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How Copywriting for the finance industry is not a black art


Mr Michael Cobb

2021-04-12 4 min read

When copywriting for the finance industry, you often see efforts to write finance specific copy that hasn't quite got it right. In a drive to sound professional and informed the words instead tended to sound mechanical, secretive and cold. Like many specialist industries it also assumes that every reader must be aware of who they are and what they do. In most copy though, professional will only get you so far and attracts a limited audience, which also reduces your ability to make money. Developing a style alongside your copywriter will create a unique vision of what you do and who you are. These are just some of the tips on how to improve how your words make you look.

More man than machine

How many times have you gone back to the same shop because the shop keeper seemed friendly? The same applies to every business, build a level of empathy and likeability and trust comes following pretty close. Friendly is different for every profession though, and a smile is hard to show in words. The finance and legal professions aren’t expected to be smiley and matey in their copy, but showing empathy for the client’s problem is a step in the right direction. For example: “your pension is safe in our hands” is much more friendly than “our latest pension has an IRR of 12.5%.” The rate you return might be true, and that sort of copy might work for a hard-nosed investor, but for many - even professionals - the first phrase is going to make them keep reading and make a decision based on what you tell them later.

I’ve got a secret I can tell you

The financial services industry struggles with an image problem. And one of the reasons is that parts of it suffer from a belief that what it does is a secret. While there may be some element of confidentiality needed between you and the client, your firm’s methods and products are not a national secret. No-one is going to die if you let them know that you too sell derivatives or use hedging to secure your investments.

Even MI6 have a website that describes what they do, if maybe not how they do it, so why are so many funds secretive? Being open with your copywriter and having a discussion about what you can and can’t say about your services and successes will lead to better copy and ultimately, a better level of trust among investors. Openness will win clients much more than word of mouth. Sing your praises at a conference and 100 people hear you, put it on a website and 100 people will see it in a second.

Assumptions make an Ass…

Actually that doesn’t work. But you’ve heard something like it before. While many financial sites have to be careful of the risks of selling to the general public, it is too easy to assume that a professional investment audience is just as aware of your products as you are. While some more assumptions can be made – you don’t have to explain what equities, fixed income and funds are for example – many others should be avoided, especially when launching a new product. While your IFA might know about a closed end fund in general, if they are new to real estate they might not be entirely sure of what a core or core plus fund is.

A good copywriter will take the terms you use everyday and turn them into the phrases that people understand all the time. They will drop the management jargon where and ease the reader into your new product. The idea is to make the audience see you as an expert without coming across as a college textbook.  

I’m feeling all emotional now

The stock market moves on emotions, not data, or that is the saying. In copywriting if you engage an audience’s emotions then you have begun to engage with them as people. We all feel the same feelings of fear, envy, love, joy and happiness and so on and it links us together. A good copywriter uses them at every stage and tries to complement each emotion. It might be a headline that exploits a fear of losing it all, or an appeal to someone’s pride. Or you could further entice the reader by telling a story of what your product has done for your investors, appealing to feelings of security or success.

Telling a success story of the comfort in retirement your pension brings is a powerful sales tool. Sprinkling in some “power words” such as new, today, family and strong gives an extra emotional punch. Investors are just as likely to be swayed by the subtle use of emotion as the public. Don’t be afraid to use emotions in your copy.

But what does everyone else think?

There is nothing like a little confirmation in our lives. We all like to know that we aren’t alone in our decisions. Sometimes we even have to prove those decisions to others. Carrying a quote or comment from an expert can make a massive difference between a positive decision and a customer walking away. Emphasising the award wins and client testimonials are every bit as good among a professional audience. The important part is not the type of proof, but where it comes from. The reader needs to feel that they aren’t the only one in their social or business group who is going to make the decision you want them to. You worked hard for those client testimonials, use them in your copy.

In short there are no real tricks to writing for financial services. As an industry it is not that different in its needs than any other service. It still revolves around creating words that make you and your product unique, professional and knowledgeable and it should have its own unique tone of voice. Most of all though, it should make you money.

Mike Cobb Copywriter

Cobb Communications Ltd.

Vat registered: 372 6181 91

South Woodford- London - United Kingdom - E18