Are You Losing Your Clients in a Sea of Financial Jargon?

Whether you’re crafting a marketing message or talking to one of your clients, do you pat yourself on the back for clear, concise and useful verbiage that gets straight the point? Or (c’mon now), are you proud of how smart you look in front of the client because you’ve used so many sophisticated words?

I will admit that in the past, I’ve occasionally been guilty of patting myself on the back in this way. But I realized it wasn’t getting me anywhere. Whether in marketing, computer tech or financial services industries, it may be natural to look for ways to demonstrate our industry knowledge and skill to others. However, when it comes to talking to clients and prospects, it’s important to remember that geeky, business-oriented language makes lay people feel overwhelmed and dazed. When you deliver information to your clients and prospects, it’s best to eliminate acronyms and buzzwords.

For example – if you speak or write the acronym RMD, some clients and prospects may wonder what you’re referring to while others may understand it to mean “Required Minimum Distribution.” Until you explain what an acronym stands for, the best advice is not to use it. Explain what you are saying in basic terms or risk eliminating the real meaning in what you are saying and thoroughly confusing your audience. Or even worse, frightening them into doing nothing. A great advisor can simplify complicated subject matter into something anyone can understand.

Case in point: The Big Short (2015 Paramount Pictures) is the story of Wall Street guru Michael Burry (Christian Bale), and his realization in 2008 that a number of subprime home loans were in danger of defaulting. The movie focuses on the lives of Burry and a handful of other American financial professionals who predicted and profited from the build-up and subsequent collapse of the housing bubble in 2007 and 2008.

This movie brilliantly explains highly difficult-to-absorb financial terminology and the chronology of the financial crisis in layman’s terms. The Big Short employs vivid and even humorous illustrations to define complex financial instruments and tools, from collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and tranches to credit-default swaps and mortgage-backed securities.

In one of the most entertaining scenes of the movie, Jared Vennett, an ego-hungry broker (Ryan Gossling) explains the risks of tranches in collateralized debt obligations to a team of experienced hedge fund managers. He does so by employing a set of Jenga blocks, each block marked as a bond rating. The tower collapses from the bottom as the hypothetical mortgages default and crumble.

In another scene, celebrity chef, author and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain (1956 – 2018), makes a cameo appearance to explain that “CDOs are like stews chefs make with seafood they don’t sell the day before. “It’s not old fish,” he says with his signature grin and sarcastic, curmudgeonly delivery, “it’s a whole new thing.”

As the main antagonist of the 2011 movie Margin Call, John Tuld (Jeremy Irons) is also a fine example of someone requesting financial jargon simplification. John Tuld’s character seems to playfully ask Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto), a former rocket scientist turned current junior analyst in the Risk Assessment and Management Office, to “dumb down” his explanation of information he has just unlocked. Even though this information could prove to be the downfall of the fictionalized, but based-on-fact firm, Tuld says to Sullivan: “Maybe you could tell me what is going on. And please, speak as you might to a young child. Or a golden retriever.” As it turns out, Tuld is nowhere as detached as he seems, but the exchange gives the audience an opportunity to concretely understand the perilous situation the firm is in during a 24-hour period in the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis.

Isn’t financial jargon the same as professional language? No. Not if you are talking to anyone other than another financial professional. APY may mean Annual Percentage Yield to you, but these are just ABC’s to anyone who doesn’t know what the acronym stands for.

Jargon overload can make clients feel befuddled and you can easily alienate the very people you are trying to engage. Regardless of our profession, we can never assume someone outside of our field understands what we mean unless we use words anyone can assimilate. When financial advisors “talk over someone’s head” they create misunderstanding and perplexity. Especially after the collapse of 2007-2008, and rotten apples like Bernie Madoff surfaced — clients demand absolute clarity.

It may pay to be mindful of how much jargon you are using in your marketing, as well. Do you talk about the what: the products, processes, planning protocols, and preferred rates rather than discussing the how? How do you plan to meet the needs and desires of the client? Is it possible that you could, or should, demystify the ways in which your services calm fears and help people protect what they value most? Can you employ marketing that appeals to the heart of what makes financial issues important?

