The Finance Foundation places a premium on evidence-based research and analysis to encourage new thinking on financial services policy. For example, Director Andrew Freeman argued in his report Finance for Growth’ that the current focus on bank lending for small businesses was misplaced. He put the case for more work to be done on encouraging non-bank lending, and for greater focus to be placed on growth companies, the subject of his subsequent report for the Finance Foundation, 'Heroes or Zeros'. Complementing this, Hilary Cooper and Andrew Freeman produced an in-depth report for Demos Finance on retail finance regulation, 'Putting Customers First'' which argued for greater attention to be given to customer outcomes instead of just regulatory inputs. It also examined the challenges faced by older and vulnerable consumers, a subject to which we have returned in subequent research.

We indentified a signficant research gap in understanding the needs of the very elderly - those over 80 - and the barriers and issues they face in staying in control of day to day finances. This led to an exciting new piece of work, including qualitiative and quantitative fieldwork with people over 80 and those who provide informal support to them (undertaken by Opinium Research) as well a review of the literature and analysis of relevant data. "When I'm 84". Locking the Door on the Older Old: The Challenge Facing Britain's Banks, authored by Hilary Cooper, and published in September 2016, challenges the sector to respond to their needs, and calls for a wider debate about what needs to be done to prevent an new group of older consumers becoming financial excluded. A summary of the key findings is available here. (Fieldwork was carried out by Opinium Research - see methodological report for further details). We have built on this research to prepare submissions to the Access to Cash review, and the Griggs review of the Access to Banking protocol.

We also produce shorter pieces of research or analysis, including work for the Chartered Banker Institute in 2017 and 2019 on diversity and progression within the industry. 

Our research priorities fall into five main areas:

Supporting Business

This research strand examines how to unlock funding for businesses, including: work on addressing a bias towards debt finance over equity; advice services; and, building financial skills in small businesses.

Understanding growth 

This focuses on ways the financial services industry can support economic growth, in particular the link between growth at the micro and macro levels. It also considers how to ensure a sustainable financial system that is resilient – or adaptable – in the face of shocks and change.

The future of banking

This explores the role of the traditional bank and new finance players, such as peer-to-peer lenders, crowdfunders, and others. It considers changing consumer habits, technological shifts, and monetary policy, the potential for ‘regional banks’ in the UK, and a map of alternative (‘complementary’ finance).


In this strand, we look in detail at the technology supporting the financial services industry, and the potential risks and reward it offers. 

Supporting Consumers

This looks at the interaction between policy, regulation and the industry, for instance in complex areas like pensions, and at how competition, trust, consumer capabilities and vulnerabilities affect consumer outcomes.