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Edward Manson

Introducing the latest Q&A session in our “MERJE Meets…” series, where we sit down with business leaders across our seven niche disciplines. This allows us to delve into their personal and professional backgrounds and find out what really makes them tick.

In this instalment we chat to Ben Blackett-Ord, who is the CEO and Founder of Bovill, a specialist independent Financial Services regulatory consultancy which enjoys a global offering.

Ben was kind enough to shed some light on his industry knowledge, experience and expertise, the challenges that he has overcome and the advice he would give to others forging a career pathway in the Financial Services arena.

Can you describe your role and a little of your career background?

I established Bovill 21 years ago. Having previously worked as both a regulator and across in-house Compliance roles, I decided in 1999 that it might be fun to set up a consultancy.  As I look back over those years, I remain humbled by what my team has managed to build over that period.

We now operate across the globe with offices in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Chicago and New York. Our work spans the breadth of Banking and Financial Services firms, where we provide support across a wide range of Compliance and Financial Crime issues.

Why did you decide to set up Bovill?

I remember a time when I was at Standard Bank when it became clear to me that one day I would set up my own business. I remember saying to myself that “if only I could think of a business to set up.”  I then decided to stick with what I knew, which was Regulatory Compliance.

Can you summarise the business, its ethos and culture and what it does differently to make it unique to its competitors?

We are a global organisation with a one team ethos. We have all of the capabilities of a big firm while retaining the benefits of a small business. Globally, we are much more joined up and connected than a lot of our peers. We also employ incredible people.

How has the current pandemic affected your day-to-day role?

In many ways it has been positive. It has certainly made speaking with colleagues in Asia and the US a lot more natural. I have worked harder than usual but probably more effectively.

What advice would you give to rising talent in your industry?

Work hard, volunteer for everything and take a long-term view.

How do you see the regulatory consulting space evolving going forward?

I think that we will continue to see consolidation and consultancies being bought up by business services groups. However, the demand for our services will remain strong.

What do you consider to be the top three challenges in your business?

I would say aligning behaviours with reward, long-term relationship management and succession issues.

If you could go back in time what advice would you give to your former self?

Stay the course, trust your instincts, trust the MI, hire the best people you can afford and pay them well.

Where do you find inspiration? What podcasts, books or social events do you follow or recommend to our audience?

A few years ago I attended the Leading Professional Services Firms course at Harvard University and it was awesome. I also spend a lot of time catching up with other successful business leaders and comparing notes.

If you could instantly gain a new skill what would it be?

To be better at foreign languages.

COVID quick fire:

The guilty pleasure which has kept you sane in lockdown?

Mid-afternoon marmite on toast.

The first restaurant you’ll head to after lockdown?

There are two:

The Strathmore Arms which is our local pub in Teesdale.

The Baltic, which is two doors down from the office and where all of our important decisions are made.

The one thing lockdown has made you realise you don’t actually need?

That I don’t need to spend as much time and money as I have in the past travelling from my home in the North Pennines to the office. After all, isn’t Zoom wonderful? That said, I have people in London, Asia and the US and sometimes you can’t beat that valuable face-to-face time.

Thanks to Ben for his contribution.. if you enjoyed catching up with him as much as we did, do remember to stay tuned for the next instalment of “MERJE Meets…” If you are a business leader and would like to contribute to our Q&A blog series going forward, then please get in touch with our PR & Marketing team at info@merje.com.