Client communications: The language of money

Chief Executive
Emphasis Training Ltd
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Effective client communication is about more than getting the figures right. Rob Ashton explains how to write financial information in plain English.

Accounting has its own language and is often riddled with jargon that even experienced business people can sometimes find difficult to understand. Even if your clients are financially savvy, it can still be difficult to explain money matters.

Writing financial information in 'accountingese' can waste time and money. If your clients are unclear about what your figures mean, they'll ask for further clarification. A single document could lead to several hours of unnecessary (and frustrating) follow-up phone calls.

That's one reason why the tide is turning in the financial industry. Leading firms such as Deloitte, Ernst & Young and Gra...

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Developing a USP

 For firms that understand the value of developing USPs then Plain English is something they may want to explore. Here are two resources:

1) Plain English Campaign http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/

2) Plain English Software http://www.editorsoftware.com/

Ideas include:

Become a Corporate member of the Plain English campaignGet standard letters Crystal MarkedHave consistent communicationOffer a guarantee that clients will understand their accounts, tax bill and your advice!Plain numbers...use of graphs!Press Releases on tax and financial issues to demystify jargon

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing

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More thinning needed

I'd de-mystify what you have even further

Original:'I herein enclose details of your asset classes for the aforesaid investment, as requested'.  Simpler: 'I enclose details of your investments, as requested'.  Simplest: 'I'm enclosing that list of your investments that you asked for'.

Original
: 'We will decide on our next steps on Monday'.  Simpler 'A decision will be made on our next steps on Monday'.  Simplest: 'We'll decide what to do on Monday'.

Using vernacular spoken English both on the phone and in print has been our USP for donkey's years.  Accountancy isn't unique as a profession in using formality and jargon to justify higher fees.  That belongs to an era when the world had implicit respect for professions - we seek to undermine that aura, whilst other firms seem to want to cling on to it. 

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