Investors left in the dark – Asset Management firms not communicating clearly in 2019

Claire Mason



2 min read
Asset Management Report 2019

Research from VisibleThread shows that Manulife Asset Management, Legal & General Investment Management and Macquarie Asset Management among the poorest communicators

BALTIMORE, Aug. 29, 2019VisibleThread’s latest research shows that the top 60 asset management firms’ websites continue to be unreadable. All of the firms failed to meet basic readability metrics. Their complex, obtuse language continues to diminish investor trust.

2019 Best and Worst Performers

The top plain language performers were:

1. Federated Investors
2. Vanguard
3. Putnam Investors

Bottom of the table were:

58. Standard Life Investments
59. Manulife Asset Management
60. Macquarie Asset Management

The fallacy of the sophisticated customer

Asset management firms might argue that their customers are well educated. And as such can handle complex content.

But the argument is weak.

These same customers also lead busy lives. Complex content takes longer to digest and requires higher mental effort to understand.

This mental effort is known as “cognitive load”. So, even for the highly educated, overly complex content takes mental energy to decipher, and is hard to understand.

The net effect is lower trust.

Asset management content is harder to read than Moby Dick

VisibleThread measured all 60 asset management firms’ websites against well-known books. The Flesch Reading Ease Test is an objective measure for readability. On this scale, no firm’s website is simpler to read than Moby Dick.

In fact, most websites are more difficult to read than an academic paper on chess.

There is no transparency. Firms leave investors in the dark. Distrust grows.

Trust and transparency increase with plain language

The Edelman Trust Barometer found that the financial services sector remains the least trusted industry in 2019. Plain language aids transparency and grows trust.

“Using plain language is a vital step in building trust,” comments Fergal McGovern, CEO of VisibleThread. “Complex content takes longer to digest and taxes your mental capacity. The result is less engagement and lost business opportunities. When investors read complex, jargon-laden and obtuse language, they think you have something to hide.”

“It’s a pity to see no significant improvement since our 2018 report covering the same organizations. It’s time for asset management firms to consider how to broaden appeal, increase trust and demonstrate transparency. Adopting a plain language program needs to be a top priority for CMOs and become a key plank of their competitive strategy,” McGovern concluded.


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