We present the annual Financial Innovation Awards (FIA) which recognises best practice, product innovation and projects that have a positive impact on the finance sector, consumers and communities across the globe. Last year’s competition, had 17 categories covering:
- Products and services, including innovation in product or service design, payments, mobile banking and product delivery
- Marketing and customer experience, including innovation in data and its application, customer service and customer-focused innovation
- Finance in the community, including innovation in sustainability, financial inclusion and outreach
- Technology, including best fintech partnership and a new category for open banking
- Best financial start-ups
The X-Forces Enterprise and NatWest story
Why did you enter the Financial Innovation Awards?
Both organisations believe that to recognise the Society of Military Widows and the wider programme, we needed to consider how we could best promote why the programme was fundamentally so unique.
Never before had the four military widows’ associations combined to create one single experience to provide education and support to this group. Their collaboration was facilitated by Forces Pension Society Charitable Fund.
X-Forces Enterprise and NatWest agreed that due to the unique nature of the awards – recognising innovation – that this would be the perfect route to recognise such a broad collaboration.
Outline of the project
In the UK, military widows receive support to rebuild their lives following bereavement but the guidance on business or for self-employment was very limited.
This project brought together so many different stakeholders to amalgamate support for this community – reaching across the military community and the Widows Associations in particular.
This is where X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) and NatWest acted as the catalyst for this group. Creating a programme with formal training and post-classroom remote enterprise mentoring, individuals are brought together to establish their own support network. This network builds their individual resilience and a stronger community within the broader military-in-business community.
What's your advice to those entering the awards?
Consider the service users
Innovation doesn’t necessarily mean new technology or re-inventing the wheel. In our case, we had to consider who the service users were and how best we could engage them in a way, best suited to their needs. Innovation for us was doing something that hadn’t been done before and then putting it into place with the appropriate support mechanisms in place. Sometimes the simplest solution makes for the highest impact.
Spend time and collaborate on the application form
Consider the overall impact in quantitative and qualitative terms so that the judges can understand your passion or purpose. By collaborating with your stakeholders you can present multiple results and perspectives.
What did winning the award mean to you?
Everything needs oxygen to grow and develop.
Giving this cohort the exposure has helped them realise there are different ways their own careers can evolve after such traumatic personal lose.
We knew the programme would be sustained for the long-term however by winning the award and the being able to publicise the success – we have gained more attention and recognition for the widows as well as more candidates coming forward for the education.
So winning the award stretches way beyond NatWest and X-Forces Enterprise. It provides a renewed focus on developing the breadth and diversity of the military-in-business community.
Why do you think it is important for the sector to keep innovating?
A healthy finance sector is at the heart of any prosperous community.
In supporting diverse or under-served groups who may need help in making decisions on their financial future, innovation needs to be at the heart of new and evolving solutions for their engagement.
Being able to support at a time, place and in the manner required by the customer or client will most likely involve more than any one organisation can offer. So, collaboration in innovative solutions and services is even more important.
Make sure your company enters this year.
Financial Innovation Awards