Seen but not read – passing the buck with a disclaimer


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A phrase I could do with hearing a little less of is “fire-proofing” which appears to be a euphemism for immunizing an organisation from the consequences of nefarious activities.

We are all familiar with small print that were it read would make sure no one would have time to take the necessary decision. We have learned to read selectively.

I was talking with a friend yesterday about a bit of chicanery engineered by a Governmental Organisation involving the provision of a 60 page booklet delivered to “help” take a simple decision. It didn’t seem to help much as my friend was told that the decision was taken on a hunch. Intuition is not always the best policy and on this occasion what could have been read in two minutes (and not 60 pages) could have made the reverse decision the obvious choice.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that “too much information” is as damaging as “too little” .

Worrying too is the statement “we put it on the website”. Websites sound great and look great if you know what you’re looking for and how to find it. It’s not just navigation, even when we get to a relevant page, all too often we are left frustrated by the too much or too little approach.

Just because it’s on the website doesn’t make it read and digested. In truth, most of us are unable to digest too much information on a computer screen. The approach taken by Martin Lewis is to use the website to incite interest and the desire to download a document either onto the screen or to paper that allows a decision to be absorbed at leisure – to get properly read.

The essence of good websites is to get you to take the next step to completing a transaction. The aim of a good disclaimer is to make sure that the decision is taken on someone else’s watch.

The recommendation to take independent financial advice that appears on the websites of almost every company pension scheme I have seen is all too often just a cop-out. Trustees or company HR Departments should be able to deliver information from which decisions can be taken.

Rather than give a clear and comprehensible guide to the issues with decision trees that allow members to take informed choices, companies and/or their trustees pass the buck.

For that’s what the disclaimer –  this fire-proofing – is about.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Seen but not read – passing the buck with a disclaimer

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  2. Neven's Blog says:


    I received your comment. You make some very good points. It is not that I don’t believe 100 % in my analysis, ideas and insight;
    but I realize that word and ideas can be twisted around and that I can get sued … especially in the finance field. Anyway, thank for the constructive criticism … It is much appreciated. As a general rule, I would agree with your opinion.

    Kind Regards,

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