10 October 2014
As a mutual, here at Royal London we find ourselves constantly asking “What will our members think?”, “What do our members want?” Unlike many of our competitors we are not driven by big shareholder interests – we are owned by our members and not driven by the need to deliver quarterly shareholder returns.
With over half a million members scattered in the far corners of the UK it’s a tall order to find out their views. So, we decided to test the waters and hold our very first members’ roadshow. Set in the august surroundings of Lord’s cricket ground 75 of our members came together for a range of interactive sessions around changing British consumer needs, economic uncertainties, sustainable investing and the future for pensions.
Members heard about the challenges facing British consumers and their need to be increasingly self-reliant, as well as the rise of the ‘sandwich generation’ who have the twin tasks of caring for older parents as well as housing adult children unable to afford homes of their own.
In an information over-loaded world our asset management business is better placed than ever to understand what affects investment markets but the audience was reminded that no-one can offer certainty about future events. We reassured our members that Royal London Asset Management takes its responsibility as an active investor seriously and holds company management to account for their decisions.
On the subject of pensions the well-known “savings gap” topped the agenda. As a nation we are not saving enough, and this is compounded by the fact people are living longer and need to be able to fund longer retirements. But this is a wider problem faced by young and old and not just those approaching retirement.
We also used the occasion to launch our “Finglish” campaign - Financial Service English really does deserve its own dictionary. Helping people understand financial language is key to helping them make the right financial decisions and this is something we are very passionate about. In a world in which the consumer is being forced to become increasingly self-reliant it is incumbent on us as a financial services business to do what we can to help. I am pleased to say that our members wholeheartedly endorsed our mission to decipher financial jargon. We have now taken that mission further and launched a website glossary which we aim to expand over time with consumers’ help.
The event was rounded off with afternoon tea in the prestigious Lord’s Long Room where members had a chance to hear from great British sporting heroes, former England captain Alec Stewart and current England women’s captain Charlotte Edwards.
We left the roadshow feeling a greater sense of association with our members and we trust our members saw the benefits of belonging to a mutual.
Group CEO, Royal London