- Why public affairs?
I’m fascinated by politics and public policy. Growing up in the political melting pot of Welsh-speaking West Wales in the ‘80s I saw at first-hand how powerful political ideas could be and how they can change lives. The modern world is leading to ever more complex financial, governmental and regulatory structures. Both legislators and industry need public affairs professionals who can navigate this maze. That way we ensure consumers get a fair deal and firms have the certainty they need to do business. Public affairs is therefore one of the few professions that gives you a ring-side seat in the future direction of the industry, or for that matter the nation.
- Did you always want to work in financial services?
Originally, I wanted to be a research scientist. However, I’ve always had a strong interest in economics and after graduating in Law I started my career working for the newly elected Vince Cable MP. I’m still recovering from the trauma of seeing him jump out of a box on the Strictly Christmas special a few years ago. Then, as now, Cable had a business and regulation brief and my first meeting was with Howard Davies who was then Executive Chairman of the FSA. Given my legal background I’ve always been drawn to areas of public policy involving the application of complex rules and regulations. With the backdrop of the financial crisis, I thought it would be fascinating to work inside the regulator as it developed a whole new regulatory regime.
- Where do you see financial services regulation developing in the coming years?
Despite what some in financial services might think, regulation is not going away any time soon. The financial crash has created a public consensus that the industry was under-regulated. The big change on the horizon is trans-national and extra-territorial regulation. You see this with some of the fines the US authorities forced on foreign banks for offences that are not crimes in their home jurisdiction. EU regulation is also about to go into overdrive. With the new European Commission Directorate for Financial Services and Capital Markets and the European Supervisory Authorities seeking to expand their role there will be a strong push towards direct levies on firms for EU-wide regulation.
- Do you have any pet peeves?
Casual cynicism about politics. We’re very lucky in the UK to have a political system that generally works well without the type of corruption and chaos that is all too common around the world. It may be the worst system but it is better than all the other options. If you don’t like the policies of the Government of the day don’t sit there complaining. Get up and do something about it.
- Tell us about your life outside work. Do you have a family or any hobbies?
My family are still based in West Wales so I try to get back there as often as possible. Otherwise, I’m active in local Hampstead politics.
- So, outside of financial services, what is the one journalist or column that you regularly read?
Being a self-confessed political junkie you’ll usually find me reading one of the political aggregation sites. I like to be up to date with political developments and emerging trends. If I’m feeling particularly geeky then I’ll be making my way through Mike Smithson’s latest polling analysis on Political Betting.