Commitment to society
How the development of our Corporate Social Responsibility strategy changed how we work and is starting to change our profession.
For many years, Matrix Capital provided pro bono services to people in crisis and had contributed to various charitable causes but had done so without the focus of a coherent Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy.
In 2017 we felt the time was right to develop a strategy which would allow our expertise to be more effectively employed in delivering lasting benefits to society.
So, we decided to appoint Andrew Mason as a Non-Executive Director, with a specific responsibility to help us achieve this objective. Andrew had previously worked with us as a management consultant on a number of projects, so he knew the firm well. He was also the Chair of Telford and Wrekin Children and Adults Safeguarding Boards, so understood the challenges people face on a daily basis in dealing with disadvantage and abuse.
The Adult Safeguarding Board had recently identified financial abuse as a key concern and had started a programme to raise awareness of the issue and signpost people to sources of support.
It soon became clear that this was an area where Matrix Capital could put its expertise to good use and that it would be highly appropriate for a business committed to providing financial security to choose as its key CSR objective, the prevention of financial abuse and support for those people who suffer from it.
A project was quickly developed with the Safeguarding Board, Citizens Advice and the local Chartered Insurance Institute which culminated in the production of an animated video which is freely available and has been used by many organisations to raise awareness of the issue and demonstrate how to support people who are being financially abused.
As part of this initiative Robin and Gary committed their time to volunteering at Citizens Advice centres in Telford and Shrewsbury under the Personal Finance Society’s national MoneyPlan programme
While this strategy had started as something entirely separate to the normal business of Matrix Capital, we soon realised that it had wider implications for financial planner and advisers and other professionals who were often in a good position to recognise financial abuse, but often are unsure how to identify and deal with it.
So, as a first stage in remedying this situation, we produced a Financial Abuse Warnings Signs card which we made available to the Personal Finance Society to distribute to its members, and which has now been taken up by other professionals.
Our exposure to this aspect of vulnerability also got us thinking about how we dealt with this issue within the business. In providing support to Premium Bonds £1m Jackpot Winners, we had begun to recognise how the sudden acquisition of wealth, while in itself a positive event, often left the winner in vulnerable circumstances.
The decision was therefore taken to incorporate this recognition of vulnerability into our core business processes and Robin was successful in gaining the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Diploma in Advising Vulnerable Clients, providing the firm with the necessary expertise to deal professionally with the issue.
We felt that all members of our profession and their clients, would also benefit from making the same journey so we started lobbying for this to happen.
As a result, Robin and Andrew became founding members of the Steering Group which launched the Financial Vulnerability Taskforce in January 2021 which aims to support the profession to better recognise and address the various forms of consumer vulnerability, improve client outcomes and increase access to financial advice.
What had started as a separate CSR initiative has ended with a major change in the way we do business and has started to change the way our profession deals with vulnerability.
It is gratifying to realise that what is good for our clients, is also good for our profession and ultimately is good for society.