The Centre for Responsible Credit is externally evaluating the Financial Health Fellowship Programme, which has been delivered over the past six months by the Finance Innovation Lab in partnership with Toynbee Hall.  Undertaking the evaluation has involved directly observing several activities, including monthly sessions, one of the leadership retreats, and the pitch practice and recent Demo Day, where Fellows pitched their ideas to around 150 potential investors, regulators and other influentials that could help them get their product or service to market.  We are currently assessing a wide range of feedback material which has been gathered from Fellows, speakers, and others engaged by the programme and will be publishing a full report in March 2018.

However, we have now completed a series of qualitative interviews with Fellows, and are able to provide a ‘rapid assessment’ of the Programme based on these and the activities that we have observed.  The full report is available here.

Main Findings

Our headline assessment is that the Financial Health Fellowship has been an ‘outstanding success’.  The Fellowship has met its stated outcomes of embedding social purpose into the design of new innovations in this field; has improved the leadership and business skills of participants, and has contributed to the creation of a strong, mutually supportive, network with strong links to the wider financial health community.

In particular,  we find that the Fellowship has provided:

  • Responsive support. The Fellowship team provided a remarkable level of support in responding to the often changing needs of participants, leading to a high impact on their product and service innovations in this field.
  • Culture. Fellowship engendered a real community, with a relaxed learning environment, opportunities for collaboration and strong relationships of trust.
  • Curriculum. Fellows appreciated the structure of monthly sessions, which included both expert input and time to apply learning to their own projects. The mix of theory and practice was appreciated.
  • Leadership development. Action learning and business mentorship were key elements in developing Fellows’ leadership skills. Regular, supportive feedback helped Fellows develop their capacity to lead within their projects and more widely in the field of financial health.
  • Engagement with end users. Toynbee Hall’s Money Mentors provided Fellows with useful insights about how to tailor their products’ to those who are most affected by financial ill-health.

In their own words…

Here  is how some of the Fellows summed up the programme:

“For me the Fellowship has been a game-changer. It’s had a huge impact on the way I work, and how I feel about what I’m doing. It was so timely for me to take part, and has been hugely beneficial.”

“This was a brilliant experience in lots of ways – professionally and personally. It was a really supportive group, but I was also pushed out of my comfort zone and my confidence and skills have grown as a result. I also now feel more connected to the bigger picture, having accessed a whole other realm of knowledge about the financial system.”

“There was so much wisdom in this programme and the way it was delivered. I want my own business to do that, to take as much care for the customer as the Fellowship team did for us. They made it look easy, but there was such a lot of thought behind it. You see a lot of accelerator programmes in this space, but this had real oomph!”

Next steps

We will be providing a more detailed assessment of the programme, including possible lessons to be drawn for future provision, in March.  This will also examine how a Community of Practice for Financial Health could be created – based around the Fellows and others engaged by this programme.

“There is such a huge amount of trust between us, and we are continuing to support each other and to work together to share contacts and resources. The biggest resource is the collective, and we really want to build on the momentum that we now have. We need to grow the collaboration, and I want to give back to the Lab and to future Fellows.”