Frustration Can Change The World: TEDx Talk by Joanna Finlay

29 Jul Frustration Can Change The World: TEDx Talk by Joanna Finlay

Meet Joanna Finlay, a passionate intrapreneur working to make banking fairer for people experiencing financial exclusion in the UK. In a recent TEDx talk at Newcastle University, Joanna shared her journey of using her day job at Virgin Money to make finance better serve people and planet. Here are some of our favourite soundbites from Joanna’s talk. 

“Your day job is not only where you spend most of your time but probably where you’re most qualified to have an impact by turning frustration into action.”

“I work for Virgin. I actually work for Virgin Money which is a bank and I’m acutely aware from my trained research that people have a lot of frustrations with banks. In my work I found that with the right mindset I have opportunities to not only do what I’m expected to do, but to challenge the status quo and ultimately to help people. Let me share an example. A couple of years ago I worked as a product manager for current accounts. Part of my job was to manage a basic bank account which has no overdraft no fees and is suitable for someone with a poor credit history. The trouble is that some of the people who benefit most from a basic bank account are those who’ve been (homeless, ex-offenders, refugees) have often never even heard of these accounts or can face barriers when trying to apply. So I started asking questions. Who’s applying for our basic bank account? Who’s not applying and why? And what I found was quite alarming. In the UK, 1.5 million adults have no bank account. Imagine how frustrating that would be. It wouldn’t just be inconvenient but it would cost you more too, because without direct debits you would be on a prepay meter for all your utilities, a pay-as-you-go mobile and you wouldn’t have a debit card to shop around online for best value. This poverty premium costs each unbanked person a whopping one thousand three hundred pounds a year. I met with charities that provide accommodation and support to homeless people and their residents really need a bank account so that they can receive an income, pay rent and move on in life. But they were frustrated there. Because they don’t have utility bills due to living at the charity, they couldn’t prove their address in order to get a bank account. But what could I do about this? Well, long story short I developed a process that enables these charities to easily provide what we need to verify their residents identity and provide what they need – reassurance and a bank account. This solution can only help some of the 1.5 million unbanked people, but it’s a start.”

“Sometimes I’m asked, ‘if you care about poverty so much well why don’t you go and work for a charity?’ Here’s the thing, at the minute I believe that I can help most by using my skills and experience to influence change within banking. Society would really suffer if everyone who cares deeply about improving the world stops what they’re skilled in doing to try and help elsewhere. We need to build a better future in every sector every day one frustration at a time.”

“I take heart from knowing that increasingly colleagues are seeking purpose as well as pay, and that 82% of customers say that when price is equal they will buy from companies that give back to communities. So what if instead of businesses doing their business over here and supporting charity over there, what if employers encouraged colleagues to look for marginal gains in society in the roles that they’re already paid to do? It’s good for colleagues motivation, it’s good for business and it’s good for society and it needn’t be complex.”

“If we spend 50% of our waking hours at work, imagine how society could be transformed if we all look to fix frustrations. Donating time and donating money are good things but using work to transform society could be rocket fuel to create a better future. What if tomorrow we started asking at work, “Whose frustrations can I fix? Who’s being let down? Who’s being left behind? How could I reduce plastic waste in the office?”. Remember, seemingly small changes can add up to a big impact so whose frustrations could you help to fix within your role with the skills and experience and influence that you uniquely have?”

If you’re working to create positive impact through your day job in finance, we would love to support you. Check out the Finance Matters Intrapreneur Community to find out more.