by Neil Folan
Risk and Compliance Manager
My entire career has been based in the financial services arena. From my very first job as an office junior with RBS, to becoming a mortgage adviser and then a financial adviser with various banks.
Having gained all this experience, I then moved into risk and compliance roles & prior to the introduction of Retail Distribution Review, I attained a Diploma in Financial Planning. My roles within risk & compliance have been varied from overseeing the risk operations & compliance in line with T&C Scheme requirements, to working on various projects in quality assurance, complaint handling & outcome testing. It was working within this specialist area which led me to AAB Wealth.
I was approached by a former colleague who was planning to retire and therefore on the hunt for a replacement. Following his extreme compliments on the staff and culture within the firm, I decided to meet with the AAB Wealth team and subsequently attend an interview. I was impressed by the ethos of the firm, their desire to do the right thing by clients and consistent business growth which is why I was delighted to be offered the position. Sixteen months down the line, I can confidently say it was absolutely the right decision.
My role at AAB Wealth as Risk and Compliance Manager is extremely varied. I work closely with the Senior Management team, ultimately to ensure delivery of the right outcomes for the firm and our clients. In addition to this I support the team to ensure their responsibilities under the Senior Managers and Certification regime are met. From a firm-wide perspective I regularly assess and prioritise risks from a regulatory perspective with the aim of being on the front foot to mitigate, avoid and ultimately overcome any risks.
Here are some of the ways AAB keeps on top of compliance in an ever-changing landscape of regulations:
- Monthly risk committee meetings at which CEO, executive directors of Wealth are present
- Senior Board meetings with Risk & Compliance being an integral part of the agenda
- Investment Policy Committee meetings
- Regular Due Diligence on products/services and providers
- Compliance Monitoring plan in place which is reviewed monthly
- Quarterly meetings with our external compliance partner
- Regular review of FCA communications, attendance at FCA events, professional reading and networking
Looking ahead one of our focus areas for the next six months will be clients in vulnerable situations. With the FCA recently announcing new expectations of firms and the inevitability that all of us will be in a vulnerable circumstance at some point in our lives, we need to look at how we could help clients disclose their vulnerability, but also try to understand what they are going through so that AAB Wealth can support them at this difficult time. We want clients to know that we can be trusted, are a ‘safe pair of hands’ and that we will act in their best interests.
Compliance and regulation changes happen regularly in our field, which keeps my job interesting and rewarding because it is ultimately all about ensuring we are in the best position possible to look after our clients’ personal finances. We want our clients to know that our team is on top of changes, updates and are here to support them, giving them confidence in their financial future.
Why is Risk and Compliance so important? The Senior Managers and Certification regime became effective for financial adviser firms from December 2019 and is part of the UK regulators’ drive to improve culture, governance and accountability within financial service firms. It aims to deter misconduct by improving individual accountability and awareness of conduct issues across firms. Subsequently reducing the potential of unsatisfied clients, poor reputation or fines and penalties from regulators. Ultimately it brings reassurance to all parties that AAB Wealth is committed to doing the right thing by staff, businesses, and clients.