Long Read  

Does disability hinder access to financial services?

Does disability hinder access to financial services?
(Marcus Aurelius/Pexels)

There is plenty of talk about ‘purpose’ these days, and as we hopefully navigate a path out of the pandemic, there is increasing focus on the social good that companies do (or do not do). 

I have had the privilege to act as government ambassador for disability and access for the insurance industry for a year now, and I want to provide some insight into some of the actions, achievements and ambitions that so many in the insurance world are collaborating on to deliver, much of which resonates strongly with a growing search for purpose.

Doing things on purpose

Nearly two thirds of US-based employees said in a recent McKinsey survey that Covid-19 caused them to reflect on their purpose in life, and nearly half said they are reconsidering the kind of work they do.

It has been called 'The Great Resignation' – people quitting at record rates, disrupting businesses all over the world. Pay, feeling valued and relationships with managers and colleagues all play a part, but when asked in a recent study by Cornell University on ‘what made the grass greener’, 75 per cent said ‘more meaningful work’. People want to work for companies that make a difference, and the insurance industry collectively has the opportunity to make that difference.

Issues such as sustainability, diversity, access and inclusion have often in the past been seen as a side issue, the responsibility of a small team somewhere. Today it is a regular boardroom issue, part of who the company is.  

We have a generation now that is passionate about sustainability, and who have high standards when it comes to ethics and transparency.

Companies who can authentically point to how they are building a sustainable future and workforce, through the support and benefits they provide to their employees, will have a head start attracting new talent, including those who see that economic growth has limitations as a measure of societal success

Here I want to focus specifically on disability inclusion. I listened recently to a podcast featuring Mike Adams OBE, founder of Purple. He is doing amazing work, and he talks of  the importance of reframing the conversation on disability to focus on value, contribution, community and opportunity.  It is a great listen and you can find a recording here.

He makes the point powerfully that people increasingly will apply different criteria to who they work for and who they buy from. “In this decade, organisations that get disability, inclusion and diversity will absolutely thrive. Those that don't will struggle to survive. I really believe that.”

Purple pounds

In the UK, it is thought that some 7mn people of working age have a disability. ​They, together with their families, have a spending power, known as the 'purple pound', worth around £274bn, and they want to spend on products and services that work for them. 

Recent Business Disability Forum research looking at banking and insurance products found that 70 per cent of respondents said that finding specific information about these types of services was either a little or a lot more challenging given their disability or access needs.