Wednesday, January 14, 2009

'President Obama: Make Clarity, Transparency, Simplicity a Priority,' Say 79% of the American People

/PRNewswire/ -- "People are desperate for clarity and simplicity in order to make informed decisions," says Alan Siegel, Founder and Chairman of global brand consultancy Siegel+Gale. "There is a huge opportunity for government and business to overcome cynicism and regain lost trust through the way they communicate with their constituents and customers."

A new survey of 1,214 American homeowners and investors conducted by Siegel+Gale between December 29, 2008 and January 5, 2009, released today, shows an overwhelming majority demand more clarity in communications from companies and the government. Fully 84% of all consumers say they are more likely to trust a company that uses jargon-free, plain English in communications. And 79% say they think it is "very important" that President Obama "mandate that clarity, transparency, and plain English be a requirement of every new law, regulation and policy."

"Transparency and authenticity are the new marketing imperatives," says Lee Rafkin, Siegel+Gale's Global Director of Simplification. "People are fed up and desperate for institutions and brands that offer simple and honest communications they can understand. That's the clear message from our most recent research survey."

Complexity Up; Trust Down

Three-quarters of survey respondents (75%) say that complexity and lack of understanding have played a significant role in the current financial crisis. Moreover, 63% of those surveyed feel that "banks, mortgage lenders, and Wall Street intentionally make things complicated to hide risks or to keep people in the dark."

Trust in companies is predictably down, the survey shows. Compared to one year ago, 37% are less likely to trust their mortgage lender, 36% are less likely to trust their broker or financial advisor, and 35% are less likely to trust their bank.

However, consumers agreed they should shoulder some of the blame for the financial crisis. Over half of all surveyed admitted to not reading or attempting to understand the complicated documents they sign. And 50% agreed with the statement, "Financial products are inherently complicated. It's the final responsibility of the customer to make sure they understand all the risks."

The survey asked how much of an impact jargon-free, plain-English explanations and disclosures would make on consumer interest in a number of categories. Consumers reported:

-- a 79% increased interest in investing in a financial product,
-- a 73% increased interest in selecting a broker or a financial advisor,
-- a 67% increased interest in purchasing a life insurance policy,
-- a 63% increased interest in taking out a loan, and
-- a 63% increased interest in applying for a credit card.

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