Say This, Not That!

Lofty statements, technical terms, and jargon that’s incomprehensible to the average retirement plan participant can leave advisory clients feeling confused and frustrated.

Do advisers use phrases that should be translated into plain English? Some people think so, among them ‎Alexandra Taussig, senior vice president for marketing and business strategy at Fidelity Investments. She notes that women have very strong feelings about the language used in talking with financial advisers.

Women often think about investing differently than men, Taussig tells PLANADVISER, and their focus tends to be on goals, not performance. Can they retire when they want, can they put their children through college? Advisers should put things in those terms, rather than pointing to esoteric concepts, such as “how energy is doing,” she says. The word “planning” may sound better than “investing” to some women, Taussig adds.

Jeff Snyder, vice president, senior consultant at Cammack Retirement Group, thinks that male plan participants also may prefer some terms over others. Plan participants are smart, Snyder says, but they don’t do finance for a living. He believes advisers should avoid technical language in order to engage the average American. Don’t forget, Snyder warns, “most people are doing eight things at once.” Best to avoid making things sound complex or more mysterious than they really are.

Take our survey and share your thoughts on the words and phrases that will best reach participants—or “savers” or “employees,” as they are likelier to think of themselves. Thank you!