Interview with Johan Røthe, newly appointed CEO of FCG Norway
You recently joined FCG as the new CEO of Norway. How has your first month at FCG been?
It has been a highly intense first month with mainly internal focus, getting to know the team, understanding the business and optimizing the operations in Norway. We have a very dedicated and proficient team of risk and regulatory experts and together, we have focused on establishing a solid platform for the years to come. Business wise, it has been a great start and we delivered our best month ever, and a promising pipeline going forward. I am very proud of the team and what they have accomplished during the month I have been here.
Why did you decide to join FCG?
I’ve been following FCG for a long time, keeping FCG on my radar. FCG has developed exceptionally high standard service offerings and products, which are very useful for financial services companies and, from my experience, fits very well with the needs of the financial services industry in Norway.
In addition, I appreciate FCG’s business model and the way FCG includes and involves employees in running the business as well as providing an opportunity of ownership in FCG through a fairly broad equity investment programme. It is a natural and logical way forward when we practice empowerment and expect every employee to take responsibility for the whole company. In my opinion, it’s a modern and future proofed model compared to traditional consulting business models where the rewards might be less evenly distributed.
FCG is an independent advisory firm, not limited by audit regulations and the associated conflicts of interest with advisory services. When engaging advisors and consultants, this is an important aspect to consider. Also, FCG is entirely focused on the financial services industry, providing extremely specialized experts within their field, which gives them a definite competitive advantage.
What are the key customer segments for FCG in Norway and what does FCG support them with?
FCG’s customers basically is the entire financial services industry, from insurance companies and banks to fund companies and asset managers. Any company operating under a license from the Financial Supervisory Authority is within the customer base.
We have a complete service offering within governance, risk and compliance, which is leading edge in many aspects and very relevant to our customers. I am very proud to be able to offer our expertise and tech solutions to the Norwegian market.
Historically, I have worked with a wide span of issues within the risk and regulatory area, and I have seen the challenge for my customers to constantly stay in control and keep track of all the regulatory changes and updates. This is a challenge for all parties within the heavily regulated financial services sector. When I joined FCG I was surprised to see how far FCG had come in developing solutions to facilitate this issue. Our regulatory monitoring solution, RegEye, provides the customer with an easy access to all critical regulatory updates in one place and enables customers to efficiently assess and classify changes impacting their operations. In addition, FCG’s contract lifecycle management system, Oasys, came as an especially positive surprise. It’s a straightforward and effective solution helping our customers to get in control of all outsourcing arrangements and agreements and fulfill both the internal and the external requirements on governance and control. I know from experience that many customers are concerned over their outsourcing arrangements and find it hard to govern and manage them properly. Now we can offer them an efficient and useful tool to help solve this.
What makes FCG different from other GRC consultancies in the market?
FCG’s high degree of expertise and specialization is a major differentiator from other GRC companies in the market. In order to stay relevant, you need to invest time and effort to follow the development in the market, update your know-how and invest in developing your expertise with a long-term perspective. This is hard to achieve in a traditional set-up where the business model focuses on maximizing billable time, simply because it makes it hard to set aside sufficient time to stay updated and still be on the forefront of the development. FCG is characterized by a higher degree of long-term investment in our expertise, which makes FCG an attractive workplace for a specialist.
As the CEO, what are your ambitions for FCG in Norway? Where do you want FCG to be in three years’ time?
Our goal is to establish FCG as the leading risk and regulatory advisory services partner for the financial services industry in Norway. To achieve this, it is critically important for us to have the best experts in the industry. The CEO is perhaps the role with the single largest impact on an organization’s culture, and culture and values are the platform upon which we build a sound and successful business. I like to think of the CEO role more as a cultural executive officer, it reflects my responsibility better. The “Chief” is fading away as the new generation of employees expect a considerable higher involvement in business decisions and governance, and my experience is that culture is their number one priority when choosing an employer. At FCG, we can offer a competitive advantage as an employer through our unique culture and work environment. We will always strive to continuously improve our work environment.
What are the three most important things you will focus on in 2022?
The primary focus is to continue strengthening the work environment and culture, creating a workplace which is attractive for our employees. As a consulting firm, both our customers and employees now expect much higher standards and attractive work environment with high work ethics.
Our second focus is to build our brand awareness in Norway, spreading knowledge in the market of our competence, and getting our potential customers to know FCG and how we can support them.
The third focus is to reach out to our existing and potential customers and present our full service offering. We strive to create customer value in every meeting, regardless if it turns into an assignment or not. To us, the most important thing is to contribute to a sound financial services industry and share our knowledge and insight, not to maximize sales short term. It is critically important to us to maintain a high level of integrity, to be able to provide our customers with the best possible advice regardless of the outcome for FCG.
What are the key challenges facing the Financial Services Industry in Norway the coming couple of years?
I think many would have answered this question by naming one of the coming regulations, but I don’t think that reflects the underlying challenges. The key concern facing the financial services companies short- and mid-term is to ensure the capacity and competence required by the high speed of regulatory development. Relevant competence is a scarce resource, simply because there are not enough persons available in the market with competence and experience within the risk and regulatory area. Companies may find it relatively easy to respond to a specific regulatory change but keeping up with the entire area is an altogether much greater challenge. Regulations might set limitations but with the right competence and capacity it can also provide opportunities.