Hartford Funds Investment Writer Kristin McGinley on Writing Emails, Building Relationships, and Finding Your Passion

Kristin McGinley is an Investment Writer at Hartford Funds, where she develops investment content for RFPs, pitchbooks, new product launches, internal product training efforts, and consultant databases.

Here is what Kristin had to say when we asked her about career best practices and effective communication:

GenHERation®: What are your primary responsibilities in your current role?

Kristin McGinley: I was hired about four years ago for this position, which was a new role at the time. I started primarily working on responses for proposals and due diligence questionnaires. A prospective client or client would send questions about products, and I would develop customized answers. My role has expanded since then, and I work on customized RFP responses, pitchbooks, new product content, and fund summaries. I also work on new product training, consultant databases, and annual report letters for our funds. Furthermore, I work on other writing projects that come up, which could be white papers, thought leadership pieces, or reviewing materials before they go to PR.  

GenHERation®: What elements should be included on your resume to stand out among hundreds or thousands of applicants?

McGinley: My resume has graphically looked the same for 20 years now. It is in Times New Roman font and laid out in plain text blocks. I am a proponent of less is more. Keep it to one page if possible. I read an interesting article today in The Wall Street Journal that emphasized making it skimmable. If you have an objective, it should really focus on the job you are applying for. Make it customized to that position. Look at the job description and use those keywords in your resume. Make sure what you put on your resume really applies to that job. If you are applying for a writing position and don’t have a lot of experience, perhaps you could mention if you worked on the school newspaper or yearbook. If you don’t have years of experience, show that you are responsible and have transferable skills. Finally, don’t be subjective; quantify experiences by saying, “I worked with seven financial advisors,” for example.

GenHERation®: How can you best prepare for your career journey when you are not exactly sure what you want to do?

McGinley: Start with talking to a guidance counselor or go to a career fair. Take a strengths assessment. Talk to a trusted teacher, mentor, friend, or family member. Ask people where you shine and excel. You can take that and look for places where those skills will serve you well. For me, I always excelled in writing, but I had no clue what I wanted to do. I was just told to get a degree and take a job that makes money. Find what excites you and have an open mind. My first job out of college was working as a bank teller. I didn’t love it, but while I was working as a bank teller in a small college town, I saw a ceramics studio one day and decided to take a class. I took this six-week class and in that class I met someone who worked at an institutional financial services firm. She told me about an equity research analyst position where she felt I would be a good fit, and that conversation changed my life. 

GenHERation®: When you transition to a new company, what steps should you take to maintain the relationships you developed at your previous company?

McGinley: I have changed jobs 11 times in my career. Be gracious to those who gave you the opportunity. I think it is important to let people at your previous company know if you have outstanding projects. Create a transition process document, so that people are left in a good spot. I have seen too many times where people left things open-ended, and it left a reputation that someone didn’t care. They left us without insight into what needed to be done. For co-workers you built a rapport with, maintain contact through emails or LinkedIn. Set up monthly calls or lunches with them. 

GenHERation®: What are three strategies you utilize to write effective emails?

McGinley: First, always have a clear subject line. Not only does it help your reader, it also helps you when you have to search for emails about projects. You want your subject line to be as straightforward as possible, so people will get back to you. Second, start with what you need and when you need it by. I recommend 24-48 hours for urgent matters and one week for those that are non-urgent. Bold the deadline. I also use Outlook reminders, so I know when to follow up if I haven’t heard back from someone. Third, make your email easy to read and follow. Have a bulleted list if you have attachments. If you are on a group email, give people direction by calling out their name for a specific request. Set up a call if there is too much back and forth. Finally, always use good judgment. Check cc and bcc. Assume that what you are sending is public. 

GenHERation®: How do you determine what communication channel is most effective to use when trying to achieve a goal?

McGinley: If it is someone I know well and it’s a quick question, I will send an IM or email. If it’s a simple request for information, I will do an email. Meetings are more about open-ended topics and things that can’t be easily conveyed in an email. For example, if you want to get people’s thoughts on a training, schedule a 15-minute meeting. This also helps to build solid working relationships across the firm. When you have a good rapport, people will be more likely to respond to email later.

GenHERation®: What advice would you give to your younger self?

McGinley: When I was in high school and college, I had no clue what I wanted to do, and it seemed like everyone else knew exactly what they wanted to do. I knew I wanted to be financially independent and do something that challenged me. My career path moved from bank teller to equity research to wealth management. Then the financial crisis of 2008 made me reassess because my job was going away. Over my career, people always complimented my writing, so I knew that was something I excelled in, so I looked up if you could be a financial writer. I applied for one of the positions, was hired, and started my financial writing career. Don’t be afraid. It’s okay to not know what you want to do. Be open. 

Kristin McGinley is an Investment Writer at Hartford Funds, where she develops investment content for RFPs, pitchbooks, new product launches, internal product training efforts, and consultant databases. During her career as a financial writer, she has written and managed customized RFP responses, thought leadership, and white papers for a variety of financial services firms, including Abrdn, PFM Asset Management, and SEI Investments. Kristin earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Centre College. She is a CFA charterholder, and has earned the FINRA Series 7 license and CFA Institute’s Certificate in ESG Investing.

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