Financial services technology to support Sustainable Development Goals

Financial services institutions are ideally positioned to provide valuable support to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through improved use of technology, according to research conducted by Ignition.

A new paper published by Ignition, titled Digital advice and social responsibility, suggested that more accessible financial advice can help to reduce poverty, improve wellbeing, contribute towards a sustainable economy, and decrease financial inequality.

Ignition CEO – Europe, Terry Donohoe, said that there has been a merging of society’s values and its expectations of businesses in the financial services sector following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Consumers are increasingly pressuring shareholders and boards to improve their social responsibility,” he commented. “Organisations now have to prove they are thinking deeply and demonstrate they are acting on these issues. It’s a trend which was underway before the pandemic but which has significantly accelerated as a result of the outbreak.

“We have reached a moment in history where we should all be operating at a level where we collaborate to solve big sustainable goals and leverage technology to help us do it.

“One result of the acceleration in technology and digitisation which has not yet been fully explored is how it can help drive social responsibility initiatives such as those outlined by the UN’s SDGs. The paper is intended to help financial services organisations identify those areas where they can make a difference, and the steps they can take.”

Donohoe suggested that there are four main SDGs where the financial services industry can play a key role, which includes ending poverty in all its forms, ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing at all ages, promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, as well as reducing inequality within and among countries.
 
He added that financial advice has a “vital role to play” in helping people make sound financial decisions.

“Raising financial literacy levels can help individuals create more prosperous futures, and institutions can help by using technology, such as digital advice, AI or open banking, to provide greater access to proactive financial education, calculators and financial health-check tools,” Donohoe said.
 
“Better use of technology can more easily and cost-effectively provide those at risk with the information, context, or understanding to develop a basic financial strategy that can improve their financial position and reduce overall poverty levels.
 
“These tools are essential to help people achieve a more stable and secure financial future.”

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