Avoid your annual market outlook blending in

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A look of distinction
By Susan Burchill, staffer. 8 March, 2019
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When the time of year rolls around for wealth managers to publish their annual market outlook, it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work for internal teams, from the office of the CIO to marketing, compliance and beyond.

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Whatever form it takes, if the market outlook is doing its job it will provide guidance and reassurance for investors, and affirm the role of the wealth management team as a source of inspiration and market leadership.

For some, the year-ahead outlook is also an opportunity to set themselves apart from the pack. For others, it’s a valuable asset churned out in the same way each year, usually let down by structure and design. To give you some inspiration, we present four leading examples of imaginative approaches to the annual market outlook.

UBS continues to surprise and delight

In their Year Ahead 2019 report, UBS show they understand the taxed mind of a busy reader.

In the digital presentation, information is broken up into digestible paragraphs, with video to simplify the message, animated graphics to reinforce the theme and interactive buttons helping to summarise concepts. All of which is neatly tied together through the theme of navigation and the device of a canoeist paddling his way through ice floes.

The digital report has been gamified too, with readers encouraged to see how effectively they can time the market and buy/sell as a market ticker tracks price movement, and market events pop up. In the end, you’re shown how much money you’ve made relative to a “buy-and-hold” investor.

The canoeing/navigation theme is maintained in the language which is friendly and simple, and speaks of rising tides lifting boats and “testing the waters”.

UBS has already shown they believe in content, in talking clearly to people about the things that matter to them, using language they relate to. Which is why the call-to-action for downloading the UBS CIO Year Ahead 2019 says: “I want my free copy (No fluff. No ads)”. How’s that for clarity and engagement.

Overall, both the interactive and PDF reports have a quiet, consistent visual style in calming blues, without too much in-your-face branding noise. The message is clear – don’t panic, stay calm as you paddle your way through the volatility ahead.

Deutsche Bank peaking

In their Wealth Management CIO Insights and “investment themes for the world ahead”, Deutsche Bank chose the metaphor of navigation to carry readers through summaries of their six themes. Where they differ is instead of ice floes, they presented the “peaks” of recent years: peak liquidity, peak growth in GDP and corporate earnings. The report asks us to “look beyond the peaks” for opportunities in 2019.

An almost five-minute video reinforces the metaphor and shows vision of real mountain peaks with illustrative overlay as CIO Christian Nolting talks viewers through key insights.

Both the website and the PDF reports have a strong illustrative feel, with a hero graphic showing mountain peaks and a cityscape with a couple viewing it through binoculars. Each theme has its own illustration which sets the tone for that section; portraits of the report’s writers are also illustrated. The style is whimsical and colourful, and borrows the editorial feel of a quality news magazine, adding to its gravitas.

The style is whimsical and colourful, and borrows the editorial feel of a quality news magazine, adding to its gravitas.

The End of Easy according to Wells Fargo 2019

Wells Fargo isn’t pulling any punches with the title of their 2019 Outlook presentation: The End of Easy. It’s a bold statement and it stands out among the standard ‘Annual Market Outlook’ title.

In the PDF report, CIO Darrell L Cronk starts his introductory letter with a quote from Marie Curie that sets the stage: “I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.” While he makes no promise that the road ahead will be easy, he also reminds us that it’s in the nature of progress.

And while the future may present some challenges, Wells Fargo has tried to make at least the market forecasts easy to understand online.

The website component has lots of colour and movement – menu items and headings slide onscreen, clickable buttons expand out and selected year-end 2019 growth forecasts are up front in big type. You can’t miss them.

In the video to go with it, head of global market strategy, Paul Christopher and head of global asset allocation strategy, Tracie McMillion summarise opportunities and risks, giving a human face to the forecasting.

The report then focuses on five strategies for investors and three key themes before pushing to the full pdf report. Where the report falls short is it’s fairly standard in terms of its presentation and is quite dense with wall-to-wall text and little in the way of graphics to break it up. You could say it’s ‘The End of Easy’.

Macquarie – The Way Forward, from above

Macquarie Investment Management’s 2019 Global Investment Outlook uses rich photographic visuals that present a bird’s-eye view, suggesting immediately that here are some expert wealth managers with perspective.

Moving drone vision of a cityscape, a forest and an ocean emphasise their 2019 report subtitle: The Way Forward. Over the top, a prominently positioned video replays the webinar they streamed worldwide in December 2018.

Investment themes are illustrated in an infographic style with bar graphs that animate on screen horizontally over a dark background. Adding to the credibility of the insights, infographic-style data shows the number of experts who contributed to the report and the investment capabilities of Macquarie dotted around the globe.

The full PDF report mirrors the look of the website with the same rich, bird’s-eye photography, playing with shadow and lights.

The distinctive animated visuals and dark, almost-futuristic feel certainly back up Macquarie’s promise: “Our boutique managers are known for independent thinking and, at times, contrarian views.”

An annual market outlook represents a huge opportunity for a wealth manager to impress expertise on clients and stand out in the market, yet so many treat it as a hygiene activity, sticking to the same approach they always have. Considering the time invested from all sides of the business, it’s worth devoting time to a distinctive design that will complement and bring the hugely valuable insights to life.

[Full disclosure: Macquarie Bank is a client of The Dubs] 

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When Susan was a youngster she didn't know what she wanted to be, but somehow she fell into advertising; then digital was invented so she worked on websites for a while. From there it was a small leap over to TV producing, scriptwriting, promo writing, and some copywriting.... Then when content marketing became a 'thing', she somehow fell into that. It's worked out ok so far - luckily she's always landed on soft things.