"Diversity of thought and experience in the board room can be a catalyst towards a culture that promotes accountability"
We spoke to Caroline Ong, non-executive director at Glenhawk, about the benefits of becoming FCA authorised and how inefficiencies in the financial services sector can be overcome.
FR: You recently joined Glenhawk as a non-executive director - what does your role involve and what does a typical day look like?
My role is very much advisory in nature. I provide a sense check around governance and strategy, and with my financial markets experience, can provide guidance on funding, risk management and business development, all core areas for Glenhawk.
A typical month is probably the more relevant timeframe for a non-executive. I read fairly widely on current economic and political events, stay in touch with real estate and other asset price movements, stay on top of board room topics with other NEDs, and monitor regulatory developments impacting the bridging and consumer lending markets. This enables me to share valuable insights to the Board and to keep the executive team in check as the business grows.
FR: Glenhawk is currently preparing for FCA regulated status – what opportunities will this bring to the firm?
Our FCA authorisation has been approved and with it will bring an institutional element that unregulated bridging lenders don’t have. Although there will undoubtedly be some growing pains, becoming regulated brings a level of prescribed processes by which the company must operate, giving us a level of autonomy which will naturally yield efficiencies with marginal effort. Scaling a business under the scope of a regulator will open many doors when it comes to selecting service providers and funding partners. We will be able to look at complementary products such as term mortgages and unsecured loans, where we can look to replicate our disruption in the bridging sector.
FR: Financial Reporter is launching its third Women’s Recognition Awards this year - what changes would you still like to see in the industry and what advice would you give to someone starting out in financial services?
There are still plenty of inefficiencies in the financial services sector caused by stale processes lost in a sea of bottlenecks and red tape. I would like to see more promotion and endorsement of transparency and accountability throughout the entire staffing hierarchy, and across all aspects of financial services. Diversity of thought and experience in the board room can be a catalyst towards a culture that promotes accountability, so I would like to see one follow the other.
For anyone starting out in financial services my advice would be to keep acquiring knowledge – you can never know too much. The best leaders are well versed in a range of subjects and disciplines, so gain experience in as many roles as you can such as sales, credit, service providers, middle office, capital markets and don’t forget to stand by a set of strong ethics.
FR: If you could see one headline about financial services in 2020, what would it be?
‘Non bank lenders raise the competitive bar for main stream banks in all apsects of responsible lending, customer service, and bottom line returns to shareholders’.