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Enabling social mobility across the financial services industry

When there is a change to a person’s socio-economic situation across their lifetime or in relation to a previous generation of their family, we often refer to this as social mobility.

There are factors in a person’s being which is beyond their control, such as gender, age, race, ethnicity, birthplace or sexual orientation. Social mobility is about ensuring that there are equal opportunities for all regardless of the socio-economic situation they were born into, where they’re from or who they are.

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Why is social mobility important?

We believe in helping people sure a life of possibilities and that means everyone, whatever their background. We also believe that everyone should have the opportunity to good employment for as long as they want so they can prepare for the retirement they want, when they want it. So, enabling equality is important us.

In 2023, where you grew up, where you went to school and what your parents did are still real predictors of education and career outcomes in the UK. Research from WEF shows that this has consequences for the UK economy as well as the individuals themselves. An impact assessment estimated that low social mobility will cost the economy £140bn between 2020 and 2050.

And we think enabling social mobility will help close the 12% pay gap found between people from working-class backgrounds and their middle-class peers when they enter professional occupations.

Our social mobility programme aims to have an impact on our:



To increase socio-economic diversity throughout Phoenix Group, both through recruitment and progression.

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To improve customer outcomes by having a workforce that reflects the whole of society and understands a broad range of societal issues.

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To be an inclusive organisation where people from all socio-economic backgrounds feel valued, can belong, thrive and progress.

Social mobility, career progression and the financial services industry

There is a clear link between socio-economic class and progression with the financial service industry. Research has found:

KPMG’s internal study of career progression through the social mobility lens really brings this to light:

“It was revealed that one’s socio-economic background has the biggest impact on career progression at KPMG, with people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds taking on average 19% longer to progress to a more senior role, as compared to those from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. This discrepancy was greater than that between white and non-white staff, straight and gay staff, male and female staff and disabled and non-disabled staff.”

So, how can we as a sector better support those from all backgrounds in a Financial Services career?

Talent from a lower socio-economic background face several barriers to progression including culture, access to sponsors and mentors and fit. They’re competing with those of a higher socio-economic class So, what are the solutions?

  • Fix the development and progression process
  • Collect and publish socio-economic data on internal progression
  • Set targets for internal progression
  • Distribute work fairly across talent regardless of socio-economic background
  • Make promotion opportunities clear and available to all

And how can we at Phoenix Group help the Financial Services sector improve in this space?


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The Digital Career Platform ‘Future in Finance’

We are really excited to have funded a new platform that connects diverse talent with existing talent and fosters career opportunity and development for all. One platform that educates, engages and excites diverse talent about our sector, the organisations and their opportunities within.

We wanted to create a digital solution to reach underrepresented talent at scale and showcase opportunities across the sector that they might otherwise not be exposed to. By collaborating with partners across the industry, we’re supporting the mobility of those from lower social-economic backgrounds into the sector and increasing the diversity of talent across it.

The platform will be launched at the start of July 2024.

Opportunities for all talent to join us

Being an inclusive employer is very important to us. We understand the role large organisations have in creating working environments where everyone is welcome, and everyone can thrive – we want to lead by example and to help us achieve that we have several programmes that act as a gateway into our organisation:

Career Ready programme

Partnering with Career Ready we have welcomed 152 young people into the business where they have developed skills, knowledge and confidence through masterclasses and internships.

Tom, one of our finance apprentices joined the programme in 2022:

“During my time on the programme I was given the opportunity to complete a 4-week paid internship at Phoenix. With finance being an industry I had considered going into, it was great to meet employees in the field which helped me build my network and ultimately joined the company as an apprentice. Having a mentor was something I truly valued so I decided to become a mentor myself. It’s an amazing opportunity to give a young person exposure to professionals who can assist them with their own career paths”

Your New Future

The New Future programme consists of a one-week employability session for the over 50’s aimed at harnessing skills such as interview techniques, confidence building and CV review. An opportunity to identify transferrable skills and recognise the potential talent and experience those on the programme could bring to our business.

Heather one of our colleagues who started working for us through the New Future programme finally felt that she had the opportunity to use her transferrable skills:

“After a 35 year career and becoming unemployed after the pandemic, I really struggled to get back into meaningful employment. Having heard about an over 50’s job fair that Phoenix Group were hosting I knew I had to attend. It took one year of applying for roles and being rejected for me to finally get an opportunity to showcase how my skillset could be applied to other roles. Through the New Future programme I secured a role as a PA – something I'd never done before. I'm very grateful to Connectr and Phoenix Group for backing me and I look forward to a rewarding career in the risk department”




Work Experience +1

We provide work experience to family and friends each year. The programme offers those who come to our organisation for work experience to extend the offering to someone they know who would otherwise be unlikely to access this opportunity – a student or someone who is currently unemployed. This is another programme that helps raise awareness of opportunities within our industry to talent that might never have considered it before.

Toby, a student was invited to come along for work experience as part of this programme:

“I’d never been into this type of working environment before so didn't know what to expect. No one in my family has experience of this type of work so I haven’t had anyone to talk about what I could do next after college. I really enjoyed hearing about the variety of careers within Phoenix Group – some of them were completely new to me and it was useful to be able to ask questions and understand how people got into their roles and what they enjoyed about them. I’ve come away thinking that I'd really like to work somewhere like Phoenix and will be looking into apprenticeship options.”

Business in The Community (BiTC) Job Coaching

This programme is designed to give back to the communities our customers live. Our colleagues offer their time and experience to over 50’s job seekers who are struggling to get back into work through skills-based coaching including interview tips, how to frame their experience and think about how to apply their transferrable skills.