Why the UK is an ideal base for Encompass as we continue to grow
Financial crime always creates victims, and governments continue to legislate to protect societies against perpetrators and the suffering they cause.
Just as we reduce risks of criminal activity in physical environments, for example, by ensuring public streets are well lit, in this Information age we reduce risk in commercial decision-making through transparent access to credible information.
Roger, my co-founder, and I, established Encompass with the purpose of applying technology to companies’ need to distil information sourced from multiple trusted sources into the facts needed to assess risks.
We founded our company in Sydney, and, while Australia continues to be one of our core locations and markets, we knew, even back then, that we had a global problem to solve. It was clear that our business, which now also spans the UK, Europe and Asia Pacific, would quickly have to become global, too.
In recent years, the UK has become a global hub for RegTech, with increasing innovation and dedication growing the industry. Having bases in Glasgow and London has allowed us to play our part in this, and brings benefits to Encompass that will be long lasting.
Size and complexity of the problem
As an international financial center, London vies with New York to be the center of global finance. It’s not just that London is the capital of a country with a larger GDP – it is a full-service center with advanced settlement and payments systems, and diverse sources and uses of funds. London operates at a fast pace of innovation, which we want to be part of, as it continually competes with other global financial centers.
The high volume and global nature of capital flows in and out of the city complicates the work of due diligence necessary to identify the people behind transactions.
Because they operate in a global center and are exposed to global risk, if firms offering financial services in London are to prevent themselves being used for financial crime, they must access information about companies and their owners from every corner of the world.
While in no way dismissing the due diligence challenges in a regional center such as Sydney, when Roger and I considered the purpose and goals we set ourselves at Encompass, we realised that a move to the UK would expose our team and our technology to stresses and challenges that would spur us to build world-class RegTech. And, as entrepreneurs, we are attracted to the value created in solving large and complex problems.
Regulatory engagement with innovation
While now a global phenomenon, RegTech was conceived in the UK. In his March 2015 report FinTech Futures, The UK as a World Leader in Financial Technologies, the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Mark Walport introduced the concept of RegTech, saying:
A key message is that the UK’s regulatory system is exemplary in recognising the interests of new players, disruptors and innovators, and serves as a model for other systems globally
Roger and I welcome the opportunity for Encompass to operate and grow within an ecosystem where financial regulators demonstrate a global outlook, progressive agendas and an appetite for innovation.
We have been part of key conversations with the likes of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as we look to the future and what that will mean for RegTech in the UK, and we look forward to continuing to offer our voice as the industry evolves.
Attracting key professionals
Looking at Scotland specifically, we see a great deal of talented professionals keen to work in the sector.
The Scottish Government works hard to attract companies through its national economic development agency and the Scottish Investment Bank. By motivating banks and other digital innovators to establish development centers, the government ensures a healthy supply of professionals skilled in modern technologies. Barclays, Santander and JP Morgan all have major operations within minutes of our Glasgow operation.
This core of digital experts is constantly supplemented by graduates and postgraduates from local universities, while experienced people looking for a better work/life balance are often attracted by Scotland’s lifestyle.
What I’ve shared here is just some of the points that make it clear to us that the UK has enduring value as a base for Encompass, and we are excited about the possibilities for growth already evident, as we work towards building our company further across the globe.