FinSight Magazine - seventh edition

Foreword from David Dalton, Head of Financial Services, Deloitte Ireland

Welcome to the seventh edition of FinSight, a collection of the latest articles and perspectives from Deloitte professionals, as well as from experts and senior leaders across the financial services industry.

As this edition went to press, the spectre of war on European soil confronted us following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The geopolitical reverberations continue, and events will have moved on by the time you read this. The war has devastating consequences on a humanitarian level, and our thoughts are with those suffering. As a publication dedicated to the financial services sector, FinSight will concern its commentary with the war’s economic impact. Many of the articles in this edition were prepared before the crisis in Ukraine, however the trends affecting those sector, as outlined in these pages, still hold true. The events in Ukraine, and the outpouring of support for its people in the aftermath of the invasion, are a reminder of our connectedness and kinship. This theme of shared responsibility is one that we at Deloitte have been reflecting upon recently, in terms of how we make an impact that matters for our clients, our people, and our community. One such area is financial inclusion, and in fact this urgent issue is closer to our doorsteps than many people might realise.

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Research has shown that quality of life improves when people are able to avail of financial services to access education, healthcare, and other essential services. When they can use savings, credit, insurance, and payments services, they become less economically vulnerable. Exclusion from financial services can become a poverty trap, whereas inclusion offers a path out.

The phrase might bring to mind unbanked populations in poorer sections of the developing world, but in fact this urgent issue is closer to our doorsteps than many people might realise. A 2021 study of financial inclusion challenges facing social housing residents in Dublin and Cork found that 37%– more than one in three – showed signs of weak inclusion or exclusion. It also found that women are statistically more likely to suffer from lower levels of inclusion than men. One in eight social housing residents said they do not have a bank, credit union or post office account. Problem debt was an issue for at least 20% of residents, while levels of insurance were extremely low.

If we think back to the drive towards digital, there are certain dynamics at play: rural vs urban and old vs young. As the latest CSO figures show, Ireland’s population is ageing. We cannot simply assume that older people will be as familiar and comfortable with digital financial products as younger people. Moreover, after two years of remote work which in some cases led to people relocating to be closer to their families, is it fair to deprive people of easy access to in-person financial services because of where they choose to live?

As the financial services industry focuses more on sustainability and ESG, we believe financial inclusion must be a part not just of firms' ESG strategies but of all our collective purpose. An economy cannot exist outside of the society it belongs to. As a sector, we now have a responsibility to tackle challenges such as financial inclusion.  

Explore other articles from FinSight #7:

FinSight 7

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