Financial jargon confuses consumers

Consumers don't understand the financial jargon used by banks and building societies, according to a survey by National Savings & Investments (NS&I).

The poll of more than 1,200 adults found that 67% of Brits know what a BACS payment is and 38% know what AER stands for. More than half (53%) know what ISA means and 55% understand the term gross.

The survey reveals:

  • 50% are confused with jargon on company websites
  • 25% of people who find company websites difficult to understand admit this stopped them saving with the bank or building society
  • 41% are confused by call centre staff
  • 49% think application forms are too complicated
  • 51% said there is too much jargon used in letters
  • 18% 'strongly agree' that language used in product brochures is too confusing.

The survey also revealed that 60% of Brits would think about switching their bank or building society because of complicated terms and conditions. The top reasons customers would change their bank or building society:

  • no guarantee that your money is safe (74%)
  • bad customer service (72%)
  • uncertain rate of return (66%)
  • complicated terms and conditions (60%)
  • no call centres in the UK (58%)
  • confusing language and financial jargon (54%).

Nearly two-thirds (62%) use search engines to decode jargon, while 27% ask friends or family and 1 in 10 guess the meaning of the term.

Julian Hynd, director of retail at NS&I, said:

"It's clear that customers are being bombarded with financial jargon, not only from their bank/building society but other financial service providers too. But it's important for customers to remember that although the information supplied to them won't be a riveting read, it will provide essential information relevant to them."