GlobalFintechSeries Interview with Charles Delingpole, Founder and CEO at ComplyAdvantage
Charles Delingpole, Founder and CEO at ComplyAdvantage talks about the changing Customer Onboarding experience that financial institutions are adapting to and how the need for faster, seamless digital experiences will push fintechs to innovate across facets of a company in this chat:
Charles, tell us about yourself…How has the journey been since starting ComplyAdvantage; can you share a couple of key highlights from the company’s time in-market so far?
I am the founder and CEO of ComplyAdvantage, a leading source of AI-driven financial crime risk data and detection technology; when ComplyAdvantage first went to market, we were able to offer robust coverage of sanctions and politically exposed persons. As we have grown, we have been able to dive deeper into the connections across sanctions, watchlists, politically exposed persons (PEPs), relatives and close associates (RCAs), and adverse media.
Today, we operate across four global hubs. We have built key relationships with some of the world’s largest financial institutions and fintechs. Key highlights include, but are not limited to, onboarding our very first set of customers, new functionality that incorporates local languages and additional data connections, and being honored as a technology pioneer by the World Economic Forum.
What are some of the near-term plans and innovations you have planned for the platform? How are you seeing the impact of the Covid19 pandemic create a new demand for improved features and capabilities (and what kind) to help financial institutions protect against fraud / crime?
We have had an ambitious mission from the start. We plan to accelerate the development of our industry-leading data and suite of products to serve institutions with diverse clients and complex risk exposure.
With many businesses and bank branches closed due to Covid-19, criminals have had to change how they launder funds. Additionally, various government bailouts and loans have created a flurry of criminal activity. Finally, financial institutions and fintechs faced their own challenges transitioning to remote work and working through Covid-19-related sick leave. All of that created more demand for anti-money laundering technology — specifically, technology that can adapt with changing environments.
In what ways are financial crimes evolving in today’s digital marketplace and as a result of threats becoming so common and varied- how do you predict the marketplace for providers focused on wiping out financial crime will shape up?
Criminals are constantly looking for new ways to bypass AML and KYC checks. They will utilize cybercrime, exploit Covid-19-related government relief, recruit money mules, and target unregulated sectors. There is an increased demand for AML technology that can adapt with changing environments. Legacy providers cannot innovate fast enough using their existing tech stack. This is a wake-up call for the market and the industry. I think two things will happen:
- Financial institutions and fintechs will prioritize innovative vendors over legacy name brands.
- Legacy providers will look towards mergers and acquisitions to compete in the future market.
In what ways have you seen the Covid-19 pandemic impact the global fintech segment? How according to you will fintech as an industry experience a shift now because of the evolving user trends due to the pandemic?
Covid-19 has continued to emphasize the need for a digital-first financial sector. From digital end-to-end onboarding to faster digital transactions, the fintech sector will continue to push the boundaries of technology and customer experience.
Covid-19 has also created a heightened awareness of the risk of doing business. Executives will look to make their business model recession-proof, but they’ll also look at all of the ways they can mitigate risk while growing at impressive rates. For many, this means investing in innovative technology to streamline operations, including compliance operations.
What would you consider or say are the top challenges for fintechs / financial institutions in today – and your top tips for overcoming them.
- Compliance: While regulators have released Covid-19-related guidance for financial institutions and fintechs, they still expect protocols to be followed and adequate measures to be put in place. Invest in innovative technology and continual training for evolving risk management.
- Partnerships: Wirecard rocked fintechs around the world when they filed for insolvency. While the scandal is unique (billions of dollars missing), it is not a new lesson. Financial institutions and fintechs need to continue assessing their existing partnerships to determine if the vendors pose a risk to their growth, operations, and regulatory compliance.
- Innovation: With Covid-19 putting a strain on resources for many companies, sandboxes and stealth projects may be put on hold while resources are allocated to money-making activities. While it is important to keep a business growing, it is also important to look beyond 2020. Prioritize keeping innovation alive even if it is on a smaller scale than before.
The top 3 things that come to mind when it comes to fraud prevention
Fraud is a predicate offense to money laundering. Where money laundering questions where the money came from, fraud looks at the reality of the money. What works for one financial institution or fintech may not work for another. In general, three things come to mind:
- A data-agnostic transaction monitoring system that allows organizations to apply rules against suspicious behavior.
- Cross-training for AML- and fraud-related issues.
- When onboarding, and throughout the relationship, screening for fraud-related adverse media at a local and international level.
A few last minute thoughts on leading through a crisis…
The world has already changed forever due to Covid-19. It has forced legacy companies to modernize at speed. Many have made mistakes. Employees have been backed into corners and used forbidden IT solutions to do their jobs. But these issues will be ironed out. Executives and investors don’t look at tomorrow. They look at the long term. The world will emerge from Covid-19 with key lessons in communication, adaptability, and resilience.
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