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July 2020

Driving inclusivity through digital transformation

The past few months have seen us accelerate towards a digital world, with the COVID-19 pandemic enforcing lockdowns across parts of the world. We look at how the digital transformation is improving access to services and helping us build a more equal society

Technological innovation is one of our growth drivers here at Legal & General. Why? Because technology solutions increase security, improve the way we work and live – something that has been especially important recently as we and others have transitioned to working from home – and, crucially, how we access information, all of which provides a fairer and more inclusive society.

Studies have shown that extending traditional financial services to low-income households and small businesses goes hand in hand with increasing economic growth1 and decreasing income inequality,2 yet it’s not uncommon for these demographics to miss out on access to traditional financial institutions altogether. Some 1.7 million people globally remain ‘unbanked’.3 But with 87% of all adults in Great Britain using the internet daily,4 taking financial services online through technological advances and innovation makes these services more accessible to the wider population, putting people in control of their financial futures.

While many financial institutions were already providing digital offerings, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards an increasingly digital landscape. “Coronavirus has propelled us forward,” explains Robert Jamieson, Legal & General’s Group Chief Digital & Technology Officer. “The key things to come from the pandemic have been the move to digitally-enhanced collaboration and an increasing number of people engaging online. Some of our digital tools have seen 80% increases in traffic.”

In other words, while there is still a lot more to be done, digital transformation encourages people to engage with and take control over their financial futures. Digital transformation is inclusive.

Driving financial inclusion

Belonging to a financial system is essential for full and fair participation in everyday life, and bringing money management online puts individuals in the driver’s seat of their own financial journey. “Without the digitisation of financial services, people would be relying on financial experts and specialists that would not be available to all,” says Jamieson. “Digitisation improves engagement and enables them to do things that are better for them.”

Legal & General-Robert Jamieson
“Without the digitisation of financial services, people would be relying on financial experts and specialists that would not be available to all”
Robert Jamieson,
Group Chief Digital & Technology Officer, Legal & General

Improving engagement is especially important when considering how the choices we make today will affect us in the decades to come. For example, by making it easier for someone to increase their pension contributions, they are more likely to do so; by making it easier for someone to meet their financial goals, they are more likely to do so. “This is about getting people to engage with the choices that they have to make to have fruitful retirements or fruitful holidays, or whatever their financial goals are,” says Jamieson.

What happens with all the data?

In an increasingly digital world, the role of data becomes ever more important. Insights from data are the foundations of the decisions that help towards building a better future. In some cases, this is simply down to the data itself. For example, we gather ESG data to score our partners’ credentials, to ensure our investments are always ethical. “Data is logged each time we meet a representative and analysed to measure an ESG score to ensure we make the right investments in the right businesses,” explains Jamieson.

In other cases relying on data, for example by training artificial intelligence systems, frees up the innovators in a business to focus their talents on the truly creative and collaborative thinking that can’t be done by robots, but that can make the world a better place, from developing new green energy technology to the regeneration of cities and creating thousands of jobs for a much-needed economic boost. Data is also behind an increasing number of smart devices in the home – known as the internet of things – to simply make people feel secure in their homes, something we’re trialling in our Legal & General Homes business, to better support our customers. “If you’re out at work, and you’re renting one of our homes, and the boiler goes, our Unu app will let you know – then you can use the app to call up a plumber and potentially unlock the front door to let the plumber in, if you’re still at work. It’s all about a new, better way of thinking, and getting people to do the things that are better for them,” Jamieson says.

Put broadly, ‘going digital’ gives a wider pool of society access to a lot more, reducing the gap between have and have not. “Technology and data are huge enablers for inclusivity,” Jamieson continues. “It’s not about harvesting customers’ data and bundling it up and flogging it. It’s about using it to gain insights on how we can deliver better outcomes – of which a major part is inclusive capitalism.”

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