Ok, so maybe using the terms "sexy" and "financial news" in the same sentence is a bit of a stretch.
But, in my role as content writer for MyWallSt, one of the biggest challenges I face is making the world of investing seem, well... interesting.
The main investing philosophy we espouse here at MyWallSt is to know what you own and buy what you believe in. Find out everything you can about a company before you invest; believe in it enough to hold for the long run.
There's a lot of work to do before new investors get to that point, however. Spouting off various facts and statistics about the benefits of long-term investing can only get you so far. One of the most vital tools that a new investor really needs to succeed is the ability to understand financial news reports as they happen and take action from them.
Anyone can get their fill of news from sites like Reuters and CNBC. And though they give great analysis during busy times in the market (like the current earnings season), if you're trying to take that first step towards building your portfolio, terms like 'GAAP profitable' or 'diluted shares' might do nothing more than scare you away.
The bark of the financial world is a lot worse than its bite. If you can start consuming news about the stock market in a digestible way, you'd be surprised at how much it all makes sense really. You might even find yourself quite enjoying it!
And therein lies my job at MyWallSt... giving you digestible financial news.
So how do we do it?
As with most things in life, context is key.
In reporting news about the fortunes of a company on the market, we try to give the facts first and foremost. However, it's of equal importance to give as much context as possible around this information so that you can understand the relevance of what you're reading.
Take Under Armour's earnings report earlier this week, for example. Revenue of $1.41 billion over the last quarter might not seem too shabby, right? So why are shares in the company being battered?
Well, when you realise that this was actually a 5% drop in revenue from the same time last year, you understand that Under Armour's performance was actually quite weak. When you see how the company has cut its earnings outlook for the rest of the year, you figure that things are even worse.
This doesn't exclusively apply to financial figures. Tesla's efforts to build 5,000 Model 3 vehicles a week by early next year might seem admirable, but that target was originally supposed to be hit next month. Restaurant stocks like The Habit and Chuy's posted disappointing results this week, but there is widespread challenges facing the restaurant industry as a whole at the moment.
I could go on, but I think the point is pretty clear. Communicating cold hard numbers to readers just isn't good enough. To be truly useful, audiences need help in understanding the broader significance of what they are reading.
Recently, I happened across an article which claimed that 82% of 18-to-34 year-olds still find their approach to investing influenced by fears from the Financial Crisis.
Is that surprising? Not really. Is it worrying? Absolutely.
As humans, we have the unsettling tendency to focus on the bad more than the good. When most people hear 'stock market', they immediately think 'crash'. We unconsciously recall the few bad years and ignore the majority of good years.
We forget that, from 1973 to 2016, the average return of the S&P 500 was 11.69%. That's including Black Monday in 1987, the Dotcom Crash, and the Financial Crisis of 2008.
But my blogs and articles aren't going to change human thought patterns that have developed over thousands of years... as much as I might like to think otherwise. That's why, in bringing you financial news, we try to mentor our readers too.
This doesn't mean that we know everything and that you should blindly follow what we say. Quite the opposite in fact. Those of us who write here at MyWallSt might have a little more experience than those that are new to the market, but that doesn't mean we get things right all of the time.
The experience of making mistakes is useful though, and helps us to better understand the actions and movements of the market. By imbuing our reporting with lessons learned and findings found the hard way, our readers are given the best platform to start to building their own market experience.
In a world where everyone takes themselves a little too seriously, we make sure that we don't.
Don't get me wrong, investing is a serious business. Long-term investing is one of the most accessible ways for anyone to grow significant wealth. This could be cash you need for a new car down the line, the deposit for a house, or even to fund your retirement.
That sounds pretty serious to me.
But we also want investing to become a part of your life that you enjoy. It doesn't have to be just another thing you go through the motions with. Finding, researching, and investing in great companies can actually be a lot of fun.
That's why we try to include humour in our reporting where possible. If we make a mistake, we'll be the first to lambast ourselves for it.
Not every story has to include the humdrum of profit margins and revenue forecasts. In fact, Elon Musk's latest venture into outer space or underground might be just as relevant to a Tesla investor as the company's latest balance sheet.
There's an old saying that the market only acts like a casino for those that treat it like one. In the same way, financial news is only boring if you choose to treat it that way.
These are just a few of the approaches that we take towards writing financial news that is relatable and enjoyable for the reader.
The craft has by no means been perfected, and there will always be news that ends up plain boring--no matter how you jazz it up. However, I really believe that the way in which MyWallSt is trying to approach news about the markets makes it more accessible to thousands of people who felt like they didn't know enough to get started.
And remember, financial news really can be sexy... sorry, digestible... if you want it to be!
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