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In the language of business, fair value is grammar

James Yerkess

James Yerkess

Founding Partner

In writing, grammar is vital because it provides information that helps the reader’s comprehension.

When creating prose, grammar is the structure that conveys precise meaning from the writer to the audience. Therefore, eliminate grammatical errors from your writing, and you reward your readers with clear communication.

The same applies to the language of business. Firms use propositions, products and services to convey meaning to their customers.

However, many companies struggle to understand and apply the grammar and punctuation of fair value to their propositions, products and services, thereby confusing or potentially misleading customers about value for money.

There are plenty of examples across financial services where the sector has poorly used the grammar and punctuation of fair value resulting in regulatory fines and remediation.

Payment protection insurance (PPI) is a good case where fair value commas should have allowed customers to pause and check that the product was right for them. However, these were completely missing from the sales process.

Equally, the lack of exclamation marks meant people were unaware of any critical warnings and exclusions applied to PPI.

On the flip side, firms that successfully master the grammar of fair value communicate better with customers, winning loyal rather than reluctant users of their services whilst gaining a competitive advantage.

Many of the neo-banks and fintech providers that have entered the financial services space have grasped the pen from incumbent providers and sharpened up fair value grammar across their products and services.

They know how to keep their proposition and product narrative concise and clear through the careful use of fair value grammar. These firms are not afraid to use a full stop clearly and concisely.

Sending money overseas via an international payment is a good case in point, with a full stop applied to complex fees and FX margins for cross border payments. This simple action and a full stop at the end of the historically long-winded fees sentence full of misused commas has resulted in considerable uplifts in customer switching from old international banks that have traditionally dominated this space.

Referring back to writing prose in emails or letters, individuals would not think it unusual to reach out for support, tools or hints and tips to improve the quality and connection of their message.

A case in point, how many people deliberately switch off the support a spell checker provides or would send marketing out with unchecked spelling? Equally, how many people are now comfortable using Microsoft Grammarly to help them correct basic errors and improve the quality of their writing.

Most individuals find it sensible and logical to strive to improve their grammar and punctuation. In that case, it should not be a difficult leap to adopt the same open need for support, tools and skilled guidance to improve fair value grammar within the firms they work within.

As discussed earlier, those that successfully master the grammar of fair value communicate better with customers, winning loyal rather than reluctant users of their services whilst gaining a competitive advantage.

The General Insurance sector is in the process of responding to the recent FCA pricing practices study and policy statement.

It will be interesting to observe how many insurers and price comparisons websites seek broader support to freshen or sharpen their fair value grammar to ensure their products give customers protection when things go wrong?

In effect, is the General Insurance sector using all the tools and experience around it, sometimes from other sectors, to successfully rewrite their fair value business language to connect with more customers and gain a competitive advantage?

Although, there will undoubtedly be those who run the risk of switching off the spell checker and working in isolation, assuming that their use of fair value grammar, punctuation and spelling is correct without the need to refer to the tools or support around them.

In a series of articles and posts, we will further explore the language of business and how fair value is grammar.

Whilst examples and case studies may vary across sectors, the results from mastering fair value grammar are clear, concise, and positive when it comes to gaining a competitive edge and improved performance. Thus, when constructing the language of business, fair value is not only grammar but the route to sustainable success and competitive advantage.


As practitioners of proposition and fair value at HAL, we support companies and individuals with the tools to improve their narrative and gain a competitive advantage. Contact us for more details, plus case study examples that provide a blueprint for success for your business.