Niche work involves specialized knowledge that clients rely on the editor knowing—so that they don’t undo necessary work, so that they make sure that standards are upheld, so that there aren’t needless queries about standard phrasing and jargon, and so that the editing process is as smooth as possible. Niches include fields such as legal, medical, education, and financial. We spoke to two financial editor/writers to get their take on what editors need to know: Christine LeBlanc of Dossier Communications and the Don’t Eat Cat Food blog, and Danielle Arbuckle.
“I work on marketing material and regulatory reports,” says Arbuckle. Marketing materials include blog posts, newsletter articles, brochures, web copy, and whitepapers. Reports include quarterly updates for mutual fund companies that are regulated by the Securities Commission. “Almost everything I work on is for an investor audience. Other editors may work on annual reports, financial statements, fact sheets. There’s no limit really.”
Editors get financial editing assignments from financial marketing firms, banks, mutual fund companies, bond rating agencies, trade publishers with financial properties, financial blogs, and the like.
To do this work, it helps to be comfortable with math and understand financial regulations such as securities. “For example,” Arbuckle says, “you need to know the difference between a change of 1% and a change of one percentage point, understand what basis points are, know how compound interest works, etc. And you’ll generally have to double-check any calculations the writer makes.”
To understand the regulations, there are courses at the federal level as well as provincial and state levels. “This is an area for which location matters, because every country/region has its own securities laws. Passing the Canadian Securities Commission (CSC) course doesn’t mean I know US securities law, for example. That’s probably fine if your focus is marketing material, like websites, brochures, blog posts, etc. If you’ll be working on any regulatory material, you need to know what the regulators in each market want.”
“Once I’ve completed the [CSC] course,” LeBlanc says, “I’ll update my qualifications on LinkedIn and my website, then start approaching financial advisors to offer my writing and editing services.”
“In this industry, authors count on their editors to know what’s happening in the markets AND to understand how the markets work,” Arbuckle says. Current events are important for the editor to understand; knowing financial news is crucial.
“Query anything the writer says that doesn’t jive with current events,” Arbuckle says. “For example, saying the Fed raised rates for the first time in a decade, when it was actually the second increase in the past decade.”
“There are issues of logic that may not come up in other industries. For example, if a mutual fund has an overweight allocation to the energy sector, and the energy sector outperformed the rest of the stock market, saying that the overweight allocation hurt a mutual fund’s performance makes no sense. This comes up a lot, and is something I have to query often,” Arbuckle says.
LeBlanc is taking the Canadian Securities Course to pick up the background. “It’s one of the foundational courses you need to work in the financial industry in Canada,” she says. “I’m halfway through. I won’t go on to actually become a financial advisor, I just wanted to improve my own understanding enough that I could explain to others. At the very least, hopefully it will help me manage my own money better.”
Freelancers have a great start for editing in this niche, LeBlanc says. “You’re running your own business, so you’d better know where your money is and what it’s doing!”