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Supplements » FundTech Autumn 2020

Fintech focus: Terms of engagement

Dario_CrispiniDARIO CRISPINI, CEO AND FOUNDER, KAIZEN REPORTING

Kaizen Reporting provides assurance to companies on their regulatory reporting. It was started in 2013 with five employees, led by former FSA manager Dario Crispini, who describes the fintech as a growth stage company. It now has more than 50 employees and made its first acquisition (MDM Compliance) in 2020 in order to develop a new revenue stream via its Shareholding Disclosure Service, launched in September.

How would you describe working with the funds industry?
Compared to the sell-side, we find they are much more open to involving third parties. They are more used to outsourcing and the conversations tend to move more quickly than with banks.

We also found there was less general expertise within asset managers and while this created an operational gap we could fill, we found that senior management didn’t always appreciate the benefits of regulatory reporting beyond being a simple point solution and they were not as open to the ancillary benefits that come from doing things in a more structured way.

What is the biggest challenge facing start-ups?
It is very important to get those first sales and to build momentum. The longer it takes, the harder the challenge.

We spent a lot of time building our market presence through industry contacts. Some people use conferences but we found that quite expensive and inefficient. We try to be more direct and publish a lot of material on our website. It is also easier to locate people now via LinkedIn, for example. Also every company is registered with the FCA, so it is easier to locate a target market.

What impact has Covid 19 had on start-ups?
It is harder to have those serendipitous meetings because there is no one about in the City. It is also a challenge for the economy as a whole, so it will be harder to get budget approval for spending on new technology. That said, there is still funding out there for start-ups. There is also debt funding available. But things will be tighter and it will be harder to launch new products. You need meetings to explain the product and internal meetings to discuss the business case and these are all harder to arrange.

What’s your advice for start-ups?
When you start out, you are very focused on your product but you can’t do anything without sales. You have to have a route to market. You also have to make sure you have a product that matches a genuine market need. If you have all of those things in place, it comes down to how much energy you put into making the business a success.

And your advice for fund managers?
I’d like to see companies have someone responsible for seeing what fintechs are out there. And they should not be afraid of being a first mover. There is so much stuff out there and sometimes it takes someone to look for problems that firms did not know they had.