Policy and Regulation

We help community, government and commercial organisations explain their products and services to their customers or members in a language they understand.

Our primary area of expertise is the language of financial services, especially what is known as 'customer testing'. We have also helped our government clients understand how the public 'makes sense of' complex products and marketplaces. 

Sue Bell has been invited to speak at many round tables and similar events on disclosure.

  • As an example of our work on disclosure, we conducted the consumer testing for changes to RG97
  • Our work was cited extensively in the report Disclosure: why it shouldn't be the default.
  • We also understand and support the move away from reliance on disclosure alone, and are developing research methods to help financial services firms meet their Design and Distribution Obligations.

Our expertise is three-fold:



  1. We are the experts in consumer testing of financial services documents and processes having tested hundreds of disclosure documents, forms, letters and statements with thousands of customers for some of the largest financial services organisations in Australia. The origin of this work was in testing disclosure, but as the regulatory regime evolves towards Duty of Reasonable Care so do our testing protocols.  This method is also suitable for testing labelling and instructions of any kind
  2. We understand the challenges of the public sector, particularly the focus on customer-centricity and customer commitments
  3. We are not simply experts in research methods and techniques, we also understand the people in your community because of our social science training (linguistics, psychology, anthropology, and behavioural economics) and our emotional and social intelligence.

Tags: Disclosure, Design and distribution obligations, regulation, Duty of reasonable care

Consumer Testing TRIAL OFFER

In Financial Services, the term ‘consumer testing’ means testing a document with members of its intended audience to determine whether the document is easy for them to read, use, and understand. Nowadays, we use consumer testing for all kinds of digital documents and forms as well as traditional pdfs.

Elements of best practice in document or consumer testing are

1. Testing should always be conducted as an individual interview and never in group discussions.

2. Participants should be members of the intended audience who have not been involved in the design or writing of the document.

3. If the sample for the testing is the general public, it should include men and women, younger and older people, people with lower and higher levels of education. 

4. Testing should be conducted by an independent researcher who has not been involved in designing or writing the document.

Susan Bell Research is an expert in this form of testing.   For clients who have not worked with us before: we have a trial offer. See below for details.

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Policy Case Study: direct life insurance

How consumers buy direct life insurance


Our report describes how consumers decide to buy direct life insurance and how they decide how and what to buy. Our sense-making approach to research revealed how some consumers struggle with their experience. These products are complex so consumer understanding of their features is often poor.

Here is an extract:

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Policy Case Study: structured investments

Retail investor research into structured ‘capital protected’ and ‘capital guaranteed’ investments


‘Capital guaranteed’ or ‘capital protected’ products are complex structured investments that typically offer investors returns linked to the performance of shares or investment markets, with some assurances about the return of their original investment at maturity. Derivatives, such as options, are commonly embedded within the product structure. The purpose of the research was to understand how well informed retail investors were about capital protected and capital guaranteed investments, and to document how these investors chose and evaluated this type of investment.

Our research showed why these investments had appealed to risk-averse investors, despite some of the inherent risks.

Here is an extract

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Compliance and Regulatory Testing

Are you a compliance / regulatory professional wanting to understand your customers' or users' perspective?

Do you want to ensure that you design your financial services product appropriately for your target market? 

The new Design and Distribution Obligations law makes it mandatory that financial services are suitable for their target market.   

We have spent many years conducting research on topics like this and are currently developing new ways to help financial services organisations. For example, the new law states that products must not be too complex for their target market - customers must understand the product features.

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Testing Written Documents

We test the readability and usability of brochures and business/regulatory/compliance/ technical documents and forms.

We use our unique blend of linguistics knowledge, research expertise and skills in plain writing and information design

We also test terminology.

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