Homeschooling in lockdown #3

Like hundreds of thousands of parents around the country I’ve been trying my hardest to master the balancing act of homeschooling – year 1, year 3 and year 8 – and work.

What has blown my mind significantly is the complex use of technical language in the lesson guides – especially for the youngest two. I spend a reasonable part of my day writing (I even started a degree in English – I didn’t finish it, but that’s another story). Anyway, the point is, I feel pretty confident with the English language, but had to resort to Google more than once! Homophones, subordinating conjunctions, number arrays…I hope I’m not alone in my complete ignorance?

What happened on day one? I thought I’m just not cut out for this. I can’t teach them what I don’t understand. I’m giving up on homeschooling. But actually, I did understand, I may not have known or remembered the technical word for everything, but I certainly understood the concept.

Diagraphs – two letters that make one sound

Expanded noun phrases – using a describing word in your sentence

Part-part-whole – adding up

In fact, it was all pretty manageable once I had the explanations and understood the concepts. I had an emotional driver to persevere, search out that explanation and help my understanding of all that jargon. Not wanting to let your kids down does that to you. Now, what an earth has this got to do with pension communications? Everything!

Everyday words for everyday people

Language is the barrier to understanding. As an industry we have so many words that aren’t part of our everyday language that people are put off instantly. Pensions are pushed in the too hard pile and member’s eyes and ears are closed. And, of course, pensions don’t come with that same immediate emotional driver as home schooling – so people aren’t likely to search out the explanation and work it out for themselves. 

We want people to make sure they’re saving enough for retirement, think about saving their money in a way that matches their beliefs and take their money out in the most suitable way for them. Or as we might say – check your contribution rate is appropriate for the lifestyle you plan to lead in retirement, select from a range of ESG investments, consider which decumulation option is right for you.

Ultimately, we want members to be thinking about their pension well before they’re 50. But very few are.

Marginal gains for improved engagement

Is financial education the key? Is engagement the key. Of course, education will increase engagement – and so will language. There isn’t one silver bullet that will fix engagement overnight. But there are lots of small wins. One is language – to explain a concept – you don’t need the jargon, but if you want someone to understand you definitely need the context. 

What can we – the pension industry learn from home schooling? Get the language right and the engagement will be a whole lot easier.

It’s our job to make pensions accessible to everyone. To help people understand, make decisions, and take action. We don’t need jargon to do that.

Building trust to improve engagement and action

At best jargon is utterly confusing, at worst it jeopardises trust. Getting members to think about their money without trust is practically impossible.

The irony here is that the scammers are winning at building trust and getting members to take action. Their use of simple language and visualised concepts makes their communications resonate. Without the shackles of compliance scammers aren’t jumping through the same technical hoops – adding caveats and diluting the message. This makes their message clearer and stronger and gets members taking action.

Yes, it’s an unfair playing field, but while we keep using complicated language riddled with jargon we’re giving scammers the advantage. 

Want to chat?
Ask questions, bounce ideas or talk specifics - we're all ears.
Shopping Basket