Our engagement with the
Community

The key aim of our Group community investment policy is to balance the needs of the community with strategic business concerns, the issues our customers and agents find important and the aspirations of our employees.

Our community investment programmes deliver benefits to the community as well as benefits to our business through reputational advantage and employee engagement.

  • We are committed to investing in our local communities and have invested over £6.5 million in a combination of financial literacy, local development and enterprise initiatives
  • We are also focussed on engaging employees through community development and have donated 130,000 employee hours in volunteer initiatives
 
 

Our products are financially inclusive and often appeal to consumers who may be underserved by mainstream banking.

Our personal experience with these consumers has shown us that although they may be very skilled at household budgeting they have typically received no formal financial literacy education which limits their ability to engage with the financial sector.

IPF implements financial education initiatives as part of its community investment programme as a complement to financial consumer protection and regulatory reforms, as well as policies aimed at reinforcing financial access and treating our customers fairly. 

Framing the issue

Consumers around the world and in particular vulnerable groups have limited knowledge and understanding of financial products and savings. At the Summit in June 2012, the G20 Leaders endorsed the High-level Principles on National Strategies for Financial Education developed by the OECD and its International Network on Financial Education (INFE). The report, “Advancing National Strategies for Financial Education”, shows that financial literacy is in general low among consumers. A recent survey in (reference) revealed 8 out of every 10 people questioned feel lost in relation to financial investments. Therefore, consumers face obstacles making long-term informed financial decisions and selecting financial products that match their needs. To answer these concerns and support consumers’ financial empowerment, International personal finance has developed financial education programmes over the past 10 years across markets in which we operate: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Mexico.

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HUNGARY - The Family Treasure Programme

The Family Treasure Programme co-operates closely with professional and public affairs contacts from the government, financial sector and NGOs in order to help develop and deliver practical education tools for the public school system. The objectives of the programme are to improve the financial stability of families/households by enhancing financial and economic skills as well as to help improve the overall economy by encouraging a more financially savvy population. Some of the outputs of the programme include:

  • Extensive training materials and curriculum including a role-playing game
  • Train the trainer’ sessions with social workers, teachers and cultural managers to allow them to deliver financial literacy workshops
  • Two extensive studies about the financial literacy of youth
  • Regular engagement with decision makers to promote access to financial education

The Family Treasure curriculum has been invited for evaluation by the State Audit Office of Hungary to assess whether it will be endorsed and recommended by the authority for schools. The the Money Compass Foundation run by the Central Bank of Hungary is already recommending the training materials for schools.

CZECH REPUBLIC - ABC of Family Finance

ABC of Family Finance has been running since 2010 and in June 2014 received a financial grant through the European Social Fund totalling 4.3 mil CZK. The project focuses on promoting financial and consumer literacy in Czech towns with up to 2,000 inhabitants. In 2015 over 300 seminars took place with over 4.000 final recipients of financial and consumer education.
The learning materials for ABC of Family Finance have also been transformed into an E-learning course, with 3 main topics available on the project’s website. This is available to the public and also to businesses to offer training to employees. A mobile application has also been developed to help manage personal finances, with many useful tools such as calendar reminder of payments due and remaining weekly or monthly budget based on income and expenses. The mobile application is communicated on the project’s website and is free to download.

SLOVAKIA - School of Family Finance

The School of Family Finance is the first financial education project accredited by the Ministry of Education in Slovakia which focuses on delivering financial education directly into communities. The goal of the project is to raise the level of financial literacy and to highlight the importance of financial education in society. Since its start in 2008, the project has reached more than 17 000 beneficiaries throughout the whole country.
We also offer a financial education app. Family Budget which is a simple tool for managing finances designed for anyone to use for free.

ROMANIA – Financial Literacy Caravan

Our Financial Literacy Caravan offers a wide range of seminars across Romanian towns with the objective of promoting financial literacy in rural communities. The financial education seminars took place in 25 towns during 2015, are free of charge and offer an interactive experience for attendees. We also focus on promoting the debate around financial literacy amongst our stakeholders through:

  • Organising brunches and meetings with the media to tell the story of the campaign. We explain the benefits of financial education and the rationale behind creating the online resource center for financial and entrepreneurial education and the Financial Literacy Caravan.
  • Organising stakeholder engagement meetings to discuss financial literacy with key opinion leaders such as the British Ambassador in Bucharest authorities, representatives of NGOs and entrepreneurs.
  • Obtaining the involvement of the media, from traditional mainstream central and local media to social, lifestyle and entertainment mass media.
  • Inviting employees, agents and customers to participate in the seminars.
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BULGARIA - Financial Literacy online workshops

