When it comes to discussions surrounding the future of payments, mental health isn’t often included in the conversation.
FinTech is renowned for its trailblazing innovations in technology, striving to give consumers considerable increases in financial agency and confidence.
But that doesn’t mean the sector is forward thinking in every aspect, despite an overriding positivity regarding its trajectory.
There is, however, an increasing recognition that FinTech can be used as a vehicle for catalysing positive mental health, disrupting illogical, long-standing cornerstones of both personal and corporate financial processes.
We’ve compiled some key information about FinTech and wellbeing in order to strengthen the tether between the two.
Not only this, but we’ll also cover AccessPay’s approach to mental health, highlighting the importance we place on employee wellness.
There’s a natural place to start…
Is There a Relationship Between Finance and Mental Health?
A reported 77% of Brits are stressed about money, so it should go without saying that the relationship between finance and wellbeing is fundamental.
This relationship is a two-way street. Those suffering with a mental health condition may struggle to find suitable work, lack motivation to manage their finances, or indulge in retail therapy for a brief high.
Conversely, struggling with finances can lead to feelings of anxiety and panic, negatively influence the extent of your social life, and risks depriving individuals of affording health essentials such as good food and medication.
As such, the mutuality of these intertwined concepts has led to the coinage of the term ‘financial wellness’ (or wellbeing), loosely referring to an individual’s ability to manage their economic freedom.
Surveys suggest that this financial wellness – and the methods involved in achieving it – vary across generations, too.
Switching banking providers, for example, used to be a considerable challenge, bolstered by the fact that there was an extremely limited range of options.
However, Millennials (now roughly ranging from their late 20s to late 30s) are two-to-three times more likely to switch banks than older generations, citing excessive fees as the most significant reason for migration.
How FinTechs Can Help Out
At the heart of this consideration lies a fundamental question: what is the purpose of FinTech?
Investopedia take a convincing stab at answering this, noting that FinTech “helps companies, business owners and consumers better manage their financial operations, processes, and lives by utilising specialised software and algorithms”.
Even so, it’s hard not to feel that one particular facet of this definition is often given less attention than others: the idea of improving lives as well as operations and processes.
FinTech is predicated on principles such as connectivity, convenience, and control – all of which are assuredly essential in, for example, streamlining complex financial operations.
But these values also pertain to supporting financial wellness.
For example, much like how SWIFT gpi offers large businesses increased cash transaction visibility, FinTechs that endeavour to reduce delays in personal banking and increase transparency have the potential to have a reassuring mental effect – even if it’s a by-product.
To offer more detail, a 2017 report by Money and Mental Health found that there are five ways in which FinTech has the ability to support those struggling with their mental health – and four are already, in some capacity, available:
- Money management – making it easier to keep track of spending
- High-control products and self-exclusion – restricting certain controls to protect finances during periods of ill health
- Check understanding online – identifying customer behaviour to see who might need support (not currently available)
- Support from friends and family members – sharing financial decision making with a trusted friend
- Spotting the problem early – using data to predict problematic behaviour
AccessPay’s Approach to Mental Health
For the team here at AccessPay, mental health is a key tenant of our working culture.
In fact, there are two aspects to this: our internal approach to mental wellbeing and health, and the potential benefits our solution offers individuals within businesses.
To start with the former, we spoke to HR Director Sarah Chadbourne about the importance of an open and honest approach to mental health within the workplace.
“Just like with physical health everyone has mental health and it’s important to acknowledge this, taking good care of it like you would with your physical health.
At AccessPay we believe that we have a supportive environment with an open and inclusive culture. This serves to break down stigma which may be attached to discussing and dealing with mental ill-health challenges.”
Sarah Chadbourne, HR Director, AccessPay
Following on from Sarah’s mention of stigmatisation, it’s worth noting that discussing mental health challenges within the workplace has become greatly normalised in recent years – perhaps arising from an influx of alarming statistics regarding wellbeing and financial wellness.
An estimated 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace – and women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as men (19.8% vs 10.9%).
A new study also found that 94% of men experience ‘anxious masculinity’ at work, inauthentically partaking in perceived masculine behaviour that can both act as a barrier to the formation of emotional bonds and allowing sexism to fester.
Thankfully, AccessPay walk the walk, too.
Accompanying Sarah’s philosophy are a number of policies to support internal wellbeing.
Within the AccessPay office are dedicated mental health first aiders, along with an Employee Assistance Programme that offers telephone and face-to-face counselling.
Most excitingly, however, every member of the AccessPay team is entitled to a wellbeing allowance that can be used on anything from a gym membership to a Headspace subscription, accounting for both explosive and meditative approaches to stress relief.
We’re keen to extend this open-mindedness to our clients, offering a distinctly human touch at every corner. In fact, our perfect 5.0/5.0 customer service review on Feefo reflects our industry leading support – one of our three pillars.
We often shout about how our automation of banking operations can free up finance and treasury teams, allowing businesses to focus on work that really matters.
While this is a physical benefit – workflows are able to become streamlined and more tasks can therefore be completed with increased efficiency – this can also help keep a clear, focused mind at work by minimising unnecessary and unrewarding activities, potentially preventing burnout.
Wrapping Things Up
Mental health is complicated and multifaceted, but achieving financial wellness could well be a contributing factor our sector is well-positioned to combat.
Moving forwards, FinTechs must continue to both look inwards and outwards, considering the relationship between employee wellbeing and effective output of their inherently stress-relieving services.