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Q&A with Gillian Roche-Saunders

BWB's social finance team gets to know the newest Partner

· BWB Compliance,Social Investment

BWB Compliance is BWB's new consultancy arm that provides regulatory advice and support to FCA regulated firms. The consultancy is headed up by Gillian Roche-Saunders, an experienced compliance consultant, who was previously a Principal at Bovill Ltd and has a track record in providing award-winning support to financial services firms.

We caught up with Gillian for a quick Q&A about the new collaboration, key developments in the sector and the role of compliance in the evolving social finance landscape.

Gillian, can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

I give practical support and technical advice to FCA regulated financial firms. In practice, this can vary from picking through complex regulation for clients and providing hands-on support and specialist advice to helping firms navigate business changes.

What were you doing before setting up the Compliance consultancy at BWB?

I was working in a regulatory consultancy, providing support to firms and running a team dedicated to venture finance and early stage financing for start-ups.

How has the scope of your work expanded since joining BWB?

I now use my technical expertise to advise and support BWB clients. The work I am doing is fundamentally similar to what I was doing previously, and I was doing work in the social finance sector before, however, I am broadening the remit of my social finance work here at BWB. This includes crowdfunding, microfinance, social impact bonds and anything relating to social investment tax relief.

Do you have any insights into the sector you would like to share?

I think an area which is really gathering momentum at the moment is crowdfunding. There is increasing appetite in the market, and crowdfunding campaigns are becoming more sophisticated and diverse. New platforms which focus on niche areas are appearing, and this is attracting more investors and campaigns seeking investment to the market. Crowdfunding has become more established in the last couple of years, and as there is now more of a trodden path and a good general awareness of what it is and how it works, there is also less resistance to it as a means to raise finance for a huge variety of social initiatives. Accessibility to the market is increasing – both for investors and for those seeking investment.

I think another key factor in its popularity is an enthusiasm among a technologically savvy younger generation for the power of the crowd to make things happen and a keen interest in looking at investment as a way to make not only a financial, but also a social return.

This is also the year of social investment tax relief (SITR). With the limits on the amounts on which the tax relief can be claimed, we should see a surge in transactions taking advantage of SITR. It is likely that the uptake will be not just among social investors but traditional asset managers who are looking at investments which yield social, as well as financial, returns. 

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