Communication is an art; it is a skill that far too often many fall well short of.
In the financial services industry and in particular for those trying to help people understand about savings, pensions and tax, there is often a criticism of using terms, phrases and acronyms that are jargon to the man on the street and do nothing to demystify pensions and savings, let alone engage people with saving more.
Good communication is about knowing your audience and designing what you 'say' to meet their needs, using words they not only recognise but that they will respond to and in a style that enables the message to reach and include everyone by using different delivery methods and multiple channels.
For example, when we deliver financial education in the workplace we show employees not only how to 'read' a pension statement but more importantly how to take the information that's in it and use it to see if their retirement savings are on track. The communication itself i.e. the pension statement is not the end objective, it is a signpost in that individual's journey to a happy and fulfilling retirement.
Communication that helps people to see why a pension statement is useful, why it's a good thing to use a pension modeller and the steps people can take to improve their income in retirement helps employees to join the dots, allowing them to connect their now with their future and giving them the confidence to do something about that now.
Financial education shouldn't just be about raising financial awareness, it should be a call to action to show people what to do with that information. For most people it's not just about the 'what?' it's also about the 'what does that mean for me?' and then the 'so what can I do?' and 'how do I do it?'
Removing jargon is always a good idea. When trying to get people to take more control over their savings, pensions and tax it is essential. But it doesn't stop there as great communication around savings not only explain 'what?' but shows people 'why?' and 'how?' and 'holds their hand' through the process.
Five phrases we have to change to get people saving more Thanks to auto-enrolment, 25 million UK workers are now saving into a pension. But if, in years to come, large numbers of employees start retiring with minuscule pension pots they were expecting to live on, we’ll have a riot on our hands. To avert that, Aviva has said the minimum contribution should jump to 12.5%. In the meantime, we need people to choose to increase their contributions significantly. So how do we do it? Other than making schemes more generous, the usual answer is ‘financial education’. But this shouldn’t mean teaching people to speak Pensionese. .