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A Q&A With Andrea Keatts with AMBK Research: Financial Content Writing Services

I LOVE finding good resources and letting people know about them!

A few months ago, I was so excited to discover Andrea Keatts with AMBK Research, LLC. Andrea is an incredibly talented financial writer and, in a world where content is king, I was thrilled to find her...and pass her information to you!

Here's more about Andrea:

Can you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you get here? Why did you decide to go out on your own?

I spent the first several years of my career working at Merrill Lynch. Before the global financial crisis, I worked in trading operations building trading systems and maintaining model portfolios. I eventually transitioned to private wealth management. I left the retail side of the industry to explore other options and have worked in sales, as an analyst, as a plan participant educator, a financial planner, and in institutional consulting. Across each of these roles the thing I always gravitated towards was writing. It didn’t matter what type. I’ve written test scripts, investment opinions, educational pieces, and economic and market commentary. I went out on my own because I wanted to focus exclusively on writing and I wanted to pick my own clients and assignments.

What makes you passionate about what you do?

Communication is so important. 99% of what goes on in the financial industry isn’t rocket science, yet people who aren’t industry insiders find a lot of the material and concepts convoluted and difficult to understand. This isn’t because the material is hard. It’s because it’s not explained properly. Some of the most brilliant analysts I’ve worked with have had the same motto: “Unless you can explain it to a five year old then you don’t really understand it.” I wholeheartedly believe this statement. It is my personal mission and the mission of my company, AMBK Research LLC, to improve the financial literacy of the general population by assisting fund companies and other financial professionals in producing more effective educational pieces and other collateral. You can read more about my company’s mission and service offerings on our website: Writing samples are available there as well under the “About Us” menu in the “Writing Samples” section.

Tell us a little bit about what you provide financial planners and RIAs.

We help financial professionals focus on what is most important to their business by reducing their seemingly endless to-do list. Working with AMBK Research allows you to partner with an outside source to produce customized client communication newsletters, blog posts, white papers, and commentary pieces. All you have to do is come up with the idea. Leave the heavy lifting in somebody else's capable hands and get back some of your day.

AMBK Research also partners with advisors to refine the messaging that powers your sales and marketing materials. It can be helpful to have an informed, industry seasoned second set of eyes review pitch books and other materials for messaging and brand consistency. Often times, wording that should only be used in the retail space is carried into the institutional sphere. We can help construct verbiage that is powerful and appropriate for each of your client segments, allowing you to more effectively communicate with prospects and grow your business.

What does the client need to give you in order to generate original content?

RIAs and financial planners need economic, market, and portfolio commentaries in addition to regular blog posts, client educational pieces, pitch books, and original thought leadership content in the form of white papers. AMBK Research can generate these pieces from scratch with input from the advisor, or serve as a second set of eyes by reviewing and editing what has already been produced by the advisory team.

How does that affect how you charge?

The fee does depend on how much input the advisor provides. Sometimes the advisor has a clear idea of what they want and already has an outline put together with several bullet points and guidance for how the piece should be written. Other times, the advisor just has a general idea of the type of subject matter they’re looking for, but hasn’t done any preliminary research and doesn’t have much guidance to provide. The more input, guidance, and preliminary research I can receive from the advisor, the less expensive the project will be. This is because the guidelines and bullet points provided by the advisor limit the amount of time I have to spend researching and writing. In addition, clear expectations expressed up front on the part of the advisor help me get it right the first time, limiting the number of drafts passed back and forth before the final product is locked in.

How do you deal with compliance requirements?

After 15 years in the industry, I have a general idea of things that compliance personnel don’t want to see. The obvious items are don’t guarantee performance, don’t make sweeping recommendations that may not apply to everybody reading a piece, use hedging language where necessary, and clearly differentiate facts from opinions. Financial advisors work on a multitude of platforms and have different compliance systems. It’s beyond the scope of what I can offer to integrate with an advisor’s compliance system. I provide the text, then the advisor will need to send it through their necessary compliance channels.

Can you give us the top 3 areas where you think financial planners should be funneling content? White papers? Social media? Newsletters? Industry articles?

No. I think it depends on the client base. If you’re targeting Millennials, use social media. Post cool graphics with eye catching intros and links to things you’ve written. If your clients are retired boomers, some of them still like getting letters in the mail. Survey your clients and see what they want. You’ve probably already taken down their communication preferences in an intake questionnaire, so use that information to target your approach. Whatever you write about, make sure it is current and applicable to them.

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