Financial Inclusion Commission

Hosted by SWIFT

January 13 2015


  • Sir Sherard-Cowper Cowles (HSBC)

  • Sir Brian Pomeroy (FCA)

  • Christine Allison (CSFI)

  • Hosted by SWIFT



As you may know, the CSFI has got itself pretty deep into the problem of financial exclusion.  We even have our own Financial Inclusion Fellow (Christine Allison), who sits on the Archbishop of Canterbury's task group on responsible credit and savings – the recommendations of which go way beyond credit unions, into the whole area of financial empowerment.  We were also present at the birth of the Fair Banking Foundation, with its attempt to kite-mark genuinely useful financial products, and have put in the miles on microfinance (internationally and domestically), doorstep lending, payday lending, technology-based solutions etc etc.

That said, I was not aware of the latest initiative – launched in October 2014 – to set up a Financial Inclusion Commission, based on the work of the Treasury’s Financial Inclusion Taskforce (which was wound down in 2011).  This Commission – chaired by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, with Sir Brian Pomeroy as President and a bunch of the great-and-good as members – has been taking evidence from around the country for the last three months, and will deliver a report by end-February that will (it is hoped) identify the measures that are most urgently needed to extend access to financial services to those currently excluded.

The Commission has broad political support, and is explicitly committed to pushing the issue of exclusion up the political agenda before the general election in May.  I am, therefore, delighted that the two prime movers behind it have agreed to discuss what they hope to achieve and what they have found so far:

  • Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles is currently senior adviser to Douglas Flint at HSBC.  He is a former UK Ambassador (to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel) and special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Sir Brian Pomeroy is a former senior partner at Deloitte Consulting and was chairman of the Treasury’s Financial Inclusion Taskforce. He is chairman of the government’s Action Group on Cross Border Remittances and acts as ambassador for the Money Advice Trust. His current appointments include non-executive directorships at the FCA and QBE Insurance Group.

The Commission’s heart is clearly in the right place.  That said, there is a lot going on in this space, and it is important that the message doesn’t get muddled – particularly so close to an election.  For that reason, Christine Allison has agreed to kick off the response – looking in particular at the extent to which this initiative breaks genuinely new ground.