Financial planning is obviously a big concept. But the feelings associated with financial security or an unwanted financial outcome are not. For one, the frame of mind is happiness and confidence, for the other — anguish and fear. Sparking these emotions is the way to engage your clients and prospects toward exploring quality financial services that meet their needs. You can then be the financial advisor who makes money approachable and understandable. Capturing their attention via marketing that triggers these emotions gives you an opportunity to meet with prospects and clients to clearly answer all their questions, leaving them feeling comfortable and protected.

This type of marketing takes unique writing and design skill, a mastery of sales psychology, and the deep industry knowledge only acquired by many years as a highly successful financial services advisor. You can try to gain this education, and finesse your marketing messages over time … or you can call upon the expertise of e-Relationship to do this for you — building validation and likability for brand you, while generating the seriously high response rates you demand.

How is this achieved? Over 150 e-Relationship e-Storyboards, e-Checklists and e-Videos (covering a variety of topics, but never mentioning a single product) create the kind of “raise-your-hand-for-more-info” responses you’ve only dreamed of achieving. Not only does e-Relationship provide you with patented digital marketing modules (there are 16 different types of content) proven to get you more appointments, they also offer training and resource materials to help you create and cultivate the ultimate lead funnel.

Developed by world-class experts, e-Relationship tracks metrics to help you maximize your return on investment. E-Relationship’s robust automated drip campaign functionality optimizes both prospect engagement and client retention.  Why spend hours crafting marketing messages and building/implementing a follow-up email funnel sent to contacts who may, or may not, want to hear from them? With e-Relationship, this time-suck ends. You spend more time actually selling. Your prospects are constantly telling you that they truly want to talk to you.

And as an added plus — using this strategy couldn’t be more hassle-free! e-Relationship is a tool you can literally set and forget. You don’t need to think about the prospect again until he or she contacts YOU for more information = an appointment! E-Relationship even imports your contacts FOR you — so it’s the easiest possible way to grow your book of business!

If you put in contacts, this tool works. It’s a simple as that. In fact, when e-Relationship subscribers track their marketing execution and results, they find an average 43% increase in revenue over non-subscribers.

Jargon free and easy to grasp, e-Relationship digital marketing is built with a deep understanding of both your industry and your target client. E-Relationship lays the groundwork so all you have to do is set the appointment and clearly explain what you can do for that person. And putting you literally in front of a prospect is all anyone can ask of a marketing tool. Selling them is up to you.

And here’s one last bit of proof that jargon-free is the way to go:

In late 2019, researchers at Ohio State conducted a study.1 One group of consumers was asked to read three paragraphs about technology that only used simple terms. Another group read three paragraphs on the same topic with one exception. It was filled with topic-specific jargon.

The jargon-group read sentences like: “This system works because of AI integration through motion scale and tremor reduction.”

The jargon-free group read: “This system works because of programming that makes the robot’s movements more precise and less shaky.”

The participants who encountered the jargon were given definitions for all the terms, but still reported feeling disengaged after reading it. Not only did they not like what they read, they even began to oppose the narrative.

The jargon-free group, however, felt engaged and wanted to learn more.

As professor Hilary Schulman, author of the study, explained, “The use of difficult, specialized words are a signal that tells people that they don’t belong … you can tell them what the terms mean, but … they already feel like that this message isn’t for them.”

Simplify your marketing and your business life the easy way. Contact e-Relationship today at 1-800-851-8169 or email us at and see for yourself why it’s the #1 digital marketing tool in the financial services industry!  Check us out online at



Written by Donna West

Donna West is the Art Director at Identity Branding, Inc. |  and Creative Director for Bikes For Kids Foundation. Donna has worked as a writer, creative director and designer of books, videos, event marketing, print, radio and tv advertising for over two decades. She’s won praise for designing financial industry classics, as well as 12 Addy Awards for Fortune 50 to small business campaigns. Donna lives in Kernersville, NC.

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