This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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22 February 2012

Seeking direction in the financial markets

One common complaint from the global financial downturn is that people didn't understand what they were signing up to. In New Zealand, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has been charged with making sure that investors have the information they need to make good decisions; that disclosure documents are effective. The FMA has recently released a consultation paper on guidelines to help organisations meet the standard of 'effective', and we're please to see that they 'get' plain English. Here's a quote from the guidelines:
20. Disclosure documents are clear if they:
  • use plain language;
  • are logically ordered and easy to navigate;
  • highlight key information;
  • explain complex information, including any technical terms;
  • avoid industry or legal jargon.
21. Plain English is a style of writing in which the language, structure, and presentation of a document all work together to help the reader. A document written in plain English is easy to read, understand, and act upon after just one reading. [We couldn't agree more. Ed.]
 Last year, commenting on the new Financial Sector category in the annual Plain English Awards, Diana Crossan, Retirement Commissioner, said ‘New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to develop a national strategy for financial literacy. Making sure documents are clear, understandable, and easy to compare means people can make informed financial decisions throughout their lives.’

The new guidance document is another step in the right direction.

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