David Brain – Partner at Bovill (Financial Services Regulatory Consultants)

David Brain – Partner at Bovill (Financial Services Regulatory Consultants)

David Brain


How did you get into regulatory consulting?

I took a dream job at the NCIS (National Criminal Intelligence Service) as an undercover officer investigating football hooliganism.  Two days before starting, I was somewhat disappointed to learn that there had been a re-jig and I was asked to join the financial intelligence team instead.  During my time at NCIS I took my anti-money laundering diploma. I then moved into industry as a financial crime officer at Russell Investments and progressed to MLRO.  A recruitment agency contacted me towards the end of 2011 about a job at one of the Big 4, which I accepted.


Was regulatory consulting your first career choice?

No. I studied criminology at university and my intention was to pursue a career that utilised my degree.


What were you doing before?

As mentioned I was MLRO for an investment management firm.


What attributes do you think have made you successful in your career?

Attention to detail has been key, particularly in my early career.  in addition having the tenancity to see projects through to their conclusion has always stood me in good stead.  Relationship building has been a fundamental aspect of my career progression.  Whilst in industry it was crucial to build relationships and gain the trust of the first line.  Consulting is based on client relationships and delivering on client needs.  My background at NCIS, my in-house experience and my varied consulting work allows me to understand my clients’ pain and their needs in practical terms.  In addition, when I have made mistakes I have ensured that I have learned from them, and not made them again.


Do you look for candidates with a particular educational background or particular qualifications?

The foundation of a degree is a good start, but I am not too bothered about the subject of the degree.  Of more importance to me is someone with a can-do attitude, is inquisitive, hungry to learn and keen to build knowledge.  I also like people who have real interests outside of work, and don’t mind laughing at themselves now and again.


What advice would you give to a junior starting their career?

Whatever task you are given, do it to the best of your ability, even with the mundane tasks.  A good attitude and consistently doing a good job will always get noticed.  Within consulting I have always found that your internal network is as important (if not more important) than your external network, so take the time to build your internal network and get to know what other teams do and where opportunities may lie.


What advice would you give to a mid-level professional?

Keep your options open in terms of direction. That said, being the ‘go to’ person for an area of specialism may well generate exposure to senior members of both your own firm and that of clients.


What advice would you give to a number two?

Make your manager’s job as easy as possible and don’t be afraid to communicate your ambition.


What do you see as the growth areas of regulatory consulting in the next 18 months?

Financial crime continues to be one of the priorities of the FCA.  In terms of topics, MLD 5 sees greater emphasis on the prevention of terrorist financing.  Bribery and corruption is attracting greater legal and regulatory scrutiny which I believe will continue going forward.  In terms of firms, there will be a continued focus on efficiency as firms further utilise technology to reduce costs in fields such as transaction monitoring and customer screening.  Better data and smarter input will lead to cost efficiencies, for the larger firms in the millions of pounds.

Who is the person or persons who have had the biggest impact on your career?

Mike Gould, compliance director at Russell investments.  He gave me support, mentoring and space to develop my skills.  He also taught me how to become a trusted adviser to the business and how to see the bigger picture, rather than just my job.


Last, but not least, when you’re not in work, how do you unwind?

I have played a lot of cricket and football.  I now I play golf (handicap 13).  I’m also getting married at the weekend, so wedmin has been a feature of my life for a number of months now.


See David’s LinkedIn profile here.

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