The Corporations Act requires Financial Services Guides and Statements of Advice to be worded in a way that is clear, concise and effective. ASIC’s Regulatory Guide 175 emphasises that information must be presented in a manner that is easy for the client to understand. The guide encourages consumer testing of documents (it may be unwise to ignore this encouragement).
Communicating complex content clearly is difficult. If readers can’t understand, agreements may be unenforceable and advice considered defective. Writers cannot blame the reader if they don’t understand, and may not be able to blame the reader even if they don’t read the document. The question is shifting from “Did you read the document?”, aimed at the reader, to “Is the document readable?”, aimed at the writer.
How can financial planners demonstrate they have taken seriously their duty to communicate in a way that is clear, concise and effective?
How can financial planners demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to present information in a manner that is easy for the client to understand?
The new PlainLanguagePro certification trademarks introduce standards to confirm a document is written plainly. Your in-house plain language professionals can certify the documents they write the standards – a simple and inexpensive process. Documents meeting the standards may display a PlainLanguagePro mark, declaring a commitment to clear communication.