The Finance in Society Research Institute launch event can be deemed a success as researchers and practitioners come together to mark the start of the new initiative.
During the event held on Tuesday July 5, at the University of Gloucestershire Oxstalls’s campus, researchers, masters students, industry experts and doctoral candidates came together to share the successes and future plans for the newly launched institute.
Guest speakers including Nicola Crosbie, Edward Grant and Dr Charles Afriyie, covered topics such as financial literacy, women in finance and the necessity of soft skills in financial planning.
These were just a selection of the afternoon’s interesting conversations that highlighted the great work already being achieved by the Finance in Society Research Institute.
Dr Dominic Page, Head of the Gloucestershire Business School, said: “We’re extremely proud to be launching our new Finance in Society Research Institute in what we’re confident will prove another successful collaboration with St. James’s Place.”
“It is hugely beneficial to have St James’s Place on board. That partnership has allowed us to build an identity externally. It has allowed us to build and to draw on the professional knowledge and expertise that exists within their organisation.
“However, I do think this relationship is mutually beneficial. For us as academics we are here to sometimes challenge the practices that exist within the sector to be that critcal friend and equally support in the professionalisation of the industry.”
What is the Finance in Society Research Institute?
The Research Institute, based within the Gloucestershire Business School at the University’s Oxstalls Campus, will specialise in advancing high-quality collaborative personal financial research to enhance sector-wide practice and policy, and provide research-led technical and policy advice to organisations and government.
In February, the University and St. James’s Place announced the launch of the UK’s first specialist MBA in Financial Planning to meet the needs of the evolving financial planning landscape.
The Research Institute’s ambitious aims include the provision of high-quality master’s and doctoral level qualifications for financial services industry professionals, the development of impactful co-produced academic and industry research, and the delivery of an industry-wide research seminar series.
Dr Dominic Page said: “The Research Institute presents a fantastic opportunity to bring together the expertise of the University, colleagues undertaking master’s and doctoral qualifications and the wider financial planning industry.”
He continued: “The institute is also a vital aspect of enhancing the professionalism of the financial sector in supporting those within the industry to develop their careers but most importantly enhancing the role that finance plays in addressing some vital societal issues.
“This no more more prevalent than the issues that people are currently facing with the rising cost of living; how do we ensure these people have access to good financial advice.”
What are the aims of the institute?
The aims of the research institute is to enhance opportunities to advance knowledge in an area that there is a need for academic research.
Throughout the afternoon a common theme arose where the teaching and medical professions were said to be brimming with high-quality research, yet, the financial sector lacked the same kind of attention.
Edward Grant, Director responsible for professional development at St. James’s Place, consistently argued the need for more research in financial services in order to improve the industry as a whole.
He said: “There is a distinct need for rigorous academic research on finance in society, so we are excited to expand our partnership with the University to develop a dedicated research unit.
“Enhancing academic research in this space will help to broaden our knowledge as an profession and help to identify areas for development, delivering better outcomes for all in society.”
A common anecdote used throughout the talk delivered by Edward Grant was that he didn’t want to ‘leave his research on the shelf’ as he had done 34 years ago when he first wrote his dissertation.
The partnership between the University of Gloucestershire and St James’s Place aims to prevent this from happening by giving students the belief that their research is actionable and worthwhile.
A MBA Financial Planning student highlighted this after the event when she said: “We don’t want to put the ‘research back on the shelf’ as they may have done in the past. We want it to be worthwhile and have an impact and with St James’s Place on board we know it is not pointless.”
Highlights of the event
Whilst the event was full with interesting conversations and debates, there were a few standout discussions that grasped the full attention of everyone present.
The first came during the opening talk with Nicola Crosbie where she discussed her dissertation research titled ‘Where are all the Female Advisers? Can you be a woman in a Man’s World?’.
Nicola’s research highlighted the disparity between male and female financial advisers and opened up the discussion about why that might be the case. She cited clear and though-provoking reasons as to why women struggle to crack the IFA role in the same way that women do even in similar roles such as accounting and law.
Following a flurry of tough questions and reasons for debate, Nicola left everyone in attendance with something to think about.
Similarly to how Nicola opened with a powerful conversation, Dr Charles Afriyie (pictured above) Senior Lecturer in Accounting at Gloucestershire Business School, closed the afternoon with a short but strong message about financial literacy in education.
Dr Afriyie presented his findings on the lack of financial education in early years education and highlighted the benefits intervening at that stage would have on children’s futures.
To summarise his research, the university lecturer showcased the culmination of his work in the form of the app ProFILE which allows allows teachers to expose children aged 7-11 to financial education in a fun and engaging way.