News & Views / Milestones: Celebrating 25 years of Nick Sime at Jaywing
20 May 2024

Milestones: Celebrating 25 years of Nick Sime at Jaywing


“I joined Jaywing as Senior Consultant in 1999, although I could’ve been called ‘only consultant’ back then”, Nick laughs, “Yeah, for the first 6 months, I was employee of the month every month.”

Last week, we sat down with Jaywing’s Director of Fraud and Credit Risk Modelling, Nick Sime, to celebrate his 25 years with the consultancy - reflecting on his journey, how this landscape has transformed over the years, and some of his proudest moments.

Nick began his career in financial services at HSBC (then known as Midland Bank) working as an Analyst within the Credit & Risk team. Commenting on his time at HSBC, Nick said, “They threw me straight into it, building application scorecards for them right from the start. It was a brilliant learning experience.”

At HSBC he worked with Andy Gardner who would leave to work for first direct and turned to Nick to head up their team of analysts. “That was a broader role, our team at first direct was responsible for the delivery of models for marketing, credit, and fraud that spanned the customer lifecycle.” He continues, “first direct was in its infancy, the business was growing, the environment was buzzing and it was a great place to be.”

In 1996, however, while scorecards were developed and used, they were primarily leveraged in credit. Nick smiled, “The project we did at first direct decimated fraud and drove huge savings. It was nice to do something that, to my knowledge, no one else was doing. No one really spoke about fraud scorecards back then.”

As Nick continued to expand his experience and knowledge of credit risk and fraud prevention in his professional life – in his personal life, he welcomed his son, Nathan, in 1998.

Nick comments, “I wasn’t spending as much time with him as I wanted to. So, when Andy presented me with the opportunity to join a consultancy he was forming in conjunction with Martin Boddy, the chance to work across multiple sectors, whilst working from home….well, that was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Looking back at my journey, and how things have turned out, I have much to thank Andy for in particular!”

Of course, joining a start-up is not for the faint hearted, Nick commented “It was a risk, lots of start-ups fail, but I had confidence in both of them, and myself.”

"WFH was uncommon back then, and the technology to enable this was in embryonic stages of development. Nick looks back “Yeah, bandwidth was limited, at the start we were reliant on ISDN dial-up connections, but we made things work. It seems unfathomable that we were able to do so without the technology we have become so reliant on today”.

This confidence was well placed and Jaywing, initially known as Redeye, achieved multiple business wins and expanded steadily.

Of course, not everything was done from home. Jaywing’s first office was in a terraced property on a side street in the centre of Wakefield, located next to a taxi rank and a tattoo parlour. Nick laughs, “I don’t recall too many clients being invited to our office, but it provided a great space for our growing team to get together, share ideas, and socialise.”

Jaywing remained a private entity for several years until it was acquired by the (then named) Digital Marketing Group in 2007.

Nick recalls “The culture at Jaywing could not have been further removed from corporate life, without the barriers of red tape or bureaucracy slowing us down. The team were trusted to deliver, and we did”.

The success story at Jaywing went from strength to strength. “The business grew rapidly, and Andy & Martin were always keen to reward the team. They certainly knew how to celebrate success!”

The change in ownership structure, inevitably resulted in the introduction of more structure and controls, and this was expected as the company grew scale as part of a publicly listed entity. Despite these growing pains, the underlying cultural values of the company remained true, as they do today.

With 25 years of service under his belt, and the successful delivery of so many engagements, it is difficult for Nick to pinpoint specific highlights.

Back in 2004, Nick was heavily involved in the ‘Jaywing Fraud Syndicate’, whereby a dozen or so high street banks pooled application fraud data, and Jaywing developed models for them.

“This initiative was ground-breaking as the syndicate members were all deploying application fraud models for the first time. The volume of fraud records was insufficient for many to build their own fraud scorecards independently, and so data sharing was invaluable."

"Through our ongoing engagement with the banks, and monitoring of the models we could see the impact the models had on their losses. Indeed, it was satisfying to have helped orchestrate a cooperation between lenders to fight a common enemy”.

A big part of the appeal of working at Jaywing for Nick has been the conveyor belt of fresh challenges that comes with new clients and projects. Presiding over many model builds, strategy reviews, and model validations has provided the breadth of experience not always available working client-side.

One of the biggest changes Nick has seen during his time at Jaywing has been the adoption of AI/ML models. He comments, “I think the analytical community knew there must be a better way of building models than through simple linear regression. It was pleasing that Jaywing were ahead of the curve in this space, with the development of Archetype our bespoke platform for the development of explainable Deep Learning Neural Networks in 2017”.


Whilst the Fintech and Challenger Bank organisations are keen to gain the competitive advantage afforded by AI/ML, the Tier 1 banks seem more hesitant. Nick thinks this will change. “The larger banks tend to move quite slowly, hindered by legacy systems, and governance processes that seemingly move at glacial speeds. This can be frustrating for us as agents of change. However, we are seeing signs of change and only last week we helped a large UK bank deploy their first AI/ML model into PowerCurve!”.

Indeed Archetype, has won multiple industry awards. This year, he and the team are also finalists for “Excellence in Fraud Prevention” at the Credit Awards, with the winner to be announced on June 18th. Reflecting on the impactful work, Nick states, "When clients truly need your help, that's when you know you're making the biggest difference. For larger clients not managing their data and systems well the savings that can be made are eye watering."

When asked why he’s stayed at Jaywing so long, he responded, “The culture within Jaywing has always been a big factor. I've valued working alongside long-term friends & colleagues, Ben (O’Brien) and Malc (Clifford) to name a couple."

"That spirit of being friendly, cooperative, and supportive – it’s always been true. Even 25 years down the line, that energy is still there."

When asked about his career goals moving forward, beyond continuing being at the forefront of our modelling efforts in fraud & credit risk, he expresses the sense of fulfilment he feels from mentoring our consultants, analysts, and our placement students.

“The next generation is sharp and quick. They’re smart people with excellent problem-solving skills. But, sometimes, bright, analytical minds don’t always communicate what they’ve done clearly – or in a way that everybody can understand. This can prevent their work from being fully recognised and appreciated. I want to help them develop their softer skills and teach how to create a clear narrative so that the impacts of the excellent analytical work can be fully understood and appreciated by business owners. Knowing that any skills I can share might be used by the next generation for many years will ultimately feel like a satisfying legacy”.

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