Global Financial Inclusion Index from Principal® Develops Benchmark for Financial Security and Inclusion Across Global Economies

New research analyzes and ranks 42 markets on public and private sector indicators of financial inclusion

Singapore is the world’s most financially inclusive market, alongside the U.S., Nordic Europe, and Hong Kong, according to the inaugural Global Financial Inclusion Index (Index) sponsored by Principal Financial Group®. The research, conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research and released today, examines how well a market’s respective government, financial system, and employers provide relevant tools, services, and guidance to enable greater levels of financial inclusion.

“Financial inclusion is foundational to global economic progress. As an organization focused on helping more people gain access to financial security, we believe inclusion is an integral component of a market’s ability to prepare for and recover from adversity, grow sustainably, and build a brighter future,” said Dan Houston, chairman, president, and CEO for Principal®. “The Global Financial Inclusion Index provides a rigorous, data-driven framework to track financial inclusion on a global scale. Through this we can identify the structural gaps in financial inclusivity and take steps to address them, along with many others, to help build a more productive and protected workforce and society.”

The Index examines 42 markets and scores them across three pillars — government support, financial system support, and employer support — using datapoints across public and survey-based sources.

  • The government support pillar examines the degree to which governments promote and enable financial inclusion, considering data on public pension support, deposit and consumer protections, employment, education, and financial literacy levels, and online connectivity.
  • The financial system support pillar reviews the availability and uptake of various financial products, services, and education, considering data on access to bank accounts and credit, maturation of financial technology and use of real-time payments, and the overall effectiveness of the financial services industry in promoting confidence and small to medium sized business growth.
  • The employer support pillar evaluates the availability and impact of employer programs to improve employee financial wellbeing and inclusion across various dimensions such as employee pension contributions, employee insurance programs, and financial guidance.

In its first year, the Index is helping to develop a benchmark for financial security and inclusion across global economies.

Key findings

  • In general, developed economies tend to pool towards the higher end of the Index, and emerging and developing economies cluster at the bottom. Six of the top 10 markets for financial inclusion are European and, within this group, four are Nordic. Europe’s larger economies rank at the bottom of the table, with Italy as a particular outlier at 37th. The lower half of the ranking consists mainly of countries in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. Argentina ranks last.
  • Economies that provide strong support from their government and financial system tend to provide a lower level of employer support – and the reverse is also true. Developed economies typically score well for government and financial system support, whereas emerging economies generally score better for employer support.
  • When considering this research on an investment basis, the markets analyzed can be broadly grouped into four categories – mature, forward-looking economies; mature, backward-looking economies; young, forward-looking economies; and reliant economies – each of which provides an indication of several of the short-, medium- and long-term risks to which economies are exposed. There are some outliers to these categories – primarily some of the largest economies including the U.S., China, and India – which do not fit neatly into a single category.
  • The findings suggest financial inclusion may be a powerful indicator of next generation capital and wealth markets globally. When performance in each pillar is strong, it helps promote business growth and confidence and may lead to accelerated development of a capital market. These three pillars can provide insights into its overall economic maturity and development of a market and suggest ways to drive progress.
  • Markets which rank highly for financial inclusion tend to also perform well on other societal factors such as food security, productivity, economic and social resilience, standards of living, and climate change adaption. There are strong, positive correlations between the Index rankings and the rankings of markets in several other indices which track the key factors affecting global populations today.

“The Index provides a data-driven, horizontal view for developed and emerging markets to learn from each other when it comes to fostering a financially inclusive citizenry,” said Kay Neufeld, head of forecasting and thought leadership at the Centre for Economics and Business Research. “We tracked the Index against metrics that follow some of the most significant trends facing society today – like food insecurity and climate change – and recognized a clear relationship between financial inclusion and those factors that contribute to a successful society.”

Global Financial Inclusion Index


Top 10 Scoring Markets


Bottom 10 Scoring Markets


Singapore (68.9)


Turkey (36.1)


United States (68.3)


South Africa (34.1)


Sweden (65.4)


Brazil (33.9)


Hong Kong (65.1)


Mexico (33.3)


Finland (64.7)


Italy (32.8)


Denmark (63.9)


Peru (32.7)


Australia (63.6)


Colombia (32.2)


Switzerland (63.4)


Nigeria (26.9)


Norway (63.1)


Ghana (22.2)


The Netherlands (59.8)


Argentina (19.2)

To read the full report and methodology, please click here.

To view a summary infographic, please click here.

About Principal Financial Group®

Principal Financial Group® (Nasdaq: PFG) is a global financial company with 18,500 employees1 passionate about improving the wealth and well-being of people and businesses. In business for more than 140 years, we’re helping more than 54 million customers1 plan, protect, invest, and retire, while working to support the communities where we do business, and build a diverse, inclusive workforce. Principal® is proud to be recognized as one of America’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies2, a member of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, and a Top 10 “Best Places to Work in Money Management3.” Learn more about Principal and our commitment to building a better future at

1 As of June 30, 2022

2 Barron’s, 2022

3 Pensions & Investments, 2021

About Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr)

The Centre for Economics and Business Research is an independent consultancy with a reputation for sound business advice based on thorough and insightful research. Since 1992, Cebr has been at the forefront of business and public interest research, providing analysis, forecasts and strategic advice to major UK and multinational companies, financial institutions, government departments and agencies and trade bodies. For further information about Cebr please visit

© 2022 Principal Financial Services, Inc.

Principal®, Principal Financial Group®, and Principal and the logomark design are registered trademarks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., a Principal Financial Group company, in the United States and are trademarks and services marks of Principal Financial Services, Inc., in various countries around the world.

The Global Financial Inclusion Index is a proprietary model output based upon certain assumptions that may change, are not guaranteed, and should not be relied upon as a significant basis for an investment decision.

Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Company®. Plan administrative services offered by Principal Life. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., member SIPC and/or independent broker/dealers. Referenced companies are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.​ ©2022 Principal Financial Services, Inc.


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