Nida Rahimi-Naeem here! I’m back with another blog in the RegChats with Nida series where I catch up with RegTech luminaires who are paving the way for women in our industry in more ways the one. 

In the latest in the series I had the pleasure of talking to Katie Willis, Group Head of Compliance for the AIMS Group where we spoke about hot trends, the RegTech world and advice to other RegTech women.

Nida: Hello, tell us about yourself and your role? 

Katie: Hi, I’m Kate Willis, I’m the Group Head of Compliance for the AIMS Group. We are a group of companies that provide access to financial services for those in the Crypto-Currency and Gambling space. We have two operating businesses; AIMS Markets is a Crypto-Currency to fiat trading desk, providing liquidity services to corporates and high net worth individuals; and AIMS Financial is a Payments Institution where we provide corporate payment accounts to businesses.

Nida: What trends and opportunities are you seeing in RegTech right now?

Katie:  I’m seeing a real swing towards providing better opportunities for women, as well as changes in technologies improving how we do our compliance processes. There is a real opportunity to come in and make an impact and be heard now. There are also more women around to support each other, and we are more vocal than ever before in different elements of financial services. For me that is the real appeal of the industry at the moment.

I recently went to an event in Estonia within the crypto, gambling and gaming industry where I was surrounded by founders and CEOs of some of the largest gaming and crypto operators in the world. I was brought there to be a compliance mind within the space, and for them to talk with about financial services, irrespective of industry. I was able to discuss AML, Counter-Terrorist Financing and how they could potentially improve their own processes, as well as considering their roles and responsibilities. That was a really different and interesting environment, as it was one which normally would have been intimidating perhaps as a woman. I felt empowered, trusted and above all respected.

Nida: Tell us about your role specifically in the RegTech space?

Katie: I work with our project, technology and operations teams to build the best processes across both our businesses, which are compliant too (obviously!). Part of that is looking into different technologies that we can use to automate or streamline our processes, as well as the ways we can improve the customer journey, and how we can use technology to do that, which in turn makes our customers' lives better. Particularly in my industry, the customers are considered high risk and tend to have really difficult and drawn-out experiences in financial services. My main role is to see how we can use regulations and compliance, and of course our strong and experienced team, to make all of that come together and make a really good customer experience for all of those who have never had that before.

Nida: What one thing would make the RegTech world a better place?

Katie: Wow, good question!  It’s really important to me, working in this industry, that I see people who are relatable and inspiring, and who can show me that I can have a journey within it. For me, that is a really prominent base such as RegTech Women, where I can see women who are like me and who have done well, and who can help further my career, or who help and develop other people’s careers. I am really keen on doing this within AIMS, when we look at hiring and the type of people we are hiring, and specifically how we can show women we will approach things differently. I think that message needs to be wider in the community, and they need to be really open to looking at how they’re hiring, how they are offering job progression, and looking at how they’re portraying women in their industry so that women aren’t afraid to join it – that’s what I’m really passionate about.

For me, I really enjoy working in this industry and want to make it better. I want more people to know they can join it and really enjoy it too.

Nida: What advice would you give to your fellow RegTech women about succeeding as a woman in the industry?

Katie: Pretend to be a man! (No!) All jokes aside, the actual piece of advice I would give is to know when you deserve respect and know the quality of your work. There are times in my career and in my past where I’ve doubted myself because of the way others around me have treated me. My advice to other women is to know your value and if you’re not getting the respect and value you deserve, then don’t be afraid to move on.

I think a lot of the time and in the experience of those around me, I’ve seen women (including myself) trying to stay in roles because we think “it will get better” and do things to try and make change, and even when that’s not working, we think – ‘well at least they value my work’! And that is not always the case.

Valuing yourself and knowing what you deserve is the best way to progress, because as soon as you start doing so, you demonstrate that to other people and they can recognise that you value yourself and in turn you get the respect you deserve. So, if you question yourself, it gives them a reason to question you.

Nida: Thank you, Katie!

Speaking to Katie was awesome, fresh off her work trip from Estonia it’s exciting to see how much synergy and cross over there is in regulation in uncharted territories such as Crypto and Gambling and to have strong women leading that change. Her sense of humour is infectious, it’s safe to say she’s a huge advocate for female empowerment. Here’s a summary of the key nuggets of information I gleaned from our conversation.

Nida’s takeaways:

  • Super interesting to see the systemic shift in RegTech and compliance and how its branching out further into Crypto- Currency and gambling, you can see this wave irrespective of industry.
  • Katie makes a great point about diversity in the RegTech space.
  • The portrayal of women and industry and opening it the wider community would really make the RegTech world include and in turn more diverse.
  • I couldn’t agree with Kate more on valuing yourself and knowing what you deserve which in turn allows other people to respect your value.  

Make sure you tune in for our next guest blog! 

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