Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Interestingly, I didn't think I was meant to be an accountant as I am absolutely passionate about science and engineering, (I even designed part of the pipework that makes Magnum ice creams while on a placement at Uni). However, my careers advisor at school in Yorkshire said I’d be an auditor, even though I didn’t know what that meant at the time, and lo and behold, many years later, I found myself training to be an auditor with Ernst & Young.
After working with some fabulous clients in London and then, following qualification, developing my career further with McDonalds, I took a year out to travel with my wife and returned to the UK to live in Scotland. Then my long career with RBS started, taking me through the ranks within the Group and Corporate Banking teams, to end up as the Finance Director of the asset finance business Lombard. After an incredible ten years with the bank, having seen through the financial crisis there, as well as the integration of ABN AMRO, my heart was set on moving out into "start-up land" at a time when neo-banks were launching all over the place.
I was inspired by Ricky Knox, Steve Hulme and Ruth Handcock at Tandem Bank, who were going through a banking licence process to become a force for good in the banking sector. I joined as Finance Director and spent two years developing my career as well as my resilience in a world very different from the relative security of large corporate jobs. I loved the start-up culture, the "zero to 30,000 ft in a day" nature of the role, working on nuts and bolts accounting one minute and presenting to the Board the next and everyone solving problems quickly and collaboratively.
After an incredible two years there I chose to take my first CFO role outside of direct Financial Services, and joined a software business, NorthRow, where I worked with the founder and investors to grow the business and put in place investment strategies to develop the product offering beyond its initial start-up status. After two years the founder left and I jumped at the chance to be the CEO of the business, and relished building a fantastic culture and new team right the way through the pandemic and out the other side, but then when an opportunity arose from Philip at Cosegic to join him as CFO/COO and help him to continue to scale this very successful business it was an opportunity I couldn't refuse.
What excites you about working for Cosegic?
Cosegic is a business that uses intelligent and highly-skilled employees (as well as software) to enable hundreds of clients to navigate their regulatory obligations safely and confidently. This frees up more time for clients, allowing them to concentrate on inventing, building, and delivering their services to their own customers, in turn making the UK and the world’s financial system better. Philip, the Board, and employees in Cosegic have done extremely well for years and I was excited to join the team to bring my own experience and skills to help the business to the next stage of its growth. The breadth of offering of the company and the potential that brings makes it a very exciting place to be.
Why did you choose to work in the compliance industry?
Regulatory compliance exists to make the end users of regulated financial services safe, but it is becoming increasingly onerous, especially for Senior Management. The last thing that an end user wants is for the provider of their service to be struggling with compliance simply because they don't fully understand their obligations, or because it is difficult for them to deliver it. As such, the industry’s importance is growing. I hope to help our business go from strength to strength as we support more clients by creating new methodologies and solutions that are even more valuable to clients.
What areas do you see as the biggest challenges, and what opportunities come with them?
A big challenge within the compliance profession at the moment is the sheer volume of requirements that firms of all sizes must satisfy, but which they potentially do not have the resources to deal with. By using specialist professionals like those at Cosegic, who have access to colleagues with hundreds of collective years of experience, some of which was spent writing the regulations themselves, clients can effectively and efficiently satisfy these requirements and ensure their own focus is on serving their customers safely."
What are you working on at the moment?
Following our recent exciting rebrand, we're all firmly focused on delivering our strategic objectives for FY24. I'm working on a number of exciting projects that are going to make our operational platform even more scalable, using more technology and more efficient processes. I'm also working with the rest of the management team to develop our OKR/KPI framework for the year ahead.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
It was either Clive Woodward or my wife (probably her) who drives the mantra of 100 1%s, and I think that's really true. At almost all times there are 100 things on at the same time, and one never gets a day or half-day to dive into just one of them, so it is best to chip away at all problems all the time, and then you'll see manifest improvement on them all.
Describe yourself in three words.
Outside of work, what keeps you busy?
Teenagers. I have a beautiful wife and two teenage daughters who are still very much in the dad-taxi stage, and next year will be double-exam hell. When I can fit it in, I love to road cycle with other MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra for those unfamiliar!) and play the bass guitar. As a keyboard jockey, I also adore spending time in the garden or doing botched DIY, as it doesn't involve Excel.
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