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Plain Language Matters


Published on

Making the business case for Financial Services,
featuring TD Bank and plain language expert
Deborah Bosley.

Published in: Education
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Plain Language Matters

  1. 1. Plain Language Matters. Words Matter Making the business case for Financial Services, featuring TD Bank and plain language expert Deborah Bosley.
  2. 2. Welcome to our webinar! ● Our call will last approx. 1 hour. ● Please ask your questions in the ‘Question’ facility. ● We have a Q&A session at the end. ● There is a short survey at the end. ● Recording and slides will be shared a few days after this webinar. Your VisibleThread Host Today: Evelyn Wolf CMO
  3. 3. Meet Our Speakers Taylor-Jane Thompson – TD Canada Trust Taylor is a Senior Analyst at TD Canada Trust. She has held various roles within the organization over the past 6 years, both in the retail branch and in head office. Taylor has recently led a Clear Language initiative, and is looking forward to expanding the suite of Clear Language documents within TD. Deborah S. Bosley, Ph.D. – The Plain Language Group Deborah is the Founder and Principal at The Plain Language Group, LLC. For the past 20 years, she has helped Fortune 100/500 banks and investment firms create written content that is easy for people to understand and use. Her clients have included Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, PwC, TIAA, USBank, Wells Fargo, and TDBank in Canada.
  4. 4. Plain Language Matters: Making the Business Case for Financial Services Deborah S. Bosley, Ph.D. | 704.641.1334 Over to our first speaker for today…
  5. 5. Topics ● What are the problems? ● What is plain language? ● What is the business case?
  6. 6. Common, Needless Complexity ● Dense text ● Financial | legal jargon ● Weak formatting ● Action not clear ● Too much information ● Wrong assumptions
  7. 7. Wasted Money, Wasted Hours ● $37 billion in wasted time annually = ● $62.4 million lost per company = ● $26,041 annually per worker ● $75,000 wasted editing hours annually
  8. 8. Increased Clarity
  9. 9. Lack of Trust 2018 Edelman Trust Index
  10. 10. One Bank’s Intro to Privacy Policy Introduction and scope of policy This Wells Fargo Digital Privacy and Cookies Policy (“Policy”) applies to your interaction with Wells Fargo & Company or any of its subsidiaries (collectively, “Wells Fargo,” “we,” “us,” “our”), at any online or mobile site or application that we own and control (“Site”), unless a different online and/or mobile policy is posted at a particular site, or is made available to you and by its terms supplants this Policy. Other privacy policies may also apply in addition to the terms of this Policy. As examples, certain additional Wells Fargo privacy-related policies and notices are posted on the Privacy Policy Index. These include the Wells Fargo U.S. Consumer Privacy Notice, which also applies to U.S. customers and consumers as described in that notice and various international privacy policies, which apply to information collected by us outside of the U.S. as described in those policies. You may also receive an additional privacy notice in connection with your use of a particular product or relationship with a specific business...
  11. 11. Another Bank’s Intro to Privacy Policy
  12. 12. Definition of Plain Language
  13. 13. Plain Language Strategies ● PLAN 1. Understand purpose(s) of content 2. Know your audience(s) 3. Understand the context 4. Write for intended readers ● STRUCTURE 1. Organize for users’ needs 2. Use headings and lists 3. Increase white space 4. Design well
  14. 14. Plain Language Strategies ● WRITE 1. Be conversational | human 2. Write short sentences | paragraphs 3. Use you-attitude 4. Use verbs 5. Use the active voice 6. Use positive language 7. Avoid jargon 8. Be concise
  15. 15. Plain Language Works
  16. 16. Build Trust Why It Pays to Write Shareholder Reports Well Why Simple Language Is Always A More Effective Communications Strategy The Lingo That’ll Save Your Next Cocktail Party, From ‘Rovables’ to ‘Manthreading’
  17. 17. Before This Agreement, including the terms of service for wireless products, features, applications and services (“Service(s)”) not otherwise described herein that are posted at, or devices, and any documents expressly referred to herein or therein, make up the complete agreement between you and Company B and supersede any and all prior agreements and understandings relating to the subject matter of this Agreement. You acknowledge that you are of legal age, have received a copy of this Agreement, and have read and clearly understand its terms. BY USING OUR SERVICES YOU ACCEPT ALL TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT. PLEASE READ THIS AGREEMENT CAREFULLY TO ENSURE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND EACH PROVISION, INCLUDING OUR USE OF YOUR LOCATION INFORMATION (SEE SECTION 3.6). THIS AGREEMENT REQUIRES THE USE OF ARBITRATION ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS TO RESOLVE DISPUTES, RATHER THAN JURY TRIALS OR CLASS ACTIONS. 141 words; 16th grade
