IoD London: “Transforming the world of finance for the better” webinar

By Kirsty Maxey on Thursday, 24 September 2020

On Tuesday 22nd this week I chaired our webinar with the IoD City Branch financial services specialist interest group on Transforming the world of finance for the better.

The risk of a pandemic was not on the list of the 10 most probable risks cited in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report, published in January 2020. Climate risks, followed by cyber risks, were the top concerns. But then Covid-19 hit and it has changed everything. Now there has been much usage of the phrase ‘building back better’, particularly for the financial sector.

Which is why the purpose of our webinar was how the fs sector should use this crisis to transform for the better, where we considered: is a green led recovery both morally right and commercially viable? What are the smarter, fairer and more inclusive products and services that we should expect to see? Can data and modelling provide risk mitigation and predict future financial health to bake in the current missing resilience.

I was joined by an illustrious panel who I would like to thank for their generosity of insight.

  • Chris Hulatt, co-founder of Octopus Group, who spoke passionately about needing a new army of entrepreneurs to play pivotal role to play in this transformation and the need for Springboard initiatives to provide the financial support and space to help democratise setting up a business
  • Sean Hunter, Chief Information Officer at OakNorth, and a proponent of SMEs as the engine for recovery who highlighted the ability to use modern data science to create new types of risk models that can get beyond current SME funding inhibitors
  • Charlotte Ransom, co-founder and CEO of challenger wealth manager, Netwealth. highlighted that pandemic has meant a sudden need for consumers to engage with their wealth in a way that they have never done before and the resulting pivot for wealth managers to offer true value.
  • Romi Savova, CEO of online pension provider, PensionBee explained that there was a strong demand from consumers for products that are socially and environmentally friendly, and to now invest money in a way that protects them for tomorrow

Central to our discussion, and an issue that continues to lead editorials across the media, was that of ESG investments and specifically whether they are going to dominate any recovery. There was consensus that this direction of travel would continue but with a note of caution around transparency. Chris explained that ESG needs to be trustworthy and questioned whether all are trying to do good. His advice was that if you are wanting to run an ESG fund then you have to really engage with your investors.Whilst Romi pointed to the demand for sustainable business models such as fossil fuel free investing, explaining that the demand is there and will grow dramatically.

We also spoke about an enhanced sense of what really matters among consumers with many showing an appetite to engage with those businesses with integrity and purpose across all audiences. Chris referenced the importance of the recent Richard Curtis initiative, Makemymoneymatter, and its role in encouraging dialogue as he explained “People really care about their money now and the winners will be those who engage authentically.

And for me authenticity is going to be the deciding factor. This is the fs sector’s opportunity to build back better, and to embrace the move towards wider stakeholder responsibility. The growing shift towards ‘Stakeholder capitalism’ will mean better products and services and behaviours, to meet the increased expectations of consumers and investors. I found our discussion today hugely uplifting, hearing how our panel and others are indeed stepping up.

You can listen to the recording of the event here.