We meet the CII CEO, and founder of the Insuring Women's Futures initiative, Sian Fisher, to understand more about the financial perils and pitfalls facing women today
In October last year the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and Insuring Women's Futures (IWF) taskforce released their manifesto which focuses on five pillars designed to improve the financial resilience of women in society. These involve the dialogue around the female pension deficit, supporting young females' financial mindfulness, improving access to financial inclusion for women, setting standards for flexible working, and raising awareness of women's risks in society.
Since then, the IWF campaign has released a number of new reports which examine women's financial lives, identify the key pitfalls which impact their financial resilience, and uncover opportunities to drive change for the future. These have been called ‘the moments that matter'.
Here, we speak with Sian Fisher, CEO of the CII and founder of the IWF initiative, to hear more about their findings and the upcoming Talk 2 10k campaign.
Hi Sian, please tell us a bit about yourself and your career?
I grew up in the West Midlands where I attended a comprehensive school before moving on to study law at the University of Oxford. After this I went on to study for an Executive MBA at Harvard Business School. Upon finishing my studies, I began to work in the Insurance Profession where I held a number of roles, from a manging general agent to an international broker.
I am now the CEO of the CII, the professional body dedicated to building public trust in the insurance and personal finance professions, a role I have held since February 2016.
As a woman working in insurance, I became passionate about driving positive change in the profession when I became quickly aware of the painful lack of diversity, especially when one looks higher up the corporate latter. As such, I have become involved with a number of industry initiatives, including founding the Managing General Agents' Association, a not-for-profit organisation focussed on supporting UK-based MGAs. I founded the IWF initiative, became vice president of the Insurance Institute of London, and currently sit on the board of Insurance United Against Dementia, an Alzheimer's Society initiative, created and led by the insurance industry, which aims to raise £10m to fund research into dementia. I am also a committee member of the Insurance Supper Club, a network for women working in the insurance space, as well as working as the non-executive director at Asta Underwriting Management.
Can you tell us more about the IWF initiative?
IWF is a programme which was established and led by the CII, alongside a wide variety of insurance professionals, businesses, policy makers, and third sector organisations, as well as experts on specific issues relating to female finance. The initiative aims to evolve the insurance and personal finance profession's approach to improve the financial security of women.
On the 19 November 2019 we will be launching our public manifesto proposal and recommendations, designed to improve financial resilience of women by addressing the key perils and pitfalls which we face during our lifetimes.
Alongside myself, speakers at the event will include Jane Portas, co-founder of IWF, Dame Inga Beale, Lloyd's first ever female chief executive, and Yvonne Braun, director of long-term savings policy at the Association of British Insurers.
What analysis have you done on women's financial futures, particularly around the perils and pitfalls?
Last year, the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI) released a report: The Dependency Trap which found that, shockingly, women's lifetime average earnings are around 80 per cent less than men's.
We conducted an analysis of the typical life journey of women and, in particular, we looked at the risks that women face throughout their lives and compared those with the risks than men face. Our analysis identified 12 key financial perils and pitfalls affecting women's financial resilience, including the gender pay gap, becoming mothers and eventually carers, the impact of divorce and separation, the need for flexible working hours, and the female pension deficit.
As well as this, we identified six key moments that matter; specific events which impact a woman's life, the first of which occur in early life. We emphasise the need for women to have a better understanding of the long-term implications of their early choices, such as in school and around qualifications. Later, the moments touch on times when women will be re-entering the workplace, for example after having children, and the need to develop financial independence and resilience for the future.
We found that relationships, and becoming a mother, also have a large impact on a woman's financial situation, and we believe that more can be done to encourage financial independence and equality at home, as well as education around the longer-term impact of flexible work choices. In the later stages of life, we identified two moments that matter; entering retirement and the need to gather adequate information and advice around retirement planning, and ill-health and the importance of financial protection should the worst happen.
How can people support the IWF initiative?
We are always looking for support and anyone who would like to improve women's financial futures, alongside hundreds of others in the industry, can sign-up to be an ambassador here.
Ambassadors have been asked to host female financial wellbeing sessions as part of the Talk 2 10k challenge.
Tell us more about the Talk 2 10k challenge, what's it all about?
We are launching a campaign, as part of the Money and Pension service Talk Money week, which will take place between the 18th and 22nd November 2019, designed to drive more conversations within the insurance profession around financial wellbeing. For the Talk 2 10k challenge we are asking all of our IWF ambassadors to have conversations around financial wellbeing with at least 10 women during the course of the week. The aim of the sessions is to make women aware of the financial perils they face, and to get them talking about money and taking action to improve their financial futures.
There is a full toolkit available which explains how best to get involved with the campaign.
What more can be done to improve access to insurance for women?
We want to educate women about the financial perils and pitfalls they face and alert them to what action they can take to improve their financial futures. IWF aims to lead the insurance profession in refining its approach to women and risk. Focusing on how we can improve insurance solutions and services to improve women's resilience to risk, through targeted advice, improved access, and most importantly, education.
It's interesting to look at how financial support has changed over time. In the 19th century, women were entirely reliant on their families; first their father and then their husband. At this time women still faced risks, but they had no power to manage them. In the mid-20th century the welfare state began to provide a common safety net that provided health, pension and income support for those in greatest need. In the late 20th century the employer began to provide enhanced benefits in the form of pensions and healthcare, but as longevity is set to increase in the 21st century, these support structures have become unsustainable, meaning we may all be left to look after ourselves.
The insurance profession must look at ways to allow for equality between men and women, such as savings and investment products that address an individual's needs, taking a personalised approach and properly considering differing circumstances, risk appetites, and certainly earning disparities.
To come along to the launch event and learn about how you can contribute to the Talk 2 10k campaign, sign up at: www.insuringwomensfutures.co.uk/events/
New regime rolled out today
Back 9am on Monday
To help promote status
Symptoms, diagnoses, drugs, fertility information
Unveiled at The House of Lords