Catherine Bolton is proof that the best careers take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves along the way. She’s taken on new challenges and worked flexibly while progressing her career in compliance.
After university, Catherine Bolton spent eight years working in investment and retail banks. Then, in 2001, she decided to make a career change and moved to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
"I had no risk or compliance experience at all," Catherine explains. "But the FCA looked like a great place to be educated, and I decided I wanted to try something different."
Learning on the job, she spent seven years dealing with executives in a range of banks and benefiting from the FCA’s strong commitment to mentoring and development.
While on maternity leave with her first child in 2007, Catherine saw that Macquarie was looking for a compliance manager that matched her skills.
"I started at Macquarie at the end of my maternity leave. I felt like I knew the organisation well and I was attracted to it because I liked its culture and the people I had worked with while at the regulator," Catherine says.
"I could see there was a great opportunity in the fact that Macquarie isn't a traditional investment bank. There was, and still is, a broader focus and a willingness to adapt and change in the market. I was also confident that risk management was ingrained in how Macquarie did business."
As part of the recruitment process, Catherine asked for a flexible, part-time position around her family commitments.
"I said I wanted to work part-time and they agreed", Catherine says. "While flexible working is now commonplace, it was ground-breaking to have that 12 years ago in the financial services industry."
Since joining Macquarie, she has progressed from Senior Manager to Associate Director and again to her current role as Division Director, all while working flexibly.
Catherine has continued working flexibly in various combinations to suit her family and workflow.
"I worked part-time for five years. Right now I work five days, with one day each week from home," Catherine says. "It’s great to see how flexibility has become so common at Macquarie and we are committed to giving that flexibility to everyone, not just parents or women."
Leading regulatory risk
Catherine heads up the Regulatory Risk team and manages all of Macquarie's interactions with the UK regulators.
The regulatory environment is changing at pace and Catherine and her team are at the forefront of both communicating with the regulators and working with the business to interpret the compliance landscape for the organisation in EMEA.
"My team looks for upcoming changes like new rules or ways of thinking. We communicate that to our people and help them to understand what it means for our existing businesses, as well as any new opportunities that it could bring. We work with the various teams and are often involved in looking at new projects. It means we get to be involved in all the big corporate developments and projects and we help to both protect Macquarie's reputation, as well as continue to embed the strong risk culture that we have here."
Catherine says that since she started working in risk and compliance the mindset of the financial services industry has changed from seeing compliance as a necessary process to something that's essential to help them. This has created more career opportunities in risk and compliance.
"Now there's so much focus from the regulator on the accountability, ethics and behaviour of the people within the wider banking industry," Catherine says. "Compliance has naturally grown in value, alongside the number of people and teams dedicated to it."
The compliance teams at Macquarie, like the majority of other teams in the organisation, are made up of people from a variety of backgrounds, skill sets and experiences.
"An example of this is the fact that we recruit a range of specialists, from lawyers to behavioural scientists. People tend to think of compliance as a single function but we've got so many different teams that do such a variety of work. They all add significant value in their area and it’s the diversity of thought that offers a comprehensive view of risk and how to manage it," Catherine says.
A seat at the table
Catherine says that risk and compliance not only has the ability to influence outcomes but also takes a broad outlook within the entrepreneurial culture at Macquarie. The work is fast-paced and team members need to be adaptable.
"The business can suggest a new idea and we work constructively to advise them on how to achieve their goals within our strong risk framework," Catherine explains.
"There's a mindset of working together to get things done but ensuring that it is in a compliant way and the risk is managed," Catherine says.
A supportive culture
Catherine also volunteers as a Wellness Ambassador, an initiative which means she's available to talk to other Macquarie employees about experiencing IVF and miscarriage.
"Caring for people's wellbeing and mental health means they are better employees," she says. "To be able to help someone else going through it is rewarding."
Catherine says she enjoys Macquarie's non-hierarchical environment, where people at all levels are empowered to contribute to ideas.
"Senior employees want to talk directly to the person who has the answers, not through layers of hierarchy. Macquarie is a company that enables people to succeed," Catherine says.
"Building expertise is encouraged as is looking for new opportunities for where you want to take your career. I never would have thought I would end up where I have. You take opportunities as they present themselves and run with them. And you know that people will support you."