Isle of Man
We ask Juan about his journey as a governance professional
We ask Juan about his journey as a governance professional
My degree was in Law and Accountancy, neither of which I ultimately wanted to follow as a career. I liked the variety of subjects when studying for my degree but was frustrated at being given accountancy roles during my early career. ICSA was a natural route to a rounded professional qualification, which led to my first change in career direction. Little did I realise that more would follow, or that ICSA would give me skills to effortlessly do so.
How did I study?
I was lucky in that, when studying, all ICSA subjects were taught at the Isle of Man College, as it was then. Having been granted exemptions, I enrolled directly on to the professional stage. At the time of studying I had a young son, so I wanted to qualify as soon as I could. I studied two subjects a term, hoping to pass in two years. I took advantage of studying at college for the first three subjects, but then switched to studying from home because of my childcare commitments. I set aside two nights a week to read through the text books supplied. After an initial read though, I would read everything again to remember it, before going through the questions and past papers. I was very disciplined in doing so, but this might not necessarily be the best method for everybody as you do not get the same experience as studying at college. As a word of warning, the exams are very difficult. I was confident I knew my first subject inside out, but ended failing by 1-5%. I made sure I was fully prepared for the remainder of the course. If ever you can gain an exemption for a subject make sure you apply.
How long did it take?
I managed to complete the studies in two years but as I mentioned it was not easy. I was limited to two free nights a week to study and late in the evenings when close to the exams. I would recommend to anyone studying, certainly someone with a young family, that one subject a term is a sensible commitment in order to qualify. Some of the subjects do complement each other and for those it can make sense to double up.
Where did the qualification take you?
Shortly after undertaking my studies I joined a large Trust and Corporate Service Provider (TCSP) to undertake administration work. After 18 months the legislation changed and all IOM companies had to prepare financial statements. Because of my experience I was moved to the newly appointed accounts team. The team consisted of me and one other person with the remit to prepare financial statements for all the client entities, companies and trusts.
One evening I met an Advocate I knew who said he needed assistance with his small TCSP and practice. His TCSP had received an adverse Financial Supervision Commission (FSC, as it was) report with his previous Practice Manager having been arrested for serious fraud. My first job was to prepare a detailed report on the theft from the office account for the police, closely followed by working with the FSC to implement Anti Money Laundering manuals and ensure all client due diligence was undertaken and satisfactory. During, and once this work was complete I set about making the company profitable.
I then spent many years working in the TCSP industry before looking for a career change. When considering my next move a position as CEO of the Law Society became available. The Law Society naturally involves all aspects of Manx Law. The role is incredibly diverse and can involve meetings with the Department for Enterprise, representation on the Criminal Justice Board, various court user groups, meetings with the Cabinet Office including involvement in the national risk assessment and meetings with international representatives especially from the UK and EU, together with organising the Society’s internal committees, and attending meetings of the European branch of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association. I never managed to escape accounts entirely with accounts for the society and its own charitable trusts a part of my remit. Likewise I am still in charge of a small compliance team undertaking compliance visits, designated by the Financial Services Authority under the Designated Business legislation.
What advice would you give someone embarking on a career in Corporate Governance?
I would start by saying the qualification is very important and anyone employing a Governance Professional knows they are hiring a very capable member of staff. Once in a job, work hard gaining as much experience as you can throughout your company. Your qualification means you will be more adaptable in today’s market than many other professions. The recent change of name of the Institute reflects the modern Governance Professional and should assist employers when making recruitment decisions. As my career to date demonstrates, Chartered Governance Professionals have skills that are adaptable and highly valued by many different industries.
How did you get involved in the local Branch?
I was approached by an ex-colleague who was on the local branch and said that she would like me to join to assist with the redrafting of the constitution. When I joined I was presented with a constitution drafted for UK branches and in need of major changes to fit in with our requirements on the Island. After agreeing the new constitution with the branch members, the London Office were very supportive of the changes, which were then approved by the members. In addition to this work I have supported the main objective of the Council to run regular CPD events and promote the Institute. We have a new and enthusiastic Council to build on the work of our predecessors.
We are very keen on education and assisting our students in their studies. We have approached many employers to discuss how best to deliver support to students and will continue to work with local providers. We are also very keen to raise the profile of the profession and assist the Government in their many working groups and consultations.