FinTech: Building back with better governance and humanity

By Fiona Couper on Thursday, 26 November 2020

In conjunction with the Financial Services Forum, our fourth and final FinTech event for this year, on Thursday 26th November, focused on the build back and the role that FinTech can play to create a fairer and more inclusive financial services ecosystem.

Huge thanks to our panellists for their insight and candour:

• Sam Bambert, CEO, AskIf

• Sam Beeby, Product & Strategy, bambu

• Eleanor Levy, Director of Marketing and Communications, Now:Pensions

• Adam Smith, Managing Director, Teamspirit PR

Setting the scene, the event Chair, Fiona Couper, Group Business Development and Marketing Director, highlighted that the build back isn’t just about changing the way we do business, it is about changing the very businesses that are being created. Stakeholder capitalism is becoming the zeitgeist. Better governance has now become a ‘must have’ which is why Goldman Sachs have vowed not to help companies go public without at least one diverse board member, and why BlackRock has said it expects to see at least two female directors on the companies in its portfolio.

The financial services sector has vowed to use this crisis to help create a more resilient, inclusive and fairer FS ecosystem. And as our FinTech events over this year have reflected, FinTechs have been at the forefront of responding during this time of crisis in a way that has been supportive, more long-term in its thinking and human.

Starting with how confident the panel was in the build back making financial services fairer, the discussion ranged from those who felt positive that the direction of travel was towards more accessible products and reaching those who were underserved, to some of the panel who felt the pandemic had exacerbated exclusion particularly for non-digital natives, and those with multiple jobs and juggling childcare. Financial inclusion remains a key challenge.

There was talk about changed expectations as a result of the crisis, from investors to savers, and an increase in demand for ESG-based investments, but with debate around how healthy a more active approach was – particularly for those less experienced. More active control via FinTech capabilities has its risks and increases the responsibility for providers.

A move towards a hybrid model, where tech and data informs human decisions rather than replaces them was increasingly important. Human insight and the ability to see the lending potential ensures that smaller businesses are not excluded.

Gaps in the recovery continue to be those who take career breaks where the gap in pension provision is strongest for those with multiple jobs, who earn below a minimum threshold to be offered a pension at work and those who take career breaks. It’s up to individuals, employers and Government to help to close the gaps.

Risks include continuing to exclude many in society, such as disabled or those who cannot afford advice. As well as the reputational risk of words rather than action. ‘Greenwashing’ and ‘wokery’ can only be avoided by genuine commitment.

There was also a discussion around The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report (‘Brands Amidst Crisis’) launched this month, where results show that belief-driven buying remains the norm; with 63% of the sample choosing, switching or boycotting a brand based on its stand on societal issues, as well as how it responds to racial injustice.

Finally, the panel was asked their views on whether there would be a significant change in language and messaging around FS service and products. Again there was a feeling that whilst language should always be ‘plain English’ and ensure approachability, there are some products which are complex and that the industry’s duty of care is to ensure understanding.

If you would like to listen to the full recording, please click here. We look forward to seeing you at the end of January 2021 for our new series of FinTech events.