John joined Compliancy Services as Payment Services Director in 2015 after many years as a practitioner and acknowledged industry expert in e-money and payment services. He held senior roles in Clydesdale Bank’s sterling settlement unit, the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS, now UKPA), the Financial Services Authority and Lloyds Bank. Back in 2008 he was the one and only technical specialist in the FSA advising on payment services: that role now involves around a dozen advisers and policy staff in the successor FCA.
Joining a consultancy firm represented a change of direction for John but not a complete change of attitude. The ethos of Compliancy Services is focused on helping clients to get it right – providing the regulator’s eye – so John found his perspective and background as a senior practitioner was well aligned to the firm’s work.
In consulting there is, however, a need to be pragmatic; to look at how the client can realistically achieve the outcome required by the laws or regulation, without taking the slavish approach of ‘the rules say X’.
"My own approach even at the FSA was outcomes focused. Still, this can be a challenge. Compliancy Services’ senior management and the collegiate nature of the organisation is a real help in guiding ex-regulators and other practitioners through this journey."
Perhaps the thing that can be most intimidating for a practitioner coming into consultancy is the commercial aspect – charging for advice that you were previously providing for free. John found the RAIN Group sales training sessions really helpful here. Compliancy Services arranged the training and case studies, using an actor to play the client, and he found that it really allowed him to develop his skills in this area.
"In consulting, what you’re really selling is your experience and your reputation. I found that the firm was very happy to give me lots of support preserving those things – even more than I expected – and it gave me a lot of confidence when dealing with clients."