Even before we’d heard of COVID-19, an estimated 12 million people in the UK were unable to pay an unexpected bill of £300 and 1.2 million were unable to access a bank account.
An estimated million more UK citizens are now in poverty than when the pandemic began. As a result, financial wellbeing has worsened and more people than ever are falling into financial difficulty.
When the pandemic hit, we were working with The Big Exchange on an ethical investment platform aimed at directing funds towards people and the planet. Together, in response to the pandemic, we sped up the launch of The Big Exchange app.
It’s free. And it’s designed to help those who are financially, excluded, squeezed or looking to become more financially resilient.
Banks and firms like ours have an important role to play, helping those who the system currently leaves behind.
Financial Inclusion Leader, Deloitte NSE
Helping those the system leaves behind
“When people find themselves in trouble financially, they need the right tools to help them take control of and rebuild their finances,” said Deloitte’s North and South Europe (NSE) Financial Inclusion Leader James O’Riordan. “Banks and firms like ours have an important role to play, helping those who the system currently leaves behind.”
“Improving financial inclusion is the right thing to do,” James continued, “and there are wider economic and business benefits too."
For example, in our Better Banking survey, 71 per cent of people told us they would be more likely to choose a bank with positive social and environmental impact.
A hand up
“The Big Exchange is an extension of The Big Issue’s mission of finding solutions for those who are financially excluded – creating a fairer world for everybody,” said Chair of The Big Issue Group, Nigel Kershaw OBE.
“We’re giving people the tools to build financial resilience for themselves,” Nigel continued. “A hand up, not a handout.”
As part of Deloitte’s 5 Million Futures social impact strategy, we worked closely with The Big Exchange on its inclusive financial services project since its inception.
The first product we launched together, in October 2020, was a pioneering investment and financial services platform. Offering over 50 independently rated social and environmental funds direct to a retail audience, its aim is to make investors’ money count for more.
The app’s features have been designed to help people better understand and control their financial situation. It’s been improved through research with different types of customers, such as those who were furloughed, made redundant or are more vulnerable to financial shocks.
With money management tools, ethical products such as affordable credit, jargon-free information, financial education and green-energy switching, the app is already in use by hundreds of people daily.
“Our goal is to help everyone work towards becoming more financially resilient and shape a better future – whatever that means for them,” said The Big Exchange’s CEO Jill Jackson.
“The Coronavirus crisis has dramatically changed how most of us spend our money and on what,” Jill continued.
“People are also more aware than ever of the need to build up some savings so when life changes, they’re prepared.”
Supporting financial inclusion
Our work in support of The Big Exchange is our most significant social impact venture in financial services to date. In line with our purpose – to make an impact that matters – it’s central to our commitment to support financial inclusion and a better banking system.
Over almost two years, we’ve invested the equivalent of £1.8m or over 13,000 hours in pro bono professional services, embedding specialists across its business and providing expertise to help develop and launch the project.