Campaign aims to put jargon out of bounds

THE National Adult Literacy Awareness Week (NALAW), scheduled from September 20 to 24, will tackle the issue of financial jargon.

It is supported in this by EBS, which has chipped in three years’ funding for continued research in the area.

The jargony terms used by financial institutions have been identified as a barrier to understanding and dealing with money effectively.

“This is a particularly acute issue for adults with low literacy levels,” said NALAW press officer Tommy Byrne.

To counteract the problem, a booklet is to be launched on September 20 to help break down the confusion over financial jargon.

Mr Byrne said he hoped “it will help those writing about finance, as well as those who were most disadvantaged by their inability to comprehend the language used.”

Feedback form financial institutions and from MABS - Money Advice and Budgeting Service - which helps people struggling with finances, suggests the least literate have severe difficulties with financial terms.

Mr Byrne believes the publication will be a big help to expanding the financial literacy level of the country at large and not just his target audience.

The aim of NALAW and EBS is to help staff and management from financial services companies, money advisers, government, regulators and utility companies to provide a more client-friendly service for adults with literacy difficulties.

The week will comprise a range of informative events around the country, media coverage, practical advice and distribution of useful printed support material.

National Adult Literacy Awareness Week, with its focus on financial literacy, is the first in a series of events and activities that will be rolled out over the next three years in a partnership between NALA and EBS Building Society, working together to help address the issue of financial literacy.

Financial jargon such as APR, equity and compound interest are difficult at the best of times to understand, but for somebody with low literacy levels it is a real barrier to money matters, said Mr Byrne.

This issue can have a considerable impact on the day-to-day lives of a quarter of Irish adults with the lowest level of literacy (OECD 1997). Tens of thousands of adults with the lowest level of literacy may not be able to:

Read and understand letters from their financial services company.

Work out the details on a pay or social welfare benefit slip.

Fill in a loan application form.

Follow signs or promotional posters in a financial services company’s offices.

Understand a gas or electricity bill.

Plan financial needs.

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