Ross founded Copylab in 2005 and is now leading the team in the UK and leading the company’s charge into new markets.More articles from Ross Hunter
It might sound a little restrictive. And it is to an extent – especially for those managers who might complain that their creative license is being inhibited. But for fund groups with dozens of funds, not having templates means there is huge scope for variance in quality and quantity between commentaries.
Indeed, there are vast benefits to using templates, over and above the obvious financial ones.
First, a clear template – with word counts for each section – ensures that writers and fund managers are only creating the text that is needed. No longer will you have fund managers writing three times too much.
A template also reminds managers of the topics they need to cover in their commentaries—no need to go back to managers who’ve forgotten to mention their key trades.
Templates give you greater consistency across your funds in terms of quality and quantity of content, tone of voice and brand consistency. Think about those managers based in Europe, Asia, the US and Latin America: their writing style, language, vocabulary and tone will inevitably be different from their colleagues. The template provides guard rails to reduce the amount of editing that the investment writers need to do.
Not sure that all fund managers will buy into using templates? This has been the case with several of our clients. Often, one or two managers push back on ‘another form to fill in’ or want the freedom to write as much or as little as they wish. The solution to this is securing buy-in at the highest level. It’s an effective approach to work with your CIO to co-sponsor the project and drive it through the business.
A commentary template may also prove beneficial if you have multiple portfolios within the same asset class. Some clients ask us to write standard market backgrounds for all funds in a specific asset class. And even if you want to have tailored market backgrounds for individual funds, you can create a standard set of paragraphs for, say, US equities and then choose the most relevant content for each fund.
Finally, we’re often asked how long a good fund commentary should be. It can vary and depend on your audience. And it may be a point of hot debate among our clients and readers. But arguably, 200–300 words might be a good length for monthly commentary aimed at retail investors. Meanwhile, 750–1,000 words might be more appropriate for a quarterly institutional fund commentary.
If you’re interested in enhancing the cost-effectiveness of your commentary process, applying templates is one answer. Please ask us for some examples of templates or get us to design one just for you. And we’d be happy to work with you to implement templates across your business, including how to work with investment teams that are reluctant to accept change.