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Hitting the financial copywriting sweet spot

Jargon, long-winded sentences and an abundance of acronyms are what you would once expect from financial copywriting. But not anymore. In fact, it has started to flip the other way with challenger fintech brands subverting what was once the norm.

As Claire our strategist explained in her blog Boring financial language or critical information, finance is a serious subject and should be treated like one. Yes, we can speak to customers like the humans they are, but no, we shouldn’t play down risk disclosures or disclaimers.

It has been some months since Claire wrote the blog, and we’ve seen a mixed bag of brands getting it right and those getting it wrong (in our opinion, that is). Let’s see if you agree.

Where light-hearted financial copywriting goes too far

There’s a lot we like about Monzo. It’s taking complexities out of finance for lots of people. But we couldn’t help but notice a few times where its writers seem to have forgotten that it is a regulated bank – starting with an over-human touch.

Our toes curled when we read: “We want you to feel comfortable telling us when something’s wrong (whether that’s struggling with your mental health, losing your job, or something else)”.

Now we can’t answer for everyone, but we wouldn’t imagine that Monzo would be the first port of call for anyone needing mental health support. My concern about this runs deeper. It’s hard to believe that the person calling for emotional support would actually receive it, which could damage trust in the long term.

Another cause for alarm was a tool that makes it explicitly clear you can use an overdraft to borrow up to £1,000 for just 50p a day. Although this is a legitimate feature of Monzo’s overdrafts, we’re questioning whether it should be shouted about as a marketing claim. It errs on the side of encouraging people to borrow when they perhaps can’t afford to.

Credit where credit is due

It’s not all bad news for Monzo’s copywriting department. We’re a fan of its call out to the FSCS.

Loud and clear on the savings area of the site it says, “The money you put into Savings Pots is guaranteed up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Saving more than £85,000? You can spread your savings across multiple savings providers to get FSCS protection up to £510,000 within Monzo.”

It’s a succinct way of explaining how the scheme works and its benefits for people. We’re just pleased not to see it buried away in a caveat that can be easily ignored.

“Money doesn’t get more important than this”

This lovely financial copywriting subhead came from TransferWise, followed by a number of examples, like purchasing property, paying tuition, moving an inheritance. It’s a creative and human way of acknowledging that doing financial processes properly is vital.

Nutmeg has also got this balance down to a tee. Its site is peppered with the line “With investment, your capital is at risk” to really drill this message home. We also like the following explainer:

“Your fees will depend on how much you invest and your chosen investment style — use the slider above to see what Nutmeg will charge you”.

Finally, a slider that encourages people to be careful with their investment – not an encouragement to spend more. Some firms may be concerned that this phrase would sound negative, and they may want to squirrel away the fees in a disclaimer. Nutmeg has shown that being open about your fees is a more honest way to build trust. And note the active voice in “Nutmeg will charge you”.

Human financial copywriting done properly

This blog from our client B is the kind of financial copywriting we want to see more of. It provides insightful tips on how to budget if you’re self-employed. They explain how to use its saving pots effectively, tips for getting paid on time, examples of handy cashflow tools and more.

It is written in a friendly, accessible way (which we appreciate), but it also acknowledges a real struggle for some of its customers and gives them actionable tips.

More on financial copywriting

Take a look at our Financial Services page for more of our experience within financial copywriting services.

Our workshops on tone of voice and best practice for financial services writing help our clients get the balance right. Find out more.

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