Tamsin Constable

Could Plain English have prevented recession?

A fifth of us would SWITCH BANKS if they provided information that was more user-friendly. That’s what a survey released yesterday found.

This is not just about clear language. It’s about financial institutions making sure that their members and customers understand complex financial transactions, so that those customers can make financial decisions that are fully informed. It’s about financial inclusion.

Decisions that may have been different to those that caused the current economic collapse.

The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) commissioned the survey with EBS Building Society. NALA Director Inez Bailey says, “For the last six months Irish people have been bombarded with complex financial information. Lack of plain English and the regular use of fancy jargon is one of the greatest barriers to understanding financial information.”

The survey also shows that most people (89 per cent) questioned would prefer banks to use more plain English. In recognition of this, the EBS has published a new, free guide, The ‘A-Z Pocket Guide to Financial Terms. It includes more than 500 definitions, including phrases that have cropped up frequently in the media in recent months, such as ‘sub-prime lending’, ‘receivership’ and ‘recapitalisation’.

Inez Bailey added that the new guide “will go some way to help people better understand both their own personal finance issues and the current issues that are having an impact on our economy”.

You can download a copy of the guide from www.ebs.ie.

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