Financial Writing: A Love Story

I never imagined I’d be a financial writer. The writing part… of that, there was no doubt. For a long time, I thought my future lay in fiction writing. Then in college, I studied journalism, focusing on investigative reporting and later, film criticism. But chance and opportunity converged, and the financial world came into focus for me.

After coming to New York City, I accepted a corporate job at a major accounting firm (a freelance film critic has to pay the bills somehow!), writing for in-house and client publications. In that role, I had the opportunity to speak with experts about economics and the financial markets, tax law and balance sheet analysis, mergers and acquisitions, and a host of other things. The work gave me a powerful lens through which I saw the financial world in big, broad, exciting terms. I fell in love with it.

I decided to immerse myself in finance, especially the investment business, earning securities licenses as well as the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®) designation. I’ve never looked back.

As a financial writer, I get to learn all the time. Regulatory issues, advanced investment techniques, innovative strategies—these are just some subjects I’ve had the pleasure of exploring. For example, I didn’t know water investing existed until I wrote a white paper for a new mutual fund. In writing for regulatory shareholder reports, I’ve become familiar with complex derivative-driven fixed income strategies.

I have the opportunity to take a deeper dive. For instance, I read the CFA Institute’s Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS®) before writing a white paper about GIPS® compliance. For an article about the benefits of investing in high-yield bonds, I talked to a financial advisor and a Notre Dame finance professor to get their views on the asset class.

I have the chance to partner with thought leaders. For example, I had the privilege of helping a leading academic prepare a submission to the Department of Labor on the retirement savings crisis, which involved interviews with behavioral finance experts about tactics that could help solve the problem. I worked with the CEO of a leading ETF company to write a series of blog posts.

One of the biggest rewards is of my financial writing life is creating understanding for people who don’t live and breathe the business—and amazingly, even for some of those who do. As I write, especially about esoteric concepts, I put myself in the reader’s shoes so I can frame the story and give it meaning. This makes me a valuable resource for asset managers, marketing departments, shareholder communication teams, as well as the consulting and design firms that work with them. For instance, I took a dense academic article on funding-ratio risk and turned it into a white paper that was more assessible to my client’s target audience—institutional investors.

So I’ve followed what I loved. And it’s taken me places I could never have imagined, with every new project another opportunity to explore the world of finance and investments. I think the best still lies ahead.