Nobody likes jargon, especially financial jargon. Which is why we committed to cutting it out of the mortgage journey. From our broker service to our products, we want to empower customers by keeping it simple.
Jargon isn’t just complicated and boring, it costs people money. A lot of money. We asked a team of academics led by Dr Peter Backus, a top economist at Manchester University, to dig deeper and surveyed homeowners up and down the country to get their views. They gave us the cold, hard (jargon-free) facts.
Our studies confirmed our suspicions. Jargon isn’t just complicated and totally boring, it’s dangerous. We got to work, taking on the mammoth task of weeding out jargon from every inch of the Habito experience.
First on the hit list were our live chats, website and advertising (one of our TV ads features a computer vomiting jargon-filled bile and comedy jargon pizza slices onto a poor, unsuspecting mortgage applicant).
But we had our eyes on a bigger prize, slashing jargon from the mortgage documents themselves. Launching our first mortgage as a lender gave us the chance to take on the challenge.
In 2019 we teamed up with Fairer Finance. They do great work via research and consultancy, even advising regulators and the government on policy. Like us, they dream of a world where customers actually trust and love their banks and financial services providers (and life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter). Our aim was to get their ‘Clear & Simple’ stamp of approval for our own mortgage general terms and conditions (Ts & Cs).
What followed was months of wading through jargon hell. We had a huge mountain to climb and all Habito hands were on deck: teams across lending, communications, legal, risk & compliance, design, together with teams from Fairer Finance and Hogan Lovells (Habito’s legal counsel). We knew that others before us had tried and failed to do this, but (drumroll, please) we made it.
The end result was a totally jargon-free Ts & Cs doc. It has a reading age of 11 and is arguably the most accessible mortgage terms and conditions document in the mortgage industry.
"Habito is the first lender to achieve the mark in the mortgage market, which is no mean feat. Now the gauntlet has been laid down, we hope some of the more established lenders see that it is possible to create documents that are both legally watertight and easy for customers to understand.
We assess the mortgage terms of the 21 biggest lenders in the market every six months. Habito’s document has a lower reading grade than all 21 and is the only mortgage document we’ve ever assessed to score excellent on our jargon checker.
James Daley, managing director of Fairer Finance
We still had unfinished business. There were seven further docs which required careful translation and with our next big mortgage innovation - Habito One - on the horizon, we got stuck in.
All documents now carry the Clear & Simple seal of approval meaning that they stand above the rest in terms of clear design and simple language. To achieve the mark, a document is assessed (and must pass) 10 different criteria relating to language and design.
We’re incredibly proud to be the most jargon-free mortgage company, but even more excited to know how much easier it makes things for our customers.
Sadly, mortgage gibberish isn’t a thing of the past just yet. In the past year alone, we’ve had to wrestle with even more new terminology and complexity (like ‘mortgage payment holidays’ and ‘stamp duty relief’…). But we’re on a mission to make the world of mortgages easier to understand and easier to access. It’s why we continue to invest time and resources on ridding our mortgage documents of unwieldy language and building tools and calculators that lift the lid on difficult concepts.
And we aren’t going to stop at mortgages. As Habito expands further into home-buying, with services such as Habito Plus, we will continue in our jargon-busting work to make getting the keys to your dream home, as dreamy as possible.
What mortgage terminology gets your head in a spin? If you could ditch any mortgage gibberish, what would it be? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or get involved in the conversation on Twitter and Instagram.