7 Tilton Court
Dorset DT9 3NL
MINCE PIE ANYONE?
Keeping it simple – a tale of pension communications
The English language is quite quirky. As native speakers, we know exactly which order all our words need to be in and know immediately if we’ve ‘up things muddled’! Despite this, few of us would be able to explain why we say things in a particular order – just that it’s wrong if we don’t.
Mark Forsyth, who knows lots of clever things about words, explains, ‘Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So, you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest, you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list but almost none of us could write it out.’ (The Elements of Eloquence)
The same can be said of pension communications. When you delve into it, pensions-speak can quickly become very complex. If you’re not careful, you find yourself tumbling down the rabbit hole of DB, DC, CETV, PIE and, horror of horrors, GMP. While pension professionals are paid to care about the detail of these things, the members may only get as far as the pie.
So, when talking about pensions, there’s a case for keeping it simple. We all use English. Some of us know how it works, while some of us don’t know what nouns or adjectives are, let alone that they have to go in a particular order. However, not knowing doesn’t affect our ability to hold a conversation.
Similarly, we all have a pension. Some of us know how it works, while some of us don’t know what equities or bonds are, let alone that we could choose which ones to invest in. However, not knowing doesn’t affect our ability to be part of a pension scheme.
A successful message draws our attention to something we are familiar with, gives enough information to understand what we need to do and guides us to the outcome.
It’s kind of cool that everyone can use the ‘lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife’, it’s OK not all of us can explain how it works, but we’re thrilled when it turns out to be the most valuable thing we own – much like our pension.