I came across an interesting analysis of financial disclosure rates by regions around the world. The blog, written by Mark Bodnar, a librarian at Simon Fraser University (British Colombia), observed limited financial disclosure in North America and much of AsiaPac, but broader financial availability in Europe.
Of the 18 million North American companies covered, only about 35,000 have detailed financials. That’s about 0.19%. Those would be from the relatively rare cohort of publicly traded companies we mentioned earlier. The other 99.81% of the companies are privately held, and in North America that means that they are under almost no obligation to reveal their financials.
Compare that to Western Europe, where about 10 million of their 30 million companies in the database have detailed financials…
Oceania (incorporating AUS, NZ, and many wonderful island nations) is also down around 0.2%, largely because there are detailed financials for only about 0.15% of the companies based in the biggest country in the region, Australia.
While none of this would be a surprise to people in the business information sector, it was a good way to surface the information for students and non-experts. European countries have a long history of requiring non-public (aka non-quoted or non-listed) companies to publicly file annual returns. The depth of filing varies by country and size of company, but Europe has a deep set of financials available to assist with credit and supplier risk analysis, prospecting, company research, KYC/AML, and market analytics.
In the US, disclosure is limited to public companies, non-profits, and financial services companies. Of these, only public company financials, which are filed via EDGAR (SEC), are fully transparent with few accessing state insurance filings, IRS 990 filings (non-profits), or the FDIC (banks).
I would take the author’s analysis of countries with deepest coverage of financials with a grain of salt. It is likely that many of the countries with the highest disclosure rates have limited coverage of companies not subject to financial disclosure. Furthermore, some of the filing regimes do not require financials for smaller companies.
UK business information vendor DueDil partnered with CallCredit Information Group for an enhanced KYC (Know Your Customer) service. The new API service provides real-time access to company, director, and beneficial ownership data to expedite onboarding and financial compliance.
“This service provides a one-stop-shop for a business’s identification and verification needs,” said Alan Golob, CallCredit Data Solutions Director. “By combining Callcredit’s data, industry knowledge and first line support capabilities with DueDil’s data and development expertise, we’ve created a service that will fully integrate into a client’s system or work as a standalone tool. Advancements in regulatory requirements have caused many businesses to reassess their processes and checks, and this solution answers this need.”
“Compliance is not only a regulatory requirement, it is the heart of every resilient business,” said DueDil CEO Damian Kimmelman. “This can only be achieved by having a true and comprehensive profile of the customers that you are dealing with. Customers of our new service will have the comfort of knowing that they can make KYC checks in a simple, automated way through a platform which is underpinned by one of Europe’s largest company information sources. Enhanced due diligence checks should form part of a balanced risk-based approach and can help organisations assess customers and meet regulatory requirements.”
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates and discuss topics including artificial intelligence and risk tools they are integrating into their social selling service. This is the second in a series of interview excerpts I am publishing this week. On Monday, Andrew discussed Artesian’s 2016 entry to the US market.
Michael: You have recently begun to introduce AI capabilities into your platform.
Andrew: What we’ve done in our first incarnation of bot-driven AI is we’ve created something that we call an “insight agent” that, through an API into Salesforce, can build you a view of threats and opportunities within your pipeline. Which, in itself, is pretty damn useful; much more useful than a forecast report or a dashboard which is the way you see it in Salesforce today. Then we’ll lay out all of those deals by stage and value and overlay today’s new social and demographic context on top. That’s pretty useful.
With the latest release, we’ve created a bot which literally reads and interprets the news in relation to the stage of the sales process that you’re at. And, where it sees a particular trigger that has meaning in relationship to a particular stage, it flags that. Most organizations have implemented the concepts of sale stages when they’ve implemented CRM.
Typically, when I ask somebody, “how many stages do you have?” They’ll say, “between five and seven.” The system automatically builds you a view depending on how you’re implementing Salesforce, however many stages you’ve implemented and what you call them. Then what the bot does, is it crawls all over the news looking for things that could impact those opportunities at the stage they are at.
Let’s say, I’ve got a six-stage process where stage six is closed and stage five is a negotiation. Artesian’s insight agent finds out about a CIO who has left the business. The insight agent will notify the user that there’s a potential problem with the deal in their pipeline. The agent will tell them why there is a problem and how it’s been categorized. There’s half a dozen next-best actions that we bundle up with the insight as we deliver it. That’s our first attempt at taking the concept of machine-based learning and natural language processing, combining it with an AI bot, and trying to make that useful for customers.
