If a picture paints a thousand words, then why are we still conveying client information in tabular format, asks Tim Ryan, when there are much more engaging methods at our disposal?
This may be a one-sided view but hopefully it will prove a catalyst to re-thinking how we reach our audiences with performance measurement information.
As an industry our usual way of reporting is in tabular form (see Figures 1 & 2, overleaf). Recently while presenting at an industry conference I asked around 50 investment performance measurement-related professionals to confirm whether this is how they presented their performance attribution. The vote was unanimous. I asked them if this is how they’ve seen performance attribution presentations for more than a decade (as I have) again, unanimous. I then asked them to tell me what information was contained in the first example (the 24 GICS groups). After a rather awkward silence I walked them through it. So this begs the question: If 50 investment performance and investment performance-related professionals can’t readily clarify the key information on a ubiquitous performance attribution report, what on earth makes you think anyone else can?
One of the first things we must bear in mind is the attention span of an audience. Do you know what it is? Not sure? How frequently does the average person flip channels when first handed a television remote? Every 10 seconds, or less. Sad but true. And hey, can you do me a favor and stop texting? Or take off the iPod headphones while we have this conversation? Now where were we? Oh yes, the audience’s attention span… see my point?
Even for a captive audience of interested professionals paying to hear someone, that speaker has their undivided attention for around 90 seconds straight. This is the frequency presenters are advised to move or make a gesture to retain an audience’s attention.