The Battle Against Jargon Continues...........

In the ongoing mission to reduce the level of under-insurance in New Zealand, the need for clear, articulate, and accurate representation of protection products is critical.

Too often tales reaches the Laird of confusion, misunderstanding, mis-communication,  or the over-use of abbreviations, alphabet soup, and industry-speak, making for an unhappy client/adviser experience, poor persistency rates, and clients often left exposed to the vagaries of under-insurance

It's true that many of us - and the Laird is included - revert to the use of industry jargon and terms to impress each other with our superior levels of knowledge across a range of issues.

Over the years, many of us have picked up a little information about quite a lot. But as the saying goes - " A little learning is a dangerous thing" - and with the Information Age in full swing, a superficial level of knowledge or learning can be painfully exposed.

Of course, the accomplished practitioner makes it all look and sound easy. But Roger Federer, Eric Clapton, Thomas Edison - all acknowledged experts in their respective fields - didn't attain their levels of expertise overnight.

In this regard, the Laird strongly recommends reading "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. This is an outstanding analysis of how to become an expert and 'make it look easy' - but be warned - there is no elevator to success, you'll have to take the stairs, same as Federer, Clapton, and Edison.

An industry colleague has also highlighted a classic example of random and indiscriminate use of alphabet soup causing confusion and chaos in the industry. And let me hasten to add, this is not just in the consumer space - it also extends to financial advisers, and, in one specific instance, to the IRD!!

Providing access to funds if you're unable to work at your usual occupation because of illness or injury has created a plethora of mnemonics and jargon that is truly breathtaking, tongue-twisting, and mind-bending - all at the same time.

  • D.I. (Disability Income)
  • I.P. (Income Protection)
  • LoE (Loss of Earnings)
  • G.S.C. (Guaranteed Salary Continuance)
  • L.T.D. (Long term Disability)and the Laird's favourite from the Old Country,
  • P.H.I. (Permanent Health Insurance - yes, folks, by buying insurance, you will obtain a state of permanent health - amazing!!)

There are a number of financial advisers who would struggle to articulate the variations in these products, so it's not hard to imagine the reaction of the IRD when asked for a ruling on the tax treatment of agreed value versus indemnity-style benefits!

And there I go again, employing jargon - too lazy to use a simpler, albeit longer, description of the product variances.

Now, this outcome for the industry is counter-productive, and while each of the above cited terms may have clever nuances and shades of difference, these are largely lost on clients - until it comes to claim time, that is, but that's for another day.

So, let's ditch the alphabet soup, settle on a uniform descriptor for the cover afforded by the product, and introduce clients to a wonderland of transparency, understanding, and awareness of products, leading to appropriate levels of financial protection being installed for as many citizens as possible.


The Laird of Albany