Q and A with Shirley Clarke, Compliance Manager

1 Aug 2023

Shirley tells us about her dual English and Brazilian legal qualification, her experience as a senior complaints handler in a large retail bank and her plans to explore the UK by car now that she has passed her driving test

What is your role at Harbour Underwriting?

I am a compliance manager.

Can you briefly outline your career before you joined Harbour Underwriting?

I am a dual qualified solicitor (Brazilian and English) with over eight years’ experience in the financial services industry. Coming from a legal background, I was keen to expand my horizons beyond commercial litigation and I have since gone on to specialise in financial regulations and compliance having previously worked at Kroll before joining Harbour Underwriting in 2023.

What prompted you to go into the insurance industry?

As a regulatory consultant, I enjoyed delivering practical and long-terms solutions to clients ranging from small retail firms to multinational investment banks. However, I found it extremely rewarding to work in an advisory role while seconded to a global wealth management firm. I therefore knew that my next role would be an in-house industry role where I could support the business and provide focused advice on an ongoing basis.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

I enjoy owning and developing relationships at all levels and being a trusted advisor at Harbour Underwriting. I also find it exciting to work on a wide range of interesting workstreams from reviewing existing compliance and operational risk frameworks to keeping abreast of regulatory changes that might impact the business. Finally, it is empowering to be part of such collaborative team and more widely, be part of a growing firm that shares the same values and ethos.

Tell us about some of the most memorable events in your current career

I worked on a six-month project at a large retail bank as a senior complaints handler. As with most large-scale remediation programmes, the role typically involved a deep dive review of a number of allegations under tight deadlines. After reviewing and investigating complaints, I drafted complex reports and presented the findings to a decision committee. My focus was to provide sound recommendations and help the bank make the right decisions in relation to the appropriate level of redress (even in instances where the bank had adequately followed policies and procedures). It was overall the most intense six months of my career but the most memorable experience as I am proud to have been able to make a real impact for so many customers.

What are your ambitions in your current role?

My ambition is to continuously act as an integral part of the team in ensuring the firm’s upcoming growth plans. I am a keen advocate of supporting the firm to get the best out of the regulatory landscape changes and therefore I strive to ensure my work will help maximise value to Harbour Underwriting.

Who has been the most influential person in your career and how have they helped you?

I have been fortunate to have worked and continue to work with many inspiring people so it is hard to pick one. Examples of valuable advice that I was given include to always act with a strong code of integrity and to take responsibility for the firm’s conduct. I apply this advice on a daily basis as a compliance manager.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do? What qualities do they need?

Continuous training and professional development are key for a successful compliance officer. In terms of qualities they need, I would shortlist three: strong analytical skills, independence to deliver practical advice and the ability to build strong relationships.

What do you most enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy travelling and after having recently passed my UK driving test, I am looking forward to exploring the UK by car!

What is your guilty pleasure?

Enjoying the first real summer day without suncream.

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