By Lisbeth Wiley Chapman
Writing about performance is a marketing technique that makes compliance officers frown (not to mention a strategy that hits a brick wall when performance declines). Writing about investment management concepts, however, is another matter. Explanations about investment management concepts can be the basis of a PR campaign focusing directly on the revenue-generating part of your practice.
Typically, you have verbally explained to clients the portfolio strategy you plan to employ. They acknowledged that they understood your suggestions. They may even have signed an investment policy statement agreeing to your suggestions. All that behind you, do you really think your clients understood your explanations? In many cases, it is unlikely.
Whether you invest passively, use active asset allocation, or manage managers, there are three reasons to spend time developing explanations of your investment concepts and investment management philosophy.
- Offering a review of your investment strategy explanations in personal letters to confirm, in writing, what you are planning to implement for your clients
- Confirming for prospects the breadth of your knowledge and expertise
- Using investment strategies as story ideas for the media
From a compliance standpoint, you are better protected if you've made a genuine effort to help clients understand how you are managing their money. A written paper trail is important. You may prefer verbal explanations because you think that unless the client made an audio tape, he or she can't quote you when they decide they do not like what happened when they followed your advice. This is a self-defeating viewpoint that leads to more problems, because you can't prove what you said.
There are two simple rules to keep you out of trouble when discussing investment management strategies: Make no promises of performance and make no guarantees.
So what can you talk about? You can talk about market sectors, their outlook, the impact of current politics, your view on asset allocation and how you plan to rebalance the portfolio based on risk tolerance. A personal letter often allows you to stay in touch with clients and cements your personal interest in their well being.
It is particularly powerful if you include information on how your suggested portfolio is positioned to deal with down markets and any protections you have put in place to make every effort to protect long-term assets. This is the point where you add that past performance is no indicator of future performance.
Prospects want to know what you intend to do, and with what expected results. It is important to send them written material that overviews your services and your strategy and how a model portfolio could be developed for them. It is generally compliance-friendly to say that you "intend to manage the portfolio so that it grows when the market grows, and that you intend to make every effort to protect assets when the market goes down." You are not talking performance or guarantees; you are sharing the expertise that you bring to the table.
There are easy techniques to transform your written client material into material you send to the media on a regular weekly or monthly basis. You will need to reformat it into an introductory "pitch letter," but that can be done using a template where you virtually fill in the lines (see more on this below.)
Your original, authentic written material is extremely important for the growth of your business. Use it to impress clients, prospects, and referral sources, showing them you are smart enough to be trusted with their business.
Components of a Pitch E-Mail
A pitch e-mail is a sales tool targeted specifically to a reporter, editor or assignment editor of an online publication, print publication or broadcast outlet, who you know covers financial planning and investment management and whose media outlet reaches your target clients.
1st paragraph: Introduce yourself: what you do and for
2nd paragraph: Explain your story idea
3rd paragraph: Explain why the readers or viewers will be interested
4th paragraph: Briefly explain your expertise and background
5th paragraph: Mention that you will follow up by phone on a specific date.
Lisbeth Wiley Chapman, principal, Ink&Air, provides public relations and Web marketing strategies to financial planners and money managers. She is the author of Get Media Smart: Build Your Reputation, Referrals & Revenues With Media Marketing.Contact her at Beth_Chapman@inkair.com