Successful Enough to Fail, Or: Why Fund Managers Must Become Financial Storytellers

I look at a hundred deals a day. I pick one.

— Gordon Gekko

Fact: Even in the most bearish conditions — even during the Great Depression, with the sidewalk serving as a landing pad for suicidal stockbrokers; and even during the Great Recession, with investment banks closing, half-built homes and subdivisions literally collapsing and crises throughout the land — there are still fund managers with a successful return on investment.

But, and there is always a point of qualification to outliers of this kind, those fund managers cannot attract additional funds — they will not themselves be able to keep their respective funds alive — unless they can be effective storytellers; they cannot convince existing investors to stay, and prospective clients to come aboard, unless they can communicate their individual strengths, explain their specific strategies, and describe how and why they continue to make money while the rest of the market bleeds an arterial red across balance sheets and quarterly earnings reports worldwide.

The fund manager must be, or the team responsible for his investor and media relations must act as, a master storyteller.

A storyteller is a superb conversationalist, converting data into dictums and analysis into memorable anecdotes.

A financial storyteller does the same things, never allowing numbers to benumb an audience and bore readers.

If you want to thrive, in other words, you must speak; you must narrate a tale of triumph during a time of economic and emotional adversity.

You must tell your investors the story they need to hear.

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