  18. 18. After This Agreement • Explains Company B’s terms for our wireless products, features, applications, and services (see for all details, terms, and conditions). • Begins once we activate any of your services. • Replaces any prior agreements between you and us. Please read this Agreement carefully. Sign it only if • You are over 18 years old. • You clearly understand and accept all terms of the Agreement including required arbitration. 70 words; 8th grade
  19. 19. Regulations Require Plain Language • SEC • GDPR • HIPAA • ERISA • Dodd-Frank • TILA-RESPA • DOL 401(k) Fee Disclosure • …
  20. 20. Everyone Wins
  21. 21. Taylor-Jane Thompson, Senior Analyst, TD Canada Trust The Plain Language Project Thank you, Deborah! Over to you, Taylor...
  22. 22. Plain Language Project Keys to Success Collaboration • Between key stakeholders • With other projects/initiatives Organization • Document version control • Decision Logging
  23. 23. Evelyn Wolf, CMO, VisibleThread How technology can support your plain language journey Thank you, Taylor! Let’s talk tech with Evelyn
  24. 24. Trust in the financial services industry has stalled1 98.5% of top global asset management companies in the world have websites that don’t meet basic readability levels2 60% of content produced by brands is failing to deliver4 The #2 area where Financial Services Companies Fall Short is confusing products/services3 47% of millennials indicated they’d be more likely to trust a financial services company if it created useful content5 Financial Services Trends
  25. 25. Today, organizations are publishers
  26. 26. The Communication Challenge ● Maintaining quality when content volumes are rising can be difficult ● Content is often produced by subject matter experts, who are not professional writers ● Communication quality is not defined ● Preconceptions about the “sophisticated” customer exist
  27. 27. ORIGINAL In a traditional sovereign-bond portfolio you typically can’t remove all duration risk altogether. But even here, you can make relative plays on the yield curve that help to offset some of that risk, isolating a particular dimension of risk such as one part of the yield curve (either 5 years vs 10 years, or 10 years versus 30 years for example) and thus dependent on how they perform relative to each other as opposed to directional interest rate risk exposure on either element. It is important to ensure that one exploits one dimension of risk at a time so as not to confuse the risk and ultimately the returns of active strategies. The dimensions of risk, in addition to duration, available to the active manager are: curve; credit (corporate bonds); currency; country (sovereigns, both developed and emerging market); inflation and volatility. This paragraph has 141 words, a readability score of 29 and a grade level of 17.9. It comprises of 4 sentences, 3 of which are long. The longest (flagged in pink) is a whopping 70 words. The other two are 29 words each (flagged in blue).
  28. 28. What should you aim for? ● Grade level of 8 or lower ● Readability score of 60 or higher ● 4% or less use of passive voice ● 5% or less long sentence use ● 1% or less complex language density
  29. 29. SUGGESTED WITH VISIBLETHREAD In a traditional sovereign-bond portfolio you can’t remove all duration risk. But even here, you can make relative plays on the yield curve to offset some of that risk. You can isolate a specific dimension of risk. For example, one part of the yield curve is either 5 years versus 10 years, or 10 years versus 30 years. This makes the risk dimension dependent on how they perform relative to each other. Instead of directional interest rate risk exposure on either element. You should exploit one dimension of risk at a time. This is so as not to confuse the risk and ultimately the returns of your active strategies. In addition to duration, you can use these dimension of risk; curve; credit (corporate bonds); currency; country (sovereigns, both developed and emerging market); inflation and volatility. This paragraph has 133 words. The readability score has improved to 55. The grade level has nearly halved to 9.0. We have 2 long sentences, one is 25 words and the other 20.
  30. 30. Technology supports your organization – VisibleThread Insights Platform VT Readability – Support for Writers § Content creators test and fix their own content for single tone of voice § Instantly flag jargon and corporate-speak § Analyze both offline and online assets; letters, disclosure statements, directives, blog copy etc. § Subject matter experts communicate their technical knowledge in jargon free, easy to understand language VT Insights – For Exec Oversight § Support your plain language program roll-out § Show usage and adoption across your organization § Measure quality improvement across all organization assets, both offline and online § Instantly see if writers are using non-compliant, off-brand language
  31. 31. Over to our audience - what are your burning questions?
  32. 32. Thank you for joining us! Deborah S. Bosley, Ph.D., Founder and Principal, The Plain Language Group, LLC We Make Written Content Easy to Understand. 704.641.1334 Evelyn Wolf, CMO, VisibleThread Words matter. Measure your tone of voice. 703.888.3530