Innovation. Collaboration. Inclusion

by Anna Lane, CEO

Although the year so far is not proving hugely different to 2020, on a personal note I am extremely proud to be kicking off 2021 as President and CEO of Women in Banking and Finance (WIBF). A non-for-profit, volunteer-led network dedicated to increasing women’s visibility, participation and engagement in financial services at all levels – and I know something that many of you will be familiar with.

It feels a truly momentous time for me to be taking over….

As I write, we find ourselves once again in national lockdown and juggling work with a myriad of family, home, health and schooling pressures. Over and above the current challenges, it seems clear that a significant change for us, following the shift in our working patterns and improved technology over the last year, is that many will choose to continue working both remotely and/or flexibly if offered the opportunity.

Although I can count myself a veteran of the 2007-2009 financial crisis, it seems to me that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a far more profound impact on industry and society at large. The impact of Brexit adds a further area of uncertainty. However, in any crisis it is vital to ensure that there is access for all to opportunities and resources. It is this inclusivity that drives innovation and recovery and, in consequence, the business case for gender, disability and ethnic diversity is stronger than ever.

Today, perhaps, there is no more apt a demonstration of innovation than in the development of the Covid-19 vaccines which are a triumph of diverse thinking, collaboration and ingenuity.

It is our flexibility, diversity, cooperation and creativity that will help us to emerge stronger than before from the current economic crisis – the likes of which many of us will not have seen in our lifetime.

I take great inspiration from the concepts of inclusion, innovation and collaboration. It is my intention to incorporate these key themes into my vision and ambition, not only for WIBF but also, with my other hat on, as CEO of The Wisdom Council.

For example, we’ve spent the past two years undertaking extensive behavioural research at TWC in collaboration with several partners, to not only find out why women aren’t engaging with financial services companies, but also change their attitude to long-term saving and investments. As part of that work, we have identified one very specific cohort of women who responded positively to a set of behavioural nudges but that the industry would not ordinarily target, because they never engage and cannot afford to save. And yet I feel, as an industry, we should do more to help people at the margins.

Now more than ever we all have a role to play in society

The savings gap is a huge and growing issue. Pension poverty will be a reality for many more people (both men and women) if we can’t persuade them to start saving. I firmly believe the insights and data from our collaborative research are also valuable for the government, consumer groups, charities and foundations focused on financial wellbeing. It’s something that I am actively investigating and I look forward to discussing this further with our partners and those organisations that share our values – because now more than ever we all need to play a role in society to help.

If this is something you are interested in getting involved in or you have ideas that could support this initiative, then please do get in touch.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Helen Keller

Wishing you restful weekends. If this is what the first full January “back to work” week is like, I dread to think what the rest will be like. Onwards and upwards!

Warm wishes,

Anna Lane, CEO, The Wisdom Council

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