Toward the end of a disastrous week on Wall Street, a financial advisor writes a letter to all his clients:
We wanted to reach out and provide some brief commentary on the recent market volatility this summer. Please see attached.
As always, our investment portfolio’s continue to be globally diversified. While short term fluctuations can be unsettling, we believe that a patient, longer term investment approach is the best way to achieve financial success.
Please don’t hesitate contacting [us] with any questions. We value your business and relationship and want to assist in any way we can. Thank you!
The client thinks: Now I'm really worried!
It's not the trespassing apostrophe in "portfolios" that spooks the client; he doesn't even see that, in his panicked greed to get to the reassuring commentary.
No, the client begins to get nervous when he reads about the "recent market volatility this summer," and thinks, That is not what has me on edge. It's losses this week that that I'm worried about! He's a boxer with an eye full of blood, and his financial corner man keeps calling it a bruise.
And then there's the attached—an analysis from the parent investment firm that seems to be designed to merely repeat what the pundits on CNBC say the problem is (China and other developing markets are taking on water and we don't yet know know bad the leak is)—but in language that discourages the client from asking questions.
"Honey, did you see the stock market? It's down like 500 more points today!"
"Oh, don't worry, honey. I got an email from our financial advisor, and he assures me that last week, the Global Investment Committee (GIC) adjusted several of their asset allocation recommendations. Key calls included adding to the tactical allocation in US equities, as well as recommending ultra-short fixed income instead of cash for the liquidity portion of their models. The GIC maintains its 'Rebalance and Reflate' outlook, believing that global growth has bottomed and is poised to reaccelerate into year end, supporting their view that equities are likely to perform well in the coming months. So it's cool."
Strunk & White said, "When you say something, make sure you have said it. The chances of your having said it are only fair."
Writing Boots says: When you seek to reassure, make sure you reassure. Because when you don't reassure, you further alarm.