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Inspire Your Audience With Effective Visuals

Most asset management professionals know it’s important to use visuals in client communications. Visuals hold the eye – and reader interest – better than a solid wall of words. But to get the biggest bang from your visuals, you need to know what does and doesn’t work. 

We asked Seth Feaster, who’s created interactive graphics for the New York Times and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, for his insight as a data visualization designer. His advice for financial firms:

More data isn’t always better: “Inundating people with a lot of information isn’t necessarily helpful to them, or to you,” he says. 

  • Don’t overdo it. When the data tells a compelling story, the right chart or graph can highlight important numbers. But a graphic that’s too complex, or worse, irrelevant and stuck in just to break up the text, can be counterproductive. 
  • Know your audience. “One size may fit all, but it fits no one well,” Feaster says. “The best solution is less general but still simple variations targeted at major segments of the audience.” 

Whether graphically or in words, clear communication should always inform your audience. To use charts and data for effective investor education, follow these basic rules:  

  • Evaluate the impact of every image. For each visual, ask:
    • Does this have a specific purpose?
    • Does it convey a precise idea clearly?
  • Use persuasive data. Don’t over complicate visuals with data that’s too technical or require long explanations.  
  • Words still matter. A clever graphic will lose its impact if the writing around it is long, dense, or unclear.

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