Finance Awards 2020

41 | Finance Awards 2020 Established in 2012, Thistle Initiatives is a compliance consultancy providing expert advice and support across the financial services sector. Following the firm’s well-deserved success in the UK Finance Awards 2020, we got in touch with Matthew Williamson to find out more the award-winning business and the exceptional service the team effortlessly provides. Based in London, Thistle Initiatives specialise in managing strategic and hands-on projects across all regulatory areas using its expert compliance resources and capabilities. Going into further detail, Matthew shares with us a brief history of the firm and its founder. “James Dingwall started Thistle Initiatives while working with two of the big four consultancy firms. He recognised the challenges faced by financial services firms, and the mix of skills and expertise it takes to deliver effective solutions. James’ experience with blue-chip clients shaped his philosophy of combining high-level skills and experience with a personal, tailored approach. This philosophy has proved its worth both for our clients and for Thistle Initiatives.” Today, Thistle Initiatives is one of the UK’s leading regulatory consultancies, with a team of talented people working from offices in London, Edinburgh, and Dublin. Offering comprehensive advice and support on FCA and PRA regulation and on legislation that affects financial services companies (from GDPR to anti-money laundering), the team handles everything from helping start-ups seeking direct authorisation and firms transitioning from appointed representative to directly authorised status, to advising on regulatory requirements, acquisition due diligence, annual returns, capital adequacy and FCA supervision and enforcement issues. Rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to each client, the firm offer a practical and bespoke service to ensure it differentiates itself from other similar competitors in the industry as Matthew explains further. “Businesses are often quoted the rules and regulations applicable to their operation and then left to implement these on their own. To help with this, our focus is to ensure that we provide the correct and appropriate guidance to each client and support firms in executing these on a practical level. Often this involves a number of face-to-face meetings and audits, with support to follow as required.” FinTech Compliance Consultancy of the Year 2020 Cultivating a team of talented consultants is important in order to ensure that accurate and tailored advice is delivered. Moreover, as Matthew goes on to explain, in this regard the firm typically look out for three key qualities in potential recruits. “Staff are essential in delivering our service, so it is important to have helpful consultants you can call upon to provide the best outcomes for businesses. From our experience, we have discovered dynamic and proactive candidates with an eye for detail are the best fit for Thistle Initiatives.” Embracing challenges is something Thistle Initiatives has become accustomed to since launching in 2012, but as Matthew explains further, the firm has managed to overcome these. “Brexit and passporting has been a challenge and this will have an impact on businesses marketing and them sourcing European clients. COVID-19 has also impacted the finance industry, particularly on the credit market with an increase in defaults across the market from consumers through to businesses. Moreover, the ability for the financial services sector to transition quickly into a remote working environment has been encouraging, and a testament to business continuity arrangements.” Bringing the interview to a close, Matthew signs off by commenting on the firm’s future prospects as we look ahead to 2021 and beyond. “As people increasingly use and utilise innovative fintech products, we want to continue to be at the forefront of the regulatory space. Whilst the space continues to prove a vitally important one, especially given recent market developments, the diversity and pace of innovation can also prove to be a challenging one to stakeholders and the companies that support it. Moving forward, our goal is to help these innovative firms navigate the space with the confidence that they are in line with a complex and ever-evolving regulatory framework.” Company: Thistle Initiatives Contact: Matthew Williamson Website: Nov20491