Due to some recent life events, The APCC Spring Conference and Timehop I have been triggered into a little period of reflection. Reflecting on both the personal and professional, has got me thinking about my little journey; of how I have got to where I am, but more importantly about where I want to go next, and where I want to empower the profession to go next.
For those who aren’t familiar, Timehop is an app that produces a ‘snapshot’ of everything you were up to ‘on this day’ in the years prior. It takes social media posts, photos taken on that day and packages these as a montage of haircuts you wish you could forget. Throughout last week I have been reminded that whilst exactly this time two years ago we were plunged into a ‘quick’ national lockdown, this time one year ago I accepted a job offer to work at Apricity Compliance and handed in my letter of resignation to my (now) old job. I loved my old job, I cannot stress that enough. The people I worked with, the autonomy I was given, we were a tight-knit team and I never ever saw myself leaving. Until… Well, until I saw that Apricity were advertising for a work from home position. It turns out that the very role I applied for had already, unsurprisingly, been snapped up (cheers Paul!) However, I was lucky enough to be offered an alternative position and haven’t looked back since.
I had always had Apricity, and Cathi, on the radar (OG Eclipse subscriber here!) but it felt that Apricity and I were destined to be star-crossed lovers due to our 265-mile difference in location. From every Friday at 2pm guessing what drink-related pun Cathi was going to make in Eclipse, to seeing the impact and the desire for change Apricity wanted to make in the compliance space, so when I saw the role I had to close my eyes and leap. And when I resigned people understood. People got WHY I wanted to work for Cathi, why I wanted to work for Apricity and just how well I would fit in with the mission Apricity (and the whole Verve Group) are trying to achieve. And here we are! So thanks Timehop for reflecting on one of the best decisions I have ever made.
That was the how, so now the why? Well The APCC Spring Conference reminded me just why I have joined a firm that is so proactive in being a voice of change in the industry that has been discredited for so long. ‘Box ticking’, ‘barrier to advice’, ‘compliance audits’, ‘red marker pens’ – all these phrases we hear, more often than not, about compliance. This was my first time attending an APCC conference after working in compliance for five years, so I didn’t know what to expect but I came out pleasantly surprised. There were of course a few sessions that didn’t particularly resonate with me, but that’s always going to be the case on a two-day conference.
I heard about Consumer Duty, FSCS levies, ESG (the investors’ equivalent of millennials smashed avocado on toast) and directly from the FCA on their supervisory work. Now I know what you are thinking, what a sexy-sounding conference hey?! All jokes aside, these were good, important topics that covered the dynamic regulatory landscape. Off the back of the conference, I feel well informed about the ‘what’ in regulation, but what struck me was the how? How are firms expected to follow these regulations which aren’t tailored to specific sectors? How can compliance expect advisory firms to get on with their day job when they are mandating far too much ‘just to cover all bases’? And how are those operating in financial services expected to listen to a regulator who is openly under-resourced and missing statutory deadlines?
Now I’ll leave the issue of resource and talent to the experts (cough Natalie Bell cough), but for the compliance piece, I’m happy to put my 2 pence in. Firms are scared of getting it wrong, of course they are. But compliance doesn’t need to be the function people are scared of. Compliance should be empowering advisers to do their job, and understanding why the regulation exists, but also listening and understanding how to embed compliance into a business, not making it a barrier to an adviser’s job. Compliance should be a function to lean on, to support and to guide but also to stand with advisers in protecting this industry, and ultimately the clients at the end of this. And this is something the industry as a whole needs to step up to. Apricity has scratched the surface, but we have so much more to do, and I for one am excited about it.
I haven’t even touched on what actually was discussed, and there will be a few pieces from me coming out on the Apricity site on this. You may have also heard about The Verve Foundation and the work I am doing as The Ambassador for Profession (CHEEKY LITTLE PLUG), this is exactly it. This is why I’m doing it, this is why I work here.
And Apricity, The Verve Group and Cathi Harrison – BRAVO for doing what you do. And thanks for letting me be a little part of it.