New jobs as Consortium sets up ops centre in Leeds

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THE financial services consultancy founded by former City regulator Joanne Smith expects to create up to 30 new jobs in Yorkshire after opening its new UK operations centre in Leeds.

The Consulting Consortium advises banks and building societies on regulatory and compliance issues. It also consults for financial advisory firms.

“Moving the company’s operational centre to a new office complex in Leeds reflects the significant growth achieved over recent years,” said Ms Smith, the chief executive and majority shareholder.

She founded the business in 2000 to rival services offered by the Big Four accountancy firms.

Ms Smith, who is from Yorkshire, previously worked for the Financial Services Authority, HBOS and KPMG.

The fast-growing business has leased more than 5,000 sq ft at Broad Gate to house 80 employees with room to expand, said client services director Ian Stott. He said regulatory change and better performance are driving growth at the company.

It generated sales of £10.6m last year, up from £8.1m in 2011. Profits were £3.6m in 2012.

“We fix problems in the past and enable organisations to mitigate regulatory risk in the future,” said Mr Stott.

Past problems can include mis-selling of pensions and investments, he added, although the business is not involved with payment protection insurance or tailored business loans cases.

The Consulting Consortium has 16 staff at its head office in the City of London, giving it close access to clients in the Square Mile.

Mr Stott said: “We could have set up an operations centre anywhere, but we chose Leeds because it has such strong financial roots.

“It’s the UK’s second largest financial centre. It made sense for us to have our operations centre in Yorkshire, especially Leeds.”

The business set up an office in Bradford during the last decade after winning a contract with Bradford & Bingley.

It chose Leeds for its operations centre because of its superior transport links, said Mr Stott.

The company has invested between £150,000 and £200,000 on its new offices.

Mr Stott told the Yorkshire Post: “We have plans to continue to grow market share.

“We have ambitious targets for 2013. We expect to be employing another 20-30 full-time employees over the next 12 months.

“If we can hit our numbers we will take more space.”

Ms Smith added: “The Consulting Consortium has built its reputation as the specialist for financial services compliance and is well positioned for future sustained growth as the UK regulatory landscape continues to evolve at pace.”

Britain introduces a new ‘twin peaks’ regulatory system in the coming months with the splitting of prudential and consumer protection roles. Financial advisers are also subject to new rules on charging fees.