The PA Guide’s A-Z of Office Jargon

Have you ever sat through a meeting and wondered what on earth your colleagues were talking about? If you are in a new role or have changed industry, getting to grips with business terms and jargon can sometimes be confusing. To help you get up to speed, The PA Guide has created an A-Z of office terms and jargon to make your day less stressful.

A  |  B  |  C  |  D  |  E  |  F  |  G  |  H  |  J  |  K  |  L  |  M  |  N  |  O  |  P  |  Q  |  R  |  S  |  T  |  U  |  V  |  W  |  X  |  Y  |  Z

A

Administrator –  A licensed insolvency practitioner appointed by the court to take control of a company when it goes into administration.

Affiliate Marketing – a marketing arrangement whereby an online retailer pays commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated by its referrals.

AIM – stands for Alternative Investment Market which is the London Stock Exchange’s market for younger, smaller and growing companies that allows them to float shares with a more flexible regulatory system than the main stock exchange.  Investments in AIM-listed companies are considered to be riskier but can bring higher returns.

Asset-Based Lender – Asset-Based Lending is a form of Asset-Based Finance that uses assets on a company’s balance sheet as security against lending. Assets can include tangible and non-tangible assets, including debtors, stock, equipment, machinery and property, and Intellectual Property (IP).

Assets – An item of value owned by a company.  Tangible assets are physical items or goods such as office furniture and fixtures, IT equipment, property or vehicles.  Intangible assets are not physical and can include goodwill and intellectual property, such as trademarks and copyrights.

Arbitration – this is a way of seeking to resolve a dispute without going to court. An arbitrator (an independent third party)  looks at both sides of the issue and makes a decision as to how it should be resolved. Those involved may agree to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator.

B

B2B Marketing – stands for business to business and refers to a business whose target market is other businesses or organisations. Examples include Adobe, American Express, and WeWork.

B2C Marketing – B2C stands for business-to-customer, and refers to companies who sell to individuals, usually marketing their products for personal use. Examples include Amazon, Tesco, and Boots. 

Ballpark – a figure that is a rough estimate or an off the cuff guess.

Banner Advertising – a form of online advertising which entails embedding an advertisement into a webpage. 

Bankruptcy – A legal process where a person who is unable to repay their creditors can seek relief from some or all of their debts. Filing for bankruptcy may result in assets being sold to help repay the debt and can have lasting effects on credit reports and make it difficult to borrow in the future.

Best Practice – A set of guidelines or standards that represent the most efficient and ethical course of action.

Blue Chip – A company that is well established and has performed well to date and is therefore considered to be a safe investment for your money.

Bounce Rate – the percentage of visitors to a website who navigate away from the site having only viewed one page. When someone visits your site and leaves without clicking through to another page, this is called a ‘bounce’.

Brand – a business is recognisable by its brand; this all-encompassing term refers to everything from your marketing communications to your website and products.

Brand Equity – the word used to describe a brand’s value.

Brand Guidelines – a set of outlining how your business presents itself to the world.

Brand Identity – how you want your business to present itself and to be perceived by your consumers.

Brand Image – describes how consumers view your business, and their perceptions of your brand.

Brand Loyalty – the emotional relationship that consumers develop with certain brands which leads to repeat purchases.

C

Call to Action (CTA) – where you call on a consumer to take immediate action, i.e. order now, call us now on…, email us at

Capital Gains – A rise in value of a capital asset (i.e. an investment or property) that means it is worth more than when it was purchased. They can be short term (a year or less) or long term (more than a year). Capital Gains are realised when you sell the asset and must be claimed on income tax.

Clickbait – a piece of online content that reveals just enough attention to to stimulate curiosity, encouraging people to click through a website, video or social media.

Companies House – Companies House is a register of all limited companies and public limited companies where information is stored and made available to the public.  Companies House also incorporates (form) and dissolves (breaks up) companies.

Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) – a company voluntary arrangement is a voluntary arrangement for a company whereby a plan of reorganisation or composition in satisfaction of its debts is put forward to creditors and shareholders. There is limited involvement by the court and the scheme is under the control of a supervisor.

Content Marketing – the creation of online content such as blogs, social media posts, newsletters, etc. to create interest in a business.

Conversion Rate – the percentage of people who carry out a desired action, e.g. the percentage of website visitors that make a purchase on the site.

