Welcome to your new job in content creation within the financial services industry. Your curiosity is your most important asset in your new job. Put it to good use.  

When I was first working in financial communications, one of my assignments was to draft answers to requests for proposals. This was in-house at an investment firm. RFP work can be repetitive and even dull—yet the process opened up discussion opportunities with people throughout the organization as I sought nuanced answers from the investment team, fund accounting and operations, legal, investor relations and others. There was no better way for me to learn more, and learn faster, about the organization I served.  

Look for the equivalent opportunity to accelerate your knowledge in your new role. Let your curiosity protect your processes from becoming rote. Find ways to keep your mind fresh as you build your understanding. Learn every day—including about your clients’ businesses, how your work fits into a larger strategy, and how to improve your content creation skills.  

Learn your clients’ businesses 

Bring your curiosity to the work of learning your clients’ businesses—their value proposition, their customers and competitors, their way of talking. Some of the most useful content you’ll write will connect to industry trends, so study those … with an eye to their implications for your clients and their customers. Look for ways to join the conversation, such as industry forums whether in person or online.  

This is the third in a series of posts we’ve written to welcome the 2023 graduates fortunate enough to have scored a job working in public relations, digital marketing or content marketing for an asset manager, RIA or fintech firm. Don’t miss yesterday’s Lucky you: Digital marketers get the keys to the kingdom and Wednesday’s The best strategy for your new PR career? Say yes! The series resumes next week with pointers for incoming media relations professionals.

 Subscribe to the blog to catch them all, and more.

Seize opportunities to go deeply into esoteric knowledge domains, even if it’s something (say, collateralized loan obligations) that you can’t imagine talking about at the dinner table. Every time you learn something new about the world of finance, you create hooks to hang new knowledge on. Ultimately, you want, with preparation, to be able to get on a call with a subject-matter expert within a client organization and talk confidently about his or her area of expertise. 

That doesn’t mean you have to be an expert. It means you have to be quick on your feet, ask good questions, and keep your clients’ business—including its audience and objectives—in the back of your mind, even as you ask what’s new about CLOs or whatever else is timely.  

Watch for opportunities to participate in client audience persona projects or do a mini version yourself. What’s important to them? What drives their decision-making? Why wouldn’t they choose to work with your client? What keeps them up at night? What are they searching for online?  

Get beyond marketing language. Read industry trade media about topics relevant to your clients. Learn how the words sound. Financial services is a particularly rich area for content development because of the need to translate technical topics into accessible text. To be that translator, you need to develop your ear for both ends of the spectrum.  

Learn how your work fits into a larger strategy 

Until now, you’ve probably written mostly for yourself—that is, under your own name. Now you’ll have opportunities to write on behalf of firms and individuals. You can and should take pride in your work … but it’s not your content.  

The content you create—whether written, audio-visual, social or otherwise—exists to help fulfill a business purpose. It’s part of a larger marketing and communications strategy. Ask questions (within your firm) to help you understand that strategy. Shape your content based on what you learn.  

Seek opportunities to work collaboratively both with colleagues within your firm and with your client-side counterparts. Grab chances to work on cross-functional teams to better understand not only how content is created but how it’s used. For example, as you learn more about SEO and data analytics and learn how customers are finding you and what content is getting the most engagement, you’ll further improve your ability to deliver content that supports its practical success.  

Recognize, too, that strategies change. Follow the financial markets and learn how they relate to your clients’ business strategies. By staying current, you’ll be more confident offering ideas. And as important as it is to execute clean content, what’s even more important is the idea itself. Become an idea person by watching—and by raising your hand with “what if we did this?” suggestions.  

Build on your content creation skills  

You have a lot of competition, not only from people but from AI tools (see this post). How do you make your work stand out?  

First and foremost, make your work clear and accurate. Never try to sound smart. Don’t rely on jargon. Don’t misspell client names (or anything else—but names are especially embarrassing). Whether you’re writing an article or making a video, take care of your audience. Emphasize coherence, one idea leading naturally to the next. Don’t be salesy as doing so can violate implicit trust with your reader. Instead learn to incorporate your clients’ value propositions subtly. Take time to structure pieces in ways that make them easy to follow.  

Beyond those basics, look for opportunities to enrich your content in ways that personalize it to the bylined content authors. Ask those you interview for anecdotes, metaphors and even cliches you can use to bring life to the concepts you address. Seek opportunities to extend your work into other media. Integrate striking visuals. Where appropriate, go deep on a subject. Bring the human element in wherever you can. That’s especially important as we anticipate effects of easy-to-produce AI-generated content on the competition for search rankings. Do what AI can’t.  

How to Process Feedback

As every content creator knows, feedback is part of the gig. We like these tips—six Ps for processing feedback better from the Harvard Business Review. Be sure to check out the article itself to get the full context.

  • Poise: “Poise is about holding feedback with neutrality and grace in the moment you receive it…Step into a feedback session with neutrality—neither enthusiastically agreeing with the feedback nor forcefully rejecting it. This approach…allows [you] to be a better listener instead of simply trying to hear the other person with an intent to respond.”
  • Process: “Processing feedback is about metabolizing it. This demands time, sometimes even a week or more, and doesn’t happen in the moment you receive it…it’s critical to let feedback run through both your body and your mind.”
  • Positionality: “Consider the feedback provider’s motives, position, and intent…Ask yourself: Do you believe they genuinely want to help you? Do you trust them? Gaining a better understanding of where the feedback provider is coming from and how you feel about them will help you develop the objective mindset necessary to work with a potential dissonance like great feedback coming from someone you don’t trust.”
  • Percolate: “Run the feedback you received through a simple decision tree—a method to bring consistency and structure to your decision-making process.” Questions in the tree include: “Do I trust the motives of the person who delivered the feedback? Yes or No? Does the feedback align with my personal values and professional goals? Yes or No?”
  • Proceed: “Rolling out the feedback all at once usually isn’t the best way…[A] slower approach can be especially helpful when the feedback you received was constructive but didn’t necessarily come with a guide for how to incorporate it.”
  • Perspective: “Perspective is about asking those who you respect and who have seen your new performance what they think of it to ensure there isn’t a mismatch between how we perceive our performance and how it’s landing for others.”

Ask for feedback. Remember, you are finding your voice … but even more so, you’re learning how to write and otherwise create in the voice of your clients and every voice will be different. You need to hear from your colleagues whether you’re capturing these voices successfully. Be resilient. Your curiosity and sincerity can lead to blessings in every single project, big or small, intrinsically interesting or not.  

Take pride in your work, but don’t own it  

Take every piece as an opportunity to learn and practice your craft. There’s joy in that. Trust your curiosity. May it serve you well.  

Our five-part series continues next week. Subscribe to the blog to make sure you’ll see the full series. 

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