Things financial are difficult enough to fathom even without any gobbledegook. So why are financial products riddled with it? What, for example, is a with-profits endowment, a fluctuating emolument, a capital unit or a double-death single-life benefit?
There is little doubt financial firms have benefited from this obfuscation. Jargon has helped hide unwelcome charges, and it has left consumers so befuddled as to be easy prey for financial salesmen and advisers - with all too often disappointing results.
Fortunately, some companies are trying to make things easier. But there's still a long way to go. Hence our competition, the Great Gobbledegook Chase. You enter by sending in the worst example of financial jargon you have come across - be it in insurance policy bumf, investment statements, or even those dreadful acronyms so loved by pension people. And tell us what you think the jargon might mean.
The winner will be the person who, in the judges' opinion, most humorously translates their piece of jargon. The hope is that firms which fare badly in the jargon league will be shamed into dumping it. The winner of the flight tickets, and two runners-up, will also receive a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary to aid in future deciphering.
The prizes are provided by Virgin Direct, Virgin's financial arm and a relative angel in the jargon stakes. The judges will be Richard Branson and myself. The closing date for entries is 18 November.
Send your entries to: The Great Gobbledegook Chase, Steve Lodge, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.
WITH the clocks going back an hour last night, darker evenings mean more car accidents, warn number-crunching car insurers. Churchill Insurance says that in the week after the clocks went back last year there was a 10 per cent increase in accidents on the previous week. And Premium Search, an insurance broker, says there were 30 per cent more accidents in November than October last year. Take more care, warn the insurers. Their interest in all this, of course, is fewer claims. But even if there are fewer accidents, don't necessarily expect this to translate into lower costs. Insurance premiums are already rising and are predicted to go much higher in the coming months, particularly among the cheapest insurers.
JUST to make you really miserable, the Association of British Insurers has launched a Cold Weather Campaign aimed at telling people what they can do to prevent burst pipes, a problem for hundreds of thousands of homes last winter after temperatures plummeted as low as -20C. The ABI has produced a free information sheet to explain how to protect your home before the cold snap. Send an SAE to Cold Weather Code, Association of British Insurers, 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ.Reuse content