Financial advisors have a lot to say to their clients – but does any of it really get through?
As a discipline, financial advice by its nature involves technical language that is difficult for the layperson to understand – but adding to the challenge, advisors and analysts have constructed a confusing lattice of acronyms, shorthand and slang that can obfuscate what they’re trying to say.
Paul Blease, director of Oppenheimer Funds’ CEO Advisor Institute, likens an advisor’s speech and language to a physician’s bedside manner.
“Bedside manner is a critical component of success when a doctor works with patients,” says Blease. “Can you communicate complex and sometimes frightening concepts using common language along with analogy, metaphor and story to convey what’s going on to a layman?”
Advisors should leave many of the technical terms they use to describe markets and investments behind when dealing with most of their clients, says Blease – meaning terms like alpha, beta and efficient frontier should not be used.
Mere word choice and sentence construction can have measurable impact on client behavior, says Brie Williams, vice president, head of practice management at State Street Global Advisors.
“Word choice matters, studies show that it can make a big difference,” says Williams.