Succinct and to the point

 8,300 out of 8,500 applications to join the Morrisons pension scheme – submitted and processed on-line.

70% of opt-outs received by L & G originated from smartphones.

If I had published those statistics two years ago, I would have been laughed at as a social media fantasist.

Received wisdom, adults text and make calls –  kids play games.

Walking down your local High St is a dangerous business, half the pedestrians (and the bicyclists and car drivers) are busy accessing digital images , text and data via smartphones. What’s more , they are pressing buttons that pay bills, ask questions, take photos, send photos , download videos. All this is going on , on the hoof. It takes nifty footwork not to get knocked down by your fellow pavement users!

Here’s the point. We do not have the time, nor the eyesight to read small print. The headline is the message and the attention span we give an idea is seldom more than a minute.

If there is a call to action, success is down to whether we can find the right button.

You are not taught how to use your phone, you learn because you have the technology and to keep up with your peer group. Accessing Facebook on a smartphone is entry level stuff. E-bay, Gum-tree and Amazon are today’s retail outlets. On Monday I was quoted £1200 for a new bumper; by Friday , the same bumper will have been purchased and fitted for under £500 (thanks to google).

Everyone’s at it, everyonedoes stuff on-line except for us l! We still want our clients to fill in application forms , put them in post boxes and await confirmation a few days later. We write brochures which we send in packs for onward distribution. Our websites provide information with long introductions and longer disclaimers. We don’t do succinct and we don’t do easy- well not for the majority of our clients who “don’t have a computer”.

Think about the word “communication” and then think how we talk – we “call” “phone” “text” “mail” “buzz” and “chat”. We do not communicate in multi-syllables!

One of the best communicators I know is Alan Pickering, the only time I hear him using a word with three syllables is when he introduces himself.

Slowly we are learning that it is about  more than just plain English , it is about putting ourselves in other’s shoes and asking “how would I feel?” if I had to read that- follow that instruction or process.

If we want to make people take responsibility for their actions, the “next step” cannot be more than a click away and the shortcut to taking it cannot include more than a few words.

If we get it, and by “us”, I include those who make the rules, then we will get people saving again. People are more partial to saving than we think- or should I put it more positively, people will spend on tomorrow if you make it easy and worth their while.

What is more, these mobile devices which mean that everyone has internet access, are best understood by those groups who either chose not or cannot access the net using computer terminals. These are the young and those who do manual jobs and don’t get to sit in front of any screen but a TV.

I’d love to s ponsor a throwaway app  which helps people save, whether through pensions or other savings plans, which is “fitted as standard” on every smartphone sold in the land. If it does no more than give them access to then we’re moving in the right direction.

But as Morrisons and the other early stagers are showing us, there’s a hunger out there to provide for our old age, if only we can find an easy way to do it.

“Digital communications” have moved from Silicon Valley into our coat pockets in a decade. We don’t have a decade to work that out!

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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