Personal finance is one of the most lucrative niches on the internet. It turns out that talking about making money is a great way to make money. Ad revenue on financial topics almost always outclasses every other genre out there. If that’s got you considering a career as a financial copywriter, or you’re looking to hire one for your website, you should be prepared for what comes next.
Financial copywriters face unique challenges. That juicy CPM comes at a cost. You have to write carefully and cover complex topics that many people misunderstand. Let’s take a closer look at what financial writers must be able to do and what pitfalls they need to watch out for.
What Does a Financial Copywriter Do?
Explain Financial Terms
Whether you’re working on a blog or writing copy for a financial services provider, you will need to have a comprehensive understanding of financial terms. Your readers come to you so that they can understand these terms. You need to be able to explain complex concepts in simple terms.
What’s the difference between a Roth IRA and a traditional 401k? Should expats take the Bona Fide Resident Test or the Physical Presence Test to exclude foreign income on their US taxes? When does an individual need to make estimated payments? All of these are examples of questions people ask that you will be expected to answer.
Most of the time you’ll be talking about taxes and how to avoid them. You might also explain basic financial things for the uninitiated, such as the difference between checking and savings accounts. However, most of your work will involve more advanced topics that require extensive research to deliver accurate information.
Describe Investment Vehicles
One such advanced topic would be investments. This is probably the trickiest topic to cover. Not only are there special rules that apply to this kind of content, but the information is always changing. No matter how much of an expert you are, you’ll need to do research every day to keep up with the ever-changing market.
That means that an article from 2019 praising a particular type of investment may be completely irrelevant in 2021. You’ll need to constantly reevaluate what you know. You cannot rest on your laurels and rely on previous knowledge in the financial sector.
Bonds, stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, real estate, and even foreign currencies are just a few examples of investment vehicles you’ll have to write about. More esoteric options like collectibles and antiques exist as well. Your success will depend on your ability to cover as many financial topics as possible.
Discuss New Technology
These days, financial markets are being reshaped by modern technology. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies dominate headlines. NFTs were unheard of a couple of years ago and now allow people to invest in digital art worth millions of dollars.
If you can’t wrap your head around these new technologies, somebody else will. An essential part of your job as a financial writer is to be able to learn about these emerging technologies and connect them to the industry. If Forbes and Bloomberg are writing about it, you’d better be able to as well.
Report on Markets
If you’re lucky, you might get saddled with writing about the markets. We say lucky because these are generally easier topics to research and write about. It’s not hard to search through stocks and report on which ones moved the most during the day or to identify which sectors had a good week or one to forget.
However, you will be expected to put these reports out quickly and frequently. Some websites have market updates every hour! Others use live feeds that get constantly updated with short bullet points. You may end up in charge of such a feed.
While you’re working on these market updates, you’ll still need to work on other pieces. Financial writing requires multitasking. We would honestly recommend you have multiple monitors so you can keep tabs on what’s going on while you work on something else.
Give Financial Advice
One of the most delicate parts of your job will be to give financial advice. Here is where you run into the most challenging aspects of financial writing. See, you can’t just give out financial advice willy-nilly.
Personal finance guidance is not subject to extensive oversight, but when you get into specific investments and companies, things get complicated. For instance, an article about how much of your income you should put into savings is perfectly fine to publish with zero disclaimers. However, if you were to tell people to put their savings in a particular investment, there are rules.
Let’s take a look at a few of those rules and how they might impact your work as a financial writer.
What Rules Do Financial Copywriters Need to Consider?
If you’re just starting your own blog about finances, you don’t have to worry about the government coming down on you. However, if you get a job writing for a more established financial services provider, then you need to be aware of some rules.
The SEC governs investment advisers, which are companies that provide investment advice and actually handle client money. The SEC also oversees FINRA, which is the organization that provides oversight to stockbrokers. If your company works with investments or acts as a broker, you’ll need to abide by SEC and FINRA regulations.
One of the most important rules that the SEC and FINRA expect you to follow is the principle of full disclosure. This applies to writers who may have a financial stake in the topic of discussion. For example, if you’re writing an article about how great Zoom’s stock has performed this year, you need to disclose whether you have a position in Zoom or not.
Even if you don’t have a position in the investment you’re talking about, you need to be sure you don’t run afoul of SEC rules by entering a position shortly after posting your content. Your company will likely have a policy about this, and you should include it in your writing at either the beginning or end of the article.
These rules exist to discourage people from “pumping and dumping”, or hyping up an investment only to sell their shares when the price goes up. As a financial writer, you have a responsibility to deal fairly with your readers.
That responsibility extends to your accuracy as well. If you botch a pie recipe article, the consequences are pretty insignificant. But give people bad investment advice or erroneous information, and they could lose thousands. You will be expected to cite sources and link to other websites that validate your claims.
Double- and triple-check your information. Something as simple as an incorrect IPO date or a misstated interest rate could swing someone’s decision in the wrong direction. Be sure to include in your disclaimer when the article was written so that readers know whether the information is still useful or not.
Becoming a financial writer calls for an extra level of dedication and excellence. Those high pay rates we alluded to earlier don’t come for free. Otherwise, we’d all be writing about personal finance! It takes hard work and commitment to make it.
How to Become a Successful Financial Copywriter
If you think you’ve got what it takes, by all means give it a try! But if you need high-quality financial content and don’t have the time to master it yourself, there’s another option. You could always come to SteadyContent for your writing needs.
We have a talented team of professional writers from all walks of life. If you need a financial article, we’ve got financial experts at the ready. Go to Steadycontent to see what we can do for you, or join our team if you’re a financial writer looking for some extra work.