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Cicero Group welcomed Richard Dyson, Head of Personal Finance at the Telegraph Media Group, for an ‘in conversation’ event hosted on the morning of Tuesday 27 September.

Chaired by Executive Director Mike Robb, the session provided an opportunity for Dyson to outline the types of stories covered by the Telegraph’s money section, to describe changes to its landmark ‘Questor’ column, and to provide more detail on his audience and how they engage with the publication.

He noted that readers want solutions to their questions, rather than scare stories about the state of their finances. Popular recent stories include specific circumstances of readers and how the paper would advise they prepare their finances, noting that detailed stories focusing on an individual reader’s hopes to retire by a certain age (in his example, 48), who currently earn a certain amount of money, hold a certain amount of savings and a specific amount of property, have proved extremely popular with the inquisitive readership community who can then apply this thinking to their own finances. As a result, he sees the paper as a quasi-advisor, given the information it regularly publishes.

While the Telegraph is renowned as a physical paper, Dyson went into detail on the “plethora” of data that helps shape the topics that he writes about. The Telegraph has a focus on SEO to draw users to the site and using website analytics to analyse the issues achieving the greatest traction among readers; as a result, subscribers to the weekly money newsletter have increased sixfold under his watch, with online readership of money content up 60%. This focus on digital sees his team publishing 4-8 stories per day, which will all be covered online but with no guarantee that each will make the paper.

Dyson also said that he hopes that the new Chancellor will refrain from making significant policy alterations during the Autumn Statement, noting that the industry is now “gearing up” to complete changes to pensions freedoms rules and with changes to the buy to let market having already been made in full.

Speaking in an audience Q&A following the discussion, he noted a scepticism with covering stories that are based on surveys, noting that they typically provide the answers that he would expect, with businesses looking to advertise their products rather than provide useful insights. He also noted that readers are typically patient types who will “buy and hold” with their finances, meaning the Telegraph has avoided advising readers to panic following the UK’s vote to leave the EU – with a similar approach likely should Donald Trump win the US Presidency.

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