Royal London launches podcast series to help members make better informed financial decisions

2 March 2020


Last November, ICMIF member Royal London (UK) launched The penny drops podcast which is aimed at helping members understand their money and make better informed financial decisions.

The monthly podcast series covers the big personal finance topics such as savings, pensions, budgeting, debt, family finance, marriage and retirement – as well as other issues that money can have an impact on, like mental health, physical health and the environment.

In each episode the host, British presenter and broadcast journalist Andrea Fox, puts questions to financial experts and special guests to get the answers people are looking for and tips that they can put into action to help them with their personal finances.

Royal London releases a new podcast at the beginning of each month, and members are invited to subscribe to be the first to hear new episodes. Members are also sent reminders about any new episodes in their quarterly member emails. The podcasts are available for download or listening to using the iTunes PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcast or Castbox apps or, alternatively, it is also possible to listen to the podcast online.

In the first ever episode of ‘The penny drops’, host Andrea Fox talked to Jasmine Birtles, founder of a popular self-help money site MoneyMagpie in the UK, who answered a wide range of common personal finance questions. Birtles is also a TV and radio presenter, author, stand-up comedian and an all-round money expert. Passionate about explaining difficult financial concepts in a simple way, she regularly appears on national TV programmes in the UK including Sky News and BBC News; radio shows across the country; and in newspaper and magazine columns.

Subsequent episodes have covered the topics of Let’s talk about pensions; How to save without noticing; Why planning for death is so important and Managing finances as a woman (released in March to coincide with International Women’s Day).

Chloё O’Neill, Group Member Marketing Manager at Royal London, led the project to develop and launch the podcasts. She relates the development of the podcast project back to the very beginnings of Royal London as a mutual organisation, saying: “Royal London was founded in 1861 to help people to help themselves. Back then a big concern for society was avoiding a pauper’s grave, today our challenges are different, but our mutual values are still relevant”. 

Chloё says that the idea behind the podcast was to take some of the knowledge within Royal London, plus that of external experts, and then share it with members in a way that they can understand and take away to implement in their lives. Chloё is quick to point out that they always recommend members seek help from an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) and that additional resources are provided in the episode notes, but the hope is that this podcast is helping Royal London’s members to understand personal finances better themselves so when they’re talking to others, they can have better informed conversations. 

The project began with some research around Royal London’s engagement campaign and content trends, which led them to the idea of the podcast series. The results of the research showed that the younger age group was the most likely to want to hear from the mutual more often. It also showed that society in general is searching for financial information at a fairly basic level. Chloё says, “the questions people are asking are often something as simple as ‘what is a pension’ let alone moving on to anything more technical. So, we introduced an opt-in series giving members a basic guide on ‘what is a pension’. We were pleased with the results, but it felt like we could do more. We have a great engagement and content plan but appreciate that people are time poor and not everyone reads content online. If we wanted to deliver great content using a platform people really use, then podcasts felt like a great opportunity.”  

Royal London uses an external creative agency to support the production of the podcast and the series is planned months in advance. Chloё says, “Sometimes it’s useful to have questions or topics proposed by a team who work outside of financial services as they’ll often ask the kind of questions our members might”.

Feedback on the podcasts so far has been very positive. The podcast has a rating of 5* and comments from members say that the topics are covered well, they are helpful and pitched at a level that members understand – exactly what Chloё says the mutual was hoping to achieve.  “Our download statistics are really encouraging and are a great indication that our members value the podcast series,” she says.

Chloё and her team have a 12-month rolling plan for the series and she acknowledges that a project like this does generate quite a lot of work to keep the monthly podcast running, but, she says, they have a number of ideas to keep them going for some time and they always ask members to let them know if there’s anything they would like to see covered (they can email Future topics are likely to include subjects such as  family finances and finance and mental health; to slightly more technical subjects like retirement planning and sustainability. Chloё says the goal is to ensure that they cover a broad range of topics covering different life stages so that it is relevant to a wide audience, keeping the content easy to understand and the episodes conversational, whilst also providing enough information for members to go away and either talk to their IFA, or feel more able to make better informed money decisions themselves.

The podcast was produced for Royal London members but also designed to be relevant for everyone says Chloё. As part of its mutual values, Royal London is keen to help drive up financial capability in general in the UK, as well as focusing on the needs of its members. So the podcast can be accessed and listened to by anyone, if they’re a Royal London member, customer or not.

All views and opinions expressed in the podcasts are those of the experts and not of Royal London.

For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub.

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