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Down with Financialese

Have you ever met with a financial advisor, and wished you had a translator? They may be really nice people, but once they start talking, they’re suddenly speaking a foreign tongue.

“C’mon, you guys,” I want to say. “Speak in plain English.” But, truth is, I don’t hold out much hope. The onus is on us.

I’m a big believer in working with professionals…be it for a root canal or a retirement plan. And sometimes the latter can be as painful as the former! But it doesn’t need to be.

Not if you’re willing to speak up, ask for clarification, and keep asking until you understand.

As I’ve learned over the years, just because you don’t understand ‘Financialese,’ doesn’t mean you’re stupid.

It’s simply a sign to ask more questions. And keep asking. The payoff is clarity. But, I’m here to tell you, the real reward is how powerful you’ll feel for standing up for yourself.

How do you stand up for yourself?

Comments & Feedback

  • ginger johnson

    Barbara –

    You’re so right: any industry using jargon confuses our valued clients and ends up not helping us serve them best.

    Do you already have (and if not, is one in the works or future) of the Stanny Guide to Financial Terminology? I could see that as an excellent white paper, resource (to buy or however you’d choose – I’d buy it)?

    Cheers & thanks –


    • Hi Ginger,
      Great comment! Barbara does have a booklet (available on Amazon), Finding a Financial Advisor You Can Trust. It is a good basic guide and contains a glossary of financial terms.

  • Kimberly Stansell

    Barbara: My safeguard for understanding any information being given to me, I always ask the person for an example of what that statement would look like. For example, I was recently considering an investment and wanted to understand my risk exposure more clearly. So I asked, please give me an example(s) of the scenario(s), factor(s), market condition(s), etc. in which I could lose my money versus grow my money. This safeguard helps ensure I understand what I’m doing and making an informed decision, and in turn, standing up for myself!

  • Melissa

    Barbara, great post! I am challenged by this often, how do you find a financial advisor that is well versed in wealth consciousness? I haven’t found someone who approaches investment from this perspective. Thoughts?

    • barbara stanny

      They’re out there. I promise. You just have to keep asking friends and colleagues who they use that fits your criteria. If you’d like you could email me what you’re looking for and I’ll see if I have anyone I can refer you to. I LOVE my advisor.

  • Paula Finocchiaro Hill

    Barbara: This issue of talking “above my head” drives me nuts. It happens often, not only in the finance industry, but car repair places, dr and vet’s offices, tax accountants’ etc. I never get put-off anymore by askng “silly” or “stupid” questions. I figure, it’s my money so I should understand where it’s going and what my options are. If I don’t ask, I’m the one losing out.
    If my answers aren’t to my satisfaction, I ask “How would you explain this to your four year old?” If I feel put-down, or uncomfortable with the reaction, I look around for another professional (yes, an expensive solution when moving money to another financial planner, I’ve come to realize!)
    Thanks for always posing pragmatic challenges and offering solutions.

    • Asking someone to explain something the way they would to a four-year old is a brilliant idea, Paula. Thanks for sharing that tip. And, good for you, for standing up for yourself.

    • barbara stanny

      Paula, love your comment. I used to do the same thing when I first started trying to understand money. I’d say “explain this like you’re talking to a kindergardener…because that’s where I am.’

      And honestly, even now, my advisor will sometimes introduce a new concept or investment vehicle that I just can’t wrap my brain around, and I’ll say the same!

      And yes it’s a hassle to change advisors, which is why I urge people to interview at least 3 before making a decision on who to hire. If they talk down to you, they are instantly out of the running.

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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