Pick up any asset management firm’s quarterly investor letter and it’s likely filled with charts, graphs, and other visual representations of the latest trends influencing financial markets and fund performance.
Whether it’s a simple line graph showing the CBOE Volatility Index or a scatterplot graph showing the dispersion of returns of various asset classes, these graphical elements can be a powerful way to make your thought leadership more visually engaging for readers.
The problem: The financial services industry is epidemically bad at presenting data in a way that is easy for readers to understand.
Perhaps the most common example of the problem is a quarterly investor letter with plenty of charts and graphs—but no explanation outside of the body of the text of what these charts and graphs mean.
What’s more, the charts and graphs included in financial communications are often busy and overly complex, with a flurry of overlapping lines, dots, and other perplexing visual elements that crowd the page, making it difficult to understand.
Because financial marketers are trying to convey information that is complex by nature, they may feel that they have no choice but to include visual elements that are clustered and hard-to-understand without reading the body of the letter closely.
Luckily, there are some simple principles financial marketers can use to fix this problem.
To this end, here are five things financial marketers should NOT do when conveying data graphically in their thought leadership.