16 Sep 2021

News

Introducing our new Head of Compliance…

One of the newest members to #TeamHE is Richard Esney, who has joined us as Head of Compliance. His career (so far!) including 14 years with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, makes him the perfect fit for our ever-growing team.

In this blog, we find out a bit more about Richard - including some of his career highlights, why he chose Harding Evans and his interesting taste in sports teams!

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I live in Burry Port (just outside Llanelli) with my wife Claire and our two sons, Arthur (6 years) and Stanley (2 years). I’m lucky enough to live by the sea with wonderful views across to the Gower.

It is chaos at home with two little ones, so I am relieved to have my own office in Harding Evans where I’m treated to some peace and quiet!

I’m an avid sports fan, with a particular interest in Rugby and Football (Scarlets and Arsenal). I am doing my best to brainwash my 6-year-old to follow the same – initial signs are positive.

What was it that attracted you to a career in Compliance?

The variety!

In my 14 years with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, I travelled the length and breadth of England & Wales to investigate a whole range of issues, including thefts of client money, money laundering and a variety of frauds. No investigation was the same, but it was always fascinating to see how solicitors and their staff reacted to me when I turned up at their firm, often without any advance notice. I’d see the full range of human emotions in a nanosecond.

I’d also be required to give evidence at Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal regularly. That’s something I really enjoyed. I’ve been crossed examined by some of the leading QCs in the field – that was always an interesting experience and something you can’t fail to learn from.

Do you have a career highlight?

There are some real standout moments from my time as Forensic Investigator. Fundamentally my role was to protect the public, which meant making sure that clients weren’t being taken advantage of.

I recall one particular investigation were the solicitor was overcharging clients on an industrial scale. The clients were under the impression that they hadn’t been charged a penny, when the reality was the solicitor had cleaned out entire estates. Following my investigation we intervened into that firm; the solicitor was struck-off and referred it to the Police. He ended up being sentenced to 7 years in prison. We don’t know the full extent of the thefts, but we believe it was in excess of £2million. Making sure that someone like that isn’t able to steal from vulnerable people was very satisfying.

This definitely wasn’t an isolated case unfortunately.

Describe a typical day as Head of Compliance…

Varied (which is good!).

There are days I get home and I can’t really remember what I’ve done, but I know I’ve been busy. I’m currently getting to grips with the firm’s processes, as well as continuing to get to know everyone.

I’ve been meeting with the various Heads of Department to better understand how HE currently deals with issues such as supervision of work and identification of clients (requirements of the Code of Conduct). I’m also reviewing our policies to see if anything needs amending.

I have ad hoc queries about matters of ethics, such as conflicts of interest queries and have some input into complaints. We are also implementing a new IT system so I’m contributing to that from a compliance perspective.

I’m also looking at issues relating to the firm’s money laundering policies so will be reviewing some files to make sure our existing policies are being complied with. I’d also like to do some general training for the firm, perhaps highlighting some of the main regulatory issues that affect us. As part of this I’m also preparing a compliance bulletin which documents some issues that have arisen across the industry.

So I’d describe it as varied….!

What attracted you to Harding Evans?

It’s a firm with a fantastic reputation in South Wales.

I was well aware of Harding Evans from my time working in private practice. It felt like a perfect fit for me even before I’d been interviewed for the role. After meeting some of the owners/key people the decision to join was a no-brainer.

The firm is investing heavily in the back office function, including HR, Finance and Compliance. I would describe it as “futureproofing” the firm and I’m strongly of the view that Harding Evans can be whatever it wants to be. I’m really happy to be on board.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career similar to your own?

Immerse yourself in what you are doing. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.

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