Provident Bulgaria commissioned a nationally representative financial literacy survey conducted by GfK Bulgaria revealing that nearly half of Bulgarians do not know which are the main indicators used for the calculation of the cost of credit. According to the survey, 28% have never taken a loan, and 66% of the people prefer fixed interest rate, but only half of all respondents know what exactly this interest rate means. We presented the results at a designated media event and subsequently participated in financial education events and round-table discussions.
The survey helped us to tailor and launch an online platform for financial education www.semeinifinansi.bg (Family Finance) and we support the website through face-to-face workshops, reaching 180 participants so far. 

LITHUANIA – Student budget app.

The Student budget app. was created as a collaboration between Provident and students from Vilnius University of Applied Sciences with the aim of providing a financial management tool for students. This app is a great tool for students to learn how to manage their own finance. The App is free of charge, and all Windows phone users can download it. 

MEXICO – “Let’s talk about money”

Financial Literacy in Mexico is a key step towards achieving real economic stability. Therefore, Provident Mexico has made a special effort for over six years to bring basic information on managing personal finances to the communities that need it the most.
Since 2008, over 35,000 people have benefited from the Financial Literacy Program "Let's talk about money" run by Provident in collaboration with important strategic alliances such as Save the Children, Amistad Británico Mexicana and Impulsa JA Achievement.
We work with Save the Children in order to offer customers and families (especially women) information to help improve their personal finances.
Additionally, we are creating strategic alliances with other organizations that specialize in job training and education, in order to bring financial literacy to more people in every community we have a presence in. Over 8000 people have benefited in 2015 and our work goes from strength-to-strength in these communities. 

We support local social inclusion and education programmes that aim to help disadvantaged people. In particular we focus on programmes that help to nurture talent through education and scholarships. 


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Community Case study: stARTs programme

Our stARTs community programme is run in partnership with the Values School Association and National Education Ministry in Romania. It offers opportunities for 50 talented teenagers per year, giving scholarships in drawing, singing and painting. The programme was initiated after a 2013 IPSOS MORI study for IPF showed that our customers in Romania want to see us support young people through scholarships and development programmes. We observed a lack of assistance, education infrastructure and career prospects for young artists in Romania and the stARTs programme was born. The initiative supports high school students in Romania financially and by offering them access to education and career counselling. We also offer the students an informal support network through a Facebook network where they can interact with one another as well as dedicated teachers.

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A survey of the participants of the 2014 stARTs programme showed that it has helped them to train and to continue to invest in their talent, giving them more confidence as well as helping them to access national and international competitions.

We communicate the programme widely to our customers through television advertising, leaflets and schools partnerships which gives us a great opportunity to engage with them outside of our normal interactions and improves the reputation of the business. The programme has also been supported by a viral marketing campaign generating over one million views on social media.

‘The stARTS scholarship programme has helped me a lot. I used the money to buy materials, watercolours and canvases which helped me to participate in many exhibitions. I also intend to enrol on a fashion design course as I would like to become a fashion designer. I am grateful that I was chosen for this opportunity!’ Bianca Gavrila, drawing scholarship

‘Thanks to you I managed to perform far more this year than I anticipated before I joined the stARTs programme. My life has begun to change in many ways and now I have more prospects for the future. I have discovered my artistic spirit and I will pursue my career with greater confidence in myself as an artist.’ Andreea Vasiliu, drawing scholarship

Employee involvement is an important aspect of how we invest in our communities.  

Most of our businesses facilitate and encourage employee volunteering where we look to link volunteering with skill development or use it as a way of bringing our values to life. Volunteering is typically organised at a local level so that each branch can respond to the needs of its local community and activities reflect the interests of employees who have the chance to nominate projects.
In 2015 almost 3500 employees across the Group volunteered over 11,300 hours in company time.

  • Our Yes! I help! Programme in Poland mobilised 685 volunteers made up of employees, agents and even customers to deliver local projects including renovation of public and green spaces and work with schools and children’s groups
  • Our Provident Romania Supports Education initiative saw our operations teams across Romania renovate local schools and kindergartens with 168 employees and agents taking part to help improve the quality of life for 2.384 beneficiaries, especially children from rural areas of the country.
  • Our Hungarian business mobilised over 500 volunteers to support the Guardian Angels programme, donating over 2000 hours to help under privileged social and educational institutions
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