Terminal terminology

Most Australians think jargon renders super baffling and boring, so let's rephrase that.

Most Australians think jargon renders super baffling and boring, so let's rephrase that.

Are you in breach of your concessional contributions cap because you didn't factor in the super guarantee before you made salary-sacrifice contributions, thus incurring excess contributions tax? Or did I lose you at "concessional"?

If your mind went blank, you wouldn't be alone.

Research commissioned by Virgin Super has found Australians are somewhat baffled by superannuation industry jargon.

Eight out of 10 people who took part in a survey by researcher Galaxy agreed with the proposition that too much confusing jargon was associated with super. What's more, three out of four of the 1010 people surveyed said the terminology stopped them from taking a greater interest in their super.

Asked to select the phrase that best summed up their attitude towards super, 59 per cent picked negative terms, such as "boring", "baffling and difficult to understand" or "dull".

"We know Australians typically feel disengaged when it comes to super and we believe jargon is a factor driving the high levels of apathy," the commercial director of Virgin Money, David Curneen, says. "This is particularly true among younger age groups, where individuals have the best opportunity to engage with super and improve their retirement savings."

Virgin is calling for a review of super terminology, saying this would be more than symbolic because helping people take a greater interest should mean they boost their retirement savings.

A consumer psychologist at Naked Communications, Adam Ferrier, says in a video for Virgin: "If you take the word money, that kind of says something a little bit sexy, a little bit interesting.

"If you then talk about financial services, that sounds a little bit more plonk, maybe a little bit boring and slightly detached.

"Then you say the word superannuation and that kind of gets even more detached and nebulous."

Ferrier says language influences attitude, and attitude decides action.

For now, if you're stumped - or need a word for Scrabble - go to The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia's dictionary of superannuation at www.superannuation.asn.au/Dictionary.aspx, where you'll journey from account-based pensions, through maximum deductible contributions and on to variable annuity.

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