Thank heavens we’re now “Talking Money” and not discussing “financial capability”

Money is something which everyone has in common. Whoever you are, your access to cash and how you use it is a decisive factor in the life you live. Money deserves a place in our everyday conversations, and yet financial affairs are often seen as complex and remote.

What a relief then that this year’s efforts to raise awareness of the importance of understanding financial basics are taking place under the banner of Talk Money Week and not, as previously, Financial Capability Week.

You can have the best intentions in the world but if your efforts are built around industry language, the message that sends to a large proportion of the population is that “this is not for you”. And before you think I’m going too far, bear in mind that 1 in 7 of the adult population in England has reading skills no better than those of a 9 year old child.

We also need to face up to the level of apathy there is around seeking out information on financial products. While consumers are very alive to the money in their pocket, or the spending on their credit card, the less immediate transactions such as pension savings, mortgage loans and insurance policies are regarded as distant and, frankly, boring.

The insurance and life-time savings sector has much more to do to help its customers negotiate the intricacies of some of its products, but this Talk Money Week we’ll be highlighting the progress we’ve made so far. These range from behind the scenes efforts with members to our very public-facing social media campaigns.

  • We challenge the jargon. Very few industries are immune to their own terminology but if we want to encourage people to care about how their retirement savings are progressing then we need to ensure they can understand what they’re saving towards. The pension flexibilities brought in a new raft of acronyms at the precise moment customer engagement became even more important. We worked with Government to develop new clearer, more consistent ways of talking about pensions which are now being adopted by ABI members. For example, we recommend the industry stops talking about annuities and instead calls these products what they are – a guaranteed income for life.
  • We’ve set up a crack-team of scientists. Talk Money Week is taking place during the latest promotional period for our general insurance consumer education campaign, The Insurance Experiments. This is a standalone website, introducing the basics of insurance products via a set of very short animations and their related info pages. We don’t sit back and wait for consumers to come looking for the website – the content is being advertised via Facebook and Instagram and covers pet, health, travel, motor, property and small business insurance.
  • We’re barking up the right tree. Too much of the messaging around pensions is depressing – about how poor you could be if you don’t save more, and about how many years you’ll have to work until you can retire. But with record numbers of younger workers now saving into a workplace pension thanks to auto-enrolment, our Love Your Pension campaign encourages savers to at least feel positive about taking some small steps to start with, and provides five top-line reasons why pensions are a good thing. To be sure people took notice – it’s led by talking dogs, and was promoted on Facebook. Watch out for more new content coming later this week.
  • We’re googling it. We’ve massively increased the number of online guides we have available to help consumers understand the products they’re buying. We’re now taking this to the next stage by analysing the questions people google about insurance, and making sure we have pages to address the most common queries in our Insurance Questions Answered series. More to come!

None of us can afford to only Talk Money for seven days a year. This week is a valuable concerted effort by a huge range of organisations – employers, consumer bodies, government agencies, charities and more – to get the life-long conversations started.

Last updated 12/11/2018