Firing line  

The financial services industry can make a difference

For example, a charity may have been relying on hundreds of runners in the London Marathon, which of course has not gone ahead. “That’s a lot of money not coming in; they have demand from people that’s even greater than before.”

Supporting the most vulnerable

The first £20m has gone to the National Emergencies Trust, which was set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, to support those directly affected by disaster.

This organisation works very quickly to deliver money where it is needed most, and it is this ethos that Ms Braun says the governance committee wants to continue. 

The focus is on: “Very small, grassroots charities, working on the front line, supporting the most vulnerable people, particularly families living in poverty and isolation, and charities that work on mental health.”

The idea originated from the ABI board, which decided it wanted to do something collectively in addition to what the brands were doing individually; but also by working collectively the big corporate names were able to offer an instant network of donors, which would take a long time for a charity to develop.

She says: “We didn’t want to do this under the banner of the ABI; this is something that transcends the ABI brand as it allows other trade bodies and their members to come on board, and I hope others follow.

“We have a network where we can reach a lot of organisations, where if you were an individual charity, doing it individually, it’s much harder to build up that network of contacts.

“In the day-to-day work, we need to be mindful of competition law and do things where competitors can work together. But this is so much bigger than any competitive rivalry that we might have between companies in the same sector.”

Obviously this has all been done while everyone is social distancing and working from home. How has she found the video conferencing aspect?

“It’s quite good for making decisions; so far I would say ever since working from home, for the running of the committee, the decision-making doesn’t suffer.”

And one of the advantages of video conferencing is that it is far easier for people to join in who would normally find getting to London – where the ABI is based – a challenge.

She is appealing to everyone in financial services to help, and while most are dealing with the immediate impact of the crisis, Ms Braun says the group is looking at how they can help longer term.

She says: “We’re looking at what we do next, and how do we create a benefit over time, because we know this crisis is not finished and we know the furloughing is going to end. It’s important to watch how this crisis unfolds.”