17th March 2020

Acronyms Take Over Many Investment Concepts

From ASOS to Zoopla, acronyms, abbreviations and made-up names are everywhere in the digital age. It may seem like a phenomenon largely confined to online marketing and, though there has been an eruption of new monikers in that arena, the process of shortening or updating ordinary corporate names, regulators’ titles and investment plans has also seen some explosive phases.

BP’s journey from Anglo-Persian Oil Company Limited to BP PLC, adopted in 2000, involved five changes of name along the way. It took many years for the corporate image to catch up with the familiar filling-station branding. Through the years, many combinations of initials have been employed and almost everyone knows BA and BT, GKN and GSK, and lots more besides.

Pardon my jargon

As the regime for regulating investment business evolved, changes made to the framework brought yet more shorthand jargon. Among examples that came and went were PIA, FSA and SFA (pardon? – the Securities and Futures Authority!). In their roles today we have FCA and PRA.

The UK has also seen new financial products such as PEP, TESSA, ISA, TESSA-only ISA, VCT, SIPP, SSAS, OEIC and ICVC. In 2002, after 205 years’ trading, insurer Norwich Union gave itself a made-up name, Aviva, not to be mistaken for your local transport operator Arriva or IT firm AVEVA. We can’t help you with train times, but we can explain financial gobbledygook for you in plain English. TTFN.