Writing for a financial audience? 3 tips to nail the delivery

When it comes to creating impactful financial writing, subject matter expertise is a great start. Solid marketing chops and a well-crafted editorial plan help, too. But what about the content itself? Here are three quick tips to enhance your financial communications.

  1. Know your audience

As fellow copywriter Dave Argentar wrote in his recent blog post, high-quality content is approachable and tailored to a specific audience. In financial writing, this often comes down to pinpointing your reader’s level of financial sophistication.

An institutional investment professional will likely know the relationship between the Fed and interest rates, so you could forego any drawn-out explanation. Keep your reader engaged and get straight to the point. But writing for a wider consumer audience is a different story, and assumptions about knowledge can be dangerous. Take a hint from The Wall Street Journal: When describing fluctuations in the bond market, the publication always notes that yields move inversely to prices.

This concept also spills into the area of compliance. Is the content subject to FINRA’s rules on communications with the public? If so, you’ll need to maintain a fair and balanced tone and omit any performance predictions.

  1. Incorporate meaningful charts …

If you have a lot of data to discuss, charts can help to simplify the delivery. Best practices for charts and graphs include:

  • Be clear: Label all axes, clarify the units of measure and use colors strategically.
  • Draw conclusions: The title of the chart and/or the adjacent commentary should draw an obvious conclusion. For example, a chart titled, “U.S. Dollar Correlation to Gold at All-Time High” is more constructive than one titled, “U.S. Dollar Index Daily Correlations to Gold, 1970-2016.”
  • Make it skimmable: Trends should pop out at a glance.
  • Be selective: If a chart doesn’t advance your argument or provide necessary context, consider removing it. The same thinking applies to elements within a chart. Is it beneficial to show data all the way back to 1970, or will it just add noise?
  1. … But don’t weigh the prose down with too many numbers

It can be tempting to rely heavily on numbers in financial writing, but try to exercise restraint in the main paragraphs and chunks of prose. Too much data will frustrate—and probably bore—your reader.

Read your draft aloud. If key points are getting lost in a sea of numbers, consider cutting where you can and rephrasing elsewhere. Smooth out the flow by swapping in “decade” for “10 years” or “more than doubled” for “an increase of 102.8%.”

For more advice about writing clear and direct financial content, check out “Economical Writing” by Deirdre N. McCloskey.

What tips do you have for connecting with financial audiences? Let us know in the comments below.

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