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When it Comes to Financial Jargon, Americans are Befuddled

April 17, 2008

Contact: Adam Sohn, AARP, 202-434-2560,

Missed Meanings = Missed Opportunities: Over Half Say Confusion, Misunderstanding Have Contributed to Investment Mistakes

Lost in Translation: Financial Services Industry Receives Poor Grades for Communication:


  • 41% say information from financial services companies is "not so or not at all helpful"
  • 67% grade the financial services industry with a 'C', 'D' or 'F' when it comes to explaining saving and investing to consumers
  • 73% said that financial services professionals use more jargon than car mechanics
  • Many Americans Believe Industry's Use of "Financial Speak" Makes Matters Worse

    Back to Basics: AARP Financial Inc. Cuts Through the Clutter With Jargon Help, AARP Financial MoneySmarts Website

    TEWKSBURY, MA, April 17, 2008 - Most Americans find the language of Wall Street technical and confusing and may be making investing mistakes and missing opportunities as a result, according to a nationwide survey released here today by AARP Financial Inc. More than half (52%) of 1,203 adults surveyed said they've made an investment where they had an unfavorable outcome - like owing unexpected taxes or paying an early withdrawal penalty - because they felt "confused" by or "didn't understand" an investment.

    "What we have here is a failure to communicate," said Richard "Mac" Hisey, Chief Investment Officer at AARP Financial, a taxable subsidiary of AARP. "The relatively straightforward process of saving for the future has become incredibly complicated." "The research shows that investing has become unnecessarily complex, confusing and, in some cases, intimidating," Hisey said. "As a result, many American investors have saved too little - most with less than $50,000 for retirement - or are too intimidated to get started in the first place." The survey of 1,203 adults age 18 or older was conducted by telephone from January 23 to February 10, 2008 by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media, a division of GfK Custom Research North America. The margin of error for the sample of 1,203 respondents is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

    Confusion Reigns

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