Investing for good

The need for an inclusive post-pandemic recovery

In a series of articles for Forbes, Legal & General CEO Nigel Wilson outlines how the UK’s pandemic recovery can build a better, more inclusive society

2 Nov 2020

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Sir Nigel Wilson

Group Chief Executive Officer

Business all over the world are considering their next steps in light of Covid-19. In a series of articles for Forbes, our CEO, Nigel Wilson, explains how inclusive capitalism can, and should, be part of businesses’ post-pandemic recovery.

The Covid rethink: doing well and doing good

While the world was seeing catastrophic death rates in the elderly as a result of Covid-19, tech giant Apple hit a $2 trillion market valuation. These two seemingly unrelated events couldn’t be in starker contrast, yet they bring to light the crux of inclusive capitalism: that businesses can use their success to create a better world – one that’s needed today more than ever. Businesses should consider how they think about society, harnessing their capital to bring about the widest possible benefits.

At Legal & General, our financial gains have come hand in hand with tangible returns for society. Inclusive capitalism (the idea of investing both for both for high return and social benefit) switches the narrative from ‘This is going to cost you money’ to ‘This is going to lead to a better life and generate revenue’. In other words, doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive, and a future where this is brought to light looks very bright indeed.

Read the full article.

Inclusive capitalism: one city’s story

In the early 1900s, Salford was a dockyard, the gateway to supplying Manchester’s industrial revolution. By the 1980s, the docks had closed, losing people their jobs and with employment rates in one of the areas around Salford at over 30%.

Fast forward to 2020 and Salford Docks has become Salford Quays, and is home to more than 8,700 businesses that employ 127,000 people. There are 25 times more jobs today than there were in Salford a century ago, with unemployment at less than 5%.

Salford is just one of 15 cities we’ve invested in across the UK, each receiving between $640 million and $5 billion for regeneration, start-ups and affordable housing, and we’re looking to invest another $28 billion.

This is what good growth looks like: real new assets creating real new jobs that pay real and high-quality wages.

Read the full article.

The role of bold collaboration

Inclusive capitalism is built on bold ideas – ideas of bringing people and organisations together, even if ideologies differ. In fact, when ideologies differ the output can be even stronger. In other words, inclusive capitalism requires inclusive collaboration.

We’ve found is that engaging with local and city government can be much more effective than trying to engage with Westminster. When we worked to regenerate Cardiff Central Square, for example, we worked with the city’s local denizens – not the UK Government. By doing this, we’re much more likely to see success, and that success means taking back control of money, our cities and our ageing infrastructure – turning these into new, return-generating sustainable assets.

Read the full article.

Nigel Wilson


Legal & General

We have tremendous social inequity to resolve. To do it, investing in research institutions and universities becomes as important as, and pivotal to, housing the homeless and making restitution to the environment.

Nigel Wilson


Legal & General

Investing in our unsung heroes

It would be hard to imagine any form of society without the world-class research that has taken place across universities and higher education institutions – particularly those that don’t yield an obvious near-term financial return on investment. But we need make long-term investments, because it’s these unsung heroes and projects that will benefit the society of the future – investments like our $26 million gift to The University of Edinburgh to set up its Advanced Care Research Centre, to truly understand, to improve, the way we age.

And to make these investments truly sustainable, we need to make these institutions even more attractive to bright minds, which means building homes and complementary infrastructure. For example, in 2019 we pledged $5 billion in long-term investments in Oxford, and more recently a plan for a new $300 million Health Innovation Campus in Birmingham.

This is a way of investing that’s both economically and socially right. It paves the way for sustainable investments, and we’re already seeing more and more businesses follow suit.

Read the full article.

Covid as the catalyst for addressing mental health

The World Health Organization recently called for a renewed focus on mental health as part of the global Covid-19 response and recovery. A survey of 70,000 adults by the Samaritans revealed that in the first week of lockdown alone, 2% reported self-harming or attempting suicide.

Mental wellbeing and mental health simply cannot be ignored. But the pandemic in its very nature has not only affected people’s mental health, but made it harder for friends and colleagues to spot the signs of someone struggling. That’s why we’ve factored in the individual circumstances of our employees in terms of their working from home, making sure we’re doing as much as we can to provide them with a workspace, whether at home or in the office (when restrictions allow), that works for them.

What we have noticed is that people are becoming more community-minded. From apps where you can be alerted that your neighbour needs some groceries to just knocking on the door and dropping off a slice of cake for the person across the road, this is one of the positives to come out of the pandemic. So let’s hope this is something that we see far beyond the pandemic.

Read the full article.

Redefining GDP

As the coronavirus pandemic hit, the economy shrunk, which means that any subsequent economic growth is being measured against a much-diminished base. It’s also worth keeping in mind, when we’re reading figures surrounding the post-pandemic bounceback, that the same numerical percentage change is always bigger on the way down that on the way up – for example, a 10% drop from 100 gets you to 99, but if you’re at 90 and grow 10%, you only get back up to 99.

In other words, measuring an economy’s bounceback on GDP alone isn’t giving the full picture. GDP only takes into account government spending, consumer spending, business investment and imports and exports, and not the social benefits everyone desires: available, affordable and high-quality housing and healthcare, attainable education and a planet that will be hospitable to future generations. So perhaps it’s time to consider a GDP that takes into account the metrics that can truly help us to identify the type of economic growth a sustainable and inclusive economy really needs. 

Read the full article.