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When it Comes to Financial Jargon, Americans are Befuddled

"The language of investing remains a foreign tongue to too many Americans," Hisey said. "When it comes to simplifying the investment process, we in the industry have a long way to go. We've made it incredibly easy for Americans to spend and create debt, but unnecessarily difficult to invest comfortably and with confidence." Troublingly, many Americans believe that poor communication is intentional:

  • Over half (54%) believe that a major reason jargon is used instead of simpler terms is to distract people from focusing on the fees they will be paying;
  • 78% said they believe that materials from financial companies are more about selling than educating;
  • 63% say that a major reason jargon is used is to make a product or service seem more impressive;
  • 49% believe a major reason jargon is used is to make the consumer feel less confident that they can handle their own finances.


    "These findings are a call to action for the financial services industry," Hisey said. "Ultimately, no one is well-served by this confusion - not the industry, not consumers and certainly not our relationship with the investing public. We talk a lot about transparency in this industry but not enough about simplification and understanding. What value does disclosure bring if the average investor can't comprehend it?"

  • AARP Financial Offers Jargon Help, Special Website

    As part of our efforts to demystify the investing process and provide investors with clear, straightforward information, AARP Financial has launched MoneySmartssm-a special website offering information on the AARP Financial survey, and interactive tools including a basic glossary, a financial quiz, a fill-in-the-blank exercise, as well as a concise guide to five basic investing principles. "At AARP Financial, we believe that if all of us - from investment companies to financial advisors to the media - make a concerted effort to enhance our communications with the investing public, then we may meaningfully advance not just their investment acumen and comfort but their financial well being as well," said Hisey.

    AARP Financial has created a dedicated web site, www. to help your readers with basic investing terms and questions. The site includes a report on our research, a quiz, a basic glossary (The Jargonator), and a financial jargon word game. Understanding that individual investment advice is essential to getting investors on the right track, AARP Financial also offers knowledgeable and experienced financial advisors to help individuals make informed investment decisions. They are available at 1-888-778-6184 to help with basic investing questions.

  • Survey Methodology: To permit in-depth analysis of Americans age 50 and older, the randomly selected national sample of 1,203 respondents included 400 people 18-49 years of age and an over-sample of people 50 and older. The sample was randomly selected using RDD (random digit dialing) methods and was weighted to U.S. Census statistics to correct for the over-sampling of people 50 and older and to ensure that the survey is representative of the U.S. national population 18 and older.

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