Does your auto mechanic communicate better than you?

“Nearly three-fourths of the 1,203 adults polled said their auto mechanic uses clearer English than their financial professionals,” according to “Financial Jargon: You Just Don’t Understand” by Cathie Gandel in AARP Bulletin Today.

Are you one of those confusing financial pros? And are your clients suffering as a result?

Learn more about the results of a survey by AARP Financial about consumer understanding of financial jargon.

"Interruption vs. Self-Service Marketing"

I’m following up my post on how financial advisors are using LinkedIn. Raising your visibility by using LinkedIn is an example of “self-service marketing,” which I read about recently in “Interruption vs. Self-Service Marketing” on marketer Bob Bly’s blog.

He quotes an article from DM News: ” ‘Self-service marketing is all about putting content where people will find it,’ writes Rapsas. ‘It makes sense to go where the customers are.’ ” Bly contrasts this with traditional marketing which interrupts people when they’re not looking for it.

Bly makes an interesting point down in his comments:

“My rule of thumb: self-service marketing works with products which consumers actively search for information (including pricing) on — for instance, installing solar panels on the roof of your home. Interruption marketing works with products people want when they hear about but weren’t thinking about beforehand — e.g., designer handbags, a home-study course on becoming a locksmith.”

It seems to me that people actively search for financial or investment advice, so maybe self-service marketing has a future in this field. What do you think?

Annuities gathering steam in professional journals

Annuities may be picking up steam among fee-only financial planners and investment advisors.

According to a press release from the Financial Planning Association:

Despite their tarnished reputation due to sleazy sales tactics, high expenses and weaker investment performance compared with mutual funds, popular variable annuities (VA) with “living benefit” riders may still be a sound choice for some retirees, concludes an article in the May 2008 issue of the Journal of Financial Planning, published monthly by the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®).

In his article, “A Context for Considering Variable Annuities with Living Benefit Riders,” John H. Robinson examines how the investment performance of a particular type of VA rider stacks up against an index mutual fund as each tries to weather two bear markets.

I’ve written earlier–in “CFA Institute: Consider annuities, even variable annuities” and “Financial Analysts Journal article favoring annuities about increasingly favorable coverage of annuities in the CFA Institute’s Financial Analysts Journal and other venues. More recently, annuities received favorable mention in the inaugural issue of the CFA Institute’s private wealth management e-newsletter.

The Journal of Financial Planning addressed this trend in “Variable Annuities: Emerging from the Dark Side?” by Nancy Opiela in March 2007.

But the barriers to acceptance by advisors remain, as “It’ll be tough to sell advisors on longevity annuities” suggested.