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Do you suffer from (said in a whisper) jargonitis?

Let’s be honest. We’ve all fallen prey from time to time, present writer not excluded, to jargonitis (or its sister malady acronymbia). After all, who doesn’t love a good term that no one but industry insiders really understand? Adding alpha, bottom up, top down, smart beta, SMA, UMA, you name it, it all sounds impressive. At least when we’re talking to each other.

You lost me at factor-based investing

But we need to remember our audience may not find these terms quite so fascinating….or easily understood. It’s all too easy to forget that we are trying to communicate what may be very complex thoughts to individuals for whom this isn’t their daily lives. Plus, is that what people really care about when they talk to their wealth advisor? Well, yes, of course, they want to know their wealth advisor has knowledge, expertise and a defined approach, philosophy and way of managing money. But they also really want to know their advisor is listening to them, understands their concerns and goals and can help address them appropriately and successfully.

Small, simple words only?

Of course, there’s the other approach to communication which can be equally annoying; when you assume your reader knows nothing and develop content that carries the implied “don’t worry about these very complex and sophisticated concepts, we know you won’t understand them and we’ll take care of everything for you.” No one wants to feel patronized and talk down to, especially intelligent individuals and families that have been extremely successful in their chosen fields.

Balancing act

It can be a challenge when communicating with prospects and clients. Striking a tone somewhere between “we’re all rocket scientists” and “we all know nothing” can be an elusive endeavor. A certain amount of educative content is helpful and value-added, a full-blown lecture, not so much.