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The financial services industry can make a difference

The financial services industry can make a difference

The financial services industry rarely comes together to work for the good of the wider world.

But the Association of British Insurers and other notable institutions in the insurance sector have put their differences behind them to raise money and help those badly affected by the impact of Covid-19.

Yvonne Braun, director of policy, long-term savings and protection at the ABI, is spearheading the initiative from the trade body, raising the project’s profile and reaching out to all the companies in the sector.

She says: “A lot of people in financial services are not feeling [the effects of the pandemic] personally so much because a lot of jobs are very secure, but we know very well what’s going on around the country.

“A significant number of people are not able to work; it’s an incredibly difficult time for so many, whether they have lost someone, or they’re struggling because of lockdown, or they’ve lost their job, and all the stress of pre-existing problems.

“It’s a common humanity thing, where you just look around you and you want to make a difference and help.”

So far the initiative, called the Covid-19 Support Fund, which was launched last month, has attracted £82.5m, of which £20m has been spent.

It has been set up in conjunction with Lloyd’s, the British Insurance Brokers’ Association and the London Market Group, and has drawn donations from across the insurance and long-term savings sector.

Donors include: Aviva; Zurich UK; Phoenix group; LV General Insurance; and Standard Life Aberdeen.

Social responsibility

Ms Braun says: “We have an obligation. If you are an important sector of the economy you have a wider corporate social responsibility; you don’t just look at whether you are being successful in the strict sense of writing new business, but you should also look at what’s going on around you.

“We don’t think any sector should just pretend it’s not happening; it’s everywhere, it’s everyone.”

The trade bodies are working with the the Charities Aid Foundation in terms of administering  donations, and there is a governance committee of 10 to 12 people, chaired by Tulsi Naidu, chief executive of Zurich UK, which decides how to distribute the money.

The donations are being targeted at community-based grassroots charities that have been particularly called upon by struggling families and individuals who have less recourse to the usual sources of income.

Ms Braun says: “[These charities] have a double whammy: they have more need, because more people are coming to them, as so many people are affected by this, and a lot of their normal sources of funding are drying up. 

“Shops have been shut a long time, and a lot of events are not going ahead.”