The Big Exchange wears its purpose on its sleeve. Co-founded by the team at The Big Issue, it’s a start-up with a difference, offering a glimpse into a new kind of investment.
Working alongside The Big Exchange for almost two years, we supported the launch of its new social and environmental investment platform – designed for people who want their money to work for themselves, for other people and for the planet.
It now has a growing and diverse customer base of ethically-minded investors who can invest from as little as £25 a month. And it’s shaking up the financial services sector by building a movement towards fair, sustainable and inclusive finance.
Setting out to disrupt the industry by making investing more accessible, inclusive and, above all, ethical, The Big Exchange Investment platform only lists funds that pass its own ‘positive impact test’ and can prove they are having a positive impact on people and the planet.
The Big Exchange is about helping people to understand the power of their investments and to recognise that, with The Big Exchange, you don’t have to be super wealthy to be an investor.
CEO, The Big Exchange
“We’re unique,” said CEO Jill Jackson. “Purpose is at the centre of everything we do.
"When you’re co-founded by The Big Issue you have a view of what’s going on in society, and that’s always at the forefront of your mind.”
Disruption was always the goal for the start-up. Backed by 13 co-founding asset managers and a host of corporate supporters including Deloitte, it shows what’s possible when businesses and not-for-profits combine their strengths.
“Our mission is to enable people who can invest to do so with positive social and environmental impact, and to help those who aren’t investors to become more financially resilient, so they can invest one day,” explained Jill.
Doing it differently
Rapidly rising numbers of investors suggest this is something people have been waiting for. Since its launch in October 2020, the platform has attracted a diverse customer base that includes significant numbers of female and younger investors, with customer numbers growing 150 per cent month-on-month.
Its focus on demystifying investment and throwing out the jargon is also helping to encourage a new wave of speculators: 38.7 per cent of its investors are first timers. And it’s already attracted a Best Buy Sustainable ISA rating from money and investment advice website Boring Money.
Tackling society’s challenges
The pandemic has helped to highlight social issues, heightening expectations of the role that businesses and financial institutions should play in addressing society’s challenges.
Even before it began, momentum was building in relation to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) issues. For example, business’ commitments to prioritise action on net zero roughly doubled between September 2019 and 2020.
“People are becoming more conscious of the fragility of our society, so it’s great that they’re making more socially and environmentally conscious choices," said Jill. “It’s a really powerful part of the puzzle.”
Guided by our purpose of making an impact that matters, The Big Exchange investment platform was launched with pro bono support from Deloitte’s 5 Million Futures social impact strategy.
Collaborating beyond its 2020 launch, we added a free open banking app and services in April 2021 designed to help those who are financially squeezed, excluded, or looking to become more financially resilient.
“Through our involvement with The Big Exchange, we wanted to play a role in challenging the way things have always been done,” said Lucy Traynor, a director at Deloitte. “The project brings together a number of areas we’re passionate about helping to transform: investing in our society, financial inclusion and taking action on climate change.”
The result is an exciting new investment offering for consumers in the UK, that enables them to be confident the money they invest is aiming to provide both a financial return and a positive societal and environmental impact.
A partnership built on purpose
A significant venture and an investment of over £1.8 million or 13,000 hours in pro bono services, this was Deloitte’s first UK financial services project entirely focused on social value. The support we offered ranged from legal advice to designing and testing the tech and was essential to the project’s launch.
“We were inundated with offers from colleagues keen to get involved,” Lucy continued “and this meant we could build a team as committed as our client.”
“Deloitte’s passion around purpose, financial inclusion and societal impact have been really key,” said The Big Exchange’s Jill Jackson. “They’ve been a true corporate partner.”