Designing 21st-Century Disclosures for Financial Decision Making


Publish Date:
July, 2016
  • Margaret Hagan, Designing 21st-Century Disclosures for Financial Decision Making, Stanford Law School Law and Policy Lab, Spring 2016.
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This report details the research and development work of the Spring 2016 Stanford Law School Policy Lab class, Exploding the Fine Print: Designing More Effective Legal Disclosures. The class, in partnership with staff from the U.S. financial industry’s self-regulatory body, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), explored how financial services companies (primarily registered broker-dealers and mutual funds) can communicate effectively terms, conditions, fees, and other information (the “fine print” or disclosures). The class targeted improvements in disclosure in sales material and advertisements regarding financial products and services so that lay people can better comprehend this information. Using a human-centered design approach, the class identified core insights about how “digital-native” millennials interact with the fine print, and how this interaction can be improved. Some of the improvements identified include using more engaging visual design, plain language, technological interactivity, and standardized disclosure styles.

This report summarizes the class’s concept designs and suggested guiding principles that companies crafting disclosures and regulators (like FINRA), who set standards for disclosures, can use when defining how to better communicate critical information to people making investment decisions.