Counsel – a term used to describe a barrister

Creditor – an organisation or individual or to whom money is owed 

D

Debtor – A person or company that owes you or your company money.

Deliverables – a product, service or outcome that must be completed and delivered under the terms of an agreement or contract.

Demographic – groups of people identified by certain characteristics such as age, sex, religion gender, family suze, ethnicity, etc. A business can segment its marketing using these different characteristics to target its audience more accurately.

Due Diligence – a detailed analysis and appraisal of a business by a specialist such as an accountant or a lawyer, usually with the objective of finding if there are any ‘skeletons in the cupboard’.

E

Elevator Pitch – a very brief speech, usually less than 60 seconds, that outlines an idea for a product, service or project.

Exit Strategy – A strategic plan put in place when an entrepreneur wants to leave the business he or she founded. This may be due to retirement, financial reasons, or simply the desire to move on to something new.  Exiting a business can be achieved by a sale, merger or winding down the business. 

F

Fixed cost – Business costs that do not change with an increase in the amount of goods or services produced or sold.  Fixed costs can include rent, salaries, insurance premiums and loan repayments. 

G

G7 – the group of seven major industrialised economies, comprising the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan.

GDP – stands for Gross Domestic Product, which is a measure of economic activity in a country, namely of all of the services and goods produced in a year.

Going Concern – a company that has sufficient resources to continue to operate for the foreseeable future.

Gross – An amount before tax or costs, such as interest, are deducted.

H

Holding Company – A type of company which controls another company (called a subsidiary), usually by owning more than half of its shares. A holding company can control the subsidiary’s policies and oversee management decisions but doesn’t run the day-to-day operations. 

I

Ideation – a creative process where a team gets together to create new ideas and concepts.

Indemnity – compensation for – or protection against – loss or damages that might be given by one person to another within a contract or otherwise.

Inflation – the upward price movement of goods and services.

Insider Trading – The trading of shares based on information on a company that is not in the public domain. An investor with private information on a company is considered to have an unfair advantage over other investors who are not privy to this information. Insider Trading was made illegal in the UK In 1980.

Insolvency Practitioner – A professional person (not a company) who is an expert in insolvency and is a member of and is licensed by the Insolvency Practitioners Association.

Insolvent – a company or an individual is insolvent when they are unable to pay debts when they are due or where their liabilities exceed their assets.

Intellectual property (IP) – this refers to creations of the mind that an individual or business owns as a result of owning its copyright, trademark or patent. Examples of IP can include inventions, designs, symbols, literary and artistic works, and names and images.

J

Joint Venture – A strategic business partnership and legal agreement resulting in the creation of a new legal entity by two or more businesses (who otherwise retain their distinct identities) to mutually accomplish a business objective.

K

Key Performance Indicator – A KPI is a measure of performance to assess the success of a company or a certain activity that the company is taking part in.

Keywords – in SEO (search engine optimisation), keywords are words and phrases that people enter into search engines to find your content. 

L

Lead Generation – the process of generating customer interest in your business’ products or services.

Liquidation – a process where the assets of a company are realised and distributed to satisfy, in so far as possible, its liabilities. In the event of a surplus after payment of all liabilities plus statutory interest, this will be distributed to the shareholders.

Liquidity – The ease with which a company’s assets can be converted into cash. Stocks and bonds are very liquid as they can be converted into cash quickly.  Larger assets such as land, property, plant and machinery are not as easily converted into cash and considered to be less liquid.

M

Marketing – the act of promoting and selling your product or service, from initial market research to advertising.

Marketing Brief – a framework for a task or campaign that gives the marketing team everything they need to know to complete the task.

Marketing Mix – the combination of factors a business uses to promote its products or services.  Typical marketing mixes consist of the 4P’s of marketing – price, place, product and promotion.

Marketing Plan – a document outlining a business’ marketing strategy over a set period of time (usually one year) and which normally includes marketing goals, budget and marketing activities.

Market Research – research into your customers’ needs and preferences to gather information that will inform your product or service offering.

Market Segmentation – when a business segments their target market into subgroups based on certain shared characteristics to target its audience more accurately.

Market Share – The percentage or share of the overall market controlled by one company.  It is calculated by taking a company’s sales over the period and dividing it by the total sales of the industry over the same period. The market leader in the industry is the company with the largest share.

