Changing the World of Finance - Vested UK

Last week, I had the honour of hosting three industry trailblazers, talking about the change they were making institutionally and individually within the financial services sector. And when you get the UK’s largest savings and retirement provider, one of the UK’s biggest banks and the world’s largest publicly listed hedge fund in the room talking about their collective work, you realise both its power and its long-term potential.

Welcoming our friends at Financial Narrative to our space at Vested, we sought the views of Anji Kang-Stewart, MD, Global Head of Marketing, Man Group; Ben Rhodes, Brand Director, Phoenix Group, and Khalia Ismain, Black Entrepreneurs Programme Manager, Lloyds Banking Group for a conversation on campaigns with impact.

Yet it became incredibly clear in our panel preparation sessions that the event name was in many ways a misnomer. As one of our panellists said, “change isn’t something you can layer on top”. Their collective view was that much of the change needed in financial services is deep rooted and that is where it has to start. While they were sitting in roles that had marketing, brand and partnerships within them, the reality was that the change they were enabling was at an organisational and even industry-wide level.

So while their organisation may be stepping up and taking a public position around their chosen change agenda – from improving the UK’s retirements to supporting black entrepreneurs – that change is also being mirrored within. The action being taken was based on significant investments in insight and research to truly understand what was needed and orchestrated in step with company values and vision. While the change may have a customer or client-facing element, it was also predicated on the organisation changing with it, with a particular focus on improving workforce representation.

Alongside the power of insights, it was clear that the power of lived experience was also key. Whether that was someone outside the financial services industry bringing their lived experience in, or applying tools like reverse mentoring to help those already inside the industry see the world through others’ eyes.

There was acknowledgement though that this work wasn’t easy. That introducing new thinking, new initiatives and new ways of working required immense energy – both individually but also through the organisation. With both leadership commitment and time an essential alongside mechanics that supported the work at every level. 

Having spent my career working in this industry, it felt that we’d finally reached a point of truly systemic change. Where every one of our panellists recognised that this was a journey, but it was a journey their organisations were truly committed to for the long-term. As one of them said, “You know when it matters if we keep doing it even when the economy and markets turn”. 

When I spoke with our network after the event, they were inspired by the blend of strategic thinking and practical action that our panellists were able to share, but also by their individual passion and energy to drive change. I felt through more than one conversation that people were saying, “I must find more time to do work like that.” “I must prioritise work like that.” “I must play my part and role in making change happen.” And that’s quite something to take away from a breakfast on a Thursday morning!

For more information on Financial Narrative membership and our event programming please contact me directly at or visit 

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