The Angus Diaries – a little less jargon please

Word cloud showing lots of terms commonly used in financial jargon.

News & Insights

Angus MacWilliam

13th January 2016 at 5:00pm

Jargon – the world is full of it. I’ve often wondered to myself, would a volume that’s purely dedicated to terms we’ve manufactured actually now equal The Oxford Dictionary in number?

They appear in all aspects of our lives, there’s no corner that seems to provide sanctuary from a buzzword or mash-up. Nothing seems sacred, no term safe from some lingo, we’ll even create new personas for our star couplings – who’d have ever thought ‘Brangelina’ or ‘TomKat’ would become a second-nature pseudonym and a commonly used term in the public domain.

But don’t be fooled into thinking this is just a modern phenomenon – even the ancient Egyptians appear to have been at it. I read an article recently where they were hailed for creating a ‘Nilometer’ (nice play on milometer there chaps!), known as al-Miqyas in Arabic – there’s no prizes for what this step-like structure measured.

Guilty as charged

And the financial industry is as guilty as any. I’m struggling to think of a field of human activity that has a bigger jargon problem than finance and economics. That isn’t because it’s the most complicated profession; consider the world of science.

Our finances are something we deal with on a frequent basis and are required to make some important decisions around, yet it’s a field that just seems to have a staggering array of terms and jargon built to confuse and confound.

The buzzword barrier

I spend a lot of my time conducting customer feedback sessions to gain insight into how customers feel about their finances and the industry in general. There’s one factor that runs through these sessions like letters through a stick of rock, and that’s a demand for greater clarity. People are often put off dealing with their finances directly as they don’t understand many of the names and terms that are used.

In my last update on ‘The Rise of The Machines’,  I touched on how people are more willing and able to go online and self-serve than ever before. And with two-thirds of investors claiming they would be happy to rely on web-based advice, as long as the right tools are available, there’s clearly a desire.

It would be such a shame to see those willing to manage their money online be put off by specialised language and industry idiosyncrasies – for jargon to be a barrier to people engaging with their finances.

Jargon busting

With this in mind I was heartened to see a blog surface from the MoneyPlus Features Team called ‘Plain speaking about pensions’.

It was a quick jargon buster of some commonly used pension terms and something I think most people, including me, would find very useful.

It’s already been saved to my favourites and shared with my friends on Facebook and LinkedIn – just because I work in the finance industry does not mean I’m immune to its rhetoric.

I’m sure it will get plenty of use.

Share and a share alike

I’d encourage you all to have a look and share. And you can be sure that in my research recommendations I’m always flying the flag for less jargon and more clarity in our industry.

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The information in this blog or any response to comments should not be regarded as financial advice.