Ahead of this year’s In-house Financial Services conference, The Lawyer talks to Simon Coles, general counsel at Capital on Tap, about the challenge of managing his time as sole counsel, how he collaborates with the wider business and what he’s most excited about in the fintech space.
What are the greatest challenges facing your in-house function?
It’s such a cliché to say “time management” is by far the greatest challenge but it really is. As sole counsel to the business (currently…..I’m ever hopeful this will change), ensuring best use of my time and focusing on the areas where I can add value, support and drive the business forward is a daily challenge. I am constantly refining my approach to how I spend my time in the office or when working remotely (and always on the look out for fresh approaches).
Luckily most of the other big challenges I face are also opportunities. For example, the challenge of a constantly shifting regulatory burden is an opportunity to devise automated, scaleable compliance solutions. A further example is the challenge of managing my budget for external counsel. I see this an opportunity to create effective, value-for-money and productive relationships with law firms.
How does your in-house function collaborate with the wider business?
I use a variety of methods and tools – from regular “let’s check we are moving in the same direction” catch-ups with the rest of the C-suite to running drop-in clinics, encouraging self service (where appropriate) and running projects in partnership with another team (eg product pilots in new countries). We use a mix of old fashioned face to face meetings together with productivity solutions such as Jira boards, PowerBI dashboards and Slack integrations.
What are you most excited about within the fintech space?
The opportunities which arise from collaboration between more traditional financial institutions and the “young” and hungry startups. We have started to see some great tie-ups in the market, with more traditional players helping newer companies mature, whilst at the same time freshening up their own approach and launching some really exciting products. I truly believe that genuine partnerships between compatible organisations can achieve great things for all involved.
If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you have done instead?
I would love to be in music production and indeed, one day, I may well still give this a shot. Whilst not necessarily having the level of talent required to be a professional musician (or, at the very least, the time to explore whether I could acquire it), I am genuinely fascinated by the methods, technologies and techniques used in bringing sources of music together to create a rich tapestry of sound.