complicated or involves some subtleties is best discussed over the phone (or in person). Make sure that your email signature includes your phone number. It saves the recipient time and frustration when trying to reach you about serious matters.

Make your initial email and your reply signatures different

It is unnecessary to include all your information in a reply signature – all that detail just takes up space in the email chain. And most people don’t like all the extra scrolling. What you include depends on your responsibilities, but a phone number is usually a must.

It is unnecessary to include all your information in a reply signature.

Keep it short and sweet

We firmly believe that less is more! It’s a good idea to avoid the minutia of your job and life (your birthday and astrological sign are not entirely necessary, are they?). Key information that should be included are your: phone number, company’s name and physical address, link to your LinkedIn profile, etc.

Use a web-friendly font

Fancy, cursive fonts do more harm than good in the world of digital communications. Use a web-friendly font to make your contact information easier to read. And ensure the colours you use are appropriate – a light grey phone number may be difficult to read.

Use a web-friendly font to make your contact information easier to read.

Separate the numbers of your phone number with dashes or periods

Working in financial services, you see a lot – a lot – of numbers. Separate your numbers with care because it’s easy to miss a number when in a rush.

Don’t be caught ending your email on a bad note! Take a look at your signature and see if it needs fixing.

If you’re looking for more communications tips, contact us at 416.925.1700, 844.243.830 or

Read more:

Save time and resources with clear brand guidelines

Advisor communications series: All you need to know about email

Email is the way we communicate at the office these days, so we tend to simply type one up, click “Send” and move on.

Sending out emails without a thoughtful analysis of what you’re saying, however, can result in a number of issues given how difficult it may be to infer your true meaning. Nuanced undertones like humour and sarcasm are often lost in email.

With the following best practices, you’ll never send a bad email again.

Open and close with a salutation

Seeing as the email “To” and “From” fields make it pretty clear who sent the email and who it is intended for, some people think that salutations are a waste of space and time.

We disagree. Salutations set the mood and add a level of professionalism many people appreciate, especially if you’re emailing someone with whom you’re not particularly close.


Although a typo in an email is rarely a deal breaker, an error-free email keeps your reader focused on the issues at hand … not that little spelling mistake that slipped through.

Front-load the important info

When crafting a solid email, put the key ideas at the top. That way, if someone just glances at it, the most important information will be conveyed. And if you’re requesting a reply, make that known early on as well.

Use sentence case

Avoid using all caps because they don’t add emphasis as much as make it appear like YOU’RE SHOUTING. That’s not the kind of productive communication that drives successful interactions.

One great way to add emphasis is to use a bullet. In emails, which may be read on any number of devices, try putting an asterisk (*) at the beginning of a new line. It works!

Avoid jargon

It’s a good idea to use language your readers can understand. This is especially true when you’re writing about investing, where jargon may not be as obvious as you think.

Include your signature

People read emails on any number of devices: from desktops to laptops, from smartphones to tablets. They read them at work, when they travel and at home. At times, emails are read with the reader’s full attention; at other times, a glance is all your email may get.

The point? In this chaotic world, you need to get people’s attention in many different ways. So make sure your recipients know how to contact you. And make sure you give them options.

Think twice about “reply all”

You’ve heard the horror stories, so we won’t repeat them here. But it can’t hurt to be reminded, can it?

Don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you”

Just like salutations, we learned to say “please” and “thank you” in kindergarten, but sometimes we slip. To ensure you never miss saying “thank you,” you can include it in your email signature.

Avoid sarcasm

This is extremely important for all written communications: sarcasm does not work on paper or on screen. It’s too subtle and dependent on a speaker’s tone of voice.

Humour is a personal trait. If you have a great sense of humour, you can use it in your email correspondence to lighten the tone. Just be cautious: a misunderstood comment in an email can damage relationships.

Contact us at 416.925.1700 or today with any of your communications questions.

Advisor communications series: A few thoughts on continuing education and content

Advisors are talented and creative problem solvers. They have to be because the financial services landscape is constantly changing.

And to stay on top of that change, the best advisors are always building their knowledge through continuing education. That’s true of financial and investment skills … and it’s true of content and marketing skills as well.

Move ahead of your peers and competitors

Knowing your industry inside and out – and being on top of the ever-changing landscape – will help you form more insightful opinions about what industry trends may be coming.

This forward-thinking mentality is a great way to build trust – and you build that trust through your communications such as emails, blogs, videos and social media. We’ll be writing about this in more detail over the coming weeks.

Become an authority

Regardless of how social media may be changing this perception, people still lean on subject matter experts to complete the task at hand correctly. By continuously upgrading your content and marketing education, you’ll ensure you remain an invaluable asset to your clients.

Expand your network

People want to connect with experts … including other experts. So don’t be shy when you learn something new. Put your new skills into practice immediately. For example, if you just learned some news ways to write a strong call to action, send out an email with one.

In the end, content creation will be easier

The more you know, the more content you’ll be able to produce.

In an age where content is king, anyone looking to build their profile should be generating fresh content in one form or another.

Contact us today at 416.925.1700 or for actionable content marketing tips.

Crafting your email etiquette

Have you ever sent out an email and immediately wished you had waited a few minutes before doing so? We all have. That’s why we have put together this list of five (or six) things to get into the habit of doing any time you are about to hit “Send.”

Remember: this blog post is for correspondence with business associates. When inviting friends into your football pool, you can probably disregard most of these tips.

1. Check your email list

There is little worse than emailing someone and then realizing you’ve accidentally emailed someone else. And also realizing that someone else really shouldn’t have seen the email you’ve sent them.

Make a habit of always eyeballing your email list before firing that email off. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Avoid too much jargon

It’s okay to have a casual tone in your emails. That said, overly casual can begin to sound underly (a word we made up for the purposes of this blog post) professional.

3. Avoid excessive short forms

Ext. Marketing Inc.’s Andrew Broadhead and Richard Heft have debated this one. Andrew is way more comfortable including plenty of words like “we’ve”, “I’ll” and “you’re”. Richard? Not so much.

There are no hard and fast rules for this one, but listen to Richard and consider reducing those short forms to keep your emails sounding more professional.

4. Remove the jokes

Nuances are very, very hard to pick up in electronic correspondence. If you’re not 100% sure how a joke will be received – or if anyone at all could be offended by the joke – it’s best to exclude it altogether. Keep the tone somewhat professional too.

If you’re not 100% sure how a joke will be received – or if anyone at all could be offended by the joke – it’s best to exclude it altogether.

If anyone at all could be offended by the joke – it’s best to exclude it altogether.

5. Always check your spelling

Do a quick spellcheck before you send any email. Spelling errors never reflect well on the sender.

6. Get someone to read it over

We’ve only added this one as an aside because no one has the time to have someone review every one of their emails. That said, it doesn’t hurt to have someone take a quick look at your more important emails to make sure they make sense.

Use these few tips and you’ll send out stronger, more professional emails every time.

Contact us at 416.925.1700 or for help with making all your communications more professional.