At an event in the City of London last night (11 March 2014) – co-hosted by former rugby player, Ben Cohen (pictured) – the Nationwide Building Society called upon the Financial Services Industry to improve its relationships with LGBT customers.
The Nationwide event – which took place at its Threadneedle Street headquarters – came following recent research which found that some LGBT customers have issues of trust and confidence when it comes to financial service providers. The survey, which was commissioned by Nationwide and forms part of its commitment to promoting diversity among both its 17,000-strong workforce and 15 million customers, is a precursor to a wider industry debate on how to better serve the needs of LGBT customers. Although the industry has made strong progress in breaking down barriers, the results highlighted specific areas for focus, including, “the need to highlight ethical practices, being supportive of the LGBT movement, implementing effective LGBT employment policies and including LGBT people within advertising and media.”
Results from the poll revealed:
• Six in ten people (60%) would switch to a bank or building society that took their issues seriously.
• More than two thirds (68%) of the LGBT customers surveyed feel that their financial services provider is not taking serious steps understand them.
• Less than half (44%) of people said that they would confidently disclose their sexuality as part of a financial transaction with their provider or advisor, regardless of whether it was face-to-face, online or on the telephone.
• Of those polled, 13% have experienced an uncomfortable situation with a financial services provider because of their sexuality. This rises to 17% for women, compared to 11% for men.
• A further 24% of those polled said they were likely to withhold their sexual orientation because it was felt that a decision might go against them, or that a premium or product would be more expensive.
• Women are less likely than men to be happy revealing they are in a same-sex relationship during a face-to-face meeting with a mortgage advisor, with one in five (20%) not being comfortable, compared to 12% of men.
The Nationwide event was attended by LGBT networks for the Finance industry, marketing professionals and representatives from the gay rights charity, Stonewall. It was hosted by Nationwide’s Executive Director of Retails, Chris Rhodes (pictured above with Cohen), and straight ally and StandUp Foundation founder, Ben Cohen. Commenting on the findings of the study, Rhodes said, “The results of this study make for interesting reading. While some progress has been made in the financial services industry in recent years, when it comes to marketing to and serving LGBT customers, there is still more financial providers can do to ensure these customers feel supported and included. I don’t feel this is something that has been given the consideration it deserves.”
"This research is an important step to understanding customers better and shows that as much as everyone is different, we all deserve the right to be treated with respect,” added Ben Cohen. “This is a positive movement and will hopefully lead the way for institutions to encourage equality whilst also being commercially beneficial. It is a win-win proposition and equality is something I’m proud to support."
Posted: 12 March 2014