Changes in banking over the last few years have made one thing clear. Customers love readability. It makes them trust brands more. And trust is the second most important purchase factor. How can writers in financial services meet this demand?

Why is readability important in finance? 

Trust contributes to a financial institution’s reputation. Reputation accounts for a substantial proportion of a firm’s assets. Companies are therefore willing to invest in this. The financial services industry has a history of front-page controversies, such as the PPI scandal. Trust in the industry has eroded. More than ever, brands are working to rebuild that trust. 

Improving readability puts the consumer first. It makes content easier to understand. It, therefore, increases trust in the message. It is much harder to be vague and untrustworthy when communicating in plain English. 

Financial services have been steadily improving their reputation following the financial crisis of 2007 – 2008. Five years after the crisis, people didn’t trust that banks had learned their lesson. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, the sector’s 2012 trust score was 44 - distrust. In 2021, it stands at 52 - neutral. 

Clear communication has played a vital role in this. It becomes more important with each passing year. Apps and websites are becoming more consumers’ first interaction with a brand. And, of course, more and more banking products are cropping up which simplify banking and budgeting. They market to people who want the hard work taken out of their financial planning. 

These solutions are computerised. They need all the help they can get to get the humanity of the brand across. Increasingly, financial brands are ditching the “bank speak” and improving their readability

This year’s Edelman report shows the benefits of readability in finance. According to the report:

‘People with high brand trust (75%) will only buy products of that brand, even when the product isn’t the cheapest, and would immediately look into buying new products from that brand. Those with high brand trust (60%) also feel more comfortable sharing personal information and paying attention to a brand’s communications. They (78%) are also likely to share or repost brand content, as well as recommend and defend the brand.’

Readability is a powerful tool. By making communications clear, it drives cross-selling and upselling. It increases the likelihood of a customer advocating your brand. In addition, they’re happy to give you insight into their lifestyle.

Investment in readability and style is small. The return is significant. 

Can readability help banks retain consumers?

Customers want clear communication and to be able to trust their bank. They weigh it second only to price when making a decision.

One of the biggest pain points for customers is in brand messaging in their interactions. In a recent Smart Communications survey, 50% of respondents said they were annoyed by messages that contained errors. 48% were annoyed by messages that were not easy to understand.

The same survey asked the customers to rank 11 important elements in financial communication. This was the resulting list: 

  • Easy to understand
  • Relevant
  • Error-free
  • Well designed and easy to read
  • Uses preferred methods of communication
  • Sent at the right time
  • Contain content that is personalized
  • Adhere to preferences for types of communication
  • Explain what to do for more information
  • Use a tone appropriate for the type of communication
  • Reflect all recent interactions

Many of these are key principles of readability. Using Readable, you can make sure your content is error-free and easy to read. Our bespoke algorithm, actionable insights and ease of use is the helping hand you need. You can also use Readable to make sure your messaging adheres to your tone and style guidelines. Personalising your content doesn’t stop at your opening line - it’s also being personal in tone. Readable makes this (and so much more) easier than ever, all in one place. 

Why not see how your financial product homepage stacks up? We offer free website readability reports.

Laura Kelly

Laura is a freelance writer and worked at Readable for a number of years. Laura is well-versed in optimising content for readability and Readable's suite of tools. She aims to write guides that help you make the most out of Readable.