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MERJE Meets: Matt Tavener - Head of Compliance & Money Laundering Reporting Officer

  • Publish Date: Posted 7 months ago
  • Author:by MERJE

​In our most recent instalment of MERJE Meets, we chatted to Matt Tavener, who is Head of Compliance and Money Laundering Reporting Officer for Frasers Group Financial Services.

Matt is a highly experienced C-suite senior Compliance professional, SMF 16 & 17 with a demonstrated history of working in the consumer credit, automotive and finance industry.

Matt prides himself on being a natural leader, having guided functions and teams during significant regulatory changes, such as GDPR, the Insurance Distribution Directive, The Senior Managers & Certification Regime and Consumer Duty. This included setting up compliance frameworks from scratch, building teams and mapping out regulatory requirements across an organisation to ensure uninterrupted commercial success.

He is skilled in the design of Compliance processes, Compliance monitoring plans, leading teams, implementing regulatory Compliance frameworks, strategic application of business and regulatory procedures, all with the vision of delivering a consistent approach to overall businesses improvement.

Here, Matt talks about the qualities that comprise a strong and dependable Compliance professional, his most notable career learnings and the most prevalent issues currently affecting the sector.

What makes a good Head of Compliance?

This is a really good question, and one that I have been asked many times. For me, I think there are some real core skills that make a good Head of Compliance.

Number one on my list would be to hold a strong moral position.

Being able and having the courage and strength to speak out, make decisions, stand true to fact, and share and collaborate findings with others are all vital characteristics required for the role.

Number two is that it's important to be approachable at all levels across a firm.

Being open for business and willing to explain and take time to map through really does help to build out relationships and knowledge share. A Compliance professional must be a great communicator across multiple settings.

Number three is having commercial awareness of the firm you're working with and being able to understand and support the firm's goals.

It's essential to get involved and understand what's going on in your business so be inquisitive! Compliance is a business enabler and it really does aid to build those departmental relationships to support the wider firm’s goals. The application of regulatory requirements into a commercial setting is vital, where both sides understand the needs and how they can support that delivery.

What key skills did you develop early in your career which allowed you to get to where you are today?

I always had an eye for detail and I’m keen on understanding how requirements play out in a practical setting. Being both approachable and people orientated helped me in building and developing teams. Some of my proudest moments have been seeing junior or new team members flourish in a short period of time under my leadership.

For me, being hungry to succeed, tenacious in my goals and driven to learn has really helped me throughout my career so far. I'd recommend to anyone starting out in Compliance to be brave and push yourself to learn.

What’s the biggest learning curve or obstacle that has made you better at what you do?

I can think of a few, but one that sticks in my mind is being able to land a decision which may not be the one that is expected. Having the strength, knowledge and objectivity to stand by it takes courage.

In Compliance you will encounter times where you have to deliver information that begins wider considerations. What is key is that you deliver that information in a clear, professional and objective manner. Don't let yourself get side-tracked from your factual findings, but instead be super focused on working alongside your colleagues and other teams to support them to deliver improvements.

Can you provide a brief overview of your career which has resulted in your current role? And what are the most rewarding elements of your role?

I’ve enjoyed over a decade in senior roles and one of the most rewarding elements of my role is building teams and seeing those people I have worked alongside develop and grow. I don't micromanage people, I encourage my team to have the conviction to give an opinion, take a view and learn if they make a mistake, which is exactly what I did.

I focus on people development, ensuring my team members are visible and are gaining as much knowledge growth as they can. I strongly encourage external learning and networking as it is really important to consider how regulatory considerations are played out in other firms / markets. A question to always ask yourself is how can learnings here then be tracked back to support in your own firm.

What are the primary challenges, issues and trends currently affecting the Compliance sector and how do you think they can be tackled or met head on?

Pace of change has always been a challenge, not least for firms where there is a need to balance resource and systems developments. This is in addition to external changes faced, whether that be regulatory change, customer trends, unpredicted events or cyber and fraud drivers. In an attempt to support this, it is absolutely key that a firm's Compliance function is proactive and driven in what they are doing.

A really important part of this is horizon scanning, so in short looking ahead, seeing what is coming and projecting how it will specifically impact the sector within which you operate and your firm’s objectives and goals. You then have to ask yourself how this will affect the outputs from whole departments to individuals within the business. Compliance must then be sharing key information and needs with the business and providing advice on how it impacts and what needs to be done. In my experience this is best done focused with clear deliverables, action plans and consideration to scale, size and complexity of the firm.

If you could see one headline about Compliance market conditions in 2023, what would it be?

There has been some recent coverage about the demand on Compliance functions, how they are best resourced and how they support a firm’s wider goals. It is essential that, with the advance of technology and the excellent opportunity this provides, we are balancing this with ensuring the specific needs of the organisation and its customers are met.

To execute this, there must be time for reviewing and testing of internal processes and frameworks. I’ve seen examples where the pace to deliver or embed solutions can be to a longer term detriment and this is where objectivity and understanding of what's coming in the future really helps.

What essential issues do emerging Compliance professionals need to be aware of?

I think this links with my earlier point about pace of change and the need for Compliance professionals to really be proactive and driven in their approach. Aligning Compliance needs to the commercial goals of the firm is a really good place to focus on. How can each department complement the other? Compliance absolutely must be involved in work streams at the outset, as this is crucial to early project success. If you try and bolt Compliance in at the latter stages, this is not supportive for the wider delivery and can, in many cases, add delays and friction.

Quick Fire

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

I’d love to reduce my golf handicap overnight...any suggestions anyone?!

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

The Maldives. I visited not too long ago and it’s certainly a great place to unwind from the day to day pace of living!

Thank you to Matt for taking the time to chat with us! If you'd like to find out more about him or connect, head to his LinkedIn page.

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