Encompass applies Robotics Process Automation to Know your customer. It is a unique offering for the Banking and Legal sectors. Co-founder of Encompass, Wayne Johnson speaks to Vedant Sangit on various aspects of the Regtech universe.
What exactly does Regulatory Technology mean to you?
“To me, regulatory technology is, quite simply, technology that optimizes regulatory processes. At encompass, that means automating the Know Your Customer (KYC) process for our clients so that they can get the full picture of their customers, fast.”
Brief overview about your product/service offering?
“One of the key challenges facing our customers today is the highly manual processes currently used to gather and analyse the information needed to conduct KYC and due diligence on new customers, and to ensure that risks are managed throughout the entire duration of that relationship.Using intelligent automation, encompass streamlines these manual processes, dynamically gathering and analysing data from multiple sources in line with a customer’s internal Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and KYC policies. Intelligent process automation offers multiple advantages over manual processes, including eliminating the risk of human error in data capture and analysis and significantly reducing the time and effort spent on low-skilled tasks. This frees up KYC analysts to focus on more complex investigations and decisions. Overall, encompass helps organisations by:
- Improving KYC quality and control
- Reducing operational costs associated with KYC and onboarding
- Improving the customer experience
- Reducing time to revenue”
What inspired you to build Encompass?
“Through personal experience, we know that access to the full picture can empower businesses to fight global financial crime. Prior to founding encompass, my co-founder (Roger Carson) and I built and exited other technology companies and had become investors ourselves.
“Roger and I have known each other and worked together for a long time, something which has been extremely valuable as we have built the business. We are aligned in our vision for the company and both share the same passion of helping our customers mitigate financial crime risk and do business better.”
One of those investments proved very costly when we became victims of financial crime. Frustratingly, information on the parties involved in the deal that would have flagged this risk was available, but inefficient, manual processes meant it was overlooked. With the full picture, we would have walked away from the deal. This experience led us to establish encompass with the mission of enabling regulated firms to comprehensively detect and prevent financial crime and reduce regulatory risk.”
How big is your team and who are the critical players ?
“We currently have offices in London, Glasgow, Sydney, Singapore and Hong Kong, employing more than 70 people, all of whom play a critical role. Building a successful business involves surrounding yourself with the very best people you can find and I am very fortunate to work with such a brilliant and committed team.”
What was the most critical aspect of your journey as founder of Encompass?
“It is difficult for any new business to find the right business model – the right mix of people, product, positioning and partners – that can deliver significant and sustained sales growth. In our case the market size is large and there is no identifiable market leader. Our challenge has been building the company to become that market leader.”
How did you overcome initial mindset challenges of the regulators?
“Regulators globally have made it clear that they encourage the use of technology to reduce the compliance burden. For many years, financial services firms expanded their compliance teams in order to cope with the increasing workload, but this has led to a number of challenges. With so many people involved in the KYC process, often based in offshore locations, effective oversight has become extremely difficult, if not impossible. The result is exposure to significant risk as KYC is inconsistently applied across an organisation’s customer base. This is especially true in the large, global banks that employ many thousands of analysts. This situation is unsustainable and that’s why regulators are encouraging the adoption of new technology. A good example is the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, who have created a regulatory sandbox that allows RegTech companies to work with banks in a safe environment to test and develop their solutions.”
Where do you see yourself in next three years?
“Since encompass operates in the AML and financial crime prevention sector, our business plays a part in the detection of funds used for terrorism, organised crime and human trafficking. Roger Carson, my co-founder, and I hope to build a great business that is both financially successful but also positive for society. In three years, I hope to have further expanded our global presence and significantly increased our client base.”
Have you built any consulting model for the consultants from different countries?
“We would explore the possibility of expanding into any region where we felt there was demand for our product, i.e. locations where there is stronger enforcement of financial crime laws. For example, we launched operations in Hong Kong and Singapore earlier this year to support a growth in demand for its automation solutions across East and South-East Asia.”