We’ve introduced the ability for the user to customize their own topics, keywords, and trigger events. We offer a bunch out of the box, and we also wrap a managed service around it and easy implementation to every customer.
We’re also seeing a lot of activity in the “RegTech/RiskTech” arena with the growth of cybercrime and terrorism, and the sensitivity around regulation of any financial, FCA [UK Financial Control Authority] regulated [business]. There are regulations that organizations need to comply with. We’re increasingly being asked by our financial services customers, particularly the banks, to get deeper into being able to provide those capabilities inside of Artesian.
Organizations want to mitigate risks. They want to fall within the arena of whatever the regulation is and comply with the law, but they also want to exploit the technology as best they can to make sure they write the best business that they can. We’re doing some work at the moment in conjunction with one of our demographic data suppliers. What we’re looking to do is extend the capabilities in Artesian to provide some of the capabilities that our customers are asking for in the RegTech / RiskTech environment. We’re going to introduce risk agents. Risk agents look at the real-time present and it looks at the past. It specifically looks at things that are in-line with the regulations and also in-line with the stated risks that the customer has mapped out.
What that translates into is a service that is not only compelling in terms of customer acquisition, customer retention, and yield, but also compelling from a kind of, you don’t go to jail if you’re using Artesian because it’s doing the regulation and risk job for you as well.
Michael: When you say risk app, are you talking more about supplier risk, compliance risk, credit, reputational?
Andrew: There are 40 or 50 pretty big companies doing this thing already. What we’re talking about is company-centric intelligence, but also the people associated with that company and the intelligence that we’ll need to derive around whether something is risky or not. It could be the performance of a business. It could be some adverse news in relation to that performance. Or it could be that an individual who has a beneficial ownership, more than a 5% stake in a business, happens to be on a naughty list in terms of the PEP [Politically Exposed Persons] or sanctions.
At the moment, we have risk triggers in the opportunity view. They’re not compliance risk triggers. If you’re going to a client, they need to know about key beneficial ownership.
Michael: Is that part of the opportunity view or is that a new type of view?
Andrew: A new type of view. We have risk triggers in the opportunity view, but they’re not compliance risk triggers. If you go into a bank, they need to know about beneficial ownership, adverse news going back three years, PEP, sanctions, real-time alerts from stock exchanges. None of that is feasible within a generic instance of Salesforce.com in an opportunity view.
Michael: It sounds you’re looking to move beyond the sales and marketing teams to start to get to into things like onboarding, KYC [Know Your Customer], AML [Anti-money Laundering], PEP, and other compliance aspects that really go into monitoring of clients as well as the initial onboarding.
Andrew: Yes, if you go back to the whole customer curious mantra and deep relationship management, we like to say that we put the R back into CRM. We are all about that relationship.
The conversations we are having with our large customers would indicate we are on the right track with that.
The interview will be continuing over the next few days with discussions of what it means to be a “customer curious” business and how Artesian maintains a very high engagement rate amongst its users. Monday’s blog discussed Artesian’s 2016 entry into the US market.
Bureau van Dijk rolled out the latest set of enhancements to its Orbis company research and financial analysis platform. Orbis was re-platformed last year and given a modern user interface. New features include a document ordering module, improved peer reporting, and enhanced customization. The new document ordering module assists with KYC/AML and company research by delivering original images of business documents, such as certificates of incorporation, shareholders’ details, and annual reports. The new module was built in partnership with aRMadillo (FKA RM Online) and delivers reports “usually within an hour.” Users can even order reports for companies not found in the Orbis database.
Customization features include calculated variables which can be shared across the account group, chapters, and classifications.
“The new interface arranges company reports into “books” that are further organised into “chapters”, that contain related information,” said CMO Louise Green. “This feature lets you create your own customised chapters, which could include: your company logo or other images; widgets from the profile page; worksheets with selected financials; and any of your own fields that you have imported into Orbis.”
Custom classifications allow users to map their own industry and geographic codes to ORBIS data.
DueDil, which provides financial research and sales intelligence services for the UK and Europe, named Alan Millard as its Chairman. Millard is a consultant for the Table Group and has worked with CEOs and executives at IBM, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, SABmiller, and GSK. Previously, Millard was the COO at Hiscox UK and CEO of its subsidiary Hiscox Underwriting.
“Alan is helping us transition from a founder led team to an executive led organization,” said DueDil founder and CEO Damian Kimmelman. “He brings with him the eye of the customer which is so critical as we scale. I am honoured to have him on board guiding our global ambitions.”
