Bloomberg Equality Summit Opening Night Dinner:
Advancing Financial Security
October 17, 2022
We gathered in-person with the most influential, dynamic and innovative figures in investing and markets, to evaluate where we are now, predict if investors are in for more pain in 2022, and examine where money might work in this challenging environment.
Click here to view the full program.
- Matt Hammerstein, CEO, Barclays UK
- Jacqueline Loh, CEO, Aidha (virtual)
- Åsa Norrie, CEO and Regional Head of Distribution for Europe, Principal Asset Management
- Sacha Romanovitch, CEO, Fair4AllFinance
- Shartia Brantley, Deputy New York Bureau Chief & Senior Editor, Bloomberg Live
- Dani Burger, Anchor, Bloomberg Television
Åsa Norrie, CEO and Regional Head of Distribution for Europe, Principal Asset Management spoke about launching the Global Financial Inclusion Index and empowering the market to help deliver accessible financial solutions and support for citizens. She also identified and addressed the social gaps in financial inclusion.
“As we continue to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, the potential of the global economic downturn and continued challenges with equitable access, we have assembled an impressive group here tonight to discuss how each of us, private industry, government and nonprofits can help better create financial security. It’s only by working together across public and private sectors that we can help many families and communities to be resilient, to be equitable, and of course, secure.”
In Conversation with Jacqueline Loh
Providing support for capabilities building and the confidence to access financial tools was a call to action for business leaders from Jacqueline Loh, CEO, Aidha. The non-profit has provided financial literacy and self-development training for migrant domestic workers and lower income women in Singapore; more than 5,000 of them since 2006.
These women typically work 15 hour days, six days a week, earning only about $500 per month in a country whose GDP is equal to other developed countries. But, in Singapore, they earn three to five times what they might otherwise make back home. They may actually be able to change the trajectory of their lives,” Loh said. Yet, when they return home once every two years or so, only 6% were bringing savings with them.
“Hopefully, people can cycle through an ecosystem of support as they complete each of our five learning modules. After Module 1, they are able to increase the average monthly savings by 30%, by the time they are alumni of our entrepreneurship course, that increases to close to 80%. But also we track the ownership of productive assets and that doubles as they become alumni of the entrepreneurship course. Many of them go on to start businesses with their families,” Loh said.
Panel Discussion: Financial Inclusion: It Can’t Wait
In addition to being able to weather life’s ups and downs, Sacha Romanovitch, CEO, Fair4AllFinance, described financial inclusion as a tool that allows people to ‘fully participate in society.’ Across the UK, 17.5 million people are at financial risk, with 40 million having less than £100 in savings. And, half of those are employed. She also addressed the stigma of being poor. “Shame is the biggest word associated with financial vulnerability. We’ve started the de-stigmatization. That’s where people get into situations and where they spiral. We need to normalize talking about financial matters”
The shame and fear of seeking help from people they know leads to the rise of crime, Romanovitch said, with the door opened to an increase in organized crime lending.
She said success is found in simple stories, like one woman, who, like many with limited resources, was good at managing her money. But she found herself needing a loan to provide a funeral for her brother. She qualified for one of their first no-interest loans, and every time she made a payment, a pound went into a savings account. She built her credit and financial reserves.
Matt Hammerstein, CEO, Barclays UK agreed with Romanovitch’s assessment that the banking system was not designed for the financially vulnerable, adding that the incentives are still not there. The solution would be in a triangulation of confidence, tools and support to build financial resilience. He spoke about their Life Skills program that offers basic financial education to millions across the nation.
Those programs are practiced in-house first. “The big thing is, where does the problem show up? Yes, there’s shame, and people won’t reveal it to their employers.” That’s why Barclays trains its leaders to look for signs and be supportive.
About the upcoming winter and the cost-of-living crisis, Hammerstein said, “Everyone will have difficult decisions to make, but this sector will have not lifestyle, but life choices to make.”
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