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Closing the ethnicity investment gap: Democratising investing is key to creating a fairer society

But as time passes, we also sense that few actually understood how they could use their power to help. This goes as much for our industry, which helps create and sustain wealth that can be used to transform lives.

At City Hive, we have long believed that the investment management industry needs to be more balanced, both in our individual workplaces and in terms of how we interact with our end users.

If we truly want to be a force for good in the battle for equality, the solution lies in democratising investing and creating a fairer and more inclusive investment industry to help people from all backgrounds find their way to financial security.

But if we are honest, when we think of a typical investor, is that person a woman, black, Asian, visibly disabled or a person who identifies as LGBTQ+? The Google stock image investor does not, and therefore is not genuinely reflective of our society.

Our perceptions of investors are shaped by the messages we receive, which inevitably impact who we all assume the end investor should be.

While Financial Conduct Authority regulations demand fair treatment of customers (via ‘Treating Customers Fairly’), should we not be considering that unless our customers look like society, we are not fulfilling our obligations as an industry because we are not treating all possible groups of customers fairly?

And this matters because on top of the gender pension gap that is now well known, there is also an ethnicity gap. According to research by The People’s Pension, ethnic minority pensioners are on average 24.4% worse off. Furthermore, research shows that ethnic minority participation in financial services in the UK is low in proportional and actual terms.

This impacts the economy: a 2018 Randstad report highlighted that the UK economy could be £24bn bigger if ethnic minority workers saw the same rate of career progression as white people.

There is also lower access to financial services for ethnic minorities in the UK – 33% of white people have no savings, compared to more than 60% of Black and Asian people.

If we truly want to address the inequalities that the Black Lives Matter movement and TalkAboutBlack’s #IAM campaign brought to the fore, we need to go beyond conversations and words, and redefine our concept of who our investors are. 

It is crucial to understand the barriers different groups face and then actively seek solutions to remove them to ensure financial inequality does not persist further.

City Hive has taken this first step, with the support of White Marble, Schroders and a consortium of retail and institutional asset managers. We have undertaken some research to understand some of the blockers, barriers and action required to close the ethnicity investment gap and take tangible action to drive social equality. 

I look forward to sharing more on this in the future.

Bev Shah is founder and CEO of City Hive

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