Why did you go into public affairs?
Well, having been a public servant, regulator and policy adviser in previous incarnations, my career naturally gravitated in that direction. But, I’ve always been drawn to and passionate about politics, doing the right thing for the economy, the country and society at large and so the ‘influencing’ game is where it’s at for me. It’s what gives me a buzz and makes me get up in the mornings.
It’s the General Election on Thursday (8th June). What do you think will happen?
What had been unexpected – now a real prospect of a hung parliament (see my election blog for further details). If that happens, let’s hope the party with the largest vote can cobble together a coalition in time for the scheduled return of Parliament on Tuesday 13 June, plus one that will hold fast through some tricky Brexit negotiations ahead. We all know former Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s quip, “a week’s a long time in politics”. We’re certainly going to be in for interesting times.
What do you predict for financial services regulation in the year ahead?
A watchful eye from supervisors to ensure that post-election, jittery financial markets and business and consumer confidence all settle down and hopefully the continued facilitation, through such initiatives as the Sandbox, of a conducive environment for economic growth, innovation and Brexit transition. So, the UK’s fintech market should remain buoyant.
On FCA horizons, recently appointed chief executive Andrew Bailey has indicated that “cultural outcomes” and encouraging the right “tone from the top” still loom large on the regulatory radar, aided by new supervisory tools such as the Senior Managers and Certification Regime, now being extended beyond banking. Expect a continued watch on behaviours around bankers’ remuneration and credit finance too.
If you could change one thing about the financial services industry, what would it be?
Combat “group think”, or if it’s not too unkind “men think”, which would be helped, of course, by greater employment diversity in the workplace.
If you could give one piece of financial advice to a teenage version of yourself, what would it be?
Not to mock old-fashioned virtues of thriftiness and savings and pay off your mortgage early! But, I was the Champagne Charlie City 80s “spend, spend, spend” generation, when credit really exploded in Britain and was a marker of social standing. I wouldn’t have listened to my boring older self. I’d have been booking my next holiday…
What would you do if you were Prime Minister for a day?
I’d instigate a series of “Trading Places” initiatives, inspired by the hilarious 1983 hit film, where street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) swaps places with commodity broker, and wealthy plum-in-his-mouth, Louis Winthorpe 111 (Dan Ackroyd). Yes, sorry, but I already told you the 80s was my era! But, not some self-indulgent ‘nature versus nurture’ experiment. I want to substitute ignorance and prejudice with tolerance and fresh thinking for our society. Let’s shake it up with job swaps, refuse collectors running councils and leaders collecting the rubbish; school exchanges between private and state; plus different faith education establishments etc.
What is your biggest pet peeve, or makes you angry?
When you find yourself apologising to someone that has bumped into you in the street, only to be blanked by them. Rude!
Now, tell us a little about your life outside of work, do you have any hobbies?
My children laughingly tell me I don’t have any hobbies or interests! But, I do have a little beach hideaway on the foot of Italy, where I disappear whenever possible with my husband for some well-earned R&R and to enjoy the Calabrese lifestyle. Chill!
What is the one column or website that you read every day?
What would you do if you received a windfall of £10,000?
My daughter is commencing an exciting filmmaking degree course from September. So, I’d use it to help fund her living expenses at university, while she hones her craft.