DueDil recently expanded its database beyond the UK and Ireland to provide company coverage of France, Germany, Benelux, and the Nordics. However, they are already talking about a true global dataset to rival Dun & Bradstreet and Bureau van Dijk. By the end of the year, they expect to offer pan-European coverage and begin to extend their reach to additional global markets. Thus, their database will grow from 11 million companies at the beginning of the year to 40 million companies in March and 100 million by the end of the year. Their goal is to be the “largest source of private company information in the world,” said COO Justin Fitzpatrick.
“A more open business world is essential to global growth and prosperity. DueDil is already the largest and richest source of private company information in the U.K., and one of the largest in Europe. We are on an incredible journey to cover over 200 million companies globally by the end of 2018. I am excited to be part of a company that genuinely improves the business landscape and encourages growth and trade,” said Millard.
“Our mission at DueDil is to create the largest source of private company information to help businesses to find opportunity and mitigate risk,” stated DueDil CRO Pierre Berlin at DueDil’s recent Spotlight user conference. “We help businesses in the digital transformation. Leveraging it by transforming the business relationship with the key stakeholder in the organization. Our value proposition at DueDil is to make your business more agile [and] resilient, by providing access to the richest information on the company that matters to you.”
According to Fitzpatrick, DueDil will accomplish their mission via superior data, new insight, and automation.
Along with expanded geographic coverage, DueDil is extending its Know Your Customer (KYC) checks to include beneficial ownership, UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) registration data, and adverse media coverage. According to the FCA, it “regulates and supervises the conduct of more than 50,000 firms in the UK that provide financial products and services to both UK and international customers.”
In March, DueDil also announced an upgraded API that supports a host of functions including opportunity identification, risk mitigation, auto-populating sign up forms, data enrichment, and verifying credentials during customer onboarding.
The API also supports a new partnership with consumer information vendor CallCredit. The partners “will offer an integrated solution for verifying a business and the people who run it,” said DueDil Product Marketing Manager Sam Hockley. Initially the consumer information will only be available via the DueDil API.
Dun & Bradstreet unveiled a new Beneficial Ownership product to assist with client onboarding and back-book remediation of current customers. The service helps determine who are the ultimate benefactors of each transaction. Beneficial Ownership assists with legal compliance including Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering, Politically Exposed Persons (PEP), and sanctions lists monitoring. Overall, there are around a dozen relevant regulations concerning beneficial ownership with different thresholds for research. By automating these checks, which have historically required manual research teams, Dun & Bradstreet is reducing time, expense, and risk (e.g. credit, supplier, reputational) while expediting the client onboarding process.
“Compliance teams are challenged to manage third-party due diligence, Anti-Money Laundering, Know Your Customer and tax compliance regulations through manual processes that can be costly and inefficient,” said Brian Alster, Dun & Bradstreet’s Global Head of Supply and Compliance. “By harnessing Dun & Bradstreet’s verified data with D&B Beneficial Ownership, the process can be easily automated to fast-track standard onboarding, helping companies relieve compliance burdens, and get back to driving growth.”
While family trees focus on controlling interest there are numerous legal reasons to look beyond controlling interest. These include onboarding and ongoing compliance (e.g. KYC, AML, PEP, sanctions) as well as company research relevant to conflicts of interest, supply chain risk, and vetting customers, partners, service providers, and resellers.
The new offering, which draws from the D&B WorldBase file of 265 million active and inactive company records, spans 62 countries and 71 million shareholders. D&B Beneficial Ownership is available through batch, real-time, and online access via the D&B Direct API or D&B Onboard. The service also delivers ownership change alerts and a visualization layer which displays a spider-web view of branches and loops of business structures. To assist with varying global requirements, users can query at different ownership thresholds. Both corporate and individual beneficial owners are assessed across 100 million plus connections.
With D&B Direct 2.0, API clients pass the company name which is DUNS Matched. The API then returns a detailed list of shareholders to the desired threshold including percent of ownership and loops (i.e. cross-ownerships).
Dun & Bradstreet collects shareholdings data from registered filings (mostly in Europe), direct research teams, and licensed data. Ownership data goes down to 0.1% ownership levels. Other compliance data includes PEP flags, sanctions lists (e.g. OFAC), and adverse media searches.
Beneficial Ownership intelligence is also important for companies with deep supply chains looking to prevent reputational risk and ensure a minimal level of ethical behavior amongst their subcontractors. Last May, Dun & Bradstreet launched a Human Trafficking Risk Index tool which helps firms avoid dodgy suppliers that may be using slave labor. The Human Trafficking Risk Index is the first in a series of “Responsible Business Analytics” products in their pipeline.