Pensions  

I vote for jargon-free client communications

Marlene Outrim

Marlene Outrim

Do you know your BCE from your LTA and your GAD?

My poor client did not as he approached his 75th birthday and was sent a form to complete by the provider.

Even after what I thought were my clear instructions, he still struggled and as I felt his pain and frustration over cyberspace, I subsequently managed to complete it for him.

I understand if providers want advisers to complete forms full of acronyms and jargon.

It is probably not an issue, and admittedly, my client was directed to seek help and advice from his financial adviser.

However, he is an independent and intelligent person and thought he could easily complete the form himself.

In addition he may not have wanted to bother me in completing what seemed, on the face of it, a simple form.

It was while I was explaining the different words and acronyms to him that I realised how unfair it was to send such forms directly to clients.

It may be preferable to send them via an adviser, but better still, change the wording to plain English and devise a form that anyone can easily understand and complete.

I also really dislike the use of “crystallisation”, not just in these forms but in reports and suitability letters.

However with paraplanners being techies, they habitually use the term.

Why not say: “When you take your pension benefits”?

OK, six words instead of one, but at least the reader readily understands.

One of the first things newcomers to financial services struggle with is this specific language that has become almost as complicated as legalese, so we are sure to warn them that this will be one of the challenges.

Yes, it is easy when we can all speak this abbreviated language and know what each other means, but spare a thought when you are communicating with your clients — and providers especially — keep it simple, keep it easy to understand and do not complicate matters.

Marlene Outrim is a chartered financial planner at Uniq Family Wealth