Being a Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) is a responsible job. Sometimes also referred to as a ‘nominated officer’, the person performing this role is required to police and, where relevant, report suspicious transactions relating to money laundering or financial crime to their relevant regulator. Failure to comply can lead to individuals facing serious sanctions such as fines or even imprisonment. They may also unwittingly be facilitating crimes such as human trafficking or terrorism.
It was for this reason that, in 2014, Charles Delingpole, himself previously an MLRO, set up ComplyAdvantage. His aim was to build a technology that was effective in combating financial crime but also easy to integrate and easy to use.
We spoke to Charles Delingpole, CEO and founder of ComplyAdvantage, about the company's software solutions for financial institutions and its ambitions for the future.
What does your company do?
We provide anti-money laundering software to companies from fintech start-ups to major global financial institutions. By partnering with regulators around the globe and through the hiring of hundreds of developers, data scientists, and financial crime professionals, we've developed financial crime-fighting technology designed to help financial institutions comply with global money laundering regulations.
We have our own database of terrorists and money launderers that we are adding to all the time. We look at tens of thousands of pages all around the world from parliaments to the FBI to build up a database of everyone who is potentially high risk. We look at every website available and then we run machine learning algorithms over that, decomposing sentences into their component parts and using this data to build single profiles that are searchable by our clients.
Banks and fintechs use our database for onboarding, monitoring and for analysing transactional behaviour. It is a global market. We service clients in 90 countries. We have 500 direct clients and then probably another 1,000 via partners. Some of our clients include Bank of America, Santander, VISA and BBVA.
Tell us about your UK and global operations.
We are 250 people now with 130 staff in London, 100 developers in Romania and sales and marketing offices in Singapore and New York.
It is much easier to start a company in the UK so you have much higher levels of innovation. London has a huge vitality which serves as a strong pull for global talent. We can get people from all over the world to come here as we have great AI labs in the UK.
What are the main benefits to being based in the UK?
It is much easier to start a company in the UK so you have much higher levels of innovation. London has a huge vitality which serves as a strong pull for global talent. We can get people from all over the world to come here as we have great AI labs in the UK. We can also hire from places like Cambridge University and University College London.
London was at the vanguard of fintech when we launched ComplyAdvantage and it remains so today. Because of the regulatory environment and the level of talent, it is a lot more advanced than anywhere else in the world. And, with London being the global finance hub, this is obviously a huge market for us in terms of large corporates we can sell to.
The venture capital and angel investing space in the UK is a natural extension of the other financing hubs in London. There are also many high net worths in London, so it is an excellent place to find investors. We’re backed by some of the world’s most well-known investors and industry experts. They’ve invested in household names like Dropbox, Slack and Robinhood and have held leadership positions at companies including Thomson Reuters and HSBC.
In July ComplyAdvantage completed a US$50m Series C funding round. This brought the total investment to date in the company to US$88m. The round was led by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, one of the world’s largest pension plans, with additional participation from Index Ventures and Balderton Capital, both existing investors in ComplyAdvantage.
London was at the vanguard of fintech when we launched ComplyAdvantage and it remains so today. Because of the regulatory environment and the level of talent, it is a lot more advanced than anywhere else in the world.
Tell us about your company's growth ambitions and how the UK features in these.
We've been doubling headcount over the past several years. Our long term goal is to IPO. We want to be the dominant global player in what we are doing and carry on growing revenue. We have invested in the product so now we can handle much higher transaction volumes. We are also launching new products.
We may open further offices in Australia, San Francisco or Dubai but the UK will remain our largest operations. We have raised multiple rounds of capital out of the UK and all our directors and investors are from London.