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Forsyth Barr earns quality mark for simplifying investment

Forsyth Barr earns quality mark for simplifying investment

Investment firm Forsyth Barr have put customer understanding first by simplifying a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for their KiwiSaver scheme. Their PDS has achieved the WriteMark Plain Language Standard, a quality mark awarded to documents written to a high standard of plain English.

By making the PDS for their Summer KiwiSaver scheme easier for clients to understand, Forsyth Barr is aiming to give customers confidence to make decisions about their investment. The company’s Head of Product Development & Marketing, Trish Oakley, says having their PDS achieve the WriteMark Standard reflects Forsyth Barr’s commitment to creating better retirement outcomes for New Zealanders.

‘We believe that more can be done to help people understand how their retirement savings are being invested,’ Trish says. ‘Presenting information that is accessible and more easily understood is a key component of achieving that goal.’

Helping New Zealanders on their investment journey

Plain Language Specialist Judy Knighton worked with Forsyth Barr to bring their document up to the WriteMark standard. She says what they’ve done in focussing on their audience should serve as a benchmark for other KiwiSaver providers.

‘Forsyth Barr’s goal was to have people able to understand what they’re investing in. The document they’ve created, and which achieved WriteMark accreditation, leaves no room for misunderstanding or ambiguity. It gives the customer control of their investment,’ Judy says.

‘Writing something in clear, plain English has a big impact on long-term saving.’

Trish Oakley agrees. ‘One of Summer KiwiSaver’s goals is to help New Zealanders on their investing journey, improving their understanding of investment markets generally. We also want to help our clients understand how KiwiSaver can help them towards their retirement objectives.

‘Our PDS represents a key first interaction with the Summer KiwiSaver scheme. So it was important to us that it set the standard for content that both informs and educates. We’re applying this principle in all our communications with scheme members.’

Forsyth Barr’s PDS now clearly shows investors:

• how their investment works

• what risks their investment may face

• what their rights are as investors.

Judy says these are all areas where a customer would want clarity, whether they were a seasoned investor or not.

Default entry to KiwiSaver strengthens the need for clarity

In having their document achieve the WriteMark standard, Forsyth Barr is setting an example for other KiwiSaver scheme providers. Unlike many other investments, where people seek expert advice before making a commitment, KiwiSaver is a scheme that people often enter by default.

Judy says, ‘There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about KiwiSaver. Because it’s an automatic investment supported by the government, it’s something that people often fall into rather than choose. So a lot of people are vague about their investment and their rights.’

‘Presenting information in plain English gives customers confidence in the scheme that they’ve chosen. Although New Zealanders may join Kiwisaver by default, they can be confident they know what they’re doing when they choose a scheme like Summer KiwiSaver,’ Judy says.

More about the WriteMark Plain English Standard

The WriteMark is a quality mark awarded to documents written to a high standard of plain English.

A document that carries the WriteMark:

1 is clear and easy to read

2 saves time and money

3 is more likely to win organisations business

4 builds goodwill between an organisation and the public.

The WriteMark also shows that a document has been checked for clarity, grammar, and presentation against a rigorous standard.

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