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How to write about money

Russell Hutchinson's top four tips for better writing about money.

Friday, August 28th 2020, 6:00AM

by Russell Hutchinson

Lockdown 2.0 is confronting us again with the need to push our businesses further into an online context. To communicate with existing clients online is relatively straightforward.

To reach new ones means a wider range of skills. The online marketing folks constantly talk about the importance of content creation.

Content meaning what we write, say, or show people online about our world. In a world where writing about money, talking about money, and even creating videos or pictures about money is increasingly important, how you do that is a skill worth studying. So here are my top four tips for better writing about money.

  1. Don’t write like a financial adviser, try to write like a client who is excited to discover that their financial adviser is great, and they want to tell their friends all about that. You are not normal. You are a financial adviser, normal people don’t do that – although many people work in financial services, very few work as financial advisers. The way you think and talk about money isn’t normal either. Sure, it is better,but the effect of the way you think is that it separates you from other people. To communicate we must speak the same language. You can spend years trying to teach your clients your language, or try to express important financial concepts in ways they can understand. Talk in theirs, it works quicker.
  2. Do not write about financial products. Money itself is not interesting to normal people. Sure, they gaze at the Lotto posters and think ‘if only’ but they don’t think about financial products when they do that. They think about new houses, cars, kitchens, clothes, charitable donations, kids’ educations, travel, and a bach by the sea. Not products. Lots of well-meaning articles like ‘what is trauma insurance’ are probably read by few. Most of them in the industry studiously looking for clues about how to write better.
  3. Do not includes maths. Stephen Hawking, when writing his knock-out best seller, ‘a brief history of time’, was told by his publisher that for every equation he included in the book sales would halve. Every time you ask your client to do any maths, their interest halves. Most people can’t work out 20% of a $300 item. One of the big reasons for having an adviser is to avoid doing maths.
  4. Write about the problems and the process of finding the answers – not the answers themselves. You aren’t a financial journalist, you’re a financial adviser. The problems they have are real, to the extent that the best solution is financial advice, write about how to get started.
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