Financial language, to paraphrase Orwell, “is designed to make lies sound truthful…and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” I thought of the great English writer’s classic essay, “Politics and the English Language,” from which these words are taken, during a recent industry conference.
Stationed in an area reserved for the press, I sat within earshot of my media colleagues as one corporate exec after another streamed in for interviews.
I was immediately struck by how alike most of them sounded. Their words seemed to obscure rather than define what it is they offered.
The grand prize for most overused word nowadays is “robust.” It is not, unfortunately, the Starbucks coffee that these hyper-caffeinated financial company execs were referring to, but rather to humdrum features of their business like their “robust cash-flow management” systems.
Sorry to burst your bubble, Mr. Exec, but your competitors’ clients get their cash when they need it, just like your clients. And they both get the same near-zero rate, too. (Give me a system that adds a few basis points over what my rivals are getting on safe cash, and I’ll let you use that word.)
Cash-flow management just does not qualify for such august description as “robust.” Even the migrant worker at the check-cashing store avails himself of robust cash-flow management. He needs cash, and presto, he’s got it.