The UK's University of Gloucestershire has launched the Finance in Society Research Institute in partnership with wealth manager St. James's Place (SJP) to raise the profile, standards and professionalism in the sector.

Based within the Gloucestershire Business School, the institute will specialise in advancing collaborative personal financial research to improve sector-wide practice and policy, and provide research-led technical and policy advice to organisations and government, according to SJP.

In February 2022, the University and SJP announced the launch of a specialist MBA in financial planning to meet the needs of the evolving financial planning landscape.

The institute aims to include the provision of master's and doctoral level qualifications for financial services industry professionals, the development of impactful co-produced academic and industry research, and the delivery of an industry-wide research seminar series, SJP said.

Its longer-term goal is to focus on the development of peer reviewed academic publications to build an international reputation in the field of finance in society, as well as the encouragement of a sense of community between academic colleagues, postgraduate researchers and industry with a common interest in exploring the thematic priorities of the sector.

The institute aims to attract learners from across the globe to undertake postgraduate research in this field at the University of Gloucestershire, developing a pool of talent and expertise for both the institution and industry.

SJP said underpinning the ambitions of the Finance in Society Research Institute is a view of business as a vehicle for wealth creation and as a force for economic and social betterment. "By helping to shape and develop business practice and talent, and by emphasising the 'social contract' that exists between business and the communities in which it takes place, we effect not only change in commercial life but also within wider society."

'Advancing knowledge'

Dr Dominic Page, head of the Gloucestershire Business School, added: "We're extremely proud to be launching our new Finance in Society Research Institute in what we're confident will prove another successful collaboration with St. James's Place. The Research Institute presents a fantastic opportunity to bring together the expertise of the University, colleagues undertaking master's and doctoral qualifications and the wider financial planning industry."

Page highlighted that it would enhance opportunities for advancing knowledge with a focus on a range of key themes in personal finance including enhancing and attaining financial capability, addressing financial vulnerability, accumulation and decumulation of wealth and addressing the industry skills gap.

Edward Grant, director responsible for professional development at SJP, said: "There is a distinct need for rigorous academic research on finance in society, so we are excited to expand our partnership with the University to develop a dedicated research unit. Enhancing academic research in this space will help to broaden our knowledge as an profession and help to identify areas for development, delivering better outcomes for all in society."  

The Research Institute launch event will take place on 5 July 2022 and include a full programme of presentations and discussions with leading academics and industry practitioners exploring the challenges and opportunities within the financial services sector.