Poor proofreading

If youre SOAA is fool of spalling musteaks no 1 wil take yoo searosly. (Yep. Dad joke).

This is simply a fact. Your SOA is a written document that will initially convey your advice to your client. Later on, it will stand as a record of your work and may help to bring in more work – in many ways, your SOA is your best marketing tool. Alternatively, in the unhappy event that your advice is questioned or challenged, the last thing you want is for your SOA to come across as a shoddy document full of mistakes. Imagine the fun a lawyer might have with you on the witness stand. “Please State your Name… and then please spell it…”.

So, proof-read any document that will see the light of day. We extend this principle beyond SOAs to include emails, letters, etc.

The process of proof-reading can be more difficult than it appears. This is especially the case when proof-reading our own writing. Often, when we are reading our own writing, we are so familiar with the message we are trying to convey that we tend to skip over the actual words that we have written. We read what we want the writing to say, or what we think it says, rather than what it actually does say. And, of course, if we misspelled a word in the first place, that may be because we do not know how to spell it – so reviewing it ourselves will not reveal the error. Put simply, it is very easy to miss your own mistakes.

Therefore, the best way to have a document proof-read is to get someone other than the writer to read it. Tell the reader to highlight any errors they think you have made or anything that they do not readily understand. Even if the highlighted areas turn out not to be errors, this is still useful: you will have to check them and a ‘false fail’ on a practice run is much more useful than a ‘false pass.’

On this note, asking someone who is not a financial adviser to do your proof-reading can be especially useful, as they will identify any terms that you have used but which might not be understood by some who is not a financial planner – like your client.   

If you do not have another person who can proof-read for you, then try to leave as much time as possible between the time you write the advice and the time you read it. This makes you less prone to making assumptions about what you have written. If you can, try to read the material in a different medium. If you wrote it using a computer, print it off and read it on paper rather than reading it on the screen. Again, this will help you make fewer assumptions about what is written and help you identify more mistakes.

And, of course, run the spell-check and grammar-check functions on your word processing software.

The Dover Group