Data Visualization: How to Tell Better Stories with Numbers

Posted by Frank Kalman on May 21, 2018 12:01:00 AM

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.

Don’t include charts without headlines or captions
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Topics: Financial Advisor Marketing

What WFC is Reading: The Week of May 21, 2018

Posted by Frank Kalman on May 20, 2018 7:47:37 PM

Here's a running list of the best and most interesting stories from the worlds of business, finance and marketing that we're reading this week.

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Topics: What we're reading

What WFC is Reading: The Week of May 14, 2018

Posted by Frank Kalman on May 14, 2018 8:24:50 AM

Here's a running list of the best and most interesting stories from the worlds of business, finance and marketing that we're reading this week.

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Topics: What we're reading

3 Lessons About Branding from Brighthouse Financial

Posted by Frank Kalman on May 14, 2018 12:01:00 AM

“You’ve got to step up.”

That’s what Matthew Quale, chief marketing officer of life insurance firm Brighthouse Financial, said at the Financial Communications Society’s May 1 luncheon, hosted by the Union League Club of Chicago.

The quote originated with Quale’s grandfather. It was a call for the former Princeton University student to “step up” his pitiful bowling game during an outing with his grandfather many years ago.

But to the FCS members in attendance at the luncheon, the line—and bowling story—sent a different message:

In today’s hypercompetitive marketing landscape, where financial services firms are struggling to tell truly differentiated stories, financial marketers need to step up their game.

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Topics: Financial Advisor Marketing

What I’ve Learned About Flexibility and Work-Life Blend in My First Quarter at WFC

Posted by Frank Kalman on May 8, 2018 9:23:29 AM

The commotion near our gate at San Francisco International Airport was at a fever pitch.

It was Wednesday, April 4, 2018, and my wife and I were about to board a cross-country flight from San Francisco to Boston. We had just spent an extended Easter holiday with my sister-in-law, her husband, and our new baby nephew, and our coast-to-coast jaunt would take us to more family and a wedding in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a tiny fishing town perched along the Atlantic Ocean.

Sitting at a restaurant just off our gate, the airport din was the perfect white noise for the task at hand: polishing off a time-sensitive project for a new client.

As the second person to join Wentworth Financial Communications—after founder Scott Wentworth, who launched the company in 2015—I’m given a lot of flexibility in where and when I work as the firm’s Chief Operations Officer.

Most of the work that WFC does is virtual, meaning it is completed online through digital channels. The same goes for how we communicate internally and with many of our clients. If it’s not in-person, it’s through text, email, or a bevy of project-management software platforms and communication tools.

The moment served as an important lesson for what life is like in a two-person content marketing agency in the digital era: There is no typical “work day” at WFC. It’s more of a constantly moving digital “work life.” Embrace it. Some days will seem more routine and traditional; others will be unpredictable.

Embracing flexibility and work-life blend in our work at WFC is something I’ve learned a great deal about in my first three months on the job.  

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Topics: Background

What WFC is Reading: The Week of May 7, 2018

Posted by Frank Kalman on May 7, 2018 6:31:04 AM

Here's a running list of the best and most interesting stories from the worlds of business, finance and marketing that we're reading this week.

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Topics: What we're reading

What WFC is Reading: The Week of April 30, 2018

Posted by Frank Kalman on Apr 30, 2018 7:05:27 AM

Here's a running list of the best and most interesting stories from the worlds of business, finance and marketing that we're reading this week.

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Topics: What we're reading

How to Identify Your Firm’s Writing ‘Voice’

Posted by Scott Wentworth on Apr 27, 2018 11:13:01 AM

Producing investment-grade thought-leadership content is a complex endeavor.

It requires that financial marketers create a detailed, repeatable process for writing; that the content they ultimately create is rooted in effective storytelling principles; that the way their writing appears on the page is visually compelling; and that the distribution channels they choose are effective conduits to their audience.

But an equally—if not more—important element to consider when establishing a thought-leadership strategy is establishing your firm’s writing voice.

What is voice?

Voice is the tone and style of your writing. For instance, some firms prefer to keep things light and playful, while others aim to be serious and authoritative. Some firms want to be funny and relatable, while others prefer to be buttoned-up and high-brow.

All successful publications have an identifiable, unified voice. Reading an article in The Wall Street Journal, for instance, will sound differently than reading about the same news in TechCrunch or Business Insider.

Why developing voice matters

Identifying and establishing a unique writing voice for your firm is an important component to your firm’s branding and ability to stand out in a crowded financial services market. Just like your firm’s logo design is vital in how prospective clients see you, so is the tone and style of your firm’s writing.

Here are five things to consider when establishing your firm’s voice:

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Topics: Financial Writing Tips

What WFC is Reading: The Week of April 23, 2018

Posted by Frank Kalman on Apr 23, 2018 9:33:42 AM

Here's a running list of the best and most interesting stories from the worlds of business, finance and marketing that we're reading this week.

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Topics: What we're reading

What WFC is Reading: The Week of April 16, 2018

Posted by Frank Kalman on Apr 17, 2018 7:19:56 AM

Here's a running list of the best and most interesting stories from the worlds of business, finance and marketing that we're reading this week.

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Topics: What we're reading