Plain Language Matters.
Making the business case for Financial Services,
featuring TD Bank and plain language expert
Welcome to our webinar!
● Our call will last approx. 1 hour.
● Please ask your questions in the ‘Question’
● 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.
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
Plain Language Matters:
Making the Business Case
for Financial Services
Deborah S. Bosley, Ph.D.
Over to our first speaker for today…
● What are the problems?
● What is plain language?
● What is the business case?
Common, Needless Complexity
● Dense text
● Financial | legal jargon
● Weak formatting
● Action not clear
● Too much information
● Wrong assumptions
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
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Plain Language Strategies
1. Understand purpose(s) of content
2. Know your audience(s)
3. Understand the context
4. Write for intended readers
1. Organize for users’ needs
2. Use headings and lists
3. Increase white space
4. Design well
Plain Language Strategies
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
Why It Pays to Write
Shareholder Reports Well
Why Simple Language Is
Always A More
The Lingo That’ll Save
Your Next Cocktail Party,
From ‘Rovables’ to
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70 words; 8th grade
Taylor-Jane Thompson, Senior Analyst,
TD Canada Trust
The Plain Language Project
Thank you, Deborah! Over to you, Taylor...
Plain Language Project Keys to Success
• Between key stakeholders
• With other projects/initiatives
• Document version control
• Decision Logging
Evelyn Wolf, CMO, VisibleThread
How technology can support
your plain language journey
Thank you, Taylor! Let’s talk tech with Evelyn
Trust in the
98.5% of top global
companies in the world
have websites that don’t
meet basic readability
60% of content
produced by brands is
failing to deliver4
The #2 area where Financial
Services Companies Fall
Short is confusing
47% of millennials
indicated they’d be more
likely to trust a financial
services company if it
created useful content5
Financial Services Trends
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
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
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).
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
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.
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
§ Measure quality improvement across all organization assets, both
offline and online
§ Instantly see if writers are using non-compliant, off-brand language
Over to our audience - what are your burning questions?
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.
Evelyn Wolf, CMO, VisibleThread
Words matter. Measure your tone of voice.