Financial sector urged to drop jargon, make money more understandable

A new glossary has been launched aiming to strip away the overly complex language used in financial services to make money terms more accessible to New Zealanders.

Over the past 18 months, Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission has worked with the financial sector, including regulators, to develop De-jargoning Money.

This glossary is for organisations and institutions working across the finance and insurance sectors to use when explaining personal finance on their websites, in documents, on the front line, and in the media.

Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson says it’s no secret that the language of money can be inconsistent and confusing for New Zealanders which detracts from financial competence.

De-jargoning Money is the result of the collective effort from our partners from across the finance community, and beyond, working together to help New Zealanders understand money. I‘m so grateful to those who have helped with this ambitious project. 

“It’s critical we focus on standardising industry language, removing jargon, banishing outdated terms, and trying to avoid the many acronyms. We know that many terms are not readily understood by New Zealanders and this is a chance to reshape and demystify our customer and consumer-facing language. 

“While this is not a legally binding document, the more organisations that adopt it, the better off consumers will be.”

Widespread consultation has taken place involving representatives from all the major banks, insurance providers, investment companies, government agencies, legal departments, financial mentors and community groups. Customer testing has also been conducted with more than 1500 ASB customers, and Banqer tested it with 960 school students, 13–15 years old.

The glossary provides suggestions for words to be phased out and a plain language term used instead, or where they cannot be changed, encourage the industry to provide good context to their customers.

The glossary covers everything from general terms for everyday banking and spending, lending and loans, insurance and estate planning, investment and KiwiSaver to ethical and sustainable investing.

“More than ever, our language needs to be simple, and it should be driven by the needs of the people we serve,” says the Retirement Commissioner.

“By using more consistent language and less jargon, it will lead to improved financial wellbeing outcomes and make it easier for people to engage with their money and with those of us that protect and help them grow it.”

Some examples of words recommended to be phased out:

Instead of





Used in many ways ‘credit’

can confuse the customer as to which meaning is intended.

interest bearing

including interest

When talking about interest being earned or charged, make it clear what you mean within



end date

Replace with the more precise and familiar word ‘end’. You could also explain it even more clearly, such as ‘your term deposit end date is…’.

debt arrears

overdue amount

We recommend stating ‘debt arrears’ more simply where possible.


Notes to editors

  • There is nothing legally binding about De-jargoning Money. We encourage the sector to adopt this glossary for the benefit of consumers.
  • This document does not supersede or counter any legal requirements, disclosure regulations, or terms and conditions that you use in your work.
  • De-jargoning Money is WriteMark Certified. The WriteMark is a quality mark awarded to documents or websites that achieve a high standard of plain language.
  • Every two years we’ll seek feedback from the industry and review the glossary. This glossary will need updates to reflect changes in products, language, and regulations. 

De-jargoning Money:  De-jargoning-Money_Glossary_TAAO.pdf (

Feedback and testing report: Feedback-and-testing-report_De-jargoning-Money_TAAO.pdf (

For interviews contact:

Anika Forsman | Director, Stakeholder and Communications

Mobile +64 21 246 4302