Yesterday, I joined a fantastic panel of speakers at the Innovate Finance Global Summit (IFGS) for UK Fintech Week. The topic of the discussion was “using technology to drive financial inclusion,” which is something I’m hugely passionate about, and a sentiment that is central to Seccl’s mission.
The panel was moderated by Pinar Ozcan, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Oxford and Director of the Oxford Fintech Initiative. I was also joined by Louise Hill, Co-founder and COO at GoHenry, Karen Kerrigan, COO at Moneybox, Francesca Carleso, Founder and CEO at Molo Finance, and Sophia Guy-White, Co-founder and Head of Customer Success at Generation Home. A star-studded all-female fintech panel!
Here’s a sneak preview…
What did we discuss?
Financial inclusion is obviously a huge topic with many different facets, so it would have been impossible to fit everything we had to say in a 40-minute talk (I’m sure the others would agree!). However, we still managed to cover some good ground…
We started by discussing where financial inclusion is currently falling short, from the lack of trust consumers have in the financial services industry, to the shortfall of financial literacy in children and adults, and what we can do to get more people investing.
While others on the panel talked about inclusion from a consumer perspective, I was glad to contribute to the infrastructure piece. At Seccl, our technology helps to power fintechs like Penfold (who provide pensions for the self-employed), Chip (who provide accessible saving and investment products), and Crowdcube (an equity fundraising platform.) We also provide the custody in wrappers like ISAs, JISAs and SIPPs.
We’ve talked about APIs a fair bit, but it really is that magic, three-letter acronym that makes all this stuff possible. Our open API-based technology enables new and innovative fintechs to launch propositions quickly, affordably and sustainably so they can focus on what matters most: delivering to the consumer.
Tackling financial education
Each and every panelist had something different to add to the conversation around financial education and literacy – and I certainly learned a lot from them.
Louise from GoHenry shared some startling research, which uncovered that children who receive some form of financial education are 42% more likely to start a new business in adulthood, contributing a potential 6.6 billion to the UK economy every year and saving around £70,000 more towards retirement.
This led me to think about the huge numbers of adults who didn’t get that education when they were younger; who are intimidated by the concept of “wealth” and don’t think the conversation includes them.
These people (often referred to as the “bottom 98%”) may not require regulated financial advice, but they still may need financial education and guidance. Only 12% of adults currently use an investing app, and only 15% have stocks and shares ISAs, so there is clearly a lot of white space to be filled there.
However, even the term “investing” has become confusing. More and more people may be open to the concept following the GameStop/Reddit events from 2021 and the recent popularity of Crypto. However, much of this is speculative trading (which is easily gamified!) – so how do we galvanize that long-term appetite while making sure people know what they’re getting into?
Towards a brighter future: innovation, inclusion and better access to investing
The UK government wants to see more people with over 10K in savings starting to invest, but there is a lot of work to be done to make investing both more accessible and more inclusive.
Karen from Moneybox stated that wealth management has a huge access problem, and that services are really only designed for a small segment of society. But while banks and financial services providers focus on amassing wealth, for most people (who are only really interested in making their money work for the life they want to live) the onus should really be on education that’s outcome focused.
“People don’t wake up and decide they want to open an ISA. They decide they want to go on holiday next year or buy a house, so that’s what motivates them. We need all of this information to be more accessible and less intimidating. Lastly, we need it to be available through a slick digital journey."
~ Karen Kerrigan, COO at Moneybox
If I had a magic wand…
When asked at the end of the talk what area of financial services I would change if I had a magic wand, I said I would want more companies to bring embedded investments to the forefront.
How much easier would investing be, if every time you purchased something from your favourite retailer, it could round up your spend with an investment, or if you could send 10p to your investment portfolio every time you used your credit card? There are studies that show this drives consumer engagement and loyalty as well as solving some of the distribution and access challenges with investing.
With this in mind, I think the key to the future of financial inclusion is a change of narrative – to people viewing saving and investing as two sides of the same coin rather than opposing activities.
As always, if you have any questions off the back of this discussion, or about how we partner with advisers, investment managers and fintechs, do not hesitate to get in touch – I’m always happy to chat.