Money laundering – the process of concealing the source of illegally obtained money.

N

Net – The amount of profit remaining after deductions such as tax or interest have been made. 

Notary – a lawyer regulated by the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Notaries are primarily concerned with the authentication and certification of signatures, authority and capacity relating to documents for use abroad.

Not for Profit – an organisation, typically a charity, that retains an profits for self preservation or expansion rather than passing them into its owners.

O

Operating Profit / Loss – The profit or loss a company makes from its core business activity.  It reflects the income that remains after accounting for all of the costs of doing business but before interest and taxes are deducted. 

P

Patent – An official legal document confirming that an individual or company has the sole right to make, use or sell a particular invention.

Pay As You Earn (PAYE) – A system where employers take tax and National Insurance contributions from their employees’ wages and pay them to HM Revenue & Customs.

Privatisation – The process of moving government-owned assets into private ownership and control.

Psychographics – used often in marketing research, psychographics refers to categorising people based on psychological criteria such as attitudes, values, opinions and lifestyles.

Q

Quota – This is a limit set by a government on how much of a product can be imported or exported. Countries use quotas in international trade to help regulate the volume of trade between them and other countries.

R

Recession – A period of severe economic decline.  A recession is defined as a contraction of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for two quarters or more.

Restructuring – a major change in the structure, operations or debt of a company, usually made when the business has issues that could jeopardise its future.

Return on Investment – measures how much profit is made on an investment relating to how much money was invested in it.

Risk Management – the process of identifying, assessing and minimising the risks that a company may face from legal liabilities, uncertainty in financial markets, accidents, project failures, or deliberate attacks.

S

Search Engine Optimisation – maximising how visible your website is in search engine results, using keywords, quality of content and backlinks.

Secured Loan – A loan that is tied to an asset as a form of security – if the loan repayments aren’t made, the asset could be repossessed.

Share Option – The right to buy shares in a company in the future, at a favourable price, in addition to a regular salary if the person meets specific performance targets or predetermined criteria.

SME – A ‘Small or Medium sized enterprise’ which make up 99.9% of the nation’s business population.  Micro (fewer than 10 employees), small (fewer than 50 employees) and medium (fewer than 250 employees can all be described as an SME.

Stakeholders – Any individual or party that has an interest in or may be affected by a business and/or its activities. This can include anyone, from shareholders to residents of the local community.

Supply Chain – The different elements making up the process involved in producing and distributing an item or items.

T

Takeover – The buying out of one company by another.

Trademark – A logo, brand name or phrase legally registered by one company to represent them.

Turnover – The total sales of a business or company during a specified period. Turnover is sometimes referred to as gross revenue or income.

U

Unit Trust – A unit trust invests money in the stock market on behalf of a group of private investors who have put their money together to invest and be managed by a fund manager. 

Unique Selling Points – the factors that differentiate your business from its competitors.

User Generated Content – content that’s been posted by users of online platforms such as social media and forums.  

V

Venture Capital – A form of private equity and a type of financing for start-up companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth potential.

Viral Marketing – a piece of content that’s been circulated widely on the internet.

W

Winding-up Petition – The paperwork used to apply to the court for a company to be closed down after they have continuously refused to pay their debts.

Write down, write off – These terms go hand in hand. Banks have been writing down the value of mortgage-backed assets because they are no longer worth the amount that they are specified at on a business’s balance sheet. Whereas a write-off is when the whole of the value of the asset is deducted. These are two financial terms that you might hear in the director’s office.

Working Capital – This is the capital a business uses in its day-to-day trading. It’s the difference between current assets and current liabilities. It provides an indication of liquidity and the business’s ability to meet its current obligations.

Wrongful Trading – When a director allows their company to continue to do business even though they know (or should know) that there was no prospect of the company paying its debts.

X

Got an idea of office jargon beginning with X? Get in touch with us today to contribute.

Y

Yield – This is a return measure for an investment over a set period of time, expressed as a percentage. It is calculated by taking the annual dividend or interest payment, multiplying it by 100 and dividing by the current market price.

Z

Zombie – a company that makes just enough cash to pay off the interest on the debt but not actually reduce it. This means there is no cash available for the company to invest or grow.  

 

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