Clear Business English for Financial Services Professionals: Structure, Content and Story

Many people in financial services and other professions would like to be able to write clear business English in their day-to-day working lives.

Especially – but not only – non-native English writers.

English is a complicated language. It’s hard to know how to achieve a balance between being clear and fulfilling the rules.

But it’s possible to rise above the rules, even while paying attention to the ones that matter. Some principles – like consistency – matter more.

Any piece of business writing, however long and whatever the format, has three essential elements: structure, content and story.

Keeping these elements explicitly in mind will help you write more confident, more effective business English.

BOEPrism

Risk & Regulation Round-up: September to November 2016

A quarterly round-up of key announcements and developments in UK financial risk and regulation: covering 1st September to 30th November 2016.

Links to underlying source stories or documents are contained in individual articles in this blog.

After covering Brexit in some depth in the last round-up, this time we include only a short section on Brexit, simply noting a few key publications and developments relevant to financial services.

Instead in this edition we focus more on routine technical and policy announcements from the EU/EBA, Basel/FSB and UK national regulators; including an important set of banking reform proposals from the European Commission issued on 23rd November.

The articles in this blog do not constitute advice, but please contact Prism-Clarity for further information, including where to get the best advice.

Flesh of my Flesch: Readability Matters

This blog explores the concept of readability.

It looks at some common readability metrics – notably Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid and a couple of others – and wonders why as writing and editing professionals we don’t make more use of them, to promote our skills and measure our own performance in an objective way.

The metrics are now widely available in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tools and word processing software – including Microsoft WORD.

There are whole websites devoted to readability, with free tools to check your own content in lots of different ways.

The tools themselves are objective, intuitive and easy to understand. And they function well for relative comparisons – across multiple authors or over time – even if you can argue about their absolute value.

We already use them at Prism-Clarity to assess our own blogs and try to make them more readable. The argument now is to try using them for other purposes, and to get more people tuned in to them.

FRTB Programme: Focus On Documentation

Most firms with a Trading Book are now pressing ahead with implementing the new Basel Market Risk Rules – still widely known as the Fundamental Review of the Trading Book (FRTB) – and the documentation that goes with it.

But some smaller or medium-sized firms might not have really started yet. Nor might overseas subsidiaries. Or other firms who’ve been outside the scope of Basel’s intensive – and challenging – Quantitative Impact Studies (QIS) in the last three years.

Such firms will soon be planning their implementation. Or need to be. This blog looks to help, by focusing on the references to documentation in the new rules.

At Prism-Clarity we believe in the power of good documentation to highlight wider issues. We don’t believe in doing the documentation piece of a programme as an afterthought, a side-project or an inconvenience. It is and should be central.

By focusing early on the documentary outputs needed under the new rules, you can identify issues, ask good questions about your business, risk, other controls and technology, avoid false paths and potentially save costs.

Work backwards from the documentation to help shape your wider FRTB programme, or verify that your programme is on the right track.