Lessons on Outlooks from the Experts

4/5/2016

Lessons on Outlooks from the Experts

Guessing what the future will bring can be a tricky business. But it’s a given that financial firms need to write outlooks. Your clients need your help to make sense of the markets, and that includes giving them a sense of how economic factors and changing trends could affect their investments.

Experts in other fields have to make forecasts too – and face the risks of being wrong. We asked Eric Luebehusen, a USDA meteorologist and blogger, how he approaches this part of his job.

He shared 4 tips for good forecasting:

  1. Allow for uncertainty. “Forecasting responsibly means being as accurate as possible,” says Luebehusen. But when there’s a lot of data to consider, allow for uncertainty. Being open about different possible outcomes, and your confidence level in those outcomes, helps people understand your thinking.
  2. Know your role. Try to make it clear to your clients what is their call vs. your call. “I can’t tell people what flight to take, but I can tell them what the data suggests and what I would do in that situation.”
  3. Be honest. When you’re wrong, apologize and explain why your prediction didn’t pan out. When you’re right, acknowledge that too. Share what you’ve learned from past outlooks.
  4. Review outcomes. “I do a post-storm follow-up for every major event and assess with my group what went right and what didn’t,” he says.

Luebehusen also notes that it’s important to show your human side when you forecast. “Weathermen on TV just talk at you,” he says. “To me it’s a conversation.” Using social media helps him build trust and loyalty among the people who rely on his forecasts.

You can build stronger client relationships with outlooks that offer more insight into your firm’s thinking – how “the sausage is made,” you might say. Doing outlooks right is less about making a series of perfect calls than it is about finding the right voice to connect with your clients and gain their trust.

A communications firm with experience writing to a range of investor audiences can help you make that connection.

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