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03/13/2013

The Keys to Writing: Investment Research Reports That Stick


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If you want to enhance your reputation as an analyst, your aim is to write reports that stick, that is, reports that your clients will remember.

Face it: Today's multi-tasking readers are busy, sleep deprived, distracted, and—most likely—reading your report on a mobile device while rushing to the next meeting.

To face these challenges, top analysts write reports that stand out because their research, analysis, and communication skills combine to make their reports memorable. Here's how they write "sticky" reports.

Remember: You're writing a report, not a novel.
Many writers want to gradually present their conclusions to the reader. That's fine for fiction writers, but smart analysts know that their reader is not likely to hang around waiting for the report writer to get to the point. So remember: Bottom Line on Top (B.L.O.T.) The first paragraph of your report should state your position clearly along with the key reasons that drive your recommendation.

Provide global context.
Help your clients understand the worldwide environment in which the company you're covering is competing. Today's readers know the forces of globalization affect all companies. They also recognize how economies and industries these days are interconnected and interdependent; so, they want the big picture, which include emerging issues and critical trends within the industry and in the global marketplace.


Mach Creative

Use statistics and examples that make lasting impressions.
Sticky reports are rich in convincing statistics and compelling details. Sticky reports provide clients with the results of research that are as deep and varied as they are broad and global in scope. Your goal is to provide statistics from a number of sources. Assure the reader you've been diligent about searching for data that's not one-sided but, rather, fair, comprehensive, and balanced.

Include risks.
The Great Recession has turned today's readers into skeptics. Smart analysts have learned the lessons from Michael Lewis's The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, and they always give readers straight talk about the risks to any investment. Doing so will help win readers' trust. And, today, more than ever, earning clients' trust is a business imperative.

Focus on leadership.
If the company you're covering is led by a CEO who doesn't see marketing as the most important part of his job, the company's future is bleak. Successful analysts dig deep into the CEO's communication platform. Is she an empty suit who seems out of touch with marketplace realities? Is he a tedious micromanager who knows nothing about customers and their needs?

As a finance professional, every day your reputation is on the line. To protect that reputation, consistently meet customer needs. Writing reports that stick will help you achieve that goal.

–Susan Mach, PhD

Susan Mach, PhD, is a communication coach, trainer, and strategist. She teaches management communication part time at major NYC-area business schools, and investment research report writing at NYSSA.

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