There is an overwhelming consensus that financial services is full of jargon and that that’s a very bad thing.
I haven’t found a single view to the contrary.
So why it is still so rampant?
Because of us.
Most people in financial services fell into it by accident. We can dream of a future where graduates aspire for a career in our industry but that’s still a little way off. We are here by accident, we might not regret it, but circumstance and chance played a part. Not so with professions such as accountancy and law, where a more traditional career path is established during full time education. Much of our angst relates to a sense of inferiority against these more established professions.
This sense of inferiority bred a drive toward complexity in financial services, a need to prove that what we were doing was worthwhile, valuable and necessary. It was difficult, fiddly. Jargon is simply the language we created for ourselves to amplify that complexity. ‘We’ is the important word. It’s easy to blame product manufacturers, but advisers are paid to cut through this for the benefit of clients. Compliance experts, technical experts, business consultants are just as guilty. As am I.
There isn’t an invisible machine generating jargon in financial services. We produce it, as a comfort blanket, a secret code that only we can decipher for the purpose of proving our own value to ourselves. Nobody else.
Clients and customers are oblivious to all this. They want simplicity. They neither understand nor care about our complexes. Not should they. Pretty much every financial calamity has been caused by a desire to add more and more complexity, when all anyone wants is less of it.
As we suffer another explosion of new definitions and acronyms, it’s the advisers who do the simple things well who should prosper. Adding more complexity to the financial world is pure vanity. It suggests insecurity.
The self confidence of those advisers who want to make things simpler, who don’t overcomplicate matters, is very evident. They tend to be accessible people, whose opinions are sought after. They are happy to disagree with each other, without taking personal offence. They look beyond financial services for ideas and inspiration. We need to be more like them, and remember George Orwell’s 5th rule of writing:
“Never use a…jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.”
The other 5 rules are worth a read as well.