Capita gives helping hand to workforce to help them manage through pandemic

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Capita is to introduce a new personal finance app to help its entire 45,000 UK workforce manage their money more easily during the toughest economic conditions seen in generations.

The tools let employees easily keep track of their disposable income throughout the month, access instant earned-salary advances and automatically save part of their monthly wage into the best savings accounts typically reserved for those with large sums of money.

They are all contained in a new purpose-built app called ‘Level’, underpinned by Open Banking and designed by the fintech start-up Level Financial Technology, that can be accessed via desktop, mobile or SMS. Allowing access through SMS is crucial so that those without access to more expensive technology such as smart phones are still able to use the tools.

The decision to co-create a more comprehensive financial wellbeing solution than existed already in the market was driven by Capita’s commitment to being a responsible business and to supporting its employees through these exceptionally difficult times.

The app has received strong positive feedback after being trialled by 2,000 of its employees over the past few months.

With the UK-wide roll-out now beginning, Level’s budgeting tools let employees see how much they have left to spend across all of their bank accounts and credit cards, highlighting upcoming bills and regular expenses to provide a personalised insight into an employee’s own expenses. Also being introduced is a series of optional behavioural nudges that provide personalised tips to help employees save more and spend less on essential spending.

In the coming weeks, Capita will be launching a phased rollout of earned-salary advances. UK based Capita employees will be able to access a portion of their earned, but unpaid wage, capped at £500 each month, in just two minutes, with no credit check. The purpose of these advances is to help cover unexpected expenses while avoiding expensive overdrafts and short-term loans from payday lenders or banks. It costs £2 per advance, with the advances automatically repaid on the next payday. Of those large companies that offer informal salary advance schemes, take up tends to be low. This is explained by the fact that employees have to ask their line manager and this is often followed by a time-consuming, bureaucratic process. Level provides its users with the speed, privacy and discretion that they need.

The other key product launching soon allows employees to configure Level to automatically transfer funds from their monthly salary into a savings account. The added benefit is that the market-leading interest rate will always be applied to any money saved, because Level chooses the best savings account on the market at that time. This kind of service is typically only available to those with large sums of money to save, opening up favourable savings rates that might not otherwise be available to all.

Level and Capita are working closely with the Behavioural Insights Team – one of the world’s leading behavioural science organisations – to test and evaluate the best ways to encourage everyone to build up a savings buffer for the future.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development recently found that money concerns were the biggest source of worry for UK employees, and that absenteeism/workplace illness caused by financial stress cost businesses approximately four per cent of payroll costs per year. The benefits to both employees and Capita of a product such as Level are therefore very clear.

Capita has a minority stake in Level Financial Technology and is supporting the business through its start-up development arm, Capita Scaling Partner. Through this partnership, Level Financial Technology will benefit from a dedicated business development team to enable it to scale rapidly and secure long-term, sustainable growth and profitability. The Level founders are also in positive discussions with several other large organisations about how the app can help their staff through these tough times.

Will Serle, Chief People Officer of Capita, said: “We felt that giving our employees the right tools to manage their finances during these extremely tough times was just the right thing to do and we’ve seen already from our pilot how many people it is helping. This is another important step in building a truly responsible business, following the introduction of the Real Living Wage to all UK employees earlier this year. By looking after our employees, we are helping build an environment in which they are happier and more productive, and in turn delivering a better service to our clients.”

Stephen Holliday, CEO and founder of Level, said: “Our partnership with Capita has been invaluable. Their commitment to helping us build a product that will genuinely improve the financial wellbeing of their staff has been clear from the beginning, and the engagement from users has allowed us to develop the app in line with their feedback. We are very excited to see how Level can support Capita's employees both now and as we launch more features.”