Attention to detail is a sign of quality. However, it is not always the details themselves that matter, or their absence – a half-upturned collar, say – but what they say about a person.
A half-upturned collar shows that a person didn’t look in the mirror before they went out, perhaps because they didn’t have time. So what does that say? Their time management is poor so they are rushed. It suggests a lack of foresight, a lack of planning, and someone that isn’t fully on top of things.
It also suggests a lack of discipline and consistency. These little details are easy – it’s not hard to turn down a collar. What is hard is that it has to be done day in, day out.
Little details are not the be-all and end-all, of course; many geniuses have paid little attention to their look, and many shoddy performers have concealed their short-comings behind immaculate appearance. But we can’t help noting little slips – especially the first time we meet someone. It is a barrier for us to get over.
The quality of the writing of your research is one of these details. If you can’t get basics like grammar, spelling and punctuation right, it may plant a seed of doubt in a reader’s mind. The reader might think: “If you haven’t double-checked for typos, then what else haven’t you double-checked?” This is compounded if the writing is turgid or unclear – you may have the best ideas in the market but if they are poorly communicated they won’t have impact.
This is particularly the case if the reader is new to the product. Readers will grant a certain forbearance – a reservoir of trust – but it is shallow and runs out quickly when there are mistakes. It can be even shallower and run out more quickly when there is no prior relationship between the reader and the author. After two or three mistakes, the reader will start to worry about the accuracy of your data, your thinking and the integrity of your research product as a whole.
For investment research providers, the reader is the fund manager. Given the volume of research that fund managers have to consume every year, they must be among the most discerning and critical readers out there. MiFID II only reinforces this.
People will rarely tell you why they don’t like your product. They will just not use it again. You may not be aware therefore of the mistakes that you are making and how your brand might be suffering. When you are new to a market, you haven’t established that reservoir of trust yet. In a competitive market, small errors and laboured writing may put off potential clients.
Image: Mentalitanissarda, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons