Investment firms have an opportunity to offer straightforward assistance and flexible services to disabled people as the cost-of-living crisis causes much financial distress and uncertainty.
· Despite a widespread belief among disabled (6 in ten) and non-disabled people that investing is a means to support a more financially secure future, disabled people were almost twice as likely to say that “Investing is not for people like me”.
· With 47% of disabled people and 44% of non-disabled people expecting their financial situation to be worse in two years’ time, provision of appropriate, accessible advice and flexible, applicable products is much needed.
Financial Inclusion & Disability: Rebuilding Trust in Financial Services was carried out by think tank and advocacy group City Hive with the support of White Marble Consulting, Axa Investment Managers, J. P. Morgan Asset Management, Schroders, Vontobel Asset Management and a consortium of retail and institutional asset managers, to explore attitudes towards investments amongst seldom heard groups. Disabled people in the UK make up 21% of the working population and over 40% of pension age. Changing demographics, longer lives but increasing chronic conditions mean this number will rise.
The research sought to understand what can be done to make investing more accessible to those who are disabled and recommend avenues that can help support all customers to build the financially secure future they want and need. It finds that the revised Consumer Duty provides a structure for firms to consider their response across their product offering, centred on applicability and accessibility to the consumer, with an opportunity to ensure this includes the offering from IFAs.
The research, which included a survey of 1000 people nationally, shows that:
· 47% of disabled people (out of 506 surveyed) and 44% of non-disabled people expect their financial situation to be worse in two years’ time.
· A majority of people (including 6 in ten disabled people) believe investing could help give them a more secure financial future, and almost half (47%) of disabled people said they had money set aside for a rainy day.
· Yet, despite 43% of disabled respondents saying that they can afford to save some money every month, they were almost twice as likely to say that “Investing is not for people like me”.
In depth interviews identified reasons ranging from a lack of available finance, to discouragement from the use of jargon, to struggling with the complexity of their lives and financial situation (such as reduced income, ongoing fixed costs and the need for emergency contingency). Investment firms could build a bridge to disabled customers by outreach to professional advisors, advocacy groups and local networks, and by offering flexible products that cater for the complex and competing factors that disabled people have to consider. Products with low barriers to entry and low costs would enable capital growth.
The role of advice in engaging disabled customers was highlighted; while only 30% of the cohort had sought advice in the last five years, 9 out of 10 were happy with the outcome. Investment firms should consider how to support IFAs to provide applicable advice that understands complexity and interaction of other financial factors, notably benefits and insurance products.
The report also considered factors to support accessibility and inclusion in the physical and digital provision of services, as well as processing and cognitive barriers. The importance of understanding these factors and listening to disabled people about the provisions they would welcome was emphasised, in particular to enable the provision of personalised, clear and accessible information that provided stepping stones towards financial security while understanding the underlying complexities of the individual and the different intersections of their lives.
Bev Shah, Chief Executive of City Hive commented: “If the asset and investment management industry want to tackle the inequalities faced by those with disabilities, we need to move beyond awareness and take action to address the imbalances in our financial system. By democratising investing, we can create a fairer, more inclusive industry that helps people from ALL backgrounds find their way to financial security.”
Mandy Kirby, Chief Strategist of City Hive commented: “The research considers how investment firms can respond to the opportunity to cultivate more welcoming conditions for disabled people to invest and build sustainable wealth, at a particularly challenging time amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, which will have particular impacts for disabled people. Firms can use the scaffold of the revised Consumer Duty and the principles of accessibility, applicability and inclusion to ensure they are servicing their whole market.’
Georgina (Twink) Field, CEO & Founder of White Marble Consulting commented: “We are delighted to be working with City Hive, bringing together a number of marketing leaders from global asset management firms who share our commitment to society-led research initiatives and meaningful debates to make a positive impact. Through studies like this, it brings in to sharp focus the need to better democratise access to investing and facilitate people from all backgrounds to thrive in our sector.”
Listen to out talk with City Hive’s Bev Shah from last summer where she outlined her aim to combat greenwashing in financial services!