Last year we undertook a Model CRI Projects for one of Australia’s leading investment product providers. There were many objectives for this project, but a central objective was to create a design for an investment report that would make it possible for every consumer and investment advisor in our testing to find over 90% of what they were looking for, and effectively use over 90% of the information they found. These are fairly common standards we set in many projects.

Bear in mind that this work was taking place against a background of demanding disclosure regulations, difficult business requirements, limited technology, and a collapsing value in almost all investments.

While we cannot disclose the details of this specific project, we can share with you our major findings.

1. It is possible for any literate consumer, regardless of background and ‘financial literacy’, to find, correctly interpret, and act on information that they seek in an investment report, providing it is designed using professional information design methods.

2. While the current regulations in Australia do not necessarily encourage good design of financial statements, they do not make it impossible. This would not be true of many jurisdictions, particularly in the USA.

3. Even with major business constraints and limited production technology, investment statements that satisfy business and consumer needs are possible.

The salient conclusion from this is that there is no excuse for the financial industry to produce investment statements that are difficult for consumers to use.

The last word should go to one of the company’s customers who emailed the company as follows:

Hi, I just received my quarterly investment report from ***** and wanted to congratulate you on the new set out – for one of the first times I actually bothered to look at an investment report as it was so clearly set out and written in language that is understandable to the average dork like me. Thanks!