Performance reports: Taking the repetition out of repetitive writing

by Anna Fozzard

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It’s that time of the year, quarter or even month – time to report on investment performance. Given that it’s the same asset, fund or market, and perhaps a similar story, it makes sense to reach for the same wording as before. That way, standards and guidelines are met, and the job is complete on time.

While all that may be true, this process can lead to repetitive and formulaic investment writing. Readers may tune out, skip past the story to just read the numbers, or take their own inferences from the information. Given that just 12% of consumers say wealth managers are their most trusted financial services firm, compared to others like banks and fintechs, very important messages about fund performance may not be getting across.

Regular investment reporting is more than a box-ticking exercise. It may be a requirement, but it’s also an opportunity to keep investors engaged through performance highs and lows. But when you’re sharing information on a regular basis, bound by standards and to tight deadlines, how can you sidestep a repetitive story?

Making it tangible

Even the most discerning investor can feel disengaged from a run through of financial results without context. Storytelling can help the results feel tangible and better resonate with the audience.

Is there an economic crisis taking shape in a region? Has a geopolitical event unfolded? Have some sectors been impacted by shifting demographics? The reader is likely to be aware of these circumstances, and building a bridge between the results and this understanding can make them more memorable.

Going further with transparency

The numbers speak for themselves, but they can’t do all the talking. Another part of transparency is accessibility – in other words, bringing the reader along with you to make sure they truly understand the results.

With the macroeconomic background setting the scene, digging deeper into how this relates to the specific portfolio fills in the gaps for the reader. That could involve explaining why some of the fund’s allocations have underperformed or overperformed, and how that has impacted the overall results. It could also involve highlighting changes in specific holdings to explain why they have performed in such a way.

Focus on the ‘so what’ for investors

The ‘so what?’ is the takeaway for readers. It goes beyond pointing out the results, taking them to the next level to explain why those results matter to investors.

This is an exercise in putting yourself in your investors’ shoes, and shows that you understand their concerns. Naturally, the bottom line for investors is ‘will I make money?’, but there’s an opportunity to show nuance behind the results and the strategy. Do you expect some volatility and how does the strategy account for this? Have you made any tweaks to the holdings to hedge against losses? How do you intend to make the most of anticipated gains in other areas? Bringing the impact back to the strategy can help build investor confidence in it.

Mixing up language intentionally

When deadlines are only a matter of days away, it is understandable why teams sacrifice quality in favour of efficiency. If resources are tight, reaching for different words can be a quick way to move away from formulaic writing without overhauling the structure and information.

Weeding out stock phrases and jargon can help to introduce new language and keep the style engaging. A copy editor can do this for you, taking the information and tweaking it to read slightly differently.

An external view

Bringing a new pair of eyes on performance reports can help to spot where language is becoming overused and tired. But it’s crucial that the writer understands the subject, brand and audience to make the content engaging without dumbing it down. That is why we always draw on our financial services specialists to support with investment writing. With experience in working both for and with investment clients, our writers bring the nuances of financial results to the forefront. For our help, get in touch.

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