As I prepare for my upcoming workshop with Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs), I am thinking about how important it is for people working in finance to help general audiences understand their world and its myriad of complexities.
Finance, financial engineering and new technologies have brought us a global financial system that is staggering in its size, diversity and complexity. I would venture to say that there are very few people who fully understand it inside and out.
Add to this mix the commercially-motivated actors who are trying to persuade you to earn a buck, and the bad actors who deliberately seek to misinform, and you can see why financial literacy among the general population is an important policy imperative.
I believe financial professionals who can educate their audiences about what they do in clear and compelling language can help balance out the situation.
For instance, you can write “simplify-the-complex” articles, which are one of the 17 types of thought-leadership articles I have identified.
What is a “simplify-the-complex” article?
In my book, I define that type of article like this:
“Simplify-the-complex” stories are stories that serve the reader by making something difficult to grasp much easier to do so. These stories examine a complex subject and make it more accessible by breaking it down in new or different ways. They often benefit from good analogies and metaphors, as well as anecdotes, to illustrate the idea. If your audience constantly asks you about a complex subject, that might be a good subject to address in a simplify-the-complex story.
Investor and hedge fund manager Ray Dalio has a special talent for simplifying the complex, particularly in his videos.
He has taken it upon himself to help people who might not even be interested in finance understand the implications of what’s happening in the global economy on their lives and businesses.
This video he created about principles for dealing with the changing world order is an excellent example of using simple language (and illustrations) to explain complex problems and reasons why.
Whether you mirror Dalio’s style or develop your own, I encourage finance professionals to get out there, find your best ideas and frame those ideas into stories that serve your audience and help the non-specialists understand the forces that impact us so greatly.