First Woman of Business Services: Joanne Smith, CEO of The Consulting Consortium

First Woman of Business Services: Joanne Smith, CEO of The Consulting Consortium

An expert in compliance, Joanne Smith has worked in a various financial services companies including Royal Insurance, HBOS and KPMG, as well as the Financial Services Authority, since 1990.

In the late 1990s she joined a Big four firm where she managed numerous large financial services projects, covering the development and implementation of strategic business and marketing plans. She also advised on sales, development and distribution channels for the retail financial services industry – both within the UK and off-shore.

“I completed an International MBA at the École des Ponts Business School in Paris after which I realised I was on a great career path, but with no more defined goals to drive me forward – which is when I decided to start my own company.

“The Consulting Consortium was launched in 2001 with a vision to grow the company to be as big as KPMG, and Smith has kept the vision for the past 15 years.

“In 2012, I recognised that a new approach to technology could help solve some of the compliance issues affecting financial institutions. I made the strategic business decision to commit substantial finances, which have since totalled over £3million, to research and development of a technology product. 

“As a result, we launched RecordSure in 2013 – a pioneering compliance system for analysing face-to-face financial discussions and providing regulatory and compliance-related feedback.

“This decision to commit a significant level of funding to research and development was a calculated risk that has brought a groundbreaking and innovative product to the market.”

Over the last year, in addition to the First Women of Business Services award, Smith was a recipient of the Inspirational Woman of the Year in Compliance 2015 award; and the bronze award for E2E Scale-Up at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2015.

“Being ranked in 45th place on the 2013 Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 was a huge achievement as was reaching a turnover of over £21 million last year. But ultimately, I’m proud to have broken through the ‘glass ceiling’ by setting up and running two successful businesses in the compliance and FinTech sectors.”

Surrounding herself with excellent people and delegating to those you trust have been invaluable in helping the business succeed, she says. 

However, she attests, like many women, that it is not easy running two businesses as a woman in male-dominated industries.

She explains: “It has occasionally been frustrating to see men underestimate the abilities of women and assume they are unable to understand the nuances of business. This has predominantly been easy to overcome however when I’ve had the opportunity to showcase my ability, and that of other women.

“The FS and FinTech sectors are more male-dominated than other sectors but I do believe it is improving. I am determined to take RecordSure into other sectors such as health care services and utilities as they all contain interaction with customers in a way that requires high levels of compliance. There are plenty of opportunities for women to be involved from these sectors too.

“There is still concern amongst women in the Financial Services sector that they will not break through the glass ceiling and will be overlooked for promotion in favour of a man. 

“I’m happy to say this is simply not valid at The Consulting Consortium and we will gladly lead the way in demonstrating a culture that supports and champions women in the Financial Services and FinTech sectors and indeed any future sector that we step into.

“I think we’re on the right path to attracting more women into the FS sector and FinTech industry.  The more female role models out there the better and these types of awards help to champion and showcase our success in business and the workplace. 

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