The Importance of Knowing How to Write Well

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The Importance of Knowing How to Write Well

I read this article yesterday, Does it matter if students can’t write well? at the Financial Times.  I say, yes it matters.

I’m not the greatest writer.  I have no books to my credit, so far, only a blog where I have written 2.5 million words over a 6.5 year period. Oh, and my lost writings at RealMoney.  Contact me if you can get them back.

I never thought I would write so much when I was young.  I was a math & science guy.  That said, I was one of three guys who managed the creation of the top yearbook in the nation in 1979, as evaluated by two separate judging committees.  We had talented copy editors, of which I was not one of them.

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Today, when most writing is short cycle, and we find proofreading errors in even the best publications, we tend to deprecate writing.  I want to explain why learning to write clearly is important.

If you want to show that you can evaluate qualitative data well, you must be able to write well.  Good ability to write shows that you can evaluate the softer data that is often more important than the raw numbers.

Qualitative reasoning is as scarce as quantitative reasoning.  Being able to express it in a structured way, so that most can understand it takes skills in writing.

Thus I would say to all:

  • Learn math and science.
  • Learn reading and writing
  • Together, they are more powerful than separate.  I am glad I have both skills.  Skills in both can be developed, if you are patient.

So apply yourself to learning.  After all, that is one reason why God created man.  (For that, read Ecclesiastes… and if you don’t get it, email me.)

By David Merkel, CFA of Aleph Blog

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David J. Merkel, CFA, FSA — 2010-present, I am working on setting up my own equity asset management shop, tentatively called Aleph Investments. It is possible that I might do a joint venture with someone else if we can do more together than separately. From 2008-2010, I was the Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp Securities. I did a many things for Finacorp, mainly research and analysis on a wide variety of fixed income and equity securities, and trading strategies. Until 2007, I was a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, responsible for analysis and valuation of investment opportunities for the FIP funds, particularly of companies in the insurance industry. I also managed the internal profit sharing and charitable endowment monies of the firm. From 2003-2007, I was a leading commentator at the investment website RealMoney.com. Back in 2003, after several years of correspondence, James Cramer invited me to write for the site, and I wrote for RealMoney on equity and bond portfolio management, macroeconomics, derivatives, quantitative strategies, insurance issues, corporate governance, etc. My specialty is looking at the interlinkages in the markets in order to understand individual markets better. I no longer contribute to RealMoney; I scaled it back because my work duties have gotten larger, and I began this blog to develop a distinct voice with a wider distribution. After three-plus year of operation, I believe I have achieved that. Prior to joining Hovde in 2003, I managed corporate bonds for Dwight Asset Management. In 1998, I joined the Mount Washington Investment Group as the Mortgage Bond and Asset Liability manager after working with Provident Mutual, AIG and Pacific Standard Life. My background as a life actuary has given me a different perspective on investing. How do you earn money without taking undue risk? How do you convey ideas about investing while showing a proper level of uncertainty on the likelihood of success? How do the various markets fit together, telling us us a broader story than any single piece? These are the themes that I will deal with in this blog. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In my spare time, I take care of our eight children with my wonderful wife Ruth.

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