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No jargon please, we’re British – Fleet

by: Bob Young
  • 16/02/2015
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No jargon please, we’re British – Fleet
Getting lost in corporate mumbo jumbo should never be tolerated, says Bob Young, chief executive officer, Fleet Mortgages

In a video panel discussion last month I was asked what I wanted brokers to be saying about Fleet Mortgages in 12 months’ time. My answer was simple: “I want them to be saying that we provide a good service”.

Actually, to be truthful my answer was just, ‘good service.’

One of the areas where I think we differentiate ourselves from competitors is in the refreshing sense of plain speaking that pervades the business. To that end, what we might call, ‘Corporate BS’ is banned – it’s not big and it’s not clever and therefore we won’t be ‘running ideas up flagpoles, ‘blue sky thinking’ or ‘touching base’, ‘reaching out’ and (heaven help us) ‘circling back with’ you.

Because, again to be blunt, I can’t stand the proliferation of the sort of language that so many people in the financial services world spout. I, and I hope my colleagues, are comfortable with simplicity – I don’t feel the need to talk in riddles or acronyms because this seems to just be a way that people can feel they are superior, or are attempting to impress.

Let’s bring this round to advisers. To my mind, there is a simple difference between a superb adviser and an average one. The former has the ability to make the client feel comfortable and they do this by turning potentially complex ideas, concepts and language into easy to understand, everyday speak. It’s that simple.

Sometimes ‘Corporate BS’ can be all-encompassing within a business culture. I have worked at large businesses where you had to speak in riddles in order to fit in; where there were far too many management training courses on the latest fad imported from the States. That’s not the way I like to work or lead and if I hear any members of my staff veering off in that direction, a short reminder to speak plain English follows…in very few words.

If we could get to a point where the Plain English Campaign also highlighted simple, easy to understand speech as well as clear wording on documentation, then we’d be in a much better place. There is nothing clever in techno speak so let’s not go further in that direction.

If anyone is in any doubt about the proliferation of ‘Corporate BS’ and its ability to confound and dismay in equal measure, then I suggest you read the regular blogs of Lucy Kellaway in the FT. Lucy is a collator of what she calls, ‘Golden Flannel’, in the business world and her yearly Golden Flannel Awards give a great review of the capacity for business BS.

If you could ‘action that forward’, that would